Guest Lecture: Publishing

Paul Hollins presented a lecture on publishing within the games industry, beginning with an overview of what the industry was like as a whole.

It’s very creative – no two days are the same. If you achieve a high enough position, there’s the opportunity to mingle with celebrities (for a given value of celebrity, anyway). It generally offers fairly good salaries, and the opportunity to hold a responsible position while still quite young.

On the other hand, the work conditions are often cramped and poor, and job security is not guaranteed. Creativity is often restricted by the need to work within the framework of a license, and the pressure to hit publishers’ milestones.

He then went on to address concerns more specific to publishers: such as a developer’s profile. When a development studio applies to a publisher for their resources, the primary considerations are how many games they have finished, and how many of those have been published. It’s also advantageous to be able to namedrop – if your staff have previously worked under industry luminaries, or if you have well-known names working for you, it’ll help your chances of getting a deal with the publisher. Finally, and most importantly, they need to know if the developer can hit their publishing milestones.

These will often be deliberately unrealistic – publishers are, like most people, in it for the money. Because a standard part of publisher/developer contracts are penalty clauses for missing milestones, the publisher will often set the milestones so as to make them almost impossible to meet.

This is one factor which makes the industry’s future somewhat uncertain. With the ever-increasing development times mandated by the increases in graphical fidelity, there’s more and more use of outsourcing. It’s possible that there could be a movement away from high-gloss graphics and towards more interesting gameplay or art design, but for one thing: licensing. Licensed games are a massive money-spinner, and studios gobble them up. It’s also notably harder to get funding for a game based on a new IP than one based on a long established IP.

Published on January 6, 2010 at 10:24 am  Comments Off on Guest Lecture: Publishing  
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