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GDC Europe: Crytek's Button-Brown Says Too Much Risk In Self-Publishing

Should independently-owned developers such as Crytek self-publish their games? Speaking at GDC Europe on Tuesday, Nick Button-Brown, Crytek's director of business development, said it's safer to get with a traditional publisher.
Speaking at GDC Europe on Tuesday as part of a panel discussing alternative finance and business models, Nick Button-Brown, director of business development at Frankfurt, Germany-based Crysis developer Crytek, said that he doesn't believe self-publishing is a good strategy for independently-owned developers. Button-Brown explained that, while he is well aware that "publishers see independent developers as risky and AAA titles not as much", he has seen evidence that self-publishing does not work. Peter Kirsch, senior consultant with games-industry funding firm Attaction, agreed. He said that a more viable solution for developers might be to co-publish their title. "This means being equal with the publisher, but it involves a lot more than simply making the game," Kirsch said. He added that it was "not an easy thing to do", mentioning problems with timing as the main obstacle, but that if it works out "it can have great rewards". Button-Brown noted, however, that smaller, more "indie"-type games such as Petri Purho's Crayon Physics can do well going the self-publishing route. Crytek has remained independent, but it has partnered with major publishers on its games. Ubisoft published 2004's Far Cry, while the Crysis series is published by Electronic Arts. But landing a deal with a major publisher is easier said than done. Questioned on how a developer should gain a publisher's attention in the first few minutes of a presentation, Kirsch explained that first impressions were "very important". "Do we get a feel for your game?" and "Why are you the best creative?" were points he deemed critical. He also urged developers not to pitch a "me too" game, directly comparing their game to the likes of Halo, for example. Kirsch said that in a number of pitches he'd attended recently, developers have first stated the name of their game, then noted that they have approached Hollywood directors who are "very interested in making a Hollywood movie". Sean Kauppinen of consultancy firm International Digital Entertainment Agency, laughed and commented that the games industry will soon "follow Hollywood -- we will see remakes of all our games 20 years from now".

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