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Getting publishers to request a prototype ...

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Scurra's picture
Joined: 09/11/2008
Getting publishers to request a prototype ...

I don't like to disagree with you, since in the field of computer games you are broadly correct - the finance required to produce a game these days is so huge that you can't afford it to be a failure.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't a very professional "hobbyist" arena too - and some of those have developed into pretty sophisticated products. Having said that, locating these "hobbyist" designs is actually surprisingly hard, even in these webbed up age.

Whereas we have an advantage, in that "our" market has a bunch of specialist shops - and, importantly, the better games are being sold alongside the classics and the tie-ins in those shops. No, we're never going to find new players through the superchains but the market is growing through those specialist shops.

And, of course, there is an in-built advantage here in that Germany is a large market already, and many games have made it into those very same chains. Don't think that Germany is some magic world in which everyone plays the SdJ winner everynight, but even a market ten times larger than that of the (current) US one is huge.

I think we're right on the edge of a tipping point myself. I don't think that TGOO* are ever going to be mainstream, but there does seem to be considerable evidence that even a semi-decent game can sell more than enough copies for an independent company to make a decent amount of money, if not instant fortunes. And as hobbyists** I'm fairly sure most of us would actually settle for that :-)

-- David

*These Games Of Ours... not a great description but it'll do
**I guess you could count the number of professional game designers in this field on the fingers of a very few hands ;-)

Joined: 12/31/1969
Getting publishers to request a prototype ...

I know this is kind of an old thread, but if you happen to read it now, first of all congratulations? Secondly, thanks. This thread just gave me a little more hope. Thirdly, how are things going? Lastly, how did you find out about these other publishers? Were there more publishers on the list? Is there somewhere I can go to find a list of publishers of any size and genre of games?


Joined: 07/31/2008
Getting publishers to request a prototype ...


The thread isn't that old - Face2Face games have now had a prototype of the game for about a week and will be playtesting it. My understanding (in general of the industry) is that this stage can take a while before you hear back, but I'll let people know when I hear more.

As for lists of publishers, I started with two lists. Firstly, the Game Inventors Guidebook includes a list. Secondly (and more importantly), I looked at the games being sold (including just browsing throughh the local game store and surfing and which publishers sold them and then had a think about whether I thought my game might fit into their suite of games. If they did, then I had a look at their website ...

- Bill

Getting publishers to request a prototype ...

Hi there,

I don't drop by here nearly often enough so I often am the late voice in with comments but I have some other suggestions. Some seem like common sense, but I see a lot of people NOT doing this so I mention them here.

When you first contact the publisher, ask what their submission policy is and follow the instructions. (Some publishers have the submission policy on their website, so you can follow the instructions even before asking them :lol: )

Sometimes people send me stuff without asking me if I want it. Ie. an email attachment with the rules to their game. I delete these unopened for legal reasons and then tell the person why.

Also - do your research on the company to see whether the kinds of games they publish are at all compatible with what you design. I can't tell you how many submissions for computer gaming systems, RPGs, wargames, etc. I have gotten, unsolicited, from people who obviously didn't even bother reading the first page of my website. Trust me, this does not inspire confidence!

Next - when you do email the publisher (and I think email is a good, low impact way of contacting them!), be polite and check your message for grammar and spelling. A lot of people think these things don't matter, but they do. They imply that you care and that you are an intelligent, educated person. Obviously if English is not your first language a publisher will realize that and take that into account (but it's a good idea to state that if your English is weak just in case!).

Another thing - if your submission is rejected, be gracious. I had one submission (just a description actually) from which I could tell that the game really wasn't my cup of tea. I explained to the designer that I don't publish that particular type of game (party games as it turns out) because I don't enjoy them well enough to effectively sell them and she *argued* with me, trying to convince me that it really wasn't a party game even though she'd just told me it was. Don't do that. Even if the publisher doesn't bite on the first game you submit, they may like another so you don't want to close any doors by being argumentative.

I'll end this post by saying that currently I'm not taking submissions either (sorry!) but my suggestions would likely hold for any publisher.

(And just for the record, most of the people who have found me in the past through bgdf or who I have worked closely with on prototypes have been very polite, my comments aren't aimed at anyone here in particular! Most of the 'odd' submissions I have gotten I think have been from people who just did random web searches for game companies.)

Joined: 08/03/2008
Getting publishers to request a prototype ...


Thanks for your recent flurry of very interesting and very helpful posts, and hope you'll be around here more often!

I have to say that as a designer, being told "we're not accepting submissions" is somewhat frustrating. I think this is in part because it puts a game in a state of limbo; being told "no, we're not interested in this game" would give a finality that is really all I personally am asking for. But it also just seems counter-productive. I can understand that budgets are finite and a company can only publish so many games, and those schedules do fill up. But what I, personally, would say to designers, were I a publisher in such a situation would be something more like this: "We are always accepting submissions, but since we are currently have a full production schedule, the filter for acceptance is *much* higher than usual, and the delay between acceptance and publishing will be longer than usual even if we do pick up your game".

This is advantageous to you, because it gives you a better chance of getting that one great superlative game that someone might submit. And speaking as a designer, I feel that a company that says "we'll accept your game, but it will take an extra year to publish" is more desirable than one that says "don't even bother submitting in the first place -- we won't look at new games for another year." In both cases, the game might come out in print at the same time, but the latter company is more likely to lose the chance at the game while I take it to someone who will make a decision more quickly.

Of course, I'm speaking quite hypothetically since I think that most games get rejected anyway. I think what I'm trying to express is that most of us don't care about money or fame so much as to just know whether our games are being taken seriously by companies. I recognize that it's time-consuming to playtest a lot of submissions, but just looking at rulebooks might not be so bad, and it would be a win-win; it would let the publisher have a look at games that might be great for their brand, and would let designers feel like their designs were being looked at and decisions (in whatever direction) were being reached.

Regardless, I agree with all of your other points and thank you for posting them!


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