Pub­lish your game

Phil El­liot, Direc­tor of in­die Pub­lish­ing at square enix West, De­tails What it takes to get your game no­ticed by a Pub­lisher

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

Why is it im­por­tant to look for a pub­lisher or seek pub­lisher sup­port?

It’s im­por­tant to start out by say­ing it’s not im­pos­si­ble to suc­ceed with­out a pub­lisher. If you have a game that al­ready has peo­ple talk­ing, and there’s a good aware­ness of it, you have a great head start. The rea­son for work­ing with a pub­lisher (or sim­i­lar) nor­mally boils down to one or both of two things: in­vest­ment and mar­ket­ing.

One thing that’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber is that suc­cess is never guar­an­teed, even with a big pub­lisher on board. The ben­e­fit of work­ing with part­ners is to op­ti­mise an op­por­tu­nity – but a lot can change in the games in­dus­try in 12 months (see 2017 as an ex­am­ple…) and it’s nor­mally at least that amount of time be­tween sign­ing a game and re­leas­ing it.

Is self pub­lish­ing vi­able in this mar­ket?

To be frank, it’s prob­a­bly only vi­able for a small num­ber of teams at this point. There are indies who al­ready have a great fol­low­ing and rep­u­ta­tion, and in fact some of these – who were prob­a­bly re­leas­ing games six or seven years ago when there were far fewer re­leases – are be­com­ing mini-pub­lish­ers them­selves.

The thing that re­ally mat­ters (other than the game be­ing in­ter­est­ing/good, of course!) is that peo­ple find out about it, and have enough in­for­ma­tion to make a de­ci­sion to buy it. There are nu­mer­ous ways to get at­ten­tion for games to­day – press, stream­ers, con­tent cre­ators – but if you’re a small, lesser known team with an orig­i­nal IP, then make sure you have some­body work­ing on build­ing that aware­ness from day one. Go to events, meet press, build re­la­tion­ships, and get your work out there.

The more you do at the start, the bet­ter po­si­tion you’ll likely be in when it mat­ters the most.

That said, there will al­ways be those games that cap­ture peo­ple’s at­ten­tion and prob­a­bly suc­ceed more alone than they would if they were signed to a pub­lisher.

Very rarely do these come from nowhere to be an overnight sen­sa­tion though – so if you do self-pub­lish, it’s wise to plan what you’ll do in the event the game fails. And even if that hap­pens, if user re­views are good, keep push­ing as much as you’re able, be­cause some­times all it takes is one in­flu­en­tial per­son to pick it up and rave about it.

What ad­vice would you give for cre­ators look­ing to write their first pitch to a pub­lisher?

This might be dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but speak­ing per­son­ally I want as much clar­ity on what the game is go­ing to be as pos­si­ble. The more you can demon­strate what the fin­ished ar­ti­cle will be like, the surer I can be that we’re on the same wave­length.

Try to have as much vis­ual ma­te­rial as pos­si­ble, and if you can show ca­pa­bil­ity by hav­ing a ver­ti­cal slice or game demo, that’s great. The most im­pact­ful pitches might only fea­ture a very small piece of game­play, but if that piece is at fin­ished qual­ity and re­ally pol­ished, it shows me what you’re ca­pa­ble of and what you’re ex­pect­ing to cre­ate.

Many teams won’t be at that point when it comes to pitch­ing, but in many cases you’ll only get one chance to im­press – so do ev­ery­thing you can to make it as strong as it can be.

What do you look for in a game at Square Enix Col­lec­tive?

This is some­thing that’s changed a bit in the last few years, as we’re af­fected by the num­ber of re­leases, just like ev­ery­thing else. The good news for gamers is that the stan­dards of games has steadily in­creased – though this just pushes the bar higher for de­vel­op­ers com­ing in.

So we’re look­ing for some­thing that will stand out – maybe that’s in terms of orig­i­nal­ity, or per­spec­tive, or sub­ject. But we don’t have a spe­cific list of gen­res or set­tings we look for; we try to judge ev­ery game on its own mer­its.


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