In today's other main Gamasutra feature, this early afternoon GDCE session by Lee Jacobson, vice president of business development and acquisitions at Midway Games, was aimed squarely at third-party developers looking to sign a deal with Western publishers, although, much of the advice he was imparting was not necessarily what they wanted to hear.
In this section of his talk, as described by David Jenkins, the discussion turns to what publishers want:
"The main thrust of the presentation was focused on understanding what publishers were looking for in a new project. Jacobson started by emphasizing that their overriding goal was to make money, and not necessarily to fund creative ventures. According to him, although publishers well understood that the blockbuster titles traditionally compensate for the losses or only minor returns of other titles (“winners carry the losers” as Jacobson put it), they were still focused on gaining better than average returns on all titles. The lack of a predictable income source (excepting evergreen sports series) was citied as one of the main concerns for publishers.
With these issues in mind, Jacobson's advice for developers focused on a few very specific areas that he saw as vitally important to publishers. The first called for developers to “do their homework”, researching the platforms and genres that they were planning to work in, not only for their own edification but as a means of reassuring publishers and at the same time impressing them with their level of preparation.
As Jacobson pointed out, focus testing is being used more than ever before at all stages of a game's development, with publishers looking for either a large potential market or one where the number of competitors is low. He also emphasised that a level of cultural relevance was absolutely necessary in today's market, a comment which drew the first grumblings of disapproval from the audience. Jacobson acknowledged this, and although he made no apology for his comments, his remarks about it being enough to simply come up with a cool idea in the “old days” seemed to imply that he was no happier with the current situation than many of the attendant developers."
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