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Self-publishing lessons learned from Rick Vanner of Game Creators

By on September 9, 2010

Welcome to the latest in the series of Lessons Learned from developers who have bitten the self-publishing bullet. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of publishing their own games, wrestled with games marketing, distribution and finance and they are kind enough to share their wisdom and experience with us all.

if you’re interested in self-publishing you can download the first two chapters of How to Publish a Game right now for free. Now, over to this week’s developer.

Rick Vanner is CFO of the Game Creators, a slightly unusual hybrid. The company makes Apps for mobile devices like iPhone, Android and netbooks and has had over 7 million downloads on the iPhone. Recently GOALS won "Best of games category" in the Intel AppUp Developer challenge.

GOALS screenshot

But not content with making apps, the Game Creators make game creation tools for the PC. Flagship titles include FPS Creator and Dark Basic Professional. With a thriving and creative community the company continues to create easy to use tools that allow game designers of all ages and ability to make the games of their dreams.

What’s been the best thing about self-publishing your game?

It has to be the freedom to do what we want to do. Not being directed by a third party (publisher).

What’s been the worst thing?

The business’s success is very much on our shoulders. No one is going to help us, we have to create games and tools that customers want. That can weight on our minds at times.

What would you do differently if you did it again?

We would have jumped into the iPhone market a lot earlier! It caught us napping. We were just too focused on PC and were not taking a wider view of the marketplace.

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing for the first time?

It’s a brilliant time to start up. There are so many big name app stores that you can publish your games into, connecting you directly with customers. New companies or individuals should aim to make games that are a lot of fun to play by a wide audience.

Don’t try to make something too complex, keep it simple. Just look at games like Doodle Jump and Angry Birds – these both have great game play and cute graphics. They are not PS3 AAA titles and can be created by small teams.

Look at what is working and selling well and then make your own app that ticks the boxes in all the areas that the successful games do.

You can find out more about the Game Creators at

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: