If you’re an indie mobile game developer and you’re done building your game, then the next step would be to get it out there. At this stage, one of the hardest decisions that a developer has to make is whether to go with a mobile game publisher or to continue embracing the indie life and go solo.
A mobile game publisher can help you in so many more ways than you can imagine for a share of your game’s revenues, offering you their expertise on valuable services like distribution, monetization, app store optimization, and more.
There are many publishers but the reality is that for every mobile game publisher out there, there are hundreds and thousands of games being built by indie developers on a daily basis and the competition is very high.
Below is everything you need to know about how to choose your mobile game publisher and how to maximize your chances of getting one.
How to Get a Mobile Game Publisher?
Build A Great Game
This might seem like stating the obvious, but it’s clearly easier said than done. If your game isn’t up to par, then no matter how hard you try, no mobile game publisher will take it.
If you’re building the game as a hobby or passion project, that’s great, but at the end of the day you need to treat it as a business. The more interesting and addictive your game is, the higher its chances of success and consequently getting signed by a mobile game publisher.
It would also definitely be a plus for publishers if when you’re pitching your game, you already had a business model, an idea of where your game can go, and the return on investment from the publisher’s point of view.
Tips for building a great game:
Has a unique selling point.
Has to be stable.
Simple and appealing to both adults and children alike.
Continuous, never ending, or has many levels.
Know your audience and cater to them.
Simple scoring system with targets or achievements that players chase.
Define Your Objectives
You need to know what you want to get from a mobile game publisher. Each mobile game publisher can help you in different ways and you don’t want to feel like the services they’re offering isn’t worth the percentage of your revenue they’re taking.
You have to clearly define your objectives out of this partnership and you need to choose a publisher that compliments you and your game and excels at what you don’t do very well.
Some of the main objectives of having a mobile game publisher are:
Development: Helping with the development of the mobile game or overcoming technical difficulties.
Planning: Taking your game and creating a product strategy around it as well as how it can grow and develop over time.
Costs: Funding the game development process and maintenance costs.
Publicity: Handling the marketing, advertising, public relations, and even social media efforts for you.
Distribution: Reaching other demographics and markets.
Monetization: Monetizing your game or choosing the best models, strategies, and ad networks for it.
App Store Optimization: Pushing your game up the charts or getting it featured on the app store.
Localization: Translating your game into multiple languages to appeal to different audiences and global markets.
Porting: Helping expand your game’s support to other platforms. Most publishers require that your game is initially at least available on iOS — if not, your chances drastically decline.
Other: Quality assurance, data analytics, community management, customer support, etc.
Once you’ve defined your objectives, you need to find a mobile game publisher that matches your needs. However, it’s not as easy as just picking one and that’s it. Also don’t expect to build a game and have the publishers flock to it.
You will have to approach multiple publishers to increase your chances, so go crazy. You can check out the top 66 mobile game publishers in 2017 for options of publishers to approach.
Some of the top mobile game publishers are:
Things to check before approaching a mobile game publisher:
If they’re a good fit for your needs and objectives.
If your game is a good fit for them based on their portfolio. Some publishers only specialize in specific types of games and if they’ve already had experience publishing similar games to yours, then chances are that they will have a better understanding of how to maximize the return on your game.
The publisher’s working style with developers.
Their previous experiences with pushing games up the charts and maybe even getting them featured on the stores.
The number of games that they publish on a regular basis. This will give you a sense of how hard the competition is as well as their level of commitment, and how much time and attention they will be able to provide you if you partner up.
You need a game that can make money, simple as that. It would be best if you already have your game monetization strategy in place when approaching a mobile game publisher. However, even if you don’t and you need their help with that, then you at least need a game with the potential to earn revenue in some way.
This is definitely one of the biggest make-or-break factors on which a mobile game publisher would base their decision. You can check out our 2017 mobile game monetization guide for how to turn your game into a gold mine.
The most popular mobile game monetization models are:
Free Vs. Paid Games
Once you have everything set and you’re ready to approach, it’s time for your first communication with the publishers. You need to pitch your game in the best way you can because this will determine whether they’ll want to proceed with you or not. Your pitch will most likely be refined over time, through trial and error.
You could put blood, sweat, and tears into developing your game, but if you can’t put all of that into words and sell it in an e-mail, then all of your work might go to waste.
Tips for your pitch e-mail:
Include the game title in the subject and not just a generic “Game Submission”.
Keep the e-mail simple and straight to the point.
Add your game logo to make it memorable.
Include a fact sheet about your game including title, description, storyline, key features, supported platforms, MSRP, expected launch date, and any other details the publisher might want to know at first glance.
Attach a 30-60 second trailer for your game.
Attach screenshots and a game play video/demo to show how the game will actually look like to the end-user.
Explain your needs and what you expect out of your partnership.
Provide your contact info.
There are many games out there and only a handful of publishers, and an average mobile game publisher receives at least a few dozens of pitches on a weekly basis. So if your mailbox doesn’t get filled up with responses right away, don’t stress about it and give them some time.
Just because they haven’t gotten back to you immediately doesn’t mean that they’re not interested. In fact, a lot of publishers like to take their time with the games they like so that they can go through everything in your pitch to make sure that they’re making the right decision and so that they can compile thoughtful feedback before signing your game.
In most cases, when the mobile game publisher gets back to you, they will have a lot of questions. If they’re truly interested in your game, then they’ll have tons of feedback and suggestions on how to improve it with aspects like game play, monetization, graphics, and more. You need to understand that the publishers are the ones with experience in that domain and they’ve worked with many games who have flopped and gone to the top of the charts alike, so they know what works and what doesn’t.
This is a partnership and you have to consider everything that they propose and discuss it with them. If you believe that your game is perfect and you don’t want to change anything about it, then getting a publisher is probably not for you.
Once it’s a match for both you and your mobile game publisher, the final step is to agree on the deal terms. At this stage you need to make sure that everything is absolutely clear from both sides and you’re both in agreement about what to expect from the other.
Don’t be shy to ask questions to avoid any confusion or issues in the future and make sure to go over all of the terms and the fine print before proceeding with the partnership.
Things to consider:
Expected work and ROI.
Transparency regarding revenue and costs.
The split cut in terms of revenue or product.
Conditions in case the game flops.
Conditions in case the game thrives.
Terms for future plans including sequels or downloadable content (DLCs).
Termination terms from both sides.
You don’t need to a mobile game publisher for your game to be a success. However, in many cases, they increase your chances at reaching the top 100. If you end up deciding to go with one, you need to choose a mobile game publisher that you’ll be comfortable working with and that treats your relationship as a partnership, because at the end of the day you both have the same end-goal of promoting your mobile game as much as possible to succeed.