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Should I consider trying to both self-publish AND license my game?

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dimitristi
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Joined: 05/26/2010

Hello,

If I choose to self-publish - either by Print-On-Demand or by using a site to sell one copy at a time (see e.g. thegamecrafter.com) - does this mean a publishing company or an agent will not consider the game I have been running through my POD or thegamecrafter.com site?

On one hand, proving that some people have actually bought or played or at least downloaded a game should be a positive indication to an agent. On the other hand, will this be considered as me having given away my game mechanics/idea and as such reducing its value?

Any agents out there that can confirm one of the two notions? Any developers that have been refused representation or publishing on the grounds of existing self-publication?

Thanks in advance
Dimitris

Disclaimer: I am not in any way related to thegamecrafter.com.

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
there are lots of

there are lots of self-published games out there that subsequently got picked up by bigger companies.

bluepantherllc
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Licensing

We picked up Cannon from Dralius after it had been out for a while. We also licensed Rocks For Sale from Dralius. Cannon was a physical product and RFS was PNP. The fact that it sold before was part of the decision-making process, but not the only reason.

Another game we recently published over a year after we made a very short run for the game's creator. Turns out I liked the game, so I decided to publish it.

Your mileage with other companies may vary. In fact, in conversations with a big company for one of my own designs, the fact that it we already published it was a definite turnoff to that company. But when I kept the same core mechanic, renamed it, and changed the map, there was interest because now it was the next game in a series. Just like the movies - game companies love sequels.

SJ

OPM
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Joined: 12/16/2009
Its a good thing

Glad to see that there are still some open minded companies out there that understand licensing IP is not such a bad thing.

I have a game that I am releasing partially as a PNP demo, with the full game containing both the demo cards and the full blown game. It is the only sensible way I can see to market on a budget.

I for one am open to making a deal with a publisher, but I am hearing some pretty horrific stories out there -- with publishers saying "it is our way or the highway", "we get to own everything", "you are just a cog in the wheel ha ha" kind of talk. Not saying of course that all games producers are bad, but it makes an inventor and self-publisher like me pretty wary.

Coming from the software side of the industry where idea theft and IP pirating is rampant (yes I have seen it personally happen to me) one cannot be anything but cynical and suspicious.

That some producers can make a deal with some developers is a good sign. Good to see your positive comments and input gents.

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
OPM wrote: I for one am open

OPM wrote:

I for one am open to making a deal with a publisher, but I am hearing some pretty horrific stories out there -- with publishers saying "it is our way or the highway", "we get to own everything", "you are just a cog in the wheel ha ha" kind of talk. Not saying of course that all games producers are bad, but it makes an inventor and self-publisher like me pretty wary.

Contracts very but licensing full rights is common. During the period of the contact they own your IP and may do with it what they wish. In return you get a small cut. It doesn’t sound diabolical to me at all.

Designers that have made a name for themselves i.e. those that have their own built in audience can be more demanding since they are bringing something to the table other than a game.

besides what is it you want to hold back?

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
dimitristi wrote: On one

dimitristi wrote:

On one hand, proving that some people have actually bought or played or at least downloaded a game should be a positive indication to an agent. On the other hand, will this be considered as me having given away my game mechanics/idea and as such reducing its value?

There is a potential down side to self publishing and then trying to license to a publisher but I think it’s a rare thing. What can happen is you sell a fair amount of copies let’s say 500 over 2 years. The publisher when making their assessment if it’s a salable product subtracts that 500 from the estimate of how many they can sell possible dropping that number below their threshold and they pass on it.

This is only likely to happen to a weak product with poor sales potential so if you are confident in the games worth don’t worry about it.

Mondainai
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Joined: 07/26/2008
My experience

from talking to people is that they get more interested the more you have got your games into places, and the more you have sold.

So I'd never hesitate self-publishing for the reason you mention, unless in some special, hypothetical situations.

I might hesitate self-publishing to not break my back though, figuratively speaking ;)

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