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Are Game Publishers a Necessary Evil, Or Just Necessary?

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the everybody-loves-ea-right dept.

Businesses 173

An editorial at GameSetWatch examines whether game publishers really deserve all the flak they get from gamers and developers alike. While some questionable decisions can certainly be laid at their feet, they're also responsible for making a lot of good game projects happen. Quoting: "The trouble comes when the money and the creativity appear to be at odds. ... Developers and publishers often have a curious relationship. The best analogy I can think of is that of parent and child. The publisher or parent thinks it knows best, because it's been there before (shipped more games), and because 'it's my money, so you'll live by my rules.' The developer — or child — is rebellious, and thinks it has all the answers. In many ways, it does know more than the parent, and is closer to what's innovative, but maybe hasn't figured out how to hone that energy yet."

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Terrible analogy (3, Interesting)

abionnnn (758579) | about 5 years ago | (#29843997)

In a way, you may or may not need a publisher depending on what you're developing. A lot of the generic titles that the "industry" keeps pumping out require a publisher for marketing such a mediocre game. But then you get the unconventional games whose development is actually hampered by having a publisher breathe down your neck and make games easier for the general public.

Re:Terrible analogy (2, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29844019)

this is why Steam is such a panacea for indie gaming. It's essentially a publisher you can go to once you've finished your game and go 'lookie what I did, sell this for me please', and a similar thing for XLBA. The only problem is that they don't pony up any cash for you mid-development.

Re:Terrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844177)

The only problem is that they don't pony up any cash for you mid-development.

Honestly, that wouldn't be such a problem if they didn't take 50-65% of your profit just for listing your game on their service.

Re:Terrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844733)

Not to mention that when you live in Europe, steam prices are 50%, sometimes even above 100% more expensive than retail.

Re:Terrible analogy (2, Informative)

danbeck (5706) | about 5 years ago | (#29844899)

A publisher is usually the funding behind a development project. Without a publisher, most development teams could never afford to up front the cash. The cut that the publisher makes has to cover marketing, admin costs, the cost of games that never sell or never make it to market and also they have to make a profit.

We all love to hate publishers and some may deserve the hate, but without a publisher, many games that we've played would have never made it to market.

It's disturbing that it's so easy for people to hate any large company or corporation, yet they have so very little education about how the real world works. Publishers are necessary because development teams don't have enough money to pay themselves to spend 5 years making a game.

Do the math. Two parties are involved and without one, the other can't make a game. The dev needs money and the money needs dev. The way I see it, 50/50 sounds about right for a dev team without a big name like Valve, id, etc.

Re:Terrible analogy (1)

tibman (623933) | about 5 years ago | (#29845133)

That 50% includes bandwidth, payment handling, updating system, achievments, friends, drm of course, and advertising... it's a steal!

Re:Terrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844565)

Get real, Steam rejects most of the games, only titles with some credentials from Indie world like PAX winners could be listed, the XBLA is even more barred unless you want to go Indie explicitly with VisualBasic or how they call that "simple and secure language for the community", C# now?. You would really want and need a publisher, there is lots of reasons for this. They have limited resources for certifications and other needed stuff, limited resources on networks and for support. There are other quirks like DRM and SDKs that they do not want to disclose to just every junkie who learned to code.

Re:Terrible analogy (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | about 5 years ago | (#29845505)

Worse analogy: C# is Visual Basic. Visual Basic.NET is the language you're describing. C# (and its XNA extension for game programming, which the parent post alludes to) is basically a language along the same lines as Java. (Unlike J#, which is the old Microsoft Java, C# isn't intended to be compatible with Java or it's virtual machine.) You compile to bytecode for a virtual machine, you have a massive library of built in functions, and you don't manage your own memory.

Also, the sentence containing that analogy makes my eyes bleed. You should learn a simple and secure language for the community, because you clearly haven't mastered English.

Re:Terrible analogy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29845263)

Steam is fine IF you have money to complete your project. They aren't a publisher and do no provide completing funding.

Re:Terrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844057)

Perhaps a car analogy would be better?

Re:Terrible analogy (3, Interesting)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#29844237)

By not having a publisher, you don't have a way to reach the audience. In short -- without publisher, you can usually shove your unconventional game up your you-know-what, since it won't have audience and won't sell. Without a publisher, the distributors (online and offline) tend to send you away. Guess how I know what a difference a publisher makes.

Re:Terrible analogy (1)

abionnnn (758579) | about 5 years ago | (#29844303)

You'll need a publisher to sell your game that's true, but its not necessarily an exclusive relationship. Which is what the article describes.

>"If you're trying to make a risky game with new ideas, it's best to wrap the concepts in the familiar. Making new IP is always going to be a battle."

*Shudder* making something new is now "Making new IP".

Re:Terrible analogy (3, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 5 years ago | (#29844473)

That's nothing new I'm afraid. I've been making new IP for over 10 years.....

Re:Terrible analogy (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#29845197)

If you are relying on a publisher to get the name out, either a:your game sucks, or b: your game sucks.

Plenty of people can get their name out without, a good game will get coverage anyway by worth of mouth.

Re:Terrible analogy (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29844933)

Did badanalogyguy write the article? Comparing developers with children and publishers with parents is a worse analogy than anything I've ever seen badanalogy guy ever post. It's not that the publishers "know best"; they don't, but parents in fact DO know best and are looking out for their kids' best interests, even at the cost of giving up their own best interests. Publishers aren't looking out for developers' best interests, they're looking out for the stockholders' best interests. When it comes to game design, how would a PFB be better at knowing what's best in a game? Developers are perfectly right to rebel.

I suspect the article was written by a teenager, or someone who was recently a teenager who has yet to become a parent.

You hit the nail on the head. It's more like the relationship between an RIAA record company and their musicians. And there are many, many paralells -- such as the use of DRM, which failed miserably back in the floppy days, when we refused to buy such games and the houses that employed DRM went kaput. A tech company should KNOW that DRM is as big of a fraud as any snake oil. It can't possibly work. Yet they keep trying.

These corporations should let their creative people (musicians and singers in the case of the RIAA, coders and visual artists in the case of games) create and stay the hell out of it until the work of art (game or album) is finished, then market the damned thing.

I'm reminded of Die Hard IV, where the suits decided that they'd tone it down to the point where it wouldn't have to be censored for TV, and it sucked. A PG-13 Die Hard? Those MPAA execs need to put that coke spoon down. The theatrical release went over like a lead balloon; the movie wasn't Die Hard. When they released the "unrated" version on DVD, it was as good as (maybe better than) the previous three.

The games industry should realize that what they are producing is art, and let their artists create in a free environment.

The Original DOOM and Wolfenstein had only a handful of guys making them. Seeing as how software development tools are far less primitive than they were twenty years ago when these games came out, I don't understand how they can spend millions developing today's games. Except for the graphics I don't see any difference in today's games, except that they just aren't as fun.

Re:Terrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29845041)

The money obviously doesn't all get allocated to the actual development (coding, artistry, design) that goes into making the game, but rather all the people at the top who want their cut. A legal Pyramid scheme if you will.

They are not necessary, but convenient. (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#29844001)

Useful but not necessary. Their alignment would appear to be chaotic/neutral. Rolling aggainst DEX for an FP...

Re:They are not necessary, but convenient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844323)

Oh oh, you roll'd a fumble...

Re:They are not necessary, but convenient. (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 years ago | (#29844513)

Since you mentioned trademarks of Dungeons & Dragons(tm)(r)(c)(sm).
Judging by the releases over the last few years, as well as the reaction of the actual developers, Wizards of the Coast in bed with "New Atari" isn't any better as games publishers than others.
Personally, I think they'd sell tickets to Gary Gygax' grave if they thought it could make them money.

Re:They are not necessary, but convenient. (1)

danbeck (5706) | about 5 years ago | (#29844939)

I did some checking and I found out that Wizards is actually a for profit company. Your post made me think for a second that they were a non-profit organization created to help spread D&D around to poor and underprivileged people.

You may want to check that out yourself. You seem to be confused about why Wizards is in business.

Publishers (2, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29844005)

Films, books, music and games all have publishers that push for them to complete for deadlines, yet I've never heard of an artist (painter, sculpter, whatever) pushed for a deadline due to their sponsors money issues, Certainly for public displays marking an event, but they're generally given generous amounts of time in the first place prior to starting.

Maybe someone will burst my bubble and reveal that all artists are pushed by publishers, it's just that we never hear about it, but if not, what is so different about a painting or sculpture as a labour of love than a game or film as the same?

Re:Publishers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844233)

I got this site from a social bookmarking do-follow instant list. They said that we can post our links directly in these sites and these links will be considered as a backlinks so I came here to check either these sites accept the links or not. wireless internet [webdevforums.com]

Re:Publishers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844241)

I guess it is because most works of art don't require massive up-front investment and most artists get paid based on what their works actually raised, rather than receiving a fixed sum regardless of the commercial performance of the result (unless they are on a grant, which is not a commercial arrangement). They don't have "publishers" so much as "agents".

Also, most artists probably earn and cost a lot less than the average game developer. A $40k recoverable advance would allow a novelist to complete a novel at home, but the same amount of money would probably pay for about three months of a single developer once office space, equipment and overheads are factored in - and it wouldn't be recoverable.

If you could hire a group of developers who were happy to not be paid at all for two years, and who would then receive an amount that could vary from $0 to $riches, and who would supply all the equipment and pay for any technology licensing required themselves, then yes, you can do without publishers. Otherwise you have to realize that the very high risk involved in developing games means the targeted returns (and control) of the publisher will have to be high.

Re:Publishers (2, Insightful)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#29844247)

Games, films etc. are made to make money, not to just satisfy artistic desires. Sculptures and paintings can only sell because of some perceived originality or artistic value; they don't have continued entertainment value (and by continued I mean longer than 10min). Sponsor thanks the artist, publisher invests into the creator.

Re:Publishers (5, Informative)

Benjo (644811) | about 5 years ago | (#29844357)

My sister in law is a sculpter, believe me she knows all about deadlines. Most of her work is commissioned by either wealthy people or companies like hotels. It takes a while to make a large sculpture but they definitely want it on time.

Re:Publishers (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#29844693)

are you naive? Do you really think the Catholic Church went to Michaelangelo and said here is a bunch of money, take all the time you need and just send a message when you're done? and if you never finish it then just keep the money?

No, they said we need a sculpture for so and so church to be done by this deadline for some event where it will be prensented.

I work in a part of NYC with a bunch of art galleries. there are bills to pay to keep the business going and that means you always have to have a supply of art to sell. Just like in the old days when Michaelangelo or Da Vinci had to pay their students who worked for them, buy the materials, pay the mortgage, pay the living expenses, etc.

Re:Publishers (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29845029)

No, I don't, but the catholic church didn't force Michaelangelo to stop before it was finished because they wanted to make money as soon as possible

Re:Publishers (3, Insightful)

Targon (17348) | about 5 years ago | (#29844829)

A big issue is the costs involved with game development, and the advertising side of it. You also have to expect that when it comes to books, there ARE pressures placed on authors to release the next book in a series. Do you REALLY think that the seventh Harry Potter book didn't have the publisher asking for updates and pushing for it to be done so they could print and sell it?

Now, in the development of computer games, you really have two types of development models.

The first is when you have an independent developer with its own money that can get the job done from start to finish. In that case, the publishers only need to do some very basic work when it comes to the product development, like putting in the normal copyright stuff, publisher logos, etc. In these cases, the publisher only has to do advertising for the product to generate enough hype to properly sell the product. It should be noted that this CAN cost a lot of money. TV advertising is VERY VERY VERY expensive, and advertising in movie theaters and such also can be expensive. The production costs for the advertisements for TV ads as well can not be discounted. So, how many millions of dollars can they REALLY spend to hype a game before the advertising costs exceed expected revenue?

Then you have the case where a publisher has to INVEST in the development of a title. This becomes more essential as the development cost of an all original game with engine takes four to five years, and all the programming, sound, and other development work, plus voice actors(every game has voice acting in it now for the most part), licenses for the software used for in-game cut scenes, etc. How many millions of dollars does it really take to make a game these days? How many start-ups can afford the risk of spending $10 million or more for a game that may not sell more than 10000 copies in a worst-case scenario? With this situation, the publisher DOES have to invest a bit to help the developer get the title out, in the same way that book publishers will give an advance on royalties to an author to help the author make it a full-time investment(rather than writing while working a regular day-job to pay the bills).

The big thing is when a publisher really tries to hype a given book or product vs. these books that come out that are very good, but that no one has heard of. You will notice that you don't see books advertised very often, considering how many books are published each year. That shows the level of investment from the publisher. And, books have what, 1-4 people who do the writing, vs. how many people are needed for game development.

So, a better comparison would be the film industry, where you have hundreds, if not thousands of people who contribute to getting a movie out the door. The thing is, film is a mature industry, so it is easier to see up front and early when a movie will be well done, or if it will be horrible. You hear from the film industry about movies that get started in production, but then die as well(if you look into it). You hear about budgets and costs in movie development. And you hear about the studios running into money issues when they release too many bad or mediocre moves in a year, and they lose money in a given year. The difference is that movie studios DO have systems in place for how things are done, and people with experience that can be called in to help fix problems with projects that are having problems.

Now, do you see how generally independent game developers have it a lot harder? Who do you go to when you run into problems and don't have the expertise in-house to deal with them? Even companies like EA, which have a lot of expertise don't seem to have management understand how to make use of the talent they have available to them to help the smaller developers gain the experience and expertise needed to stand on their own.

And of course, game technology is still advancing at an insane rate. Due to how much better(faster, better quality graphics, sound, etc) computers become in a four year period, there is no comparison between a game released ten years ago and today when it comes to the visuals. Cut scenes are done in much higher resolutions, and the number of polygons and detail in 3D models is so much higher today that greater attention to detail is needed to make things look good. As a result of this, what is possible today would have been impossible ten years ago because back then, not enough potential customers had equipment that would do justice to the finished product. In another ten years, we may all be running on systems with 24 cores running at 5GHz for all we know, and AI in games may very well be so much better that you really get in-game characters that don't have to be scripted to seem alive. That may be pushing it a bit, but maybe not....

With that possible future in computer hardware, how much work will need to be put into software development? Will we see $100 million dollar development budgets be needed for a big release? Will the game development extend from the current "focus on the teenage crowd and throw in lots of sex and violence into the games, and ignore the larger group of potential customers"? That is the question, and only financially successful publishers and developers will be willing to take risks to bring in those who do not care for war games.

Re:Publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29845593)

That's because the good artists already have the marketing done in the form of important gallery showings. And if the artist sells something at that show, you better believe the gallery takes a LARGE cut of that money as payment for the marketing. Look up Lori Early and when she did her art showing in Manhattan 2 years ago. lots of money she got for working herself sick for several years...

R music publishers a necessary evil or just evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844011)

A bit easier to answer that question eh? :-)

But seriously, it's clear that publishers lend a degree of expertise to any business, but at some point their contributions may start to be outweighed by their negative influences and or their inability to adapt to a changing industry.

In the games business this balance may be still be in the favour of the publishers since it's a much more technical business than say music publishing... but in the future the balance may tip the other way...

Father and Child? (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#29844017)

The analogy is completely wrong and misused.

For starters, where's the car?

Re:Father and Child? (3, Interesting)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | about 5 years ago | (#29844097)

More like a car design engineer who creates a seriously hot car designed to carry a family of 4. Then due to the $300k price tag and low-price brand is forced to cut corners to get to $30k, removing most of what made the car awesome in the first place.

If the car designer disagrees and still wants to build that $300k family car, he should quit and start up a new auto company to do just that.

Re:Father and Child? (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | about 5 years ago | (#29844633)

I dunno - it seems pretty apt to me. It does facilitate the whole "eating your own babies" concept, after all....

Re:Father and Child? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29845445)

For starters, where's the car?

In the garage, it won't start. Are you going to replace the starter?

Innovative? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844023)

Ahahaha.

I'll have whatever the writer is smoking.

Third option (4, Insightful)

Fr05t (69968) | about 5 years ago | (#29844029)

Just Evil.

Re:Third option (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#29844207)

So IDs 69968 and 78285 posted the same response with just a minute of difference?

Hmmm, suspicious.

I want to say "alien conspiration" but it's most probably a glitch in the AI that posts all Slashdot's replies.

And now that we're at it, "Dear SlAIshdot, please stop with the frist posts already."

Re:Third option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844221)

Please, let me have whatever you're smoking.

Re:Third option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844231)

Well the titles aren't the same. You can take you're tin foil hat of now.

Re:Third option (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 5 years ago | (#29844471)

"Just evil" is the first thing I thought as soon as I saw the headline too. So its easy to see how it could be posted twice so fast. :)

Activision is the shining example right now of everything wrong with publishers. "Evil" definitely applies to them. "Necessary"? Not so much. Most of what a publisher does is try to take stranglehold control over things they didn't actually create, to profit from somebody elses work, and to run franchises into the ground in the name of short term gain.

In this day and age, we can get along without them just fine.

Re:Third option (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#29844505)

"Just evil" is the first thing I thought as soon as I saw the headline too. So its easy to see how it could be posted twice so fast. :)

First 69968 and 78285 and now 79566.

Clearly there a mind control experiment was done on new slashdotters around the time of IDs 78k.

Re:Third option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844731)

Clearly there a mind control experiment was done on new slashdotters around the time of IDs 78k.

That's just evil.

Re:Third option (3, Funny)

stjobe (78285) | about 5 years ago | (#29844511)

You have hindered our work for the last time, uid 1188877. You will not be allowed to do so again. When you hear the knock on your door, do not make a scene, resistance is useless.

Thank you,
/theAlienConspiracy of 69968 and 78285

Re:Third option (2, Funny)

ginbot462 (626023) | about 5 years ago | (#29845329)

I'm interested in your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Though, as a 6-digit ID, I would probably be assigned "Probe Assistant" or some other lowly task. Maybe I can work my way up to "Bowel Dissector".

Fourth Option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844245)

Yes

Re:Third option (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 years ago | (#29844321)

I guess I am showing my bias... but why WOULDN'T the developers know more than the publishers?

I'm sure that they have *some* knowledgeable persons, but aren't they like most overblown corporate organizations that are top heavy with MBA managers that know paperwork more than they know the actual product?

Console makers prefer to deal with publishers (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29844657)

why WOULDN'T the developers know more than the publishers?

For one thing, the companies that control access to the platform (e.g. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Valve) prefer to deal with larger, more established companies, and that usually means publishers.

Re:Third option (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 years ago | (#29844329)

Yes, I was wondering myself why this option in answer to the question posted in the title was missing.

A better analogy is that publishers are like RIAA members, and developers are like artists.

I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide from that analogy what level of relevance publishers have in this day and age.

You don't need approval to sell CD-R albums (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29844701)

A better analogy is that publishers are like RIAA members, and developers are like artists.

You don't need an RIAA member to get the approval of Philips to put your album on CD; a band can just start selling copies through CDBaby if it comes to that. But you do need a publisher to get the approval of Nintendo or Sony to put your game on a disc or on the console's online store. And without the possibility of a console version, there aren't enough PCs in the TV room to make a viable market for some genres.

Re:Third option (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | about 5 years ago | (#29844805)

Most publishers are evil, but there are a few exceptions. Stardock is probably the most notable, but Valve is pretty good with Steam. Oddly enough, they run the 2 largest digital distribution platforms. Blizzard used to be in the generally good category, but I doubt they will stay in that category since they sold out.

On a side note, if you want unparralleled input on the development of a new game pre-order Elemental from Stardock and jump in on the beta. It's a multi-phase beta and they are just barely beyond the point where they make sure it doesn't fry your PC. You can actually join the forums even if you aren't in the beta and contribute that way as well. There is currently a spirited discussion on how resources will be accounted for. Right now it ranges from "If you have Iron you can build stuff that requires Iron anywhere" to "Iron from your mines is stored in the city the mine is built in and must be transported to other cities using caravans. Individual equipment can require specific amounts of Iron." It's really interesting seeing these decisions be made.

Link: http://forums.elementalgame.com/ [elementalgame.com]

Re:Third option (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29845249)

Valve usually get given a finished product and still take a hefty cut, how is that not evil? Sure publishers deserve large cuts if the invest in the game, but to take as much as valve do for just distributing the game and giving it a few adverts (at 0 cost to steam) seams unfair.

Just evil (1)

stjobe (78285) | about 5 years ago | (#29844031)

Just evil.

like movie studio or book publisher... (5, Interesting)

lapsed (1610061) | about 5 years ago | (#29844043)

Book publishers edit, ship, manage the printing of, and distribute books. They also balance the riskiness of publishing each individual book across their portfolio of books. In the same way, movie studios are good at financing and distribution, but a big part of what they do is invest in multiple pictures, so that even if one movie bombs there are always others.
Something -- regardless of what it's called -- has to be able to hold a portfolio of games. To make informed investments, that entity is probably going to have to understand the industry. That knowledge is likely to be valuable and applicable high-level marketing and strategy decisions, and *rightly or wrongly* the investment will only be made if that knowledge can be applied, or if the investor has some power of the developers.
Workers in other very capital-intensive creative industries -- film and television, for example -- tend to be stratified into two economic classes. People in the upper classes eventually get money and are then able to call the shots. There's no reason why the same thing can't happen in gaming. But money will, for the most part, determine who has the power.

It's the monkey suits, man (3, Insightful)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | about 5 years ago | (#29845323)

This, to me, is where our watered down version of capitalism fails. Now, I'm a capitalist, but I'm not one of these fanatics who call socialism evil. Socialism works if done correctly and capitalism works if done correctly. To admit the biggest failings of both systems, socialist economies tend to be too focused on a limited number of industries which might make it more difficult to withstand tough economic times, while capitalist economies tend to spread too thin among all manner of industry, perhaps creating problems with quality specializations and therefore affecting the overall view of products from those companies.

However, as I said, they both have their place. And they're not mutually exclusive. You can have both in balance or in moderation.

Anyway, pardon me for digressing. Going back to my original point, our version of capitalism in the US is corrupt, plain and simple. And it's not because of over-regulation. Regulation can indeed stifle competition, but it can also encourage it. And this is perpetuated by both major parties. This is a subject where we are firmly entrenched on the Right. There are Democrats who speak out for moderation, but they aren't exactly vehement about it and most of them aren't generally willing to crusade for it.

However - and this is coming from a very unabashed liberal - our "Right" actually fails to achieve or even try to achieve the traditional outlook on economy. The supposed champion of capitalism in this country, the Republican party, has very little interest in promoting true capitalism. On the contrary, they regulate it more than the Democrats do.

Our legislation and tax practices are heavily stacked against the small businessman in favor of the corporations. This is deliberate and our government has every reason to continue this trend, particularly because the poor and the middle class show no interest in challenging it.

Think of this: an entrepreneur might open a small business in a poor area. The owner is local, the employees are local and the business is tailored to the needs of that community. The money made generally stays within that area and if the business is successful, ultimately proves to be a great benefit for the other members of that community. At the same time, it is greatly in the owner's best interest to deal honestly and provide quality service and goods. They simply cannot afford to screw up. And yet, these businesses are the most common targets of the IRS and local agencies like the various health departments. It makes sense for them to. The big businesses not only can hire professional accountants to keep everything kosher, they can keep lawyers on hand to help them cover their butts when the tax laws become inconvenient. The small businessman is prone to mistakes. He or she must do everything themselves unless they have a family member who can figure it out. The health department can find all sorts of reasons to fine a small business. A small business in the food industry can have an industrial sink that's an inch too narrow according to arbitrary city or state guidelines and not only receives a fine, but is given a short amount of time to remedy the situation before the inspector returns and gives them another fine.

But the small businessmen are a feisty bunch. They'll fight through all of this and, with luck and struggle, make it to the point where they can consider making a small profit. The economy of the neighborhood inches up. More potential small businessmen are encouraged to give it a try. The local economy seems on its way to a small renaissance.

And this is what Wal-Mart and McDonald's have been watching and waiting for. Up pops the Megalomart to take advantage of a slightly more affluent community that is still just poor enough to go for the incredible bargains on low quality goods in order to keep making it. The myth that the politicians and pundits have drummed into our head is that these monoliths create more jobs, so the small businesses begin to drop off. The giant chain store is given tax breaks and incentives by the city they don't need that are completely unavailable to the small businessman, who, let's face it, isn't a worthy investment because they're going to fail once the big dog moves in (unless, of course, they get a big enough name that they can begin to cheat the customers without worrying about running out of customers to cheat). The money the city makes off of them mainly comes from those aforementioned fines. Once they're gone, no one cares any longer. And now, the bulk of the money made in the community goes where? That's right: China. The rest of it mainly goes to corporate headquarters located in another state chosen by the corporation by which one will give them the biggest incentives, usually in the form of tax breaks. And most of that goes to the only people important to the politicians and pundits - the generally worthless minority at the top of the chain. The CEO, the Board of Directors, etc.

Okay, after all that, this is what brings me to gaming. Many of you remember the early days. The explosion of gaming really began in the days of DOS. The independent programmers and small publishing houses pioneered the industry, often doing amazing things with the limited resources provided by the technology available. And I'm sure you'll remember the sheer variety available. Monkey Island, Sherlock, Jazz Jackrabbit (a favorite of mine), Zork, Jill of the Jungle, Pac Man clones with various twists, Doom, Civilization, Prince of Persia - there was no limit to the creative process. And most shareware was as easy to get as a quick dial-in to your favorite BBS. Some of these continue to garner some sales with no changes from the way they were made way back when. Show a young gamer a few old titles in Dosbox and you'll often find an excited convert.

So what happened? Suits. Once again, a rather worthless group of people who make decisions based on focus groups and current market trends. Hey, these FPS games are making a lot of money - let's try to outdo them. Those vapid MMORPGs are really raking it in - let's make another. The creator of Sherlock didn't need anyone to tell him what to make. He had an idea, thought people might enjoy it and guess what - we did. He still offers the full version for a nominal fee and it's just as enjoyable now as it was then. We didn't know we'd like it because we hadn't seen a game like that before. But we tried it and spread the word. No one told the creator what to write and no one told us that this is what we want.

That's another thing that brings us to where we are. You guys saw the commercials for Call of Duty and Halo and admit it: most of you bought them. And yeah, they're fun, but don't you ever get tired of playing the same type of game over and over? Don't you every once in a while long for the days when you had a good variety of games to jump back and forth on? Especially ones that didn't eat up a large chunk of your hard drive? Tell me honestly, when was the last time you downloaded a shareware program to try? Compare that with the last time you shelled out big bucks for yet another FPS. When most of us get a hankering for something creative, what do we do? Download Dosbox and start looking for old abandonware. Even teh suck.

Back to the suits. What games do you think they normally play? Here's a hint: they usually take place at casinos.

I'm not without a suggestion for a solution. I didn't natter on about our flawed capitalism for my health. Consider this and tell me what you think:

First, kill the corporate entity. We're talking about an entity, an imaginary "person", who is given rights by our system as if it were a real person - some of them unavailable to real people. If the executives run a company into the ground, it's no loss for them. Under the corporate entity, they are usually absolved of any responsibility (Enron was just sloppy). They give themselves a big bonus, cut out, and find another corporation willing to pay them top dollar. Often in a field they've never worked and have no understanding of. Everybody else gets screwed. And this, they tell us, is the Right Way.

Once the corporate entity is gone, it's time for regulation. Civic, state and federal governments may no longer offer incentives to large businesses that they do not also offer to small businesses. No tax breaks but that which is equally available to all businesses. When making regulatory legislation, it applies equally to all businesses in that sector.

Open the markets. Oooooo, scary. But think: capitalism does not require that we allow monopolies to control entire infrastructures. Why not let mavericks with the gumption to make a small claim on what the big boys have built do so? Isn't that more laissez faire than what we currently have?

Sadly, we have quite a while to go before making any difference with imaginary property and "owned" thoughts, so we'll have to wait on that as the brave few fight for it and try to educate. In the meantime, there are things we can do.

Publishers a parent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844045)

If EA was a parent, I think I'd rather be an orphan.

Like anything else (2, Insightful)

phanboy_iv (1006659) | about 5 years ago | (#29844093)

...sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. Publishers can obtain and manage capital, and if they deal fairly and wisely with the devs they fund it's a good thing.

If, on the other hand, we have something like Activision/Kotick, well, that's pretty indefensible.

A publishing house that has degenerated to the point where it cares exclusively for ensuring its own well-being is an evil one. There has to be a symbiotic relationship, not a lethal parasitic one.

Re:Like anything else (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 5 years ago | (#29845067)

A company should care exclusively for it's well being. It just isn't doing a very good job if it fails to recognize the creative aspect of the developers.

please land..... somewhere (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844107)

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/10/23/airliner.fly.by/index.html

Kinda depends (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29844131)

Publishers can do good and bad, and have done both. Likewise developers can do well one their own, or poorly. Overall I'd say publishers are useful.

One of the biggest things they do is provide resources to get games developed that otherwise might not be able to be made. If you are a small games studio, you probably don't have the money to work on a large scale title for a couple years with no money coming in, and additionally buy other things you may need (like if you need to hire an outside composer, because you don't have one). Well, a publisher can provide that. You sell them your idea, they pony up the money for you to make it a reality.

Another useful thing they do is setting deadlines. If they are stupid about it sure it can be a problem, but when it gets down to it this needs to be done. You can't work on a game forever. Technology changes, you have to get it out in a reasonable timeline. While developers might get all wrapped up in their project and just want it to go on forever, publishers can be more objective and set goals. A game that isn't everything you want, but it fun and actually on the market is much better than a "perfect" game that never exists.

Also even if a game studio totally develops a game in house, self funded and everything, they may choose to sell it to a publisher. Reason is that when a game is released there is still stuff to be done. It has to be marketed, it has to be distributed, etc. A game studio doesn't always have the staff/resources for that, so they hand it off to someone else.

An example of a situation where a publisher was really needed was Duke Nukem Forever. While it technically had a publisher (Take Two), they weren't in the typical arrangement of funding it. As such 3D Realms could basically do what they pleased, they were footing the bill. What happened was a decade of unfocused running around and now a canceled game because they ran out of money.

Now an example where a game was fine without a publisher would be Galactic Civilizations 2. Stardock decided that since they'd been screwed over by a publisher on GC1, they'd just self publish. The game came out in a reasonable amount of time, with a low budget, and sold well on account of being a rocking title.

Overall, publishers are probalby useful. In part just because it creates something of a division between the creative and business sides of a game. You'll notice that even large integrated game houses often function in the developer/publisher setting. EA owns a lot of game companies, and if they wanted to they could simply make it all "EA". They would be the developers, publishers, and so on. However they don't seem to do that. They have separate internal game studios, with their own headquarters and so on that develop the game, and the EA publishes it. Even their EA label stuff is that way. EA Sports is a subsidiary in Vancouver (with it's own CEO and so on), whereas EA itself is in Redwood.

My guess is they do it that way because it works better. The development subsidiaries are just "developers" and just worry about making the game. EA itself then worries about funding, marketing, and so on.

Re:Kinda depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844603)

To journey back to the "old days" of cardboard chits and hex paper, Avalon Hill lasted for a MUCH longer period of time than SPI because it was, at a very real level a printing company, not a game company. The FIRST Avalon Hill went tango uniform very quickly. (IIRC after two games). Their biggest creditor was their printer, which got their stock and name. And proceeded to go into the game business with hard-edged business sense that was missing from the game creators who founded either the original company, or SPI. So yes, it can be helpful to have number crunching killjoy adults in charge. Doesn't make it fun, though.

Re:Kinda depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844745)

Sycraft-fuI I was writing something very similar to what you just wrote. Unfortunately I deleted it all as to not be redundant. This leaves me with instead of writing several pages breaking down cost profit structure or to just give people the urge to think it through. It's very dependent on the type of contract.

What that means is that it is very dependent on exactly who is responsible for what. Everything from funding structure if there is a need for one, down to how many photo shoots and interviews the game company CEO is responsible to go too and who arranges the limo to get that person there. It all costs money. So this brings us to money. Yes it could be a 50% take if the developer needs hand holding and funding. Hand holding down to the level of arranging the limo to get to an interview somewhere. Only the already famous have the interviewer pick them up.

Then the delicate subject on how much is risk worth in the return expectations. Goto any industry and try to get risk capital money to expand your product. You would be very lucky to keep 50% of your company. Remember the publisher might be risking millions. Most PC games don't make $20million.

The answer is. Unless you have very deep pockets and want to branch your game development business out into being a publishing business and risk more money than your game will make. Then by all means be my guest, because this whole viral thing only works if your game does in fact become contagious to a very wide audience, or hugely successful to a small niche'. Either way, the developer needs to be a genius business mind, or in fact does have a better mouse trap where people are beating down your door. But if they do in fact beat it down, then you screwed up!! Because you should have marketed better to sell your game to those that are not beating down your door. You missed the 'what's all the fuss about market segment and that is also huge.

Re:Kinda depends (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29845543)

Stardock decided that since they'd been screwed over by a publisher on GC1, they'd just self publish.

That worked because Stardock develops in a PC-centric genre. But because there isn't a gaming PC in most living rooms yet, developers of games in genres more suited to the living room than the computer desk (e.g. anything multiplayer that isn't an FPS, RTS, or online RPG) need an established publisher to represent the developer to the console makers.

Re:Kinda depends (1)

Aklyon (1398879) | about 5 years ago | (#29845699)

You can't work on a game forever.

Nethack is 20 years old. there is STILL a Dev Team. think about that.

Follow these steps (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 years ago | (#29844211)

1. Create a bad analogy
2. Get lost in your own analogy because it's so bad
3. Make sure you submit story title as a question
4. YESNOMAYBE

PS: Publishers suck. Haven't you noticed how hard it's getting to find PC games, even in game stores like Gamestop? THEY have decided to shift everything to consoles, because consoles "can't be pirated". They are middlemen that often add little value to software, and yet expect EVERYONE (devs AND consumers) to dance to their tune.

It's the 21st century. If Steam/Gamersgate/whoever can sell me a game online as a download and/or as a boxed set, ANY developer can. This model has worked successfully in the past for independent companies that have chosen to implement it. The cost of the bandwidth is nothing compared to what the publisher is going to screw you with.

They are just greedy Jews (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844227)

Greedy Jews force money to be chosen above and beyond any progress and life.

Let there finally and really be a holocaust to get rid of Jews and have the creativity flow!

Totally unnecessary (1)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29844251)

I have an Internet connection. I can rent bandwidth and rent or buy space on a web server. I can broadcast news of my game via social networking, message boards and other free medium. If I can work out how to write games, managing a web server isn't going to be brain surgery.What the fuck do I need a publisher for? I'm not unique.

Publishers fuck off.

Re:Totally unnecessary (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | about 5 years ago | (#29844285)

uhuh. dude you have no fucking idea. sure for a website taking a few 100 meg a day from a few visitors. it gets a hell of a lot more complex when your content is pumping gigs an hour. not only that who is going to fund your team of developers?

Re:Totally unnecessary (1)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29844399)

I guess you've never heard of high bandwidth web hosting? Or teams of developers that build complex software that are either sponsored, do it for profit but independently, or do it as a hobby. By that logic most open source wouldn't ever exist.

In fact last I heard most publishing houses treated their developers like shit - expecting them to work 80-100 hour weeks year round.

Re:Totally unnecessary (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29845479)

Or teams of developers that build complex software that are either sponsored, do it for profit but independently, or do it as a hobby. By that logic most open source wouldn't ever exist.

The problem with your argument is that the best games tend to be proprietary; open source game development has been mostly mediocre for the past decade, with the occasional gem.

Re:Totally unnecessary (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 5 years ago | (#29844337)

Yeah. The only other things a publisher can do is get shelf space in high street stores, advertising space in computer magazines, mentions in the mainstream press, show at E3 and fund development for a year, as well as hire professional web designers who know about promotion and page layout to sort out the website.

Re:Totally unnecessary (1)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29844377)

Who the fuck needs shelf space in high street stores? Music downloads now exceed physical sales, and music is more main stream. Advertising in computer mags isn't what makes a game sell. Certainly mention in mainstream press doesn't make a hit. If you're a hot developer with good titles you'll also be able to show at E3, and overpaid web designers who speicalise in page layout are highly over-rated. As for funding development for a year, I guess complex software never gets written by hobbyists, or by sponsored professionals - Linux, Open Office etc must be figments of my imagination.

Re:Totally unnecessary (1)

twosmokes (704364) | about 5 years ago | (#29844721)

I have never purchased a game that wasn't in a store. I don't know many people who have. I have never PURCHASED Linux or Open Office. It seems silly to do so. How do you think developers get hot in the first place? Sales. Good luck with your hobby.

Console makers hold the keys (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29845589)

I have an Internet connection. I can rent bandwidth and rent or buy space on a web server. I can broadcast news of my game via social networking, message boards and other free medium. If I can work out how to write games, managing a web server isn't going to be brain surgery.What the fuck do I need a publisher for?

A publisher represents you to the console makers, which hold the digital signing keys to the console bootloaders. If you decide to make a multiplayer game PC-exclusive, you have to make it good enough that people will spend either $1,800 for three additional PCs and monitors for players two through four, or $450 for a gaming PC to connect to the TV.

NEITHER! (4, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29844271)

I am a game designer, and I don't see any point at all to game "publishers". Everybody can rent a server for a couple of dollars, and offer his game there. People can pay with paypal. It's also really easy to offer other payment options (e.g. with web shops). Then you can pay a marketing company to do advertisements for you. Put videos on YouTube, make a nice game site, maybe some local real-world ads. And a ton of viral marketing.

What more do you need nowadays?

Sure, you can always also put it in web shops, like Amazon, eBay, Steam, etc. But only as a second thought, because it has a big price attached to it most of the time, and you have to check its profitability first.
That's why I never ever go to actual game "publishers". With them, you are very unlikely to be profitable at all. Because they take giant profit margins of the actual retail price. And on top of that complete insult, they also want and assume all kinds of rights, and may actually damage your business. (e.g. Don't be surprised it they loudly think about suing you for still selling the game yourself on other channels!!)

So I call the title of TFA "game publisher FUD". Plain and simple.
If you so much as think about contacting a game publisher, you already have done your first error. Don't make the second one.

Re:NEITHER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844361)

You call yourself a game designer but yet you go out and do all the things a publisher should do! Sounds to me like you don't like the publishers that exist today but that doesn't mean that there cannot be a publisher doing the things you just described.

Re:NEITHER! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#29844425)

Not everyone has: a) money to rent and maintain the server, b) access to PayPal withdrawal options (I'm from Croatia) _OR_ money to pay web shops for maintaining your content, c) money to pay marketing company, d) money to pay local real-world ads.

Not to mention producing viral advertising isn't trivial. You need publishers to take off the burden of marketing from you, so you can concentrate on what you do best: development. Or do you want to hire several people just to sell the game, while that one combo of developer+artist you can afford after all the expenses works on the next $5 shareware puzzle game for the next two years?

Hm.

Re:NEITHER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844589)

Not everyone has: a) money to rent and maintain the server.

Actually, yes they do. A server is trivial cost even to a tiny company.

Re:NEITHER! (1)

danbeck (5706) | about 5 years ago | (#29844981)

Actually, no they don't. The physical server cost may be trivial, but the cost to host it, supply bandwidth, maintain it and keep it updated is not. We aren't even talking about the dev work required to do something useful.

Or are you talking about one of those companies that hires the VP of Marketing's 15yr old nephew to do the dev work instead of a real person? Boy, you betcha, that's gonna be successful.

Re:NEITHER! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#29845567)

I'm talking about sum of all the costs. If you sum all my points, it can grow to be significant. A server by itself it cheap and worthless. But if company has to choose between spending loads of money on marketing but pay me (their employee) much less, or offloading it to a publisher with established practices and connections and pay me (their employee) more ... guess what I vote for?

Re:NEITHER! (1)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#29845273)

You need publishers to take off the burden of marketing from you, so you can concentrate on what you do best: development.

That's a good theory, and not just for games. But in practice, it's always the developers who get shafted in that arrangement. The marketing, sales, and business people get the control and the big bucks, and the developers are treated like interchangeable widget-makers. And in case you think that's a valid distribution of reward given the risks, note that if the product flops, the developers get laid off first.

Re:NEITHER! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#29845633)

Of course the developers gets much less than they deserve. But if you have to choose between getting nothing at all, and getting much less than you deserve, what do you choose?

Besides, my experience with publishers says they invest a great deal of money and effort into you. We've had the services of the publisher's QA team, we got voice-overs recorded. They covered things that we'd have trouble covering. Three-to-four betatesters almost-full-time covering a game developed by four-to-five people? They caught quite a lot of bugs. Some more, some less important, but they were very detailed.

That sounds nice, doesn't it? Would we be able to manage that? I don't think so. Without the publisher's support, best we could do is ship a half-product that would have certain areas of the game in certain corner cases impassable, and occasionally the game would even crash.

That's the experience I've had -- quite positive. YMMV.

Re:NEITHER! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844469)

Well the primary reason developers go to publishers is to secure funding to develop the product. Unless you have access to vast amounts of capital or are making a small indie game how do you plan to fund development? Venture capital? It's just as cut throat as a publisher. Even indie games can cost a huge amout of money to produce. Also don't underestimate the value of a propperly organised traditional marketing campaign. Viral is great when it works, but I suspect we never hear about a great many viral campaigns because they simply fail badly.

That said the deals publishers offer are stacked in their favour and they retain huge control of a product. The hold the purse strings and almost all of the control.

The core problem is huge team sizes, very limited sales windows and generally limited shelf life of a product (there are exceptions) in brick and mortar retail outlets which drives up the risk and cost of producing games. Lets leave out the whole debate on weather or how much used games sales hurt developers.

Publishers aren't evil, they are just a business that is extracting maximum profit from market conditions. Some of them can be a developers greatest allie and some of them can ruin a developer. I don't think you can tar them all with the one brush.
 

Re:NEITHER! (1)

BananaPeel (747003) | about 5 years ago | (#29844547)

You have to take into account there is a huge difference between small indi companies and larger game developers. If you have invested a lot of money up front to make your game. You need to recoup that as quickly as possible (time value of money). You also need to be certain that you have made enough noise compared to all the competing products out there. Your investors will not be happy if you left this very important area to chance. Advertising, PR etc are all hugely expensive, you have to be sure your product will make the biggest splash.

This process costs money. Sure you can do without it but lets face it many games are a bit lame, If there games are launched they will probably only make a fraction of what it would have made with a publisher pushing it for you simply becuse the whole viral thing would not work for you

Re:NEITHER! (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 5 years ago | (#29844681)

Sure, for small games.

If you want worldwide distribution and marketing, and the money and manpower needed to make your game as big and detailed as you want it to be, then a publisher comes into it.

Compare making a game like, say, Batman: Arkham Asylum from scratch, compared to say....Bejewled.

Both (1)

cirby (2599) | about 5 years ago | (#29844793)

There is now room for both the small, single-person game shop (as long as that person is a programmer, game designer, artist, editor, and publicist) and the major, high-dollar, high-end company (yes, it costs money to create really big games). That small-game person becomes... the publisher. On a smaller scale, but the same thing a "game publisher" does.

If you're good, you can create a one-author game, put it online, and let people download it for some amount of money. If you want to make money with it, or get more than a few dozen people to buy/play it, you're going to need some sort of promotion. Which means you either need to hire a promotion group, or farm the game out to someone who will promote it (take out ads, convince reviewers to play it, etc). You know - a publisher.

If you put together a team (ten or twelve people), create a hugely successful "big" game, market it, and make a lot of money at it, bad news - YOU'RE the publisher...

Re:NEITHER! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 years ago | (#29845433)

It seems like you are doing a lot of work that is not designing games.
So Lets say it took you 6 months to make the game.
So with PayPal how much do you get dinged for every sale. How much is the marketing company going to charge you? How much time are you planning to put in making YouTube, developing a nice game site, all the viral marketing. Sometimes Marketing fails, so that is even more risk on your end.

For the most part you may get better margins however you may end up better with a publisher, in terms of better living (not having to do everything) and the fact that you may get say $1.00 from a $60.00 box copy. vs. $30.00 per $60.00 box copy. But it could be the difference between millions of sails (A million dollars to you) vs. 10000 sales ($300,000).

Now the trick it to find the right publisher for you one and make a deal that you feel is fair, and make sure the publisher can do better then you could alone.

But like all business sometimes it is better to do it yourself (say that $300,000 my be the best your game could do due to a niche status your are filling) or sometimes it is better to get a publisher because a lot of people would like your game.

No. (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | about 5 years ago | (#29844365)

No.

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

A matter of size? (1)

sten ben (1652107) | about 5 years ago | (#29844385)

I can't help but wondering if it is a matter of size. It seems, just from casual observation, that the bigger the publisher gets the less inclined it gets to allow innovation. Actually that seems to be a pattern in most areas, perhaps, as profits and revenues increase, human caution kicks in. More to loose, less to gain so to speak.

Taking risks is only natural for those with either nothing to loose or with enough resources that a loss doesn't matter.

Of course this is just speculation, and I have enough papers to read to bother looking into this. Anyone else?

how about (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844463)

how about we stop the collective ideological masturbation and come down to the issues that matter:

where will my next really good meal be
when will i get laid
what clothes are there for me to wear
what car do i drive

once we sort this out, we can talk about videogames god dammit.

oh my god (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844485)

For christ's sake, game developpers are not f***ing children.
Who is the retard who writes stuff like this ?
It is insulting for me as a software developper to read stuff like this.

In short, not really (1)

Niubi (1578987) | about 5 years ago | (#29844535)

But I confess that I like shiny games with nice graphics and an interesting storyline. That's not to say there's no indie games out there like that, but on the whole... (I liked Prey, for e.g.). Perhaps minor gamemakers could form some sort of coalition and flog their wares on a site like DubLi or eBay which both have some kind of global reach?

Maybe there is room for more App Stores? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844567)

People have varying degrees of love or hate for Apple, but most will agree that even as frustrating as it can be for developers, the Apple App Store has been wildly successful at promoting, delivering and managing the marketing and updates of iphone and ipod touch applications. They take 30%, but they handle all the mechanics and don't require you to sell your soul. The beauty is that any regular joe developer is on a level playing field against the big boys - the EAs and the Zynga's of the world. Any one can build a game and successfully sell it through the App Store.

Why can't this model be created generically outside of Apple to apply to all other applications, games, books, music, art and anything else that traditionally required a publisher or middleman? Combine the best features of App Store, Zazzle, Amazon, Ebay, and Deviant into one really cool, state of the art website where the owner takes 25% or something and lets the developer/artist/writer call the shots?

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Re: New Style Air max 90boot man Shoes,CA Bag (3, Insightful)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 5 years ago | (#29844849)

We offer kinds of Newest Style Handbag,Brand Handbag,Fashion Handbags,
Ladies' Leather Handbag,Replica Handbag

Selling leather handbags on Slashdot? Seems like this AC is a perfect example. If he had a publisher, he'd have known that Slashdot isn't the place for him.

Publishers are not the problem (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | about 5 years ago | (#29844631)

The problem is the large publishers like EA and Activision and Atari (many of which also have in-house development shops) and the fact that said large publishers wont publish anything thats in any way new or different.

What the games industry needs is publishers that are similar to what Fox Searchlight and similar studios are to the movie industry (i.e. someone willing to do smaller indy games).

And we need publishers (and retailers) that realize that not all games need graphics that push a GeForce 9800GT to its limits, audio that is best heard on a 8.2 channel speaker setup and 5-year development times.

Re:Publishers are not the problem (1)

canajin56 (660655) | about 5 years ago | (#29845673)

Atari is pure evil. Well first, they're a really shitty publisher who bought a new name to try and make people forget how shitty they are. Didn't work because they kept on being shitty. Also, they somehow acquired the Starcontrol trademark at some point in their buying trademarks spree. (The copyright is still in the hands of the original developers). Now, if you have a trademark but don't use it, you lose it. So they hammered out a 5 second job Flash game called Starcontrol, just to cockblock the original developers from ever making another one.

EVIL EVIL EVIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844669)

Of course not! The FOSS games available are so wonderful in comparison to the crap the publishers push! They don't even support Linux for the most part! These jerks in the suits don't understand me anyways!

Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29844715)

I've been developing an indie game in my spare time for a very long time (I don't want to quit my day job). I should have a demo out by the end of the year if all works out; and the full version done some time next Summer. I currently don't have a publisher, or any real ironclad marketing-distribution plan...though the trailer is almost done.

I'd like to delegate the work of marketing and distribution to a publisher so that I can focus on development. I've had no luck in exciting any publisher (big or small) with my game. None of them actually told me *why*, but my guess is it's for one or more of these reasons: I'm an unknown and therefore undesirably high-risk, they prefer the game be 99.999% done before I pitch it, I simply haven't looked hard enough, or the game is just bad and undeserving to be published.

Having said that, I'd like to hear other indie teams share their experiences with publishers (or lack thereof), marketing and distribution. Viral marketing and listening to your player base is a no-brainer; but the rest, to me, is still a mystery that will only be solved through experience and asking many questions.

I fixed it for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29845587)

"Are Game Publishers a Necessary Evil, Or Just Evil?"

The Child is Usually Right? (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 5 years ago | (#29845657)

In many ways, it does know more than the parent, and is closer to what's innovative, but maybe hasn't figured out how to hone that energy yet

Without commenting on the validity of the analogy, I for one found that as I get older I increasingly realize my parents were usually right.

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