An exploration of two approaches to establishing a market presence for a mobile game: self-publishing versus the involvement of traditional game publishers.

Nicolas de Kerchove
3 min readAug 30, 2023

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You have 2 main options. You can go for self publishing or go through publishers.

OPTION 1: Self-publishing

To go for own publishing you need to have cash. If you don’t have you could try to find some external investors and pitch your game. Here are some possible investors:

They will be able to invest or lend you money in exchange for a percentage of your game revenues or your company. They receive many demands. So, be sure to show them a unique game concept with unique selling points together with a nice prototype. Ideally, a vertical slice. Some of them may, also want KPI’s before investing, especially for a mobile game where they may request the soft launch results.

How do you publish a mobile game?

To successfully publish a game you should have know-how and try different technics as:

- Being featured by Apple, Google Play …

- Using social networks to share information on your game in facebook, twitter, Indiedb

- Using ad networks as Tapjoy, AdColony, Unity ads, mopub, etc.

- Doing cross promotion with existing games

- Sending Press releases

- Participating to competitions

- Using newsletters

- Working with influencers

-……

You can eventually, find companies that do publishing as a service as appagent or appvertiser for example. You pay them for doing user acquisition for you.

OPTION 2: Working with a publisher

Developing a game and marketing a game are 2 different things. That’s why working with a publisher can be a good idea. Publisher can usually help you with some or all of the following tasks:

-Quality Insurance

-Localization (Translation)

-Features recommendations

-Marketing of the game (User acquisition, PR, Social networks, finance etc.)

-Monetization

- …

Now, there are many publishers. You should select the ones with experience in the games you are working on. For example, if you have a location-based cards game you should find a publisher with experience in location-based games and/or cards games. Don’t pitch it to PC or console publishers. Before accepting to work with a publisher try to speak with other developers they are working with to get references.

A publisher can invest to help you and usually they will ask for a revenue share (usually between 30% and 70%). Most of the time, if they need to invest heavily before publishing the game, they will re-cut the investment. So, you need to wait they get re-paid before getting your part of the cake.

As publishers are working on several games they will often put a priority and their efforts on the ones giving them the best monetization. To mitigate this risk you can ask them for a minimum guarantee (MG). It’s an amount of money they will pay you as a front fee. By doing so, you will be sure that the publisher will invest money in marketing in order to try to recover this amount.

To find the good publisher the best is going to events and fairs as Gamescom or GDC for example. To win time you can also go through a consultant who can help you make the right pitch deck, help you with pitching, connecting you to the right person with direct introductions and help in negotiating the terms of the agreement.

PS: The above opinion is based on the experience gained working with more than 20 games, closing deals with more than 15 game publishers and more than 7 funding rounds. Now, it’s based on my humble knowledge at this stage and many others ways or options are and will be possible. I just hope it may help you to win time.

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Nicolas de Kerchove

Mobile app, game and startup expert. Growth Hacker. Awarded Entrepreneur. Nicolas has worked on 30+games, closed 10+ publisher deals and raised 6 funding rounds