Every year, the gaming industry suffers because of conflicts between publishers and developers. The reason: many of today’s publishers are risk-resistant. They limit how much they’re willing to invest in a project, how much they’re willing to work with developers, and how much they’re willing to market each game. All of this puts greater pressure on the developers to shoulder more and more of the publishing responsibilities. Ultimately, this winds up hurting gamers most of all. If developers don’t have the resources they need, their games will never reach their full potential.
At Graffiti Games, we’re pushing back against the industry norms to ensure developers receive the financial and strategic support they need. With that, they can focus on what they do best: making great games. Without proper publishing support, a developer is left to his or her own means to compete against thousands of new games hitting the market each and every year.
Guiding them through the publishing process requires effective communication. We’ve heard many industry horror stories about developer-publisher relationships devolving into adversarial competitions. In some cases, the publisher will demand changes to the game in order to continue working with the developer. At Graffiti Games, we recognize an important truth: for developers, their games are their babies. Completely changing a game’s direction is not only a logistical challenge, it’s also an emotional one. As a publisher, it’s our responsibility to make recommendations to improve the game for the end consumer, but we try to remain relatively hands off so that the developer can retain their artistic freedom. By taking this stance, we become trusted collaborators who can improve a game’s direction instead of modifying it to meet our demands. Our philosophy: we only recommend changes if we believe they will significantly heighten gameplay quality.
As an experienced voice of reason, it’s our responsibility to ensure developers can navigate the logistical challenges of the publishing process. For example, after months or even years of developing a game, many developers will begin to feel pressured to push a game into the market for a hundred different reasons — they’ve run out of cash, they’ve lost the drive to keep pushing, they no longer believe in the game itself. Launching too early can kill a title, especially if the gameplay suffers from it. When a developer is feeling the heat, we offer a seasoned perspective and advice on how to press forward to ensure the game stays on track and can one day be released with the end consumer in mind.
Working so closely with developers has helped us remain emotionally and financially sensitive to each developer’s needs. Just as we never pressure the developer to make changes if it’s not going to meaningfully impact gameplay for the end user, we never want to create undo financial pressures for our developers. If we need to hire a third-party to create additional marketing materials, we’ll never take an additional cut for ourselves. If we believe in a game enough to devote our own time and effort into it, it doesn’t make sense for us to financially hinder the individuals responsible for making the game so great in the first place. The goal is to have a successful launch where everyone makes money faster so that we can develop even more amazing titles.
By focusing on the needs of our developers, we ensure the creative minds behind each game have the resources necessary to bring their visions to life. As a result, the games they produce are richly detailed and a joy to play. Ultimately, taking care of developers means taking care of gamers.