開發者談遊戲在做出Alpha版本後要啓動的重要相關環節

本文原作者:Chris Shrigley 譯者:ciel chen

所以你做出了一款遊戲。那麼接下來呢?

你的遊戲現在已經基本上算Alpha了。你埋頭苦幹了個把月製作構建,現在的你在家裏懶洋洋地躺着,終於看到了終點線。你打算在發行賺錢之前,再花幾個月打磨和調整你的最新力作使之平衡。事實上,當你在Google搜索營銷、PR、社區建設、發行時,整個全新的世界都是對你開放的。你在網上會看到屍檢報告、聽聞恐怖故事、以及看到GDC展會的視頻、還會看到一些遊戲,因爲缺乏曝光或者叫人感到無趣而在開發最後小几個月崩解、或者在發行過程中消失得無影無蹤。然後現在,你坐在那裏,擔心着你的極品創作,這個你注入幾個月創意和精力的結晶。一個隱隱的可怕想法從你心底蔓延開來——一種恐懼,一種害怕你的遊戲會失敗的恐懼。

還有很多事有做呢!如果你像我一樣,你也會有你的侷限性。這裏需要一定程度的坦誠,尤其是在這種即將臨近項目尾聲的現實情況下。我們都有不同的技能,並且我們都對我們在做的事很拿手,但是沒有一個人能成爲所有領域的專家。舉個例子,我最首先是個程序員,然後我也可以在不得已的情況下做很多其他領域的事(除了美術,我的美術真的很爛),但是對於商業拓展、營銷、PR和社區建設呢?不不不,這些對當下的我來說就是個迷,我從來都沒有碰過這些領域,結果又一次我逼着自己做了一次與這些有關的工作內容,而我並不稱職。這對我來說是遊戲開發過程不怎麼有趣的一部分,我保證你們大部分人也這麼認爲的。除了那些營銷書呆子除外。

slikata(from gamasutra)

slikata(from gamasutra)

再把範圍擴大,看看其他的團隊成員,我猜你有個“苗條精緻”的團隊,擁有的技術都是構建遊戲所需要的必須技術,這可以從你隊伍人員職能的五花八門看出來。小、雜、獨立的遊戲開發團隊典型都是僅靠所需方面的天才/技術員組成來完成遊戲的製作的。一個程序員、一個藝術家、一個設計者、一個音樂師(如果你幸運的話)、一個製作人(如果你不幸的話(開玩笑開玩笑的!我愛製作人!)),甚至這些角色可以由一個人來擔任。事實是這樣的,如果你要小本經營地運作你的項目,這種情況很典型,通常你都是押上家當然後在靠其他人的好心把這個項目完成的。集錢來尋求專業的細節部分幫助,從而使你的遊戲能夠帶給現成玩家是一件很有挑戰的事。這種誘惑通常只會把事情搞砸,這些事還是得自己上。這對於不擅長營銷領域的你來說也許是個難題。況且這裏不僅僅是營銷,還有PR,這讓你得離開你的黑乎乎的辦公洞穴出來跟人類交流(抖)。過程中會有很多合同、保密協議(NDAs)、以及其他需要爭取的法律文件;需要安排的活動和會面;需要籌集的資金。成百上千萬的大事小事在你做出了一款遊戲之後再等着你。如果低估了專家和專業人員的價值,你會很危險的。

營銷和業務發展在項目的開始階段不會是要求列表中的重頭戲,他們直到最後纔會受到關注。找尋發行商可以解決一切小型獨立遊戲開發團隊會面對和糾結的問題——營銷/PR、廣告、活動、分銷、經費、產品支持等等等等。這實在是太好了對不對,不過這些可都是要付出相應的代價的。發行商會要分成,這取決於你的業績,而且很有可能被獅子大開口。然後你的那一份還要分給Steam和其他分銷平臺上,最後你幾年的辛勞可能跟得到的回報根本不成比例。當然了,好的發行商會把你的遊戲帶入下一個階段,況且大蛋糕的一小塊終究比迷你蛋糕的一大塊要好些吧。嗯……我喜歡蛋糕。無論怎樣,一個好的發行商可以爲你帶來很多有價值的東西,所以這是個你要考慮的路子,好好算算。

非此即彼,你也可以選擇自己做發行。你可以修修補補地做一個計劃、做個Kickstarter衆籌、通過你的朋友幫你宣傳,纏着一些網站和Youtube給你一些報道,然後祈禱。也許你會爲此投入一大筆錢。也許你會好運。這個方法的存在的問題是——會失敗,而且基本上都會。對你的遊戲成品有效的營銷是做遊戲過程中潛在的至關重要的一步。

要清楚的是,這篇文章不是爲了支持自發行而反對傳統發行商的,反之也不支持。是用發行商還是自己發行,你是先弄清楚自己的情況和需要。這兩條路都有各自的好處和壞處。這篇文章接下來是一對說明和想法,都是我根據過去幾個月對這整個主題的觀察得來的。你知道的,我做的遊戲也還是個Alpha呢……(咽口水)。

所以,是自發性好呢,還是找個發行商呢?

這是個大問題……

爲了得到“專業化的”幫助,讓你放棄遊戲中的一小個部分是否值得?每個想要盈利的遊戲開發者都需要坐下來好好坦誠地聊聊這些事。我們要權衡利益與代價。是分下品遊戲利潤的七成好些呢,還是分到好很多的上品遊戲利潤的二成好呢?當然了,你不一定需要放棄你遊戲的一小部分來得到專業幫助。你只需要資金。因爲專業人員是需要報酬的。

發行商vs.合作人

這裏還是有區別的。一段合作關係,比起直接的發行交易,會有額外的無形資產,比如:熱情、創造力、對遊戲各個方面的的投入(超遠資金的投資)包括營銷,經銷、以及生產。一段合作關係通常建立在互相信任和講信用的基礎上,常常有大量項目合作以及持續和相互成功的前提條件。而擁有一個真正在乎你正真想和你合作來讓你盡你所能做出最好遊戲的發行商,是我們都希望得到的。

理想發行商的特徵

“平臺和聚光燈”。理想的說來,發行商應該退居二線,促進開發者和遊戲的成長,把開發者和遊戲放在首要地位,而不要置身於開發者和遊戲之前攬功勞。遊戲和開發者纔是這個領域的主角。發行商應該爲開發者和遊戲做一名稱職的大使。

“個人關係”。這跟遊戲可及性有關。你的發行商有多大的影響力和可用性?與你合作的“負責人”或者銷售經理又或者聯繫人是否稱職?有沒有很多“絆”?每次與他們交互的時候跟你說話的是同一個人嗎?你知道是誰在負責發行的哪部分還有發行商的組成人員嗎?知道誰能把事情做成做好嗎?如果能同你喜歡的人以及有認可文化的發行商真的事有幫助的。還要知道他們是否認真把你的利益考慮在內,以及他們是否能在真槍實戰的時候爲你鼎力相助。

“真誠和現實主義”。每個參與的人都必須能夠彼此坦誠地交流而不是在錢、截止期限和其他會對遊戲造成影響的因素上勾心鬥角。雙方都要能夠在提出問題和回答問題的時候有換位思考的意識。資金是很重要,它是讓這段關係運作的源頭。錢從哪裏來又要花到哪裏去?要如何分配和花它?

拜託發行商給你項目資金是一件嚴肅的事,不是開玩笑的。這事關資金和聲譽,所以要嚴肅對待,每個細節的處理都要一絲不苟。作爲去開拓可能發行商的遊戲開發者,你要負責對發行商的工作產品和名譽做些調查。在你打算跟任何人談談之前科普一下自己。查查他們的網址、YouTube頻道、業務和反饋。瞭解他們是如何成功的,以及他們的成功方法是否對你的遊戲適用?

一旦你跟一個發行商進行了嚴肅的談話,跟他們要求提供推薦人(是的你可以這樣要求)。跟那些已經跟該發行商簽約了的遊戲開發者聊聊。但是不僅是那些已經成功的。還要知道發行商是如何解決那些表現並不那麼好的開發者/遊戲的?這會讓你知道很多關於發行商是如何對待開發者以及他們在事情發展不順利時是如何表現的。

對發行商提出的問題

簡單的問題…..你要如何讓我們賺到比自己發行遊戲還要更多的錢?

發行商能提供的並不都是你會感興趣的或者跟你的情況相關的。你有可能是被完全資助的。你有可能只是需要通向特定平臺的途徑。你可能是迫切地需要錢來維持遊戲的運轉或者需要書面文件的幫助。

這些都是你在確定簽署協議之前,需要考慮和向潛在發行商提出的問題。

營銷/PR——廣告、活動和社區

發行商能提供些什麼呢?他們的能力範圍是什麼?他們都有什麼樣的資源?他們是否有個團隊?他們的基礎是什麼?他們是否對某個特定國家是特別在行的?我們的遊戲會被髮行在哪裏(國家/地區)?他們是否能通目標市場的語言?他們是否知道國家/地區之間的細微區別?他們要如何發行這款遊戲?要求舉出以前的其他遊戲的活動案例。他們是否能讓Streamers和Youtubers知道?那Social Media呢?社區建設和管理是如何的?營銷活動的典型預算或開銷是多少?要如何花這筆錢?這些開銷是否能收回?他們是否有參加過活動?是國際的嗎?看看他們的業績如何,還有他們是如何支持其他遊戲的。

分配——頻道、數字平臺、零售、推銷和活動

這裏主要是有關渠道方面的。Steam、PSN、Xbox這樣的渠道。在首頁上的位置、遊戲的廣告推送、推銷之類的。發行商跟各個經銷渠道都有怎樣的關係和接觸途徑?你要自己做一些調查功課。看看發行商的業務目錄,有沒有適合用在你遊戲上的?是否有機會和他們的其他產品進行交叉推廣或者“協同發展”嗎?

資金注入——發展資金

你需要多少資金以及什麼時候需要?對此要明確清晰地瞭解,因爲合同是不會讓你你“重籤”的。你到底真正需要多少錢,不論是短期上還是長期上都要了解。等資金不足回頭跟發行商要的時候只會削弱你的地位,並且可能意味着你要放棄自己遊戲的一些東西作爲代價。修改合同不僅難而且貴。

生產項目——測試、音效、本地化、畫外音配音、視頻製作等等

交易內容是否含括了生產服務?這些對於發行商是大成本項目,所以生產項目都有什麼,要如何收回成本?發行商所提供服務的專業技術是什麼水平?他們要承包給誰?你是否能和他們有直接接觸還是有所限制?

其他說明/想法

當在談協議的時候,不要爲空頭支票買單或者承諾任何事;如果有什麼不清楚不明白的,就問清楚,問到能有一絲不苟的解釋爲止;要求他們給出成功範例;弄明白資金是如何運轉、流進流出的;搞清楚算賬的原理和支付安排是如何構成的;瞭解任何影響資金的提醒和條款;發行商是如何收回成本的?什麼是思量過的“成本”?什麼時候能收回(安排)?這裏不存在蠢問題,只有沒弄清這些而失敗的可悲開發者。

Fallen London (from sykong)

Fallen London (from sykong)

持續性。知道你發行商的健康狀況。是誰投資的發行商?誰在買單?要關注及預測潛在問題。瞭解風險,準備好“備用方案”。爲未來做打算和自我定位。瞭解你的資金需求。整個系統下來,想得到回報是需要時間的,爲你的下一個項目做好打算。

和發行商/合夥人交流真的是極其重要。要頻繁並且早早地交流,避免“驚嚇”彼此。還有不要疏忽了重要的內容,如果有什麼不清楚,就把它弄清楚來。當然還要了解決策人是誰。

IP和所有權對於一個遊戲開發者來說真的是很重要。遊戲對於你來說就像孩子一樣,而IP就像它的靈魂。從長遠上來講,IP是你最有價值的資產,不要把IP售賣出去成爲任何協議的一部分,對未來那些還要基於這IP製作的續篇和附加遊戲做點考慮。發行商是否對更長遠的合作有興趣?合同裏是否有任何附加條款限制了你在別處對自己的IP進行開發?發行商是如何對你的IP進行定位,向全世界推廣的?你的IP不僅事關遊戲,而且是其他任何跟它有關的機遇,可以是書籍、T-shirts、漫畫書、“玩偶”、遊戲卡、電影、任何。擁有所有權就是擁有控制權。

有各種各樣的發行商和五花八門的承諾,你得了解你自己的發行商(無所不知)。要掌握各種動態,驅動交易的進行還有掌控住你的遊戲和IP,比起你需要它們,它們更需要你,因爲如果交易黃了你還可以自發行。

確保你跟團隊和跟合作人的個人協議都很面面俱到、清清楚楚的。瞭解公司結構和所有權、資金如何分佈、支付計劃、賬目、法律事項、承包商的管理和支付方式、賬戶的保存方式和費用跟蹤。合同很重要,沒有合同一切都是空談。

大體的營銷/PR說明

如果你選擇了自發行,考慮僱傭一個PR專員或者營銷公司來幫忙吧。營銷和PR是一項艱鉅需要全職的工作,這就是艱難的真相和現實。總有些人在得到合理的報酬的情況下會給你幫助的。要知道即便是簡單但專業有考量的計劃和時間線都會對大部分人起到非常大的幫助和指引。

社交媒體——Facebook沒多大用;Twitter比較好;Reddit比較有難度,你必須按照他們的規則來玩不然就得被罰。總體來說,用社交媒體來作爲你的公司或遊戲網站的一個通道是比較不錯的選擇。可能的話,組成圍繞着你自己的網站的社區,你會因此保住你遊戲內容的所有權。

網站/微博——大部分人爲了遊戲會建立並完善自己的網站。說到底,遊戲纔是這裏的重點嘛。一旦你擁有了幾個遊戲,把它們集中在同一個公司網頁就有意義了。圍繞着這些遊戲做網站和社區完善是個相當大的工程量,所以要機智地安排你的時間。準備好“宣傳資料袋”,它要包含所有未來遊戲記者所需要的一切有關你遊戲的報道。然後寫一份幾句準確說明你的遊戲內容的描述,即“電梯遊說”( Elevator Pitch)。做一些簡短的副本,可以被複制黏貼到博客或者評論的那種。以及準備好各種質量和大小的推廣用截圖、渲染圖、視頻。

遊戲媒體——通過email宣傳之類的;在Twitter上進行互動,做email聲明和報道遊戲的發行。這時一個營銷專員/PR專員會給你幫大忙,尤其是他們人脈廣的話。

大衆媒體——爲遊戲想想別的宣傳角度,讓非遊戲媒體也能感興趣——廣播、電視、報紙之類的。想想遊戲有什麼特別的場景設定或者時間設定是非遊戲愛好者也有興趣的?遊戲是不是有社會或者環保意識啊?裏面是否存在政治或者對時事的主張?

Youtube——Youtube是營銷遊戲的一塊重要部分。知道“Youtube網紅名單”吧——http://videogamecaster.com/big-list-of-youtubers,找到對你遊戲感興趣的網紅談談看能不能幫你宣傳、你可以給他提前體驗遊戲的特權等等。

Twitch——Twitch上面全是遊戲的內容和視頻女郎(主要還是遊戲多啦)。Twitch最近通告說打算增加一個銷售平臺來作爲Twitch streamer的頻道。這給遊戲開發者可是提供了很大的利好,而且對於streamer來說也有了很多機會,所以你要去了解你的Twitch Streamers並且認出對你遊戲類型感興趣的那部分人。

展會和秀場——考慮給遊戲做個demo版本來曬一曬遊戲。人們其實就是想簡單地拿起來就玩,所以一定要給個控制器。如果這款遊戲要耗費很大精力或者不適合展會上玩,那就別浪費錢在展會上了。當然你要是想去逛逛跟酷斃了的人們一起嗨一下那就去吧。

Kickstarter——要把這個平臺作爲營銷策略的一部分。建立一份郵寄名單;組件遊戲受衆;爲支持者們做一個遊戲的特殊DEMO版給他們玩;過一段時間把一樣的Demo放到官網上讓所有人能下載;設立自己能做得來承受得起的獎品給達成成就的玩家(不要衣服、本子、手辦之類的實體獎品,雖然很酷但是做起來還要郵寄給玩家又貴又耗時間),所以儘量做電子版的獎勵比如原聲帶以及特別音樂曲目下載權、電子版美術原圖文件,要知道支持者對遊戲中的卷軸和“英雄殿堂”也是情有獨鍾的。

尾聲

對於多平臺的遊戲發行,就要爲不同用戶量身打造去講不一樣“故事”。你得知道PC用戶想看到的是什麼,PS4/Xbox用戶又想要什麼,要能做到最直接地迎合他們的口味。所以不同平臺想要的東西都不同,這讓我們必須對每個平臺都做出相應不同的UI/UX(用戶體驗/用戶界面)。

廣告對於遊戲的宣傳未必行得通,因爲它不是一個有效的交流模式。人們通常都把廣告屏蔽或者無視了。除非是去宣佈一些“重要”的事例如特價或者重大更新,否則廣告沒什麼效果。

跟遊戲社區保持密切聯繫。他們的評論和等級評定是很重要的,所以可以想想在STEAM上發些“收藏卡片”還是成就什麼的。

本地化遊戲,提供其他語言支持版本。像法語、德語和西班牙語等等。這個就根據你的數據顯示看看你的遊戲哪裏人玩的多來決定。

祝你好運!

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

So You’ve Made a Game. Now What?
by Chris Shrigley on 03/17/17 10:42:00 am
1 comments

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

So You’ve Made a Game. Now What?

Your game is almost Alpha. You’ve slogged through months of making and building, and now you’re in the home stretch with the finish line in sight. You plan on spending the next few months polishing and tweaking and balancing your latest masterpiece, before pushing it out to the world and making your fortune. Well, not quite. There’s quite a bit more to be done. In fact, a whole new world is just being revealed to you, as you Google about marketing, PR, community building, and publishing. You’ve read the post mortems, heard the horror stories, and watched the GDC videos, of games collapsing in the last few months of dev, or disappearing into the abyss on release, through lack of exposure or apathy. And now you’re sitting there, worried about your extraordinary creation, something you’ve poured months of creativity and energy into. A slow dread is spreading in your belly. A fear that your game will just, well, fizzle.

There’s so much to do! And if you’re like me, you have your limitations. A certain level of honesty is needed, particularly around the realities of the situation, and the ever looming end of the project. We all have our various skills, and we’re all good at what we do, but no one is an expert in all things. For example, I’m a programmer first and foremost, and I can turn my hand to a range of other things in a push (apart from art, I’m crap at art), but biz dev, marketing, PR, and community building? Nah, those have always been a bit of a mystery, and something I’ve historically ignored till the last minute, and then done a half-assed job with, once I actually force myself to do it. It’s just not a very interesting part of the game dev process to me, and I’m sure most of you will agree. The Marketing nerds won’t of course.

Looking wider to the rest of the team, my guess is that you’re running lean and mean and have only the skills you need to build the game, represented in your motley crew. Small, scrappy, indie dev teams are typically made up of the bare talent/skills needed to get the game made. A programmer, an artist, a designer, a musician (if you’re lucky), and a producer(if you’re unlucky (I kid, I kid, I love Producers)), and even those roles are usually covered by a single person. Fact is, if you’re running your project on a shoestring, which is typical, you’re probably all in and already relying on the kindness of others to get the work done.  Finding money for professional help with the nitty gritty part of actually bringing the game to a ready audience, can be challenging. The temptation is to bumble through and do it yourself. This can be a tough proposition if marketing isn’t your bag or what you do. And it’s not just the marketing. There’s PR which entails leaving your dark cave-of-an-office and talking to other Humans (shudder). There are contracts and NDAs, and other legal paperwork to wrangle and navigate. There are events and interviews to schedule. Money to be raised. A million little and big things to do once you’re done building the game. Discount the value of experts and professionals at your peril.

Marketing and business dev are not high on the list of requirements at the start of a project, and only really gets any attention towards the end. Finding a publisher can help with a whole range of problems that a small indie dev can face and struggle with. Marketing / PR, advertising, events, distribution, funding, production support, etc. etc. That’s great, but all that comes at a cost. Publishers will take their cut, and depending on your track record, that cut can be the lions share. Then you factor in the piece that Steam or other distribution platforms take, and you could end up with not a lot for your years of toil. Of course, a good publisher can take your game to the next level, and a smaller slice of a bigger pie, is still better than a big slice of a tiny pie. Mmmm, I like pie. Anyway, a good publisher can bring a lot of value to the table, so it’s definitely a route that should be considered, provided the math works.

Alternatively, you can self publish. You can cobble a plan together, run a Kickstarter, tap you network of friends to spread the word, pester sites and Youtuber’s to give you some coverage, and cross your fingers. Maybe you can throw a bit of money at it. Maybe you’ll get lucky. The problem with this approach, is failure. Basically.  Effective marketing of your finished game is potentially one of the most critical parts of making it.

To be clear this article doesn’t favor self publishing over a traditional publisher, or vice versa. Get a publisher or self publish. It just has to make sense for your situation and needs. There are lots of pros and cons for both routes. The rest of this article is really just a bunch of notes and thoughts about what I’ve found out the past few months looking into this whole subject. You know, being as my game is just about Alpha.. Gulp.

So, to self publish or find a publisher?

This is a big question ..

Is it worth giving up a piece of your game to get “professional” help with this stuff? Everyone making a game for profit, needs to sit down and talk about this stuff honestly. Weigh up the benefits versus the costs. Is it better to own 70% of something that does kind of crappy, or 20% of something that does a lot better? Of course, you don’t necessarily need to give up a piece of your game to get professional help. You just need money. Because professionals like to get paid.

Publisher vs Partner

There is a distinction. A Partnership, rather than just a straight publishing deal, will have additional intangibles, such as;  Enthusiasm, creativity and investment (beyond financial) for the game, across all aspects of the game, including marketing, distribution, and production.  A partnership usually comes from trust and credibility, built over multiple projects and consistent, mutual success. Having a publisher who actually cares and works with you to make the best game you can, is something we can all hope for.

Desirable Publisher Traits

“Stage and Spotlight”. Ideally, the publisher should put the developer and game front and center. The publisher should take a back seat and promote the developer and game, and not take credit or push themselves ahead of the game and developer. The game and developer is the star here. The publisher should be an ambassador for the game and developer.

“Personal Relationship”.  It’s about accessibility. How responsive and available is the publisher? Do you have a dedicated “handler” or account manager or contact to work with? Is there a lot of “churn”? Do you speak with a different person every time you interact with them? Understand who does what and what the structure is at the publisher. Know who can make things happen and get stuff done. It really helps if you like the people doing the work, and the “culture” of the publisher. Do they have your interests at heart and will they have your back in a knife fight?
“Honesty and Realism”. Everyone involved must be able to talk frankly and not pull punches about money, deadlines and anything that could impact any aspect of the game. Both sides have to be able to ask and answer questions with transparency. Money is important. It’s the thing that makes the relationship work. Where is the money coming from and where is it going? How is it distributed and paid out?

Wooing a publisher is a serious business. It’s no joke. There’s money and reputation at stake, so take it seriously, and be scrupulous in the detail.  As a developer approaching a possible publisher, it is your responsibility to research the publisher’s body of work and reputation. Educate yourself before talking to anyone. Check out their website, Youtube channel, Metacritic scores, buzz and feedback. How have they been successful, and how can that be applied to your game.

Once you are talking seriously to a publisher, ask for references (yes you can do that). Talk to developers that are already in the publisher’s portfolio. Not just the successful ones. How did the publisher deal with a developer/game that wasn’t performing well? This will tell you a lot about how a publisher treats a developer or behaves when things aren’t quite so rosy.

Questions to Ask a Publisher

Simple question.. How will you make us more money than if we did this ourselves?

Not everything a publisher can offer will be of interest to you or relevant to your situation. You may be fully funded already. You may just need access to a specific platform. You may desperately need money to keep the lights on, or help with paperwork.

These are things to consider, and questions you should ask a potential publisher before committing ink to paper.

Marketing / PR – Advertising, Events and Community.

What can the publisher offer? What are their capabilities? What resources do they have? Do they have a team? Where are they based? Do they specialize in a particular country? Where will the game be marketed (countries/regions)? Can they speak the language in that market? Do they understand the nuances of the country/region? How will they market the game? Ask for examples of previous campaigns for other games. Do they include streamers and Youtubers? How about Social Media? How about community building and management?  What is a typical budget or spend on a marketing campaign? How will it be spent? How will the cost be recouped? Do they go to events? Worldwide? Look at their track record and how they have supported other games.

Distribution – Channels, Digital, Retail, Merchandising and Events.

This is mostly about access. Steam, PSN, XBox. Placement on storefronts, inclusion in promos, merchandising.  What access and relationship does the publisher have with the various distribution channels? Do your own research. Look at the publisher’s catalog. Where does your game fit? Is there opportunity for cross-promotion or “synergy” with their other products?

Funding – Money for Development

How much do you need and when do you need it? Be specific and clear, as contracts don’t get a “redo”.  How much will the money actually cost you, both short and long term. Going back to your publisher for more money after the fact will only weaken your position and will probably mean you have to give something else up in return. Modifying an agreement can be difficult and expensive.

Production – Testing, Audio, Localization,Voiceover, Video Production, etc.

Are the production services part of the deal? These are real costs to the publisher, so what are they, and how are the costs recouped? What level of expertise does the publisher have in the services they offer? Who do they contract out to? Do you have direct contact with them or are they a walled garden?

Additional Notes / Thoughts

When negotiating an agreement, do not settle for wishy-washy answers, or assume anything. If there’s something that isn’t clear or understood, ask for clarity and for it to be explained in excruciating detail. Ask for examples. Understand how the money works. How it flows in and out. How the accounting works and pay schedules are structured. Understand any caveats and clauses that affect the money. How are publisher costs recouped? What are considered “costs”? When will they be recouped (schedule)? There are no stupid questions, only sad and broken developers.

Sustainability. Know the health of your publisher. Who funds the publisher? Who pays them? Pay attention and anticipate potential problems. Understand risks and have a “Plan B”. Plan for the future and position yourself for the future. Understand your requirements on the money side. Payments take time to filter through the system. Plan for your next project.

Communication with a publisher/partner is super important. Communicate regularly and early. Try to avoid surprises, and don’t ignore important stuff. If something isn’t clear, make it clear. Know who makes the decisions.

IP and ownership should be really important to you as a developer.. The game is your baby and the IP is its soul. IP is your most valuable asset, long term. Do not sell the IP. Do not make it part of any agreement. Think about the future and sequels and additional games based on the IP. Does the publisher have any interest longer term? Are there any exclusivity clauses written in that would prevent you developing your IP elsewhere? How is the IP positioned, promoted and messaged by the publisher to the world? The IP isn’t just the game. It’s ANY other opportunity that comes out of the idea, be it books, t-shirts, comic books, “plushies”, trading cards, movies, anything. Ownership is control.

There are lots of publishers and lots of promises. Understand your publisher (know everything). Stay in charge. Drive the deal and keep control of the game and IP. They need you more than you need them, because you can always self-publish if the deal is bad.

Make sure your personal agreements with your team and partners are squared away and very clear. What is your company structure and ownership? How is money distributed? Understand disbursement schedules, accounting, and the legal stuff. How are contractors managed and paid? How are the accounts kept and expenses tracked? Contracts are important. No handshakes and vagaries.

General Marketing / PR Notes

If you self publish, consider hiring a PR person or marketing firm to help. Marketing and PR is hard and is a full time job. That is a hard truth and reality. There are people out there who will work for a reasonable fee, and give you a “leg up”. Even a simple, but professionally thought-out plan and timeline would be a huge help and guide for most people.

Social Media – Facebook is useless. Twitter is better. Reddit is perilous and you must play by their rules or be punished. Generally, it is better to use Social Media as a funnel to your company or game website. Build your community around your own site if possible. You will also keep ownership of your content that way.

Website / Blog – Most people build a site for the game and promote that. The game is, after all, the point here. Once you have a few games, it makes sense to gather them under a company site. Making websites and promoting community around them is a fairly big job, so spend your time wisely.  Have a “Press Kit” available. It should contain everything a would-be game journalist would need to put a pieces about your game together. Write an “Elevator Pitch”, a couple of sentences that says exactly what the game is about. Make some short pieces of copy that can be copy/pasted into a blog or review. Have various quality and sizes of promotional screenshots, renders and videos available.

Have a mailing list sign up, Stay in touch and engage your followers/community regularly. Cross post to social media, providing links to get people back to your site. Get on Indie game dev and player community forums and get involved with their communities. Get involved with communities interested in your genre of game. Once you have the beginnings of a community around the game, consider hiring a fulltime community manager, because running it is a lot of work.

Game Press – Reach out with email etc. Follow on Twitter and interact. Email announcements and press releases. A Marketing / PR person can be super helpful here, particularly if they are well connected.

Mainstream Press – Consider other angles for the game that may be interesting to other, non-game media. Radio, TV, print.  Does the game feature a place or a time that has interest outside the game? Is it socially/environmentally conscious? Does it make a political or topical statement?

Youtube – Youtube is an important part of marketing your game. “Big List of Youtubers” .http://videogamecaster.com/big-list-of-youtubers – Find influencers interested in your genre and communicate. Early access to game etc.

Twitch – Twitch is all about games (and cam girls), but mostly games. Twitch recently announced plans to add a sales platform as part of Twitch streamer’s channel. This has great possibilities for developers, and opportunities for streamers, so know your Twitch streamers and identify the ones who may be interested in your genre of game.

Expos and Shows – Consider a demo level that shows the game off in isolation. Controller is a must. People just want to pick up and play. If the game is too involved or not right for an expo, don’t waste your money. Unless you just want to hang out and party with super cool people.

Kickstarter – Use as part of a marketing strategy. Build a mailing list. Build an audience. Build a special demo level for backers to play. Offer the same demo for general download on the game website, later on.  Add manageable and affordable rewards and stretch goals. Keep away from physical good, like t-shirts and books and figurines. While these things are super cool, they are expensive and time consuming to package and mail to backers. Try and keep your rewards digital, like soundtrack download and bonus music track, digital art portfolio, backers credit roll and “Hall of Heroes” in the game.

And Finally

For multiplatform launch, have a distinct “story” tailored to each audience. Know what the PC audience expects, and know what the PS4/XBox audience expects, and pander to them directly. There are different expectations on each platform. This extends to UI/UX for each platform.

Ads don’t really work. Not an effective form of communication. People block/ignore ads. Exception is to announce something “important” like a sale, or a major update.

Stay engaged with community. Reviews and ratings are important. Consider “trading cards” and achievements for Steam.

Localize the game to support other languages. French, German and Spanish.. Watch your metrics and see where your game is being played.

Good luck!(source:gamasutra.com