Modus, a publishing division of Maximum Games focused on indie projects, breaks down typical steps that indie developers should take to approach a publisher.
Step 1. Identify a publisher
- Strategy A. Find games similar to yours. Steam is a good place to start. Find out who published those games. Investigate those publishers via their own websites (better to stay clear of those who do not have one) or on LinkedIn.
- Strategy B. Attend industry events to meet publishers in person. Conferences like the White Nights are great at matchmaking between publishers and developers.
Step 2. Consider what exactly the publisher offers and evaluate it against your needs
Here are some functions that you may want from a publisher:
- Funding. If you need cash, maybe look for bigger publishers who are better equipped to invest into development.
- Release management including QA, ratings, and localizations. Try and find out the size of the publisher’s release management team and how many projects they are handling at a time. If the former is too few and the latter is too many, there’s a good chance the release of your game might not go smoothly.
- Marketing. Find out the exact scope of the marketing support you will be getting: press releases, events, trailers, etc. Also ask them about their global reach because they might just be active in a couple of territories. Request an example of their marketing reporting.
- Sales. Make sure the publisher has connections with your target platform and a clear pre- and post-release sales strategy, as well as the tools to track the sales of your game.
- Physical retail. Applies if you have collector’s editions and action figures in mind.
- Evaluations including community feedback, alphas, betas, early access, media reviews. Not a lot of publishers can offer that.
Bottom line: whatever you need from that list, make sure that your publisher has it.
Step 3. Pitch your game
Make sure you have a good elevator pitch, milestone calendar, and a playable prototype.
Elevator pitch is a short and simple one-sheeter that includes the following:
- Past experience;
- One-sentence description of your game that should immediately hook on its unique selling proposition. Something like “a battle royale where you don’t kill others, but compete with them on a crazy game show-esque obstacle course.”
- Brief synopsis of the game story;
- List of key features;
- List of games similar to yours;
- General stuff like what’s your target platform, how much funding you need;
- List of publishing services you need.
Milestone calendar. You should have a timeline for all production and post-launch schedules. It can look something like this:
Image credit: Modus
Prototopype. It’s simple. If you do not have a prototype, maybe it’s too early for you to be looking for publishers. Not just that. Your prototype should be playable on its own, that is you should be able to send it publishers without having to stand right next to them and explain everything.
The full post is available here.