How to Win Over a Publisher for Your Project: A Quick Guide to ActionJune 20, 2022
We’re going to discuss why working with a publisher is a step to success, how to find a publisher for a project, how to write a decent letter and what metrics to add to it in order not to be left unanswered.
Even if you are sure that you or your team are making a good product, no one will know about it without proper marketing. Especially when it comes to independent indie developers: such a developer simply will not have enough money, experience and time to understand the purchase of advertising and to see the full potential of his product.
That’s why you need a publisher — a company ready to take over the promotion and improvement of your product.
THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH A PUBLISHER
A publishing company is likely to have:
A well-established name that attracts users;
Years of diversified experience in development and release;
The ability to calculate risks and deal with failures;
Enough influence for the products of this company to get noticed in online stores and online platforms;
Sufficient budget to make good PR and a good marketing campaign — while also having the budget of tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, that an independent developer doesn’t have;
An established base of players from other products.
If you think that your product can become a unicorn that will break the charts without the support of a large company, then no one will budge you. But it is better to be able to work with an experienced publisher to suffer minimal losses if the project is not so successful.
HOW TO FIND A PUBLISHER?
First of all, you need to exhale, gather your thoughts and understand what kind of product you are doing: the platform, the gameplay features, the plot, plans for future mechanics. Is your mobile game — paid or F2P? Who is the target audience?
Once you have defined the main features, start making a list of suitable companies by topic and platform.
The list should include both large multi-industry corporations and medium sized companies that focus on a narrow range of genres and platforms. You can also use the “contact us” form on the website to find specific people and their contacts working in the PR of the selected company.
Do not forget about profile conferences — this is the ideal environment for fast and productive contact establishments. For example, mobile game developers and publishers often attend conferences such as DevGamm, White Nights, Game Connection and rent special stands there.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT THE PUBLISHER?
You can’t interest a publicist with a mere idea, you need at least a project of some sort on your hands, and that’s why.
Firstly, companies usually have regular brainstorms to find new ideas for products, so the ideas from the outside are often ignored.
Secondly, if you describe an idea to a publisher you haven’t worked with before, you’ll be ignored again: ideas are good when they come from people you know who you can work with. You can try to draw concept art and describe the gameplay in such a way that the publicist immediately understands the genius of you, but the probability of such an outcome is extremely low.
A good moment to find a publisher is a beta version of your product or (if we focus on mobile games) a product after its soft launch, so you’re ready to show some metrics. The closer to full readiness the brainchild is, the less risk there is for the publisher himself.
HOW TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION? WHAT TO WRITE?
After collecting contacts and before attending large conferences, you should make a pitch for your product. What you say about it will fully form the first impression of the publicist both about you and your prospects — so the presentation, whether text or oral, should be worked through with great care.
You will get more coverage by sending letters to companies that openly declare their willingness to buy projects from outside. So here are some basic tips for writing letters (you can use them for oral pitching as well).
How to design the text part of the letter:
The pitch should be brief so that it can be read in one scroll. Most likely, you’re not alone, and a publicist won’t have time to read several pages of text to clarify something.
A simple formula would be good for the headline: X + Y. For example — Counter Strike 1.6 style shooter + SEAL-Robots.
Instead of describing the product in large sentences, try to place its main features in a labeled list.
Do not use hyperboles with the words “most”, “best”, “top”. Assess the project adequately. Let a few people, preferably those with editorial experience, reread your letter and ask to point out errors.
Add a minimum of information about your team, if any — the name, position and several names of previous jobs or projects will be sufficient.
If you have participated in competitions or hackatons, please add that. The publisher is going to evaluate your team as well, so feel free to boast.
What should be included besides text:
The most important thing that catches the eye is art. Do not be stingy on good illustrations of characters and interface. The more time you devote to the visual component, the more responsible and serious you will look in the eyes of someone who will consider your product.
Add links: to your website (if it’s OK, if it’s made on your knee in two minutes — it’s better not to show it off), links to gameplay videos, links to your past projects. If you are communicating orally, give the publisher your business card or add a person to your contacts to send them a link afterwards.
Participate in contests, hackatons and conferences. It will be easier for any publisher to understand what kind of team is behind the product if they have achieved something and can tell about it — even if it’s just participation without winning. And it will also make it easier for the PR.
If you have a ready-made product and you can transfer your game to be launched on a laptop, so do it. But double-check that it works well: nothing spoils the impression of a potential project more than a bad keyboard adaptation. If you can’t adapt the product, better send a link to the gameplay video.
A little useful remark for all stages of communication:
Don’t talk about things that don’t exist. If you don’t have plans for a multiplayer, don’t say “we’re already planning and working on it”, don’t lie about your experience (everyone can google your experience in two seconds, and then tell everyone they know about your lie). Be honest and respect the publisher.
THE PUBLISHER IS INTERESTED. WHAT’S NEXT?
So, your letter was seen and read. They are interested in your product.
Next in line is painstaking work on improving the project, if it hasn’t been released yet, and if it has, analysis of the methods used for monetization and analysis of user retention.
In an interview with App2Top, our SOO Galina Zueva mentioned that ZiMAD, for example, is ready to work with only products being prepared for release and conduct UA tests independently. She also listed what metrics are important when deciding to buy out the project.
First, we look at the audience of the project. Sometimes we consider games that have just been released, but still prefer projects with “history”, where you can see the metrics. It’s important for us that the audience assembled by the project corresponds to our target audience.
Secondly, of course, we look at retention.
Third, we look at monetization. […]
The last cohort of metrics that we pay attention to are marketing metrics. It is important for us to see the price of the user for the project, to understand the geography, how relevant the UA-results are and whether our internal UA-specialists will be able to work with them from the first days, without global product processing.
IMPORTANT METRICS OF ALREADY RELEASED PRODUCTS FOR PUBLISHERS
The general list of metrics that should be provided if your product is already released looks like this.
Downloads. Specify the total number, number by different platforms, downloads in dynamics during the year by months, weeks or days.
Total annual revenue. Enter the total number, number by different platforms, downloads per month, week or day during the year.
Separately show advertising revenue and IAPs.
After the above mentioned, you should specify the price you are ready to consider.
Retention. Take a closed cohort: Day 1, Day 7, Day 30. Specify the figures for IOS and GP separately.
GEO: Specify a breakdown by geography. If possible, show the geographies on different platforms.
If you are buying traffic for a paid application, specify the purchase price (CPI), conversion (CTR/IR), and the countries in which you are buying (geography).
It’s okay if you don’t have all metrics at once — but the more data you can show, the more you will look like a serious partner and the easier and faster the publicist will evaluate the project.
What to do next is a question that concerns only you and only your publisher. Conditions, prices and deadlines are always set based on your details and the willingness of the company with which you negotiate.
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