[casual_games] What to expect from a publisher

James Gwertzman james at popcap.com
Wed Jan 11 02:07:23 EST 2006

Even though most of our games we develop ourselves, PopCap has been publishing selected third party games for a while now. We've signed a few deals just recently, in fact. I expect that the services that we provide as a publisher are similar to those provided by other publishers such as GameHouse and PlayFirst, namely:


-          help & advice creating a AAA game. We have a lot of experience for what works and what doesn't work in this space, and generally we help outside developers working with us bring their titles to the highest level of quality. We give advice, but we also provide direct help - in some cases we provide art, music, sounds, level design, whatever it takes. We also provide extensive testing and release management support.


-          our framework and engine (though these are also available to everyone through developer.popcap.com). Developers working with us get extra help, however, and access to our ActiveX control which has not been released widely (though may be in the future).


-          our distribution network, which is extensive. We have distribution deals with most of the major portals and distribution networks, both here in the US and also around the world. We have several full-time business development people doing nothing but managing distribution - it's one thing to sign a distribution deal with a portal. It's another thing to actively maintain a relationship with that portal full-time. In addition, our own site popcap.com is a fairly successful channel in its own right and we so far only distribute games we publish ourselves on it.


-          Our localization team. We have a dedicated team in Ireland that is localizing all of our games into foreign languages. We believe that international distribution is going to be increasingly important in the future. We have also extended our commitment to the Macintosh (as we just announced today) and are releasing all of our games on the Mac. Porting to the Mac is also something we may do for our developers who don't want to or can't do it themselves.


-          Access to other platforms, such as mobile & Xbox. It doesn't make sense to port your games to these channels yourself - as a developer, you should focus on building great new games. We have relationships and resources to port your games to other platforms as it makes sense.


Back when I was at Sprout Games, we signed up to publish through Gamehouse. The way I thought about it at the time - we could build out an entire sales & business development team, or we could simply outsource the whole thing to another publisher. Once you're big enough, it makes sense to do this yourself. But when you're just starting out, even if the publisher takes a 50% cut (or more!) that's still more cost effective for what you're getting than trying to duplicate it all yourself. As long as the publisher does a good job on your behalf. If they don't... fire them!

James Gwertzman
Director of Business Development
PopCap Games

-----Original Message-----
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Tim Turner
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 7:39 PM
To: 'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'
Subject: RE: [casual_games] What to expect from a publisher


A publisher will almost certainly negotiate a better deal with the portal than you will.  AND they will do additional marketing.  AND they will push your game to more venues than you will likely do on your own...  But they will also take a slice of the pie.


With a publisher you get a smaller slice of a bigger pie.


As you ask around you might hear some "its getting harder and harder to get your game placed on the portals" and while I don't have specific experience to the contrary I've spoken with several of the portals recently and they were all eager to talk.  YMMV






From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of John Tan
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:04 PM
To: oliveira at bluefish-media.com; 'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'
Subject: RE: [casual_games] What to expect from a publisher


Hi Miguel,


My opinion on why the developers would do so is for marketing and branding. 

John Tan 
Hatchlings Games Studio 


From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Miguel Oliveira
Sent: Wednesday, 11 January 2006 8:01 a.m.
To: Casual_Games at igda.org
Subject: [casual_games] What to expect from a publisher


Hello all,


it's been very informative to read up on all the insightful email exchange since this SIG has been started.


Now, I have a question of my own.

I see an increased number of games being distributed by publishers such as GameHouse, iwin or PlayFirst.

What would be the three main reasons/benefits (excluding the obvious one: cash) for a developer to go with a publisher instead of taking his/her game to the major portals directly?


Have a Happy 2006.


Best regards / Beste Grüsse,


Miguel Oliveira
Bluefish Media 


 <http://www.bluefish-media.com/> www.bluefish-media.com

www.gamepueblo.com <http://www.gamepueblo.com/> 

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