Why do developers need game publishers? (Topic)

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Why do developers need game publishers?


Game publishers - how many contradictions there are in this word. Hundreds of thousands of gamers simply hate them, starting with the fact that they constantly split games into DLC, break them into separate parts, introduce microtransactions, and generally do everything to please the sponsors, forgetting about the players themselves. EA, for example, is generally considered a corporation of evil, which almost always receives an award as the worst publisher.

However, game publishers are important members of the gaming industry, without which games cannot exist as such. As part of a series of materials on how games are created, today we will figure out why games need publishers, because maybe developers can still exist without them?

World of Marketing

In fact, today's publishing policies are very frustrating, but they are deeply rooted in marketing, without which the sale of a video game is impossible. Over the course of one year, so many different games are released on various platforms that it is difficult to keep track of a specific figure. On the one hand, we have something to play with, but on the other, the developers have to compete strongly to get you to buy his game.

This is why marketing is needed to show us gamers the best side of the game. And this requires a good team of specialists, which is expensive. It is also costly to promote a game itself, especially if it requires a lot of money to create and has a wide audience.


There is always a game that boasts a huge open world, cutscenes, colorful characters, cinematics, cool animations and other very expensive things like GTA 5. In addition, the costs were higher before, since games were published only on physical media.

All I mean is that it takes a LOT of money to develop games and it is VERY important to sell it. Therefore, marketing is the main task of a game publisher.


Apply for the AAA Game

You can do a small indie project after work by raising money for it at Kickstater. But for AAA games, or high-budget projects, in other words, that are sold in incentive for $ 60 - you can't collect on it. This is where the second function of the game publisher comes in - sponsorship.

Having money that you can pay people for the work done is of great importance and will allow you to make a really large-scale project. Also, the publisher assumes the responsibilities of the distributor and manufacturer. It's funny that even digital versions of games are sold at the same price as physical ones, although they do not require resources to create. However, these are all secondary costs.


Times are changing

And marketing too. Now, when the TV is not the main source of information, and no one starts advertising the game between programs, viral advertising on the Internet is being used. The problem is that some projects cannot exist without it at all. This leads us to the fact that the developer becomes completely dependent on the publisher, since he cannot create and promote the game himself at the same time. And dependence on the publisher leads to the fact that he dictates the rules to you.

He can safely go to the developer with an ultimatum, like: “if you want: access to resources, good equipment, advertising, work on a normal deadline, not crunches, advertising and general coverage of the game at exhibitions - please make three DLC to the game and add microtransactions to the skins. " This is how this business model works.


The worst thing is that the publisher, by giving you the opportunity to create a dream game, leaves the final word on what your final dream will be. Therefore, if you put on the scales the artistic ideas of the developers along with the views of the publisher, the former will have very little weight.

The film industry works the same way, in which bold ideas sacrifice cliches for the reason that the mass audience bites them.


All pros and cons

In this situation, many developers think, weighing the pros and cons. And some still decide on independence. And some do it.

Take Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, for example - it is considered one of the few indie projects comparable to the AAA level. Ninja Theory were the publishers themselves, bringing all their creative ideas to life, implementing the necessary mechanics well and finding the money. Even more, nothing was crammed into the game at the last moment to increase sales, as it happens when the publisher distributes the game. Hence the question ...


... Are publishers disrupting the industry?

Better to say that their distribution model is starting to lose ground a little and annoying players with the fact that we are forced to pay twice to play. The problem is, they still help mass audiences notice good projects. There are hundreds of non-AAA games that came out without a publisher, but did better than Mass Effect Andromeda.

If you have a good project and a growing fan base, then the publisher may notice you and be interested in you. So your next project can reach a large audience.

Showing publishers that a game can pay off and bring him profit without his direct intervention is a model that is evolving a little. Rather, the point is that publishers need to be re-educated in this peculiar way.


Now the gaming industry is stagnant in this regard, we want changes so that we are not tormented by loot boxes, microtransactions and stupid DLCs that take away part of the plot from us. But we have to admit that we still need game publishers. Do they hinder the development of the industry? More likely than not, and besides, we have examples of good publishers. The situation will definitely change, but when it is no longer known.

If you still do not know how the translation of the game happens, we invite you to read our previous thematic material.

The Topic of Article: Why do developers need game publishers?.
Author: Jake Pinkman