Mythbusters: Do game developers need publishers?

I caught up with Nicholas Lovell of GamesBrief the other day to find out what he'll be talking about at TIGA's Self-publishing seminar next Wednesday. Here’s what he had to say, and it’s pretty interesting stuff:

'Let’s dispel a myth.

A myth that the games industry has created over the past thirty years.

That myth is that developers need publishers.

In the physical world, it was absolutely true. The logistics and finances need to manufacture, market, warehouse and distribute a title for a single launch date were staggering.

Now, you can release your game at the press of a button, making it instantly available to half a billion Facebook users, or the entire web, or iPhone-toting commuters, or gamers gripping controllers in front of their PS3s.

So the good news is that you don’t need publishers any more.

The bad news is that all of the jobs that publishers used to have to do still need to be done. (Well, not quite all of them. You don’t need to handle warehousing or manufacturing if you don’t have physical discs).

You still need to work out how to get money from the customer and put it in your pocket. You need to get the code from your servers to a player’s device. You need not only to tell people that your game exists in a very crowded market, but you need to persuade them to buy it. Most challengingly for many developers, you need to find the money to make the game in the first place.

So if you need to do Sales, Distribution, Marketing and Finance, shouldn’t you just use a publisher.

The answer to that question is maybe. You could do these four key functions yourself. You could outsource them all. You could hire freelancers. Or you could abdicate responsibility to a publisher.

The thing that has changed - fundamentally, irrevocably changed - is that now you, the content creators, are the ones who get to make that choice.

Come along to next week’s TIGA event and learn what you need to know to exercise that choice.'

Nicholas Lovell is the founder of GAMESbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. A former investment banker and entrepreneur, Nicholas now spends his time helping companies make money from games. Recent clients include Atari, Channel 4, Firefly Studios, nDreams, Rebellion and Square Enix. He has written a book called “How to Publish a Game” and runs masterclasses on “Making Money from Social Games”.

To find out more, come along to next weeks TIGA's seminar on 'How to Self-Publish and Market Your Game'. The event is free and you can register here.

2 Comments Tim Flett

Posted by
Tim Flett
Wed 20 Oct 2010: 9:13am

Tags: , ,


  • Denys:

    They are also game developers, thus provide content, consequently are choosing themselves.

  • Oleg:

    I googled "why do game developers need publishers" and came across this old article. The world would be a better place without EA and Ubisoft.

comments powered by Disqus