[casual_games] selling game online [getting 60-75% from a
kimpall at microsoft.com
Fri Feb 9 17:59:16 EST 2007
James did a nice job in clarifying the difference between a "publisher" and a "distributor", and that definitely was part of the confusion in Greg's otherwise-very-thorough post.
Two points I'd like to add:
1 - I'm not sure an 'agent' is the same thing as a distributor. The former would imply representing your game and fighting hard for it's placement, marketing, etc. The latter implies facilitating the market connection between many 'products' and many 'storefronts' (in this case 'games' and 'portals'). Some distributors may act as agent for some games, but my guess would be that in most cases, you are better off looking at it as purely a distribution function.
If anything, I think the term distributor/aggregator is more descriptive, since the aggregator term is descriptive of the function they provide depending on your point of view.
2 - Greg makes the point about portals being "less eager to work with individual developers, because they have limited business development bandwidth". I'd posit that the same is true for developers too, as they may be eager to do a deal with an MSN Games/Yahoo games/etc, but not so much about doing individual contracts for a hundred lesser known sites in 10 countries that may sell a handful of units/year. So the distributor adds value in both directions.
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 09:12:42 -0800
From: "James C. Smith" <james at reflexive.net>
Subject: Re: [casual_games] selling game online [getting 60-75% from a
To: "'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'" <casual_games at igda.org>
Message-ID: <00cb01c74c6d$835c77d0$6301010a at Reflexive>
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I would agree that Greg Costikyan's description of a publishing deal is
accurate. He is talking about going to a full service publisher who will
provide upfront funding and presumable many services such as testing,
localization, and marketing. For a service like this, it is reasonable for
a developer to get 30% of whatever the publisher gets as Costikyan suggests
or the 30-40% that James Gwertzman says is common.
However, I want to make it clear that there are many other possible types of
distribution deals that are sometimes also referred to as "publishing" but
have very different royalty rates that are more in line with the 60-75% that
Anonymous mentioned and Gwertzman shot down. Sometimes a developer can fund
development himself and take care of testing and localization, but just
needs help get getting the game on more portals, or doesn't want to deal
with each portals contract. In cases like this it is very seasonable (and
I believe common) for a developer to receive 60-75% of whatever the
"distributor/agent" is getting.
I think this understand of agents is very relevant to Costikyan's
conclusions. In conclusion point #3 he says "If you can reach any of the
major portals, it's probably worth doing a deal" but goes on to accurately
state that "But in most cases, they're less eager to work with individual
developers, because they have limited business development bandwidth, and
prefer to deal with larger partners". In conclusion point #5 he says "Deal
with a publisher only if there is really no other choice"
I think this leaves the inaccurate impression that to get a deal on some
portals who "limited business development bandwidth" you would have to
settle for the 30% of net deal that he describes as giving the developer ~
$1.26 per game. This isn't true at all. There are many companies who will
help you get your game on those portals and give you closer to 75% of what
they get from the portal. Some people call these guys publishers, some call
them distributors, some call them agents. The point is, this is one
possible path for developers that Costikyan doesn't mention and it shouldn't
be confused with the "publishing" deal that Costikyan and Gwertzman are
James C. Smith
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