Developers are constantly asking, do I need a publisher? Are publishers worth their share of my revenue?
Being that any developer can signup for the App Store or Google Play for a nominal yearly fee, and self publish their own game… it’s a valid question.
Why give up revenue and control on your hard work?
Well for starters, it might be the only way for you to build momentum behind your studio. For first time mobile developers, launching a game on the App store or Google play and becoming successful is infinitesimally small.
50% of iOS developers and 47% of Android developers earn less than $500 per month [according to a recent survey of 10,000 developers conducted by Developer Economics].
Even for larger Publishers, breaking into the charts isn't easy and hasn't been for years!
So what's a Publisher actually going to do for me?
In short, Publishers are working for you. Their your business manager, QA team, and marketing coach.
More often than not, Publishers have a team of specialists that review your app and improve your game to build a sustainable business.
Mobile Publishers in particular have grown with the market, and have learned how users interact with apps. They understand short attention spans and how to monitor and improve user engagement.
By having a Publisher work for you, you're able to leverage their accumulated knowledge, and learn things "the easy way" -- versus the obvious alternative... testing, breaking, learning, failing-- time and time again.
Not to mention leveraging their audiences and advertising budgets.
Having an external review team fully assess your games UX/UI dramatically increases your odds of hooking users and retaining them over the long haul.
Retention is by far the most overlooked metric by indie game developers. Everyone seems to be fixated on the number of installs you're able to generate. But that's just the top of the funnel.
If you have a leaky funnel, lets say on level 2 or 3 where everyone abandons your app... you're in trouble!
You can have millions of downloads but if you don't have active users, you in turn have no sustainable business.
By having a publisher who is actively monitoring your apps performance and honing in on making improvements, you're in a much better position.
Reviewing the statistics and synthesizing the data takes time and effort, and it's paramount for your Apps success!
Are you going to drill down into the data? If you're self publishing, you better be! Most developers find this aspect of managing an App launch boring, they'd rather be developing new features or experimenting with a new project.
By having a Publisher do this leg work for you, you're able to spend more time doing what you want, instead of looking at graphs trying to extrapolate development decisions.
Outside of improving retention and your app, Publishers also have extensive audiences that are used to drive players to your game.
This in itself is worth the revenue share of your game, especially for the larger Publishers. The essential point I'm trying to make here is, what's better:
100% of $0 or 50% of $100k?
The revenue share is just a percentage. Most mobile deals completed on Game Brokerage do not include IP or require exclusivity. Publishers are most interested in promoting a game that works to compliment their existing portfolio.
Reiterated, Publishers are looking for new games to feed their existing audiences demand.
Advertising. For first time indies to seasoned veterans, advertising budgets and managing those campaigns is costly and time consuming. Allowing your Publisher to foot the bill and manage campaigns is a major advantage to you.
It's guaranteeing that you're app will be played and seen!
And let's face it, Publishers know better, more efficient places to buy traffic than you probably do. Get educated and learn from your Publisher. You can replicate their User Acquisition strategy on your future releases!
In sum, a "Great Publisher" will be able to
- Improve your app performance, retention and monetization
- Cross promote existing audiences
- Commit an advertising budget, and manage + optimize
But also add additional value by:
4. Rolling out PR & Hype campaigns
5. Q/A + tracking
6. Technical Assistance
If you haven't read our previous post, Don't get snaked signing a Publishing deal take a look! A couple of great tips there to make sure you don't sign a contract with vague terms. It'll save you both financially and emotionally!
If you remember one thing from this post, please remember, Publishers are working for you. Leverage and learn invaluable lessons from their experiences, and build momentum behind your own studio!
We have yet to edit this post, and will be working over the next few days to expand and elaborate on key elements.
// Credits & Acknowledgment
This post was inspired by "Whats the point of a mobile game publisher" by Mike Rose who interviews the COO Ed Rumley of Chillingo [an active Publisher on the Game Brokerage market].
Mr. Rumley writes eloquently
“Ultimately, we work for the developer: they don’t work for us.”
for more cutting edge publisher & developer tips, check out: https://gamebrokerage.com/blog/