How to get a publisher for your game and make an interesting game at the same time? I'm going to share my thoughts, tips, and tricks on how you can make sure that you're on the right track with your project, right from the start!
"...you're more able to focus on things that not only the publisher finds interesting, but also make sure that the game has an existing player base."
Start by researching potential publishers
The first and most important thing to do is to gather a list of publishers, who have published a game recently and maybe even had some success while at it. At this point you're not supposed to be looking that much into what type of games they've published, just gather a list of all you can find. (a minimum of 10-15 publishers would be good to have)
I have a game in development (or ready to be released)
You should sit down and study how many of these publishers have a similar type of games published and drop the rest of the publishers out from the list. Publishers are mostly looking for games which "fit into their portfolio".
I'm still deciding what type of game should I make
If you don't have a game yet, you can look at what kind of games do these publishers have in common. Make a clear understanding of what genre and maybe even what type of features should your game include. Write this all down, since this will be the structure of your game design. Once you have a list of publishers who share similar types of games, you can drop the rest out from the list.
Understand the genre/core player
Now it's time to take a deeper look into these games. You should have at least five games/publishers on your list. Play these games and gather the following data (if available):
- What features do these games have? (You can use Game Refinery)
- What type of graphical design?
- On which platform(s) are these available?
Now you should have a list of publishers and games, which have similar games, but you also have statistics more clear idea of how they've performed. Let's go a little deeper now.
Find an interesting niche
Because cloning a game is not a good idea, it's better to figure out what the games are missing, or maybe they have too much of something? Now we need to consult the actual players. Instead of sending messages to players, we can use the following platforms to gather ideas/discussions around the game. (If you can't find any discussions within these platforms, the game is most likely too small to even continue the research. Pick something else)
You should focus only on discussions, which have been somewhat popular. By leaning too much into opinions of a single player, you may sidetrack way too much. Gather ideas, what the game should include (or not include) and write those down to that very same list.
Now you should have a list that includes a lot of necessary information to form your own game design. With these "canvas" you have in your document, you're more able to focus on things that not only the publisher finds interesting, but also make sure that the game has an existing player base.
Write a small game design and create your first playable prototype. Once that is done, stop right there. It's time to see if your creation has any future.
Keep the publisher(s) updated of your progress
Reach out to all the publishers on your list with your game prototype and ask for feedback. Maybe even go back to these Reddit channels and share the build with that audience. You should get some response from somewhere, which can guide you in the right direction.
With this iteration, you're able to go forward. Do not expect everyone to be super excited about your creation, but they should see some potential in it. To be honest, it's hard to say a single "rule" which tells you that the game has a bright future. But you should get even some type of response! If you did, it's time to go forward to the very last step.
Aim for a "vertical slice" of your game
The publishers are always interested in knowing are you ABLE to create an appealing game. What this means, is that by only showing a prototype you're not convincing them that you can create polished and good looking products. That's why you need a version of your game, which does NOT have hours of gameplay but it shows that a couple of minutes of gameplay is looking as awesome as possible.
With this 2-10 minute vertical slice, you should be able to convince a publisher to continue the negotiations with your game, or maybe even have the game funded.
1 Do research
2 Understand your audience
3 Find the niche
4 Create a prototype and share it to stay on the right track
5 Create a SMALL vertical slice of your game (low amount of content, as polished as possible)
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