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Indie Publishing Reference Guide

Indie Publishing Reference Guide

We know that getting to your first publishing deal can be daunting. 

It’s hard to know what to expect but there’s plenty of resources out there. We’ve collated a few of these to save you time and help get you on your way to your first negotiation.

The Overall Process

Before jumping into specifics, it’s best to make sure you have a general idea of how publisher negotiations progress.

Alessandro Cossidente, formerly of META Publishing and Raw Fury, wrote a fantastic article discussing how publishers select, review, and sign indie games [Link]

Akapura Games, an indie publisher in the US, also shared some useful information on the publishing process [Link]

And lastly, if you’re looking for something more top-level, check out CrazyLabs quick 5-point guide on the steps to getting published [Link]

Finding a Publisher

Indies have a lot more choices with publishing than ever before. There are now specific indie publishers in every region who understand how to work with indie devs, and what’s going to work best for your new release.

Beamable have published a useful (but not exhaustive) list of publishers from around the industry that can save you some time googling [Link]

If you’re looking for a more exhaustive list that includes mobile, AAA, and niche publishers, you can check out this huge list from GamesRound (that even mentions what platforms they support) [Link]

Preparing your Pitch

There’s no fixing a bad first impression, especially with busy publishers. Make sure your pitch is airtight before making that important call.

Brian Upton, formerly of Sony Santa Monica and Red Storm Entertainment, held a fascinating and entertaining talk at GDC 2017 about what to avoid in your game pitch and what questions you need to answer [Link]

Tinybuild’s CEO wrote a great walkthrough on how to pitch your game, both to publishers and the press, and give yourself the best chance of getting a positive response [Link]

Lastly, check out Meta Publishing’s guide on building your pitch document and what publishers want to see in the deck itself [Link]

Securing a Contract

Now we get into the weeds of contract law and getting what you want. Indie publishers typically build their contracts with indie developers in mind, meaning you’re not signing away the same rights that a AAA company would with their usual publishing model.

There are tons of little things to note, and lots of major things to negotiate, so make sure you’re taking your time and working with a publisher you trust.

For an insightful walkthrough of every part of a typical contract you can check out Michael Shortt’s presentation. Michael is a contract law specialist from Montreal with a focus on Indie developers. Michael goes through every single section of a contract in detail and highlights the key areas to note and what some of the most important legal terms mean. [Link]

If you’d prefer to read an article on the subject, you can check out this write-up of Kellen Voyer’s talk from GDC 2020 that breaks down many of the same aspects. [Link]

Once you’ve watched Michael’s walkthrough, or read Kellen’s, you’ll be better prepared to tackle a publishing agreement. Indies have the unique opportunity to see some of these contracts before ever speaking to a publisher.

Raw Fury Developer Resources

Raw Fury began publishing their agreement template online in 2020 so that indies came in with the full knowledge of what Raw Fury expect. As well as their publishing contract, their developer resources also include:

  • - Game Fact Sheet Templates
  • - Sales Projection Templates
  • - A Rough Pitch Deck Template
  • - Marketing Overview Templates

Check it out here [Link]

Following Raw Fury’s move to publish their standard agreement, WhiteThorn games also published theirs. It’s useful to compare the two to see how different publishers construct and write their agreements [Link]

And that’s it! Hopefully any lingering questions have been answered by one of the above resources. But, if you’ve still got questions about getting to release, get in touch.

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