All about Effective Game Publishing

I am Vaibhav Chauhan, Founder of underDOGS Gaming Studio, a game development and publishing company I started back in 2011. Over the period of 5 years of entrepreneurship and a total of more than a decade in game industry, I have learnt innumerable lessons on my journey to build a sustainable gaming business. So I decided to pen down few of my learning, thoughts and experiences to help the community and aspiring developers. Here’s my first post.

We were almost at the completion stage of our game Skatelander back in early 2015 when a thought just crossed over about the difference the publisher can make to the game if they come onboard. We initially decided to self-publish the game, but calculating the risks and game’s future based on our incapability of marketing the game, we decided to go with a publisher. Here are few thoughts for aspiring game developers looking for a publisher.

Game Publisher: A game company that publishes (puts the game on appstores under their name) either developed internally or developed by game developers (indies or other small gamedev companies) along with a great marketing strategy and budget that helps the game grow at a much bigger level.

Broadly, there are 2 major ways to find a game publisher – Direct Mailing and Showcasing at events.

Let’s talk about few very important ‘Things to do’ while finding a publisher for your game:

1) Carpet bombing (Direct mailing):

One of the most effective ways is writing to publishers directly about your game. For that you need to have a list of publishers in place, to which you can write. Identify the possible publishers based on the game genre you’re building. For example, a company like Kongregate will be more interested in Action and adventure games rather than casual ones or a Ketchapp will publish minimalistic (zen style) endless casual game. A simple way is to search for the same on Google where you can find a lot of already prepared list of publishers, for your reference here’s one: 30 Mobile game publishers.

Writing the perfect mail:

Introduction – Start with an interesting introduction (2-3 lines) presenting your studio/company which can quickly educate the publisher about your existence. Avoid adding links to website etc. here.

Game Overview – A nice and short description of your game that explains the top line game concept and the gameplay.

Cover Pic – One visually appealing cover pic of your game (like the banner on appstore) that shows the game and possibly the title of the game on it.

Trailer Video* – Spend a lot of time and put in most of your efforts in making an amazing video for your game that can showcase almost every aspect of your game along with the gameplay. This is one of the critical selling aspects, so iterate unless you are satisfied with the quality.

USP features – List down at least 6 unique selling points of your game that you think makes your game stand out among thousands of other games out there.

Monetization* – One of the critical aspect in which publishers are most interested is to understand how exactly is the game going to make money for them. Be sure to have your monetization research done very well and incorporated in your game.

Screenshots – Lastly, have at least 3 screenshots of your game attached with the mail. Remember screenshots are very important so make sure they’re stunning.

Tip – Don’t send the game build (apk or via testflight) at this stage. Once you get a positive revert from the publisher, only then you should take it ahead.

Draft down a nice mail including all the above mentioned things and send it to all the possible filtered publishers from your list. Almost 80% of the time a revert should be in whether they like it or not, but even if they won’t the brighter side is you have already connected for your future games.

2) Showcasing at events:

This is something every game developer with a game-ready-to-publish should definitely do. There are a handful of important events/conferences happening every year and it makes a huge difference being out there in these events. Have your game’s latest version installed on more than 2 devices and make an effort to attend these events. The plus here is, you get to meet the publishers in person and share your vision about the game which you can’t over mails. Also, having a list of publisher meetings set beforehand will double the results without wasting much time on finding the publisher at the event as there will be lot of game devs trying to do the same along with you. On the brighter side, even if the publisher doesn’t like the game, exchange cards and stay connected for future games.