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Partnership / Why do we need a publisher?

Feb 01, 2012

Why do we need a publisher?

After the Apple’s foundation and publishing the success stories that told about a developer’s quick earning more than one million dollars for a single application, a lot of people were overtaken by golden-fever. Unfortunately, as experience confirms, it’s not enough to develop a cool game for iOS and upload it in iTunes. Now there is almost one million apps on the App Store and it’s too hard for you not for a user to discover yours.

The basic problem is the ability to distribute apps for iOS only through the App Store. It’s the only platform for distribution that cuts 30 % of revenues. You can’t set your rules, buy advertisement, influence top ranking (nobody knows all criteria of it as it’s confidential). What can we do? All we can do is to try and rely on the experience that comes after having launched more than dozen applications. A developer should decide whether he’ll publish the products alone or with the help of a publisher. The advantages of the first variant are obvious, you control everything and the revenue and fame will be only yours. If you give an app to a publisher it’ll be published under its brand name and you’ll have to share the revenue.

While choosing the variant ask yourself:

  1. Are you going to develop a lot of apps (more than 10 apps)?
  2. Do you know how to promote your app?
  3. Are you ready to invest in marketing?
  4. Do you know how to publish reviews on popular web-sites?
  5. Are you ready to support users that if successful will be more than one hundred thousand?

If you answered “yes” to all five questions, it’s probably better to publish the apps alone. Otherwise ask a publisher who will take care about your app and will provide better results brining you more money even after deducting the share. According to Yevgeny Kuzmin, an author of successful app “Cover Orange”, it’s easy to create a cool game but certainly it is not enough. Distributing through the App Store without a publisher is like standing with a tray in the deserted city outskirts and selling new brand cigarettes. No one will buy them even if they are harmless and not cause cancer, and even if they cure it. No one will get to know about you. The publisher’s task is to motivate people to go to your tray.

What exactly does the publisher?

Despite of the publisher’s peculiarities the range of services is about the same, they produce, test, localize, interact with media and reviewing sites, and support users. Their main intention is to promote an app to the top providing the maximum number of downloading and, of course, sales. That’s why it’s important to check the results of the published apps and to specify how many apps there are in publisher’s portfolio and what exactly he is planning to do with yours.

The founder of Electronic Arts, 3DO and Digital Chocolate explains why you can’t work without a publisher in the modern market of mobile platforms. “Digital distribution has brought a huge change to the game industry in recent years, enabling developers to distribute games freely without having to rely on a traditional publisher. But that unlimited virtual "shelf space" comes at a cost: namely, it's getting harder to stand out amongst the crowd,” says Eric Caoilim on Gamasutra.

Trip Hawkins, the shrewd businessman who founded video game publishing giant Electronic Arts way back in 1982, believes that this flood of products is making the idea of a traditional publishing relationship necessary for developers once again. “I think that honeymoon is ending now because if you have a million apps in an App Store, just because your app is in an App Store, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be discovered,” says Hawkins, whose current venture, Digital Chocolate, is a mobile app publisher. “So you’ve got issues about how you’re going to bring traffic to it.”