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Self publish or going to an established publisher?

Self Publish VS established publisher

If you are working on your own game, sooner or later you face the choice to share your game with an established game publisher, or if you want to publish the game yourself. There is no wrong choice, but you should investigate and think about the consequences. When it was time for us to make a choice, we chose to self publish, but why?

Publisher:

The biggest advantage when sharing your game with a publisher is that you yourself don't face any risks at all. The costs for production, marketing and design are all for the publisher. Publishers are also very good in deducting the change for success for your game. They have a lot of experience with this.

On the other hand, you also give the game and all rights to the publisher. It may even be the case that your publisher sees something in a mechanism, but wants to adjust elements or even the entire theme. Also, as game designs you will not have a fat pot. Depending on the contract you draw up with each other and to what extent the game needs to be further optimized, you can generally assume about 3% of the retail price. This is the price the store pays for the game.

Keep in mind that publishers receive a lot of proposals. For every 100 proposals, there might not even be 1 that will actually be developed. Often there a specific event where game developers can share their ideas with publishers. ducosim scholarshipDuring these events you have for example 30 minutes to show your game idea. Make sure that you can explain the rules and the game within these 30 minutes and try to focus on the core of the game.

If you want to go to a game publisher, try to do some research first. Does your game fits the vision of the publisher? Do they have game or mechanics like it? 999 Games offers other games than Identity Games. Does your theme or mechanic match the other games this publisher makes?

We have compiled a list of interesting ones Dutch and Flemish publisher and whether they are open to your new game idea. If you see an interesting publisher listed here, you can write to them by means of a sell sheet.

Self publish

The biggest advantage of publishing your own game is that you are fully in control yourself. Nobody can make you change concept of the game if you don't want to. You are and always will be the owner of the game. This also means that you always have the option to share your game with a publisher later if you wanted to.

However, self publishing a game costs a lot of investment. Especially if you want to create your first game ever, you have to investigate how the board game words is working. What kind of manufacturers are there and where are they located? How do you sell you game, both to retailers and customers? How will you send and store your games (fulfilment/distribution)? And maybe the most important question; How will you finance the game?

Depending on the type of game you want to make, you will need an investment of roughly 10.000 to 50.000 euro, which is needed to illustrate and manufacture the game. Luckily, there are platforms like Kickstarter since 2009 which makes it possible for anybody to self publish their game and receive investments for it. However, there is still a lot of time investment needed to set up a successful Kickstarter campaign. If you are thinking about this, take a look at the blog from Jamey Stegmaier where he discusses all aspects of Kickstarting a board game.

As a rule, you can assume that building a community takes at least 6 to 12 months, depending on how much time and effort and even money you put into it.

How did it go with us?

We decided to self publish our game, although we won't guarantee that we won't do this in the future. Our choice to start with self publishing was based on these considerations:

1. Of course it is enormously awesome to self publish your own game!
2. Because of Corona most of the events related to board game where cancelled in 2020. This meant that is wasn't as easy to share our game ideas with publishers.
3. We have a lot of time on our hands to invest in our game ideas and we also like to invest our time on this. We see this as well invested time, even if we wouldn't succeed as we learn a lot from this experience.
4. Nikki loves drawing and she always wanted to do something with this passion.
5. Niels stopped working in the IT sector to investigate which other interest he was passionate about. Then this option crossed his road.

While starting out with our game, and taking our first steps into the world of board games, we followed the stories from other amateur publishers. They also work with Kickstarter most of the time, and this made us even more enthusiastic.

Where would you chose from? Self publishing your game, or sharing your ideas with an established game publisher?

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