Publishing games for free – how to avoid the risks?
My previous blog entry showed that relying only on one business model can bring some dangers to your company’s business and game development. If you focus only on one solution, you lose business flexibility of your products. Now, let’s think about other types of game distribution. Many publishers let you publish your games for FREE. Practically, it doesn’t cost anything more than spending some time on coding and fitting the game to the API of the network.
With this kind of distribution you you might experiment more and develop your skills, but it still brings risks. Those risks are not only connected with the costs of your work spent over the content integration, but there are also business and design issues that you need to think about before proceeding. You may be welcomed with open arms to any gaming network that accepts HTML5 games, but you need to know what you should avoid or be careful with.
Games are a huge business with enormous resources put into production, testing, marketing and design/UX . Those are the keys to satisfying the people who play them. Before entering the market with your game, you should seriously consider the various factors.
For you as a developer, it is important to ensure that your product will sell well if it is meant to be distributed for free. Free distribution of course lets you use various business models which allow you to earn your revenue, but even after implementing those business models, you will need to focus on the content itself and on the elements that will make your game a hit with players. I already mentioned some of the different factors you have to focus on during game production in my earlier blog entries. You should take a look at them to find out that making a game is not just a bit of coding and drawing. You need a plan, a prototype and a proper business approach to avoid further issues.
Now, imagine a situation where a publisher sends you a direct invitation to connect your great games to his network. You are excited and happy that a huge company has found your effort worth releasing and promoting. The truth becomes frequently more brutal.
First of all you have to focus on the goals you want to achieve in such cooperation. Before integrating the games, you need to think also about the business side which in the case of free distribution is very crucial. You are giving out your games in a purpose to earn on them. You need to be a serious partner for the publisher, so you also need to stay focused on what you want to achieve.
Since the distribution is free, you have to forget that a publisher will pay you for integration and sometimes for modification of the games, if needed. The entire time spent over the process needs to be planned so well that you won’t lose much of your time on fixing the bugs. Testing the games and ensuring that they won’t be faulty is one of the main steps before moving further.
Only in a perfect world does everything you plan work out. Your game is good and the publisher is a very good partner, but did he guarantee you anything? Have you ever wondered what could be achieved with free licensing? Think about this while you negotiate the terms of distribution.
So what should we focus on?
- Pay attention to the contract you sign and the conditions of such agreement.
- Free content will always be accepted but does it pay off for you?
- Your games have to be high quality because they will get a higher chance for promotion or being featured by the publisher.
- Publishers are very picky and they also pay high attention to target and game type.
- Try to ask for other business model types if yours is not accepted. Always look for better solutions during the negotiations.
- Ask for estimations of traffic and revenues that your game may achieve with their network, and try to have those in the contract.
- Don’t give out all of your games at once. Release one and see how it performs over time.
- Don’t get too excited when a new network launches and you are promised huge traffic – it is better to wait and see how it works and performs over the coming months.
- Try to work with non-exclusive licenses. This gives you more opportunities to distribute with other networks.
As you can see it is very easy just to contact the network and provide your games for free, but before doing that you should always think about certain factors that will give you benefits and satisfaction from cooperation. I’m sure that if you feel your games are good then you also should take care to make your efforts pay off by negotiating the best cooperating conditions. My entry may sound a bit obvious, but honestly – many inexperienced developers may not be aware of the risk they will meet in the market.