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新兴游戏开发者还需要发行商吗?

发布时间:2013-12-03 15:30:25 Tags:,,,

作者:James Batchelor

在今天这个风云变幻的市场,新工作室应该选择与传统的发行商合作,还是另谋出路?我们来看看英国的开发者们对此有何看法。

问题一:新工作室需要得到发行商或平台所有者的支持吗?

Gareth Edmondson(Thumbstar Games CEO):是的,我认为应该与发行商合作,除非你是:非常有才能且正在创作非常出色的作品;人脉广或至少非常擅长自我的推销;非常走运和/或钱多,足够为你获得成功前经历的一系列失败买单;资源丰富(人力和财力),可以全心全意搞推广。

在手机市场上获得关注是非常困难的,且越来越困难。显然,传统的应用商店对一些游戏来说,确实有所作为。但新工作室也还有其他选择。

Phil Gaskell(Ripstone总监):任何人刚开始自己的创意事业,无论是做游戏、电影还是音乐时都需要支持,无论是政府支持、发行商支持还是同行支持。创作不像搞科学那样精确,你不可能(我认为也不应该)在创作上加一个固定的时间轴,但在你一边搞创作时,你仍然必须支付各种帐单。

当然,支持不一定是纯财政上的。也可是,比如帮你指出你自己没有发现的缺陷;如果有人能从商业的角度出发帮你考虑事情也是非常重要的,特别是在这个免费模式和游戏设计密切相关的时代。

Mark Baldwin(New Star Games社区经理):我认为这是一个需要和想要的问题。新开发者都喜欢得到发行商和平台所有者的支持,特别是在起步阶段,但我认为我们已经证明了:它对成功不是必须的。

虽然与平台所有者的合作和有专人负责商业方面,确实让我们得到了好处。面对这么多开发者的激烈竞争,要脱颖而出是困难的,有时候你必须得到别人的帮助;在这个商业,你认识谁与你知道什么一样重要。

Publishers(from dualshockers.com)

Publishers(from dualshockers.com)

问题二:新工作室怎么争取到发行商的支持?什么时候适合寻求支持?

Gaskell:这个问题简单,只要去寻找帮助就行了!与尽可能多的人交谈,参加行业聚会,与其他开发者和发行商交流以。另外,与记者沟通也是为游戏争取暴光率的好办法。

至于什么时候寻求帮助,没有所谓正确或错误的时间,只有对的人和错的人。有些发行商会要求先看和玩你的游戏,有些可能看了团队过去的成绩就愿意冒一下险。选择与你的价值观相同的人和让你觉得像你一样对你的游戏满怀热情的人。大公司未必更好——事实上,小发行商可能会提供更多适合你的和个性化的帮助。

Edmondson:简单地说就是,你要主动与来自发领域的人交流,发送样本等。

至于时间选择,可能取决于发行商。因为我们有开发BBC Micro计算机(游戏邦注:它是由Acorn公司为BBC计算机认知计划(Computer Literacy Project)设计和生产的电脑,冠以BBC品牌销售。)的背景,所以我们很擅长看早期原型和判断它是否有趣,所以我们很希望看到早期阶段的东西。

Baldwin:找到了解这个领域的合适的人是非常重要的。

至于什么时候开口,是个棘手的问题。如果你太早寻求发行商的帮助,在协商时你可能面临失去版权的风险。光有出色的创意或漂亮的技术样本是不够的。理想的情况下,你应该有一个接近成品或就是成品的产品,以便发行商帮助你做广告和推广——这对双方来说都能减少风险。

话虽如此,如果你可以联系到平台所有者,且获得他们的支持,那没有发行商也无所谓了。例如,如果你在做一款iPhone游戏,直接与苹果联系可能更重要,因为他们推荐你的游戏可能比与发行商合作的效果来得更好。

问题三:其他选择是什么?另谋出路有什么优势和劣势?

Baldwin:没有发行商,你必须自己想办法筹资。这可能意味着你不能放弃全职工作,或者保证你家还有收入来源,你要非常耐心,不要着急借大量外债。

这可能也意味着寻找更低成本的方式推广你的游戏。你可能必须想出创意的方法来发布你的游戏。我们在flash网站如Kongregate上发布《New Star Soccer》当前版本,与手机版同时,flash版有一个连接到应用商店的链接。这为我们带来大量初期流量,口口相传给我们的游戏带来知名度。

所以,优势在于,你不必把你的利润与其他人(发行商)分享。如果一切进展顺利,这是个大好事,但这也意味着你要自己承担所有的财政压力,如果事情进行不顺,这可能是非常沉重的负担。发布后保证你的游戏不脱离公众视野,如果没有发行商的支持,也是一件困难的事。

Edmondson:在手机行业,如果你选择自主发行,你必须贡献大量时间。然而,让你的游戏进入市场也有其他方法。

在Thumbstar,我们帮助开发者搞发行活动,但通常,iOS或Google Play上的发行是他们自己弄的,找我们是为了在其他有潜力的商店中发布以获得额外的收益。这事现象越来越多了,与其说是发行活动,不如说是推广活动。

Gaskell:你们可以加倍努力地工作,再找几份合约的活儿挣外快。这对一些工作室来说是管用的,但如果你只是一个小开发者,要同时做几份合约工作还是比较困难的,毕竟身体吃不消。

如果走众筹路线的话,那就需要比较充足的前期预算,以便做一个专业又精致的原型来表达你的想法,但一旦成功,你就完全解放了。

最后,年轻的游戏创业者总是可以向爸妈开口求赞助的——尽管我不肯定我愿意为父母损失养老金负责!

问题四:最近五年,发行商的角色有什么变化?

Edmondson:我们认为对开发者而言,发行是一种服务,而不再是传统看法上的发行。我们需要高品质的、有创意的、独特的产品,我非常希望我们能看到更多这样的产品出自新工作室和独立开发者之手。发行商的作用是帮助开发者,指导他们如何进入市场和把钱花在该花的地方。几年以前,市场力量又回归内容创作者之手,我希望这股趋势继续下去。

Gaskell:我认为发行商的角色并没有改变得那么多。入市门槛已经变了,但优秀的发行商给开发工作带来的价值仍然像以前一样大。

Baldwin:发行商面临的压力比以前更大了,在发行一款AAA大作中,他们承担的风险似乎越来越少,而对开发者提的要求却越来越多。因为这条原则的偶然例外,我们看到发行商一直在打安全的“赌”—-发行商越来越青睐续作和已经成功的系列。

我们看到的是平台所有者的角色越来越与发行商的重叠。索尼在这方面表现得就特别明显,我们必将看到它对独立开发者的态度如何变化。

问题五:在次世代主机时代,又将发生什么变化?

Gaskell:发行商的目标应该且将会是支持新的原创产品。为了让人们了解游戏娱乐的价值,发行商要承担更大的风险,而不是一味地挣钱和垄断新兴的商业模式。他们的角色与创新开发者所创造的想法一样重要,他们必须像开发者一样乐意尝试全新的、冒险的和超前的创意。

Baldwin:放眼未来是一个把令人兴奋的事。除非发行商学会适应当前市场,特别是免费模式,否则我们将看到一些传统发行巨头的陨落。

平台所有者的影响力越来越大,我认为开发者/平台所有者的关系会变得前所未有地重要。像微软、索尼、苹果和Steam都持有小开发者获得成功的钥匙,联系到能帮助你的产品出现在大众眼前的人,将越来越重要。

Edmondson:我有意回避次世代主机的论战,因为我现在更加远离那个市场了,但我认为市场的力量将继续向内容创造者手中转移,发行商将必须为开发者提供除了传统的营销和PR功能之外的服务。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Start-up Special 2013: Do you need a publisher?

By James Batchelor

Do brand new developers need the support of publishers or platform holders in today’s varied marketplace?

Gareth Edmondson, CEO, Thumbstar Games: Yes, I would say so, unless you are all of these: very talented and creating unique excellent product; well connected, or at least very active and effective at self-promotion; very lucky and/or adequately funded to take the risk of a number of failures before success; have sufficient resource (both human and financial) to have complete focus on promoting,

Getting noticed in the mobile market is famously tough, and it’s getting tougher. It’s pretty clear that the traditional app stores are really doing most of their business on a few games, but as noted below, there are plenty of other opportunities.

Phil Gaskell, Director, Ripstone: Anyone starting up their own creative business needs support, whether it’s games, movies, music or everything in-between. That means government support, publisher support, peer support and more. Creating isn’t a precise science, you can’t (and I’d argue shouldn’t) put a fixed timeline on it, but you still need to pay the bills while it’s going on.

Of course, support doesn’t need to be purely financial. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes to point out the flaws you might be blind to. It’s also important to have someone considering things from a commercial angle too, especially in the age of free-to-play where business model and game design are fundamentally linked.

Mark Baldwin, Community Manager, New Star Games: I think it’s a case of needs and wants. New developers would all love to have the support of publishers and platform holders, especially when starting out, but I think we’ve shown that you don’t need it to be successful.

We have certainly benefited though from platform holders wanting to work along with us and surrounding yourself with people who know the business and who importantly have the contacts to help your business. With so many developers out there it can be hard to get noticed and sometimes you need a helping hand, it really is a case in this business that who you know is as important as what you know.

The power shifted back to content creators in the market a few years ago, and I expect that to continue. Publishers will need to provide services to developers beyond the traditional marketing and PR functions to remain relevant.

Gareth Edmondson, Thumbstar

How can new studios go about getting publisher support? When is the right time to reach out for it?

Gaskell: It sounds pithy but just ask! Talk to as many people as you can, attend networking events and try to speak with other developers as well as friendly publishers (like Ripstone!). Also, speak with journalists as they’re a fantastic way of getting your game that extra visibility.

There’s never a right or wrong time to ask, there’s just the right and wrong people. Some publishers will want to see and play the game, some might be happy to take a risk just on the team’s track record. Pick people who share your ethos, and who you feel can be as passionate about your game as you are. Bigger companies are not always better – in fact, smaller boutique publishers will offer a much more tailored and personal approach.

Edmondson: It’s a question of getting yourself out there, speaking to business development people from publishers, sending out demos – all of the usual stuff.

Timing wise, it depends on the publisher probably. Because of our background in development right back from the BBC Micro days, we are very used to seeing early prototypes and understanding if there is something interesting in there, so we are happy to see stuff very early.

Baldwin: It’s really important that you link up with someone who knows this part of the business as knowing the right person to approach is really important.

As for when to start talking, this is a tricky question. If you go in too early asking for backing from a publisher, you risk losing your IP while trying to negotiate a deal. You really need to have more than just great ideas or a brilliant tech demo. Ideally you need a close-to-finished or finished product that a publisher can buy into and help with the advertising and distribution – it means there’s less risk on all sides.

Having said that, if you can get the platform holder on side and backing from them, you may not need a publisher at all. For example, if you are doing an iPhone game it’s probably more important to try and deal direct with Apple – if you can get them to feature your app then this is potentially worth more than what you could get out of a publishing deal.

I think new developers would all want to have the support of publishers and platform holders, especially when starting out, but some studios have shown that you don’t need it to be successful.

Mark Baldwin, New Star Games

What are their other options? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of taking an alternate route to market?

Baldwin: Without a publisher, you have to find a way to self-fund. This may mean initially not giving up your day job or making sure that your household is still bringing income in, and it requires a lot of patience to not rush your game and be tempted to borrow lots of money.

It may also mean looking at a cheaper way of getting your game out there. You may have to get creative with the way you launch a game. We launched the current version of New Star Soccer on flash sites like Kongregate at the same time as the mobile version, and the flash version had a link to the app store. This generated a lot of initial traffic for us and word of mouth helped to get the game noticed.

So the benefits are that you don’t have to share any of your profits with other parties (e.g. publishers). That’s great if everything goes well, but it also means you take the whole financial burden on your shoulders and when things don’t go to plan it can be a heavy burden to shoulder. Keeping your game in the public eye after launch is also a difficult thing to do without the backing of a publisher.

Edmondson: In mobile, you have to devote a serious amount of time to getting your product seen through self-publishing. However, there are all sorts of other ways of getting a game to customers.

At Thumbstar we help developers through publishing activities as you would expect, but often, developers want to do the publishing on iOS or Google Play themselves, and come to us for additional revenues through all of the other potential stores. This is a massive growth area, and is more of a distribution business rather than a publishing activity.

Gaskell: You could work twice as hard and land some work-for-hire contracts to help pay your way while you toil and iterate over your private idea. It works for some studios but if you are a micro developer it can be difficult to land those jobs, and it will drain you physically.

There’s the crowd-funding route, which requires a modest outlay initially to create a professional and engaging set of assets to communicate your idea, but if successful, it allows you complete freedom.

Finally, the younger gaming entrepreneurs could always turn to the Bank of Mum & Dad for help – although I’m not sure I’d like to be responsible for losing my parent’s pension!

How has the role of publishers changed in the last five years?

Edmondson: We see publishing as a service to developers, rather than the perhaps old fashioned view of things being the other way round. We need quality, innovative and unique product, and I fully expect that to continue in a significant way to come from start-ups and indies. Our role is to help developers, guide them in the market and crucially help to ‘not leave any money on the table’. The power shifted back to content creators in the market a few years ago, and I expect that to continue.

Gaskell: I don’t think the role of a publisher has changed that much at all. The barriers to enter the market have changed but the value that a good publisher relationship adds to development is still as meaningful as it ever was.

Baldwin: Publishers are under more pressure than ever before to provide the next triple-A massive hit and they seem to be taking less and less risks and demanding more and more from developers. With the occasional exception to the rule, we are seeing “safe” bets from publishers i.e. sequels and established franchises.

What we have seen is the role of platform holder almost merging into that of a publisher. Sony in particular seems to be forging ahead in this way and we will have to see how their approach to Indie developers works over time.

The barriers to enter the market have changed but the value that a good publisher relationship adds to development is still as meaningful as it ever was.

Phil Gaskell, Ripstone

How will it change during the next console generation?

Gaskell: The goal of a publisher should and will be to break new IP. They will need to take bigger risks to push what gaming entertainment can mean to people, instead of milking cash cows and monopolising emerging business models. Their role is just as pivotal as the creative developers dreaming up the ideas, they need to be as willing as developers are to back new, risky and forward-thinking ideas.

Baldwin: It’s exciting to think about the future. Unless publishers learn to adapt to the current market, especially the free-to-play model, we might see the demise of some of the big traditional publishers.

Platform holders are becoming more and more influential and I think that developer/platform holder relations will become ever more important. The likes of Microsoft, Sony, Apple and Steam hold the keys to a small developer’s success and it will become more and more important to have contacts that can help introduce you to people who can make things happen.

Edmondson: I am deliberately avoiding the next console generation debate as I am further removed from that market now, but I think that the power will continue to shift towards content creators, and publishers will need to provide services to developers beyond the traditional marketing and PR functions to remain relevant.(source:develop-online)


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