What does a games publisher do?
Games publishers give developers the money upfront to make a game. They strike up a deal with a studio (game development company) to make a game according to an agreed brief. The publisher then works closely with the game producer at the studio to make sure the game’s being made as agreed, to budget and on time.
Publishers help the studio with jobs to support the development of the game. They help with marketing and quality assurance (testing). They also cover product and brand management, which means deciding how to describe and communicate the game vision and strategy. And they deal with the complexities of selling games in other countries, such as translation and localisation.
Some game developers don’t use publishers at all as games are increasingly sold independently through apps, console stores and Steam. But most games studios still need publishers to fund and sell their games, produce physical copies and to deal with the branding, advertising and variety of ways in which the game can be bought.
What’s a games publisher good at?
- Project management: understand how a game is made from start to finish and be able to plan that process, keeping on top of what needs to happen and when
- Communication: create a game’s brand, tell its story and work with a wide range of clients
- Knowledge of games industry: in-depth understanding of the games market, where people buy games, what platforms they enjoy, what games do well and what will happen next
- Knowledge of rights and licensing: aware of the law about copyright and the licensing of games, negotiate deals
- Budget handling: manage significant sums of money and work within the budget