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开发者探讨:游戏大卖是否需要发行商的帮助?

发布时间:2019-11-22 08:48:43 Tags:,

开发者探讨:游戏大卖是否需要发行商的帮助?

原作者:Simon Carless 译者:Willow Wu

在这样一个游戏多到难以想象的环境下,“电子游戏发行商”真的能帮助你卖出更多游戏吗?

这个问题无法用三言两语来回答,内容太多而且非常复杂。事实上,一个比较好的切入点或许是换种方式问:电子游戏发行商能帮你什么忙?

在充分了解他们的服务和成本后,你才能判断是否需要发行商帮你提高游戏的曝光度。

发行商的不确定因素

问题的答案可能会让你很意外,成为你的游戏开发商意味着很多事情:从“我们会在社交网站上提起你”到“我们会在游戏开发过程中提供全方位的支持”。不确定因素大致有如下这些:

Dragon of Legends(from gamasutra)

Dragon of Legends(from gamasutra)

-当你与游戏发行商签约时,他们是否会预先提供资金?数额是多少?

-游戏发行后,他们会拿回多少?这个百分比是多少?我们假定他们预先提供的资金是25万美元,发行商会在你没有获得任何收益的情况下把这25万美元都拿回去吗?(一般来说,即使在发行商还没完全回本的情况下,开发者仍能获得20%的收益,这是大家一贯的做法。这样对开发者来说是更公平的,除非游戏能够立即回本。)

-在你获得额外收入之前,发行商是否也会对营销活动、广告等相关策划索取相应的费用?

-他们在游戏概念构思、设计、制作、本地化、测试或者移植等方面有提供帮助吗? (回收资金的方式是怎么样的,或者是直接根据产品终生收入来分成?依我的愚见应该是后者。)

-考虑了上面的这些问题,发行商回本后,属于他们的游戏终身收益分成比率是多少?

列一份的清单,清楚地写下你可能会交给发行商打理的事,用冷酷的金钱交换虚线上的签字,这一点很重要。

外面还有很多人想跟你合作。但是很多独立游戏发行合同中规定发行商回本后,可以继续获得游戏终身收益的30%。

比这个数字更高的项目也有,但这意味着预先提供的资金更多,或着直接为小型工作室提供全部资金。当然也存在更低的分成,这群发行商是真慷慨!至少我看到的就是如此。(如果你觉得我的观点太离谱,随时都可以发邮件给我。)

(顺便提一句:我们假设发行商从未保留你的游戏的任何知识产权。请远离那种把知识产权包含在内的发行合同,除非是完完全全的外包开发合同,游戏不是你原创的。)

评估发行商

或许你应该尝试估算下在有发行商和没发行商的情况下,你的游戏大概分别能卖出多少,还有发行前和发行后你打算怎么过。但这也是很难预料的。

当然,如果你需要一笔预先提供的资金来完成游戏,你可能就真的需要发行商。(除非你可以自力更生、众筹或者找到项目投资人——这些都有难度,除非你居住的地区GDP指数低,或者你工作室的开发者愿意扛起后端的更多工作。)

但如果你确实有多种选择,或者就算你没有,我的看法是跟某些顶级的独立发行商(如Devolver Digital——之后再感谢我,Fork Parker!)合作的确可以让你们获得双赢。

因为他们会非常慷慨地给你提供大笔资金,而且分成也比较合理。更重要的是,有人关注他们的游戏,与游戏播主、平台负责人都有合作关系。跟他们搭档能帮助你获得显著增长。

(另外,他们眼光锐利,只选好游戏。如果他们发行了你的游戏,你无疑能增长些自信。就是要确保他们会全身心投入在这个项目上,不要中途跑路——似乎有个别独立游戏发行公司偶尔会出现这样的事情。)

但行业中也有很多能力一般或略高于平均水平的发行商,这时候你就要思考一个问题——他们可能会拿走游戏终生收益的30%然而销量却毫无起色。(我希望至少你拿到了预提供的资金吧!)

如何评估发行商,一种比较合理的方式是查看Steam/主机平台对他们游戏的评价数量。每个游戏都有受到关注吗?或者仅仅是一款热门游戏带动了一些销量不佳的游戏?(有时会发生。)

你也可以联系跟发行商合作过的开发者们,问问合作感受——他们会积极回应问题吗?为人处事公平吗?真的有帮助打理游戏社区吗?让更多人把游戏加入愿望单(在发行之前)?

还有一件重要的事情——你是否想为游戏组建社区、做市场营销,你的团队是否有时间致力于此?因为在这个时代,这是游戏成功不可或缺的推动力。

游戏上架前的这几个月,如果你没有时间、兴趣或者人力关注这些方面——特别是邻近发行时——那么我认为你可能需要一个发行商。

结论

最后你可能还要考虑以下几点:

·不要因为发行商对你的游戏有兴趣就马上签合同!我知道听到别人说非常喜欢你的游戏、想提供支持会让你心花怒放,但他们可能无法帮你提高游戏曝光度,拿着你的钱走人。

·但如果有一家发行商感兴趣,你可以尝试吸引更多竞争对手,选择最好的那份合同。还有,要勇于谈判!我真不敢相信竟然有这么多开发者都不跟对方谈判的,大家只要有发行商来光顾就很满足了。

·优秀发行商挑游戏的想法是:真正的好游戏就算没有他们的帮助也能大卖。但他们还是会给予足够的支持,让游戏“超越巅峰”、卖得更好,并帮助开发团队完成游戏制作、为社区提供支持。

·这暗示了与发行商合作并不是游戏成功的必要条件。也有很多游戏开发者从始至终都靠自己,照样有可观的粉丝群和社区。“所以发行商只是签了一款无论如何都会成功的游戏吗?”我们有理由这样问。

·但是发行商有办法在最繁忙的时期(比如发行期、主机平台提交申请)提供人手,改变局面。或许这就是你最需要的。要确保他们有按照你的想法做事,不要让他们把工资和饭钱什么的都算在分成里!

这就是我对发行商的想法。显然,我是建议你找一个合适的发行商,所以我还是有点私心的。不管怎么说,我觉得迄今为止No More Robots的确对游戏产生了实质性的积极影响,开发者们在游戏发行后非常高兴,并且很快就回本了。

其中一个关键原因是No More Robots曾经也跟很多微型团队合作过,他们需要的预提供资金并不多,所以成功门槛也不高。如果你在担心是否能跨越障碍,那就想办法降低它!我觉得大家都应该往这个方向思考下。

但是,我也看过很多完全不需要发行商介入的游戏。就拿最近的Noita来说吧,发行后直冲Steam榜首。

当然,它有知名开发者、宣传到位、有惊艳的技术效果……但是没有发行商!所以总而言之,各取所需吧。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

In the world of near-infinite games, does a ‘video game publisher’ actually make your game sell better?

This is a gigantic and complex question. Actually, a good starting point might be to strip it back another layer still, and ask – ‘What does a (digital) video game publisher do for you?’

Only when you break down their services and costs, can you make a value judgment about whether you need a publisher for discoverability purposes.

The Publisher Variables

The answer might surprise you, because acting as a publisher can mean any number of things – from ‘we’ll mention you on our social media’ to ‘we help you with every single aspect of game development’. The variables here tend to be:

Is there upfront funding from a publisher when you sign the game with them? How much of your development does it fund?

When your game releases, how much of the ‘advance’ does the publisher get back and at what percentage recoup rate? Let’s say they advanced you $250k USD. Would the publisher have to get all $250k USD back before paying you a cent?
(In general it’s agreed that a split recoup – where the dev gets 20% of the ongoing revenue even though the publisher hasn’t fully recouped yet – is fairer on the developer nowadays, unless the game insta-recoups.)

And does the publisher also recoup on marketing-related elements (events, advertising, etc) before you get extra money? (Please, not too much of this, publishers!)

Do they also provide help with production, design or concept advice, localization, testing, porting, and other useful elements? (And how is it recouped, or is that just part of the lifetime revenue cut? It should largely be the latter imho.)

As a result of the above things, what percentage of the post-’recoup’ lifetime game revenue does the publisher receive?

Having a very clear list of what you might be giving up – in cold, hard cash down the line – in exchange for signing on the dotted line is important.

There are SO many possible deals out there. But many ‘indie game’ publishing deals involve the publisher getting 30% of the lifetime revenue for a game, post-recoup.

Higher percentages than that also exist, but map to higher upfront funding or entire funding for smaller studios. And lower percentages too, you generous publishers! That’s what I’ve seen, at least. (Feel free to email me if you think I’m off base here.)

[Side note: we are presuming that the publisher never keeps any of your IP (intellectual property) rights for your game. Please run a long way away from any publishing agreement that includes IP rights unless it’s 1000% a ‘work for hire’ deal on a game you didn’t originate.]

The Publisher Calculation

So maybe you should genuinely try to estimate how much you think your game is going to sell, with and without a publisher, and how you survive pre-launch and post-launch in both circumstances! But that’s super tricky to predict.

And of course, if you need upfront funding beyond your current resources to finish your game, you may actually NEED a publisher! (Unless you can bootstrap, crowdfund, or find project-specific investors – all tricky unless you live in a low-GDP area of the world or your developers are willing to work for a bigger slice of the back end.)

But if you do have a choice, and even if you don’t, my general view is that there are a handful of top-tier indie publishers (such as Devolver Digital – thank me later, Fork Parker!) where you are generally going to come out ahead.

This is because their advances are fairly generous and recoup rules sensible. More importantly, people pay attention to their games and they have streamer & platform-holder relationships. You get genuine uplift from partnering with them.

(Also, they pick good games. So you can have more confidence in your game if they publish it. Just make sure they’re fully committed to publishing your game & don’t discard a percentage of their signed games partway through development – this seems to happen occasionally with one or two top indie pubs.)

But there are also a myriad of meh or slightly above average publishers where there’s a genuine question – did you just give away 30% of your game’s lifetime revenue to have them make no difference to your sales? (I hope you at least got an advance if you did!)

One very sensible way to evaluate publishers, btw, is to look closely at the number of Steam or console game reviews for their titles. Do their games generally all get noticed, or is just one hit powering a bunch of not so great-selling titles? (This happens a bit.)

You can also contact developers who work with the publisher to ask them about their experiences – were the publishers responsive, fair, and did they genuinely help to get the game’s community set up and wishlists boosted ahead of release?

And one vital thing to bear in mind above all else – do you want to do community & marketing for your game, and does your team have time to commit to it? Because you absolutely need to do this to make your game successful nowadays

If you don’t have time, inclination or people to concentrate on this in the months leading up to your game’s launch – and particularly around launch time – then I think you might need a publisher.

Conclusions

Here’s some final points that you might want to consider

Just because a publisher is interested in your game, don’t immediately sign on the dotted line! I know it’s super flattering to have someone say they love your game and want to help, but they may not help your discoverability, and just take your (yet to be earned) money.

But if one publisher is interested, try to get other competing publishers involved and get the best deal you can. Also, negotiate! I can’t believe how many developers don’t negotiate, because they are just happy to be asked.

The best publishers pick really good games that they think could sell even without their help. But they give them enough support to take them ‘over the top’ and sell better, and help anchor the team to complete the game & support the community.

Of course, the above statement implies that having a publisher is absolutely not ‘a must’ for releasing a successful game. There are plenty of games that have developed their own fan following & community independently. It’s reasonable to ask – ‘is the publisher just signing a game that will be successful anyhow?’

But publishers have the personnel to make a difference around the crunchiest times like launch or console submission. That may be the key thing that you need. Just make sure they are doing what you want them to do, and that they’re not adding everyone’s salaries & sandwiches to your recoup!

So that’s what I think of publishers! Obviously, I do advise one (No More Robots), so I’m not unbiased. FWIW, I do feel like in all cases so far, NMR’s help materially affected the game in a positive way, and the devs are happy and solvent immediately after release.

One key reason (besides Mike Rose & colleagues being brilliant, haha) – NMR has also been working a lot with microteams who have lower upfront costs, so the barrier for success is lower. Something I think everyone should try to aim for, actually – if you’re worried about getting over the hurdle – lower it!

But I’ve also seen plenty of examples of games that absolutely didn’t need a publisher, and are doing great without one. Noita is the latest example, having launched today and gone straight to the top of the Steam charts.

Sure, it has notable creators, some long-running hype, and great-looking tech… but also no publisher in sight! So you pays your publisher money (or not), and you takes your pick.

(source:gamasutra.com


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