Earlier this week, Tom Buscaglia wrote up an article warning indie game developers away from bad deals with publishers. In this warning he states the following:
HERE COME THE BOTTOM FEEDERS
In this article he talks about the recent success of indie developers such as Notch, the creator of the popular Minecraft game. He states that publishers are taking notice of the indie games industry are are looking for marks. He warns us to be wary of any deal that might come our way:
But there are also a slew of bottom feeders who offer nothing but exploitation to any unwary developer looking to get his passion project in the world. I started seeing this crop up around the same time that word got out on Minecraft’s financial success. Like circling vultures with the smell of death in their nostrils, these “so called” publishing partners began to sign up Indies, launch Indie “friendly” portals and even run contests with the big award being getting the privilege to get screwed as first prize.
These publishers offer many promises and bait to lure in indie developers. I am reminded of Activision’s recent indie game contest. While the deal looked good on the surface and they promised to play nice with any developer who won, their past history with other developers led me to avoid them at all costs.
That is not to say there are no good deals out there. There are many publishers who actually want to help developers get on their feet. Recently, there have been a number of indie focused funds coming available. For one, we have Extra Creditz promising excess money raised for their artist, Allison’s, shoulder surgery would go toward funding indie developers. We also have the developers behind hit indie games World of Goo and Braid creating a revolving fund called the “Indie Fund.”
These are just a couple of the great opportunities out there.
Back to Tom though. In his article, he tells indie developers to not be afraid to back out of a bad deal with a publisher. Most publishers will at first send a proposal that is almost all about them. The developer gets little out of it. Tom warns us not to get too hasty. We should first rewrite the proposal into something we want and go from there. If the publisher is not willing to compromise, then you should back out immediately.
As an indie developer myself, I have decided to avoid any publishing deal, but I would be willing to work out a funding deal that was similar to the above mentioned deals. There are just too many opportunities to self publish and still make a lot of money. For one, we have the project we are working on now (which sadly is way behind schedule because of life conflicts) We are planning on releasing this game on Facebook first, our own site, Google+, Kongregate and any other portals that will allow for micro-transactions. We feel this is the best way to start.
After this we will be creating more micro-transaction games for the browser and some free to play PC games as well as some episodic games. We recognize that the potential on the PC is far better than anything on the console. We want to provide the best games for you the gamer. As such, we know that getting involved with a publisher is not good for you or us.
We Look forward to finishing this game and we hope that you will enjoy it and that you will continue to support us through out the development and eventual release.