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Researching publishers and evaluating publishers

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rosset37
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Hello, and happy new year everybody.

I have three prototype ready games and am at the point where I'm contacting publishers. I've built a list game publishers that I know about. Of course, I've never heard of many of them, and most are smaller publishers that just have a couple of games released. How do you go about evaluating and researching these smaller publishers? I'm not really worried about them stealing my idea, but I have the following questions that I'm sure some of you have as well. Can anybody provide insight? Thanks!

1. How do you determine how serious they are about publishing new games before you incur the cost and time of sending them a prototype? For instance, a publisher that has put out 2 or 3 games might even have another full time job, and just do game publishing "on the side", and so that might cause delay and frustration for you as the designer. How do you find out about their committment level?
2. If they want to see a prototype, what are the basic follow-up questions about their review process you might want to ask?
3. It seems obvious you would want to start by contacting the "big" publishers, like Mayfair or Avalon Hill, and then work your way down from there if they show no interest. But is that true? Is there a reason to work in the other direction?
4. If a small company with only a handful or game released wants to publish your game, what do you need to find out? Do you need to ask about their financial situation and ability to bring the game to market and support it? How would your questions/expectations change if it is a small company vs. one of the big guys?etc?
5. It seems you would want to ask them what their expectations for sales are (how many copies they think will sell in the first year, etc). What other questions like that do you want to ask, especially for a smaller company?
6. Where else can you find out good information about smaller publishers? On BGDF somewhere? On BGG? Is there any lists of ratings of companies from OUR (the designer's) perspective?
7. Any other ideas or questions to ask would be helpful!
Thank you!

-Ben Rosset
@BenjaminRosset

truekid games
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rosset37 wrote: 1. How do you

rosset37 wrote:

1. How do you determine how serious they are about publishing new games before you incur the cost and time of sending them a prototype? For instance, a publisher that has put out 2 or 3 games might even have another full time job, and just do game publishing "on the side", and so that might cause delay and frustration for you as the designer. How do you find out about their committment level?

expect to incur the cost and time an indefinite number of times. starting off by being concerned with a couple dollars worth of prototype and a couple dollars to mail it is just putting an extra roadblock in your way. companies, large and small, are slow and unresponsive. expect and accept it beforehand.

Quote:
2. If they want to see a prototype, what are the basic follow-up questions about their review process you might want to ask?
usually they will tell you a wholly inaccurate estimated time-to-review-and-get-back-to-you. If they don't, you may want to ask, though you will probably be no more informed about it than if you don't ;)

Quote:
3. It seems obvious you would want to start by contacting the "big" publishers, like Mayfair or Avalon Hill, and then work your way down from there if they show no interest. But is that true? Is there a reason to work in the other direction?
no, you should start with the company you think is the "best fit" for your game, regardless of size. I can't stress that enough- knowing where your game fits is probably the single best starting point. (and, as a side note, Avalon Hill is owned by Hasbro, so you probably wouldn't get much traction there regardless).

Quote:
4. If a small company with only a handful or game released wants to publish your game, what do you need to find out? Do you need to ask about their financial situation and ability to bring the game to market and support it? How would your questions/expectations change if it is a small company vs. one of the big guys?etc?
my experience has been that almost every game company (with very few exceptions) approaches things with a small-company mentality. The average consumer's perception of which companies are big and small in the hobby market is not very useful for determining capability or stability, and trying to filter your results before submitting, as mentioned above, is just putting more roadblocks in your own way.

Quote:
5. It seems you would want to ask them what their expectations for sales are (how many copies they think will sell in the first year, etc). What other questions like that do you want to ask, especially for a smaller company?
at best they could only give you an average based on their past games' sales, which is not a useful figure in general, because the variance is high and predictability is low. This is another question where the answer won't actually be useful in a practical manner.

Quote:
6. Where else can you find out good information about smaller publishers? On BGDF somewhere? On BGG? Is there any lists of ratings of companies from OUR (the designer's) perspective?

I've got a partial list of "companies to know": http://www.truekidgames.com/Companies.html
but yes, reading as much as you can on bgg/bgdf and the specific companies' websites is your best bet. There are also interviews in various places with publishers, listening/reading them can provide insight into what sort of things they're looking for.

rosset37
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What about sending full copies of the rules

Thanks for your reply! I've been checking out your website, great resources! I had one other question. Two companies have written me back requesting full copies of the rules. Obviously I would have to send these anyway if I sent a prototype, but I am a little wary of sending rules out electronically because they could so easily be passed around (forwarded by email). Do you have any suggestions along those lines in terms of taking precautions, or is this just a risk we have to deal with when submitting games to companies?

Thanks,
Ben

truekid games
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It's a risk you have to take,

It's a risk you have to take, it's the way this business works. It's not really a risk though, essentially, all game ideas that get stolen, get stolen AFTER they're published and show they're profitable, not before:

http://www.truekidgames.com/Intellectual%20Property.html

rpghost
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Truekid has the right

Truekid has the right answers.... we publishers are not in the business of stealing games. There is a LOT of work to get a game actually working and that rarely can be paid for out of sales - thats why you designers do it on your own time. I have no interest as do most companies I talk to, in stealing your ideas. We want nearly complete fully tested games passed our way.

Me, well I always ask for PDF rules and a few pictures of the prototype. I can't judge a game till I see them. I only ask for those 1 in 10 submissions even.

Good Luck
James
http://www.MinionGames.com

rosset37
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