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When to decide KS or Publisher?

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Rangerlab
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Hey guys, so I'm just curious at what stage in development should you decide whether you want to go with crowdfunding or if you're going to go through a Publisher? Also, which is better for a first time designer?

I'd like to mention that I have no intent of publishing any time soon, I'm mostly curious. I wouldn't even know where I'd go to get materials or packaging, or how to pitch a game or anything, though I hope to learn a lot more about both paths .
Thanks guys!
RangerLab

questccg
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Natural order

Rangerlab wrote:
Hey guys, so I'm just curious at what stage in development should you decide whether you want to go with crowdfunding or if you're going to go through a Publisher?

This is an easy question: everyone should try to see if their game can be published by a Publisher - if not, try crowdfunding... So it's not really a matter of choice.

You should be aware that Publishers are a precarious bunch. One publisher I dealt with would take 2 months to respond to e-mails. I wasted an entire year, only for them to say they did not want to publish my game. Sometimes you don't even get a reply... I have sent requests to Publishers and never got a response back, for example. Other designers on this forum had deals that fell through years after! :(

Rangerlab wrote:
Also, which is better for a first time designer?

It's not really a choice - it's a series of stumbles until you fall upon the best of the two (2) for your game! :P

I spent over a year dealing with several publishers - it was like pulling teeth. Not at all a pleasant experience. In the end I got some positive comments about the game saying "The game is very clever" - but nobody wanted to publish the game.

So now I am in the process of planning a Kickstarter about 1 year after the dealings with Publishers.

If you decide you don't want to publish your game - well then you don't have to Kickstart it either. The question is do you want to make a game that people will enjoy playing? If the answer is "Yes" well then you will do whatever comes naturally! And if it means having a Kickstarter, so be it!

Rangerlab
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Talking to Multiple Publishers

questccg wrote:
Rangerlab wrote:
Hey guys, so I'm just curious at what stage in development should you decide whether you want to go with crowdfunding or if you're going to go through a Publisher?

This is an easy question: everyone should try to see if their game can be published by a Publisher - if not, try crowdfunding... So it's not really a matter of choice.

You should be aware that Publishers are a precarious bunch. One publisher I dealt with would take 2 months to respond to e-mails. I wasted an entire year, only for them to say they did not want to publish my game. Sometimes you don't even get a reply... I have sent requests to Publishers and never got a response back, for example. Other designers on this forum had deals that fell through years after! :(

Rangerlab wrote:
Also, which is better for a first time designer?

It's not really a choice - it's a series of stumbles until you fall upon the best of the two (2) for your game! :P

I spent over a year dealing with several publishers - it was like pulling teeth. Not at all a pleasant experience. In the end I got some positive comments about the game saying "The game is very clever" - but nobody wanted to publish the game.

So now I am in the process of planning a Kickstarter about 1 year after the dealings with Publishers.

If you decide you don't want to publish your game - well then you don't have to Kickstart it either. The question is do you want to make a game that people will enjoy playing? If the answer is "Yes" well then you will do whatever comes naturally! And if it means having a Kickstarter, so be it!

Alright, cool. Is it technically rude to talk to several publishers at once? And is it okay to try starting a fan base before you talk to publishers?

I Will Never Gr...
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Rangerlab wrote: Alright,

Rangerlab wrote:

Alright, cool. Is it technically rude to talk to several publishers at once? And is it okay to try starting a fan base before you talk to publishers?

There is no problem with talking to multiple publishers at the same time, but it's polite to let them know you've approached other publishers right up front.

here's a good article about approaching publishers (in fact, this guy is a great resource all around, especially if you're debating publisher vs self publishing).

http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-donts/

And absolutely build a fan base. Even if you sign on with a publisher instead of self publishing they will appreciate any extra support (or at least they should)!

radioactivemouse
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tl;dr: both are difficult, choose wisely.

To be honest, I think crowdfunding is an illusion that makes people think their project will be magically done on the event it's successfully funded.

I'm not saying that crowdfunding is bad, I just believe that there's way more to crowdfunding than just, "well I got an idea...I think Kickstarter is the way to go"

Here's what I think about crowdfunding and publishers:

Crowdfunding:

There needs to be a lot of things in line before you even start a crowdfunding campaign. I believe that while there is a lot of luck involved, you can control quite a bit and turn it in your favor.

1) Reputation. If no one knows you, you'll need to spend a significant amount of time trying to get a reputation. If you have a strong internet presence, this will be easy for you. If you only have a Facebook account, it's not enough. My suggestion would be to start some kind of show...podcast, video cast, a regular blog...something. Build your reputation online, show that you give to the community and they will give back to you. You can also develop a reputation if you already have industry experience or have published a game before...but I'll get into that later.

2) Logistics. If you're crowdfunding, you're doing ALL the work. YOU find the manufacturing channels, YOU handle the assembly, YOU handle the shipping, YOU handle the updates, YOU handle the marketing...oh yeah, you also have to finish developing the game. Someone has to divvy up the money, someone has to buy the materials, someone has to go to the post office and pay for ALL the shipping (or at least handle it if the customer has paid for it). This is the part many people fail to recognize. They end up putting their effort into the logistics and fail to truly finish the game...then the game sucks or you run out of money. You need a team of people that will help you...you can't do it alone.

3) Video. Many times a project is funded just on its video alone. You'll need someone to make your project look exciting to fund. It's the first impression people get on your project. You need someone that is somewhat decent with video editing and is able to get your point across within the first minute or two. The video can be longer, but if people are still trying to figure out what you're selling at minute 3, you've lost them. In addition, if you look like you're bored in the video (believe me, I've seen way too many people on camera that looked like they did it at gunpoint), people will see it and won't give you a second chance when they click away from your page.

4) Game has to be pretty much done. You don't want to develop while you're in your campaign...you'll only spread yourself out too thin. Then you'll fall into the category where your game will actually cost more than what your backers paid for it because you added things during its development to finish the game (see Kingdom Death: Monster...those backers got away with a big deal) and you'll have to get a loan or pay out of pocket to just release the game.

Publisher.

A publisher is probably the way to go on the first game, but there are things you need to consider.

1) Control. You ultimately have to sign the rights to your game to the publisher...or at least the first print rights. Ultimately it comes down to trust. You have to trust that the publisher is going to handle your game well because they are trusting that your game is good. You'll get the help you need instead of searching for help. Of course it comes at a cost.

2) It's harder than crowdfunding. Publishers get submissions...ALL THE TIME. People are trying to push their idea...even at times they don't want to hear pitches. You're ultimately in competition with many people that have worked hard to get a prototype and get it signed; your game has to rise above them all. The tradeoff is that if you pass all that competition, chances are your game is worth publishing.

3) It will give you legitimate clout. I'll tell you outright that I respect people that have actually gone through the channels of getting their game through a publisher...far more than someone that has done a Kickstarter. Successfully being accepted by a publisher means a lot.

Here's my ultimate opinion. Shoot for a publisher on a first time game. If no one knows who you are online, you're going to spend more time promoting your game than actually working on the game. The channels for getting a pitch to a publisher are far more available than it was 10 years ago. There's Unpub events, "Speed dating" events (where you quick-pitch to big publishers at an event), and just simply clicking on a link and emailing the publisher directly.

For me? I've done podcasts for years, I'm a legitimate printed published writer, I've worked on AAA video games, I regularly write for high traffic websites...and I still went through a publisher. And I'm glad I did because I learned so much going through the process of a publisher that I would have had to "trial and error" it if I crowdfunded my game and that would have created more problems than I care to imagine.

At this point, I don't care if my game sucks or not. The fact I busted through instead of taking an "easy" (to get funded) way out gave me a lot of confidence and I've gained a lot of wisdom. Now that I've gone through the process, I feel far more confident I can crowd fund a future game cause I know I have a good team that can handle it, legitimate clout, and I've been taking my masters in multimedia communications, so I can edit a kick ass video.

Both routes are hard, hard, hard! Research each channel thoroughly. It's not easy to get a game published and it has to be good enough to merit being funded (crowd or otherwise). I think there's too many people that think they can make a game and end up making a game that's too much like something else. In addition, even if they have a great game, they lack the proper channels to get the game out...let alone trying to convince an audience to buy your game.

I hope this helps. This is just my experiences. Take it for what you will.

ElKobold
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Thing about Kickstarter is

Thing about Kickstarter is that these days backers expect more or less ready product before they back.

I.e.:
You need all components at least in render form. So either you pay to produce them, or you pay to a 3d artist to make renders or both.
You need the bulk of the artwork ready (Artwork costs A LOT).
You need a number of game prototypes to send to reviewers (Some reviewers ask $ for their work).
You need a presentation video (Anything more complicated than you talking on camera will cost money).

Bottom-line: going to Kickstarter requires substantial investment before the campaign. And there is no guarantee that you will succeed. So that money can be lost. Just keep this in mind.

mulletsquirrel
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Try making a game here first...
McTeddy
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Kickstarter and Publisher are

Kickstarter and Publisher are too different paths with two VERY different experiences. What you pick should depend on what you're good at and what you want to do.

Kickstarter will require you to be one hell of a marketer, have access to great artists, and be capable of handling the logistics of shipping a product. It's a very difficult path and will require major skills and time investment for a POTENTIAL reward. (This isn't even talking about the loss of money if you underestimate reward costs)

Publishers require you to only sell the game once. The publisher deals with the art, the manufacturing and the majority of the advertising. You sit back and you reap your table scrap rewards.

The reality is that I don't have the following to run a kickstarter. If I don't go through a publisher no one even looks at the games I make.

Both paths have different advantages, required skills, and potential growth. You should pick whichever path best suits your situation.

Rangerlab
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Joined: 11/10/2015
Thanks for all the Help!

Thanks for all of the advice guys, I really appreciate it. This means a lot to me, seeing so many people willing to help out. I wouldn't have had any idea where to start with my game.

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