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Game Design Secrets by Wagner James Au

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Pitching to and Working with Publishers

There are a number of reasons to get your game picked up by a major publisher. Among them are expanded cross-promotion to the company’s large user base of players and expanded technical and server infrastructure support.

Then again, there are at least a few reasons not to go with a publisher. Publishers usually expect to take a significant cut of the revenue (on top of the 30 percent Apple’s already getting), for instance, and they may demand creative changes you’re not comfortable with. Because there are trade-offs when going in either direction, it largely depends on your larger goals for a given game—and for your career.

“Some indie developers are well connected with other developers and bloggers in the community, and have a knack for self promotion,” Phill Ryu of Impending Studios says. “If that sounds like you, self-publishing is the way to go. If not and you’re able to get favorable interest and terms from publishers, that’s probably a mutually beneficial partnership.” Although no publisher can turn your game into a hit, “ones that know what they are doing can improve your odds a lot.”

Roxanne Gibert, founder of Spyra, a mobile game company whose latest game, Global Attack, hit the Top 10 in Strategy Games in the U.S. App Store, recommends publishers for indie developers, with some qualifications. “It really depends on the purpose of developing,” she says. “If it’s strictly for artistic reasons, then it might not be a good fit. However, ...

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