Dumb Money, Smart Money: Funding and Publishing Options for Independent Game Developers

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Publishers, investors and partners: do you need them? This is a question every independent developer faces when deciding whether or not to self-publish. What do you give up and what do you get in return in each scenario? In the past the publisher was the gateway to the marketplace, but today anyone can publish a game by themselves. This talk will explore the financing and publishing options available to independent developers today, covering traditional publishers, investors, strategic partners and self-funding options such as Kickstarter. Each one offers different benefits and resources, from capital, to marketing and analytics, to strategic relationships with platform owners. This session will give you a better understanding of the modern publishing landscape and arm you with the tools to evaluate your options, ask the right questions and come to the decision that's best for your company

Text of Dumb Money, Smart Money: Funding and Publishing Options for Independent Game Developers

  • Til$ng Point Conden$al FUNDING AND PUBLISHING OPTIONS FOR INDEPENDENT DEVELOPERS DUMB MONEY SMART MONEY JULY 2014
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHO AM I? GIORDANO BRUNO CONTESTABILE VP Product Management & Revenue, Tilting Point Previously seen at PopCap and EA Executive Producer, Bejeweled franchise Mobile Product and Business Strategy Asia Pacific Operations Mobile gaming since 2002 SMS / WAP / J2ME / BREW and other horrors Happier since 2008 (App Store launch date) Twittering away @giordanobc 2
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al New generation mobile partner for top independent game developers WHO ARE WE? TM Focus on mobile and tablet platforms Full service: Funding Product management Production support Marketing & user acquisition Tech platform Insight, analysis and research Reach Scale Sounds interesting? hello@tiltingpoint.com 3
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al An innovative platformer from 1337+Senri with cutting-edge graphics, starring a lovable, unique main character 4Tim Cooks Keynote at WWDC 2014 Unveiling of Android TV at Google I/O On stage at the ADA Ceremony
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al Tower offense and defense game with a collectible card game twist from Uber Entertainment Featured by Apple in 120 countries Toy Rush could be the game Ive always wanted. 148Apps This game looks seriously awesome Marvelous. Touch Arcade Toy Rush is a game Ive been waiting desperately for. App Invasion 5
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al LETS GET STARTED ENOUGH ABOUT US
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al IN THE OLD DAYS Publishers were needed because of: Very high cost of development Retail distribution very important, and very expensive Large marketing budgets required Console platforms mostly closed to smaller companies 7
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al AS A RESULT Publishers held sway, and terms werent favorable to developers 8
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al NO OR LIMITED IP OWNERSHIP 9
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al HIGH COST STRUCTURES AND LOW ROYALTIES Resulting in low chance of receiving any over lifetime of product 10
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al LIMITED CREATIVE CONTROL 11
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al APPROVAL PROCESS OFTEN ARBITRARY 12
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al FREQUENT CRUNCHES And death marches 13
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT HAS CHANGED? (WHAT WAS THE TILTING POINT !?) 14
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al No physical distribution infrastructure needed Platform barrier of entry effectively eliminated Performance-driven marketing lowering overall costs Indie developers can reach mass audiences directly WHAT CHANGED? DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS HAVE REVOLUTIONIZED THE MARKET 15
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al Cheaper and more accessible engines Smaller teams Shorter development cycles Unlimited upside WHAT CHANGED? MAKING GAMES FOR DIGITAL PLATFORM CAN BE MUCH MORE AFFORDABLE 16
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT CHANGED? AUDIENCE HAS BECOME SIGNIFICANTLY LARGER AND BROADER 100MFROM GAMERS 2BTO PEOPLE THAT PLAY GAMES 17
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al The work doesnt end with a big launch In fact, thats just the beginning WHAT CHANGED? GAMES ARE NOW SERVICES 18
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al BUT GOING ALONE IS STILL DAUNTING 19
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PRODUCTION VALUES AND COSTS ARE RISING GOING ALONE IS DAUNTING 20
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al $- $0.50 $1.00 $1.50 $2.00 $2.50 $3.00 $3.50 $4.00 $4.50 $5.00 Jan-12 Feb-12 Mar-12 Apr-12 May-12 Jun-12 Jul-12 Aug-12 Sep-12 Oct-12 Nov-12 Dec-12 Jan-13 Feb-13 Mar-13 Apr-13 May-13 Jun-13 Jul-13 Aug-13 Sep-13 Oct-13 Nov-13 Dec-13 Jan-14 Average Cost Per Install Android CPI iOS CPI Facebook CPI MARKETING BUDGETS & USER ACQUISITION COSTS ARE RISING GOING ALONE IS DAUNTING Source: EEDAR, 2014 21
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al MORE AND MORE GAMES RELEASED EVERY MONTH GOING ALONE IS DAUNTING Number of game submissions by month on the iOS App Store 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 2008-06 2008-08 2008-10 2008-12 2009-02 2009-04 2009-06 2009-08 2009-10 2009-12 2010-02 2010-04 2010-06 2010-08 2010-10 2010-12 2011-02 2011-04 2011-06 2011-08 2011-10 2011-12 2012-02 2012-04 2012-06 2012-08 2012-10 2012-12 2013-02 2013-04 2013-06 2013-08 2013-10 2013-12 2014-02 1.2 MILLION GAMES IN THE iOS APP STORE 200K LAUNCHED IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS Source: Tilting Point / 148Apps 22
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al MAKING GAMES IS NOT JUST ABOUT MAKING GAMES GOING ALONE IS DAUNTING Domain knowledge is required in: CONSUMER INSIGHTS | MARKETING | USER ACQUISITION ANALYTICS | MONETIZATION | QA | ETC. 23
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PUBLISHING DEAL? 24 Now that the playing field is tilted in the developers favor, what should you be asking for?
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT TO ASK FOR Depending on factors such as level of completion of the game and investment from the partner: Full or partial financing Control of the IP Creative control Product management and production support Platform relationship management Marketing and user acquisition budget & execution Ongoing live operations funding 25
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS? 26
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS? BOOTSTRAPPING VCs AND ANGELS CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS INCUBATORS & ACCELERATORS PARTNERS (EVOLVED FROM PUBLISHERS) 27
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS No external pressure Complete creative control No dilution Availability of affordable tech CONS Limits scope of project Lack of access to external know-how Hard to be noticed with low / no marketing budget MOST SUITABLE FOR Wealthy people or very frugal people Small teams with a distinctive game that can be developed on a low budget and find its own audience BOOTSTRAPPING 28
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS No dilution Creative control (but careful about upsetting your backers!) Crowdfunding campaigns are also marketing opportunities Niche projects can get funded CONS Difficult to be noticed: most crowd funding campaigns dont gain traction Obligation to deliver on backers rewards No support from investors beyond funding (and often a lot of nagging) MOST SUITABLE FOR Anyone that has made a cult game in the 80s or 90s Experienced teams that know how to budget for and how to deliver a game Niche games that can find a very enthusiastic audience CROWDFUNDING 29
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS Office space Some funding (often limited) Mentorship Introductions to investors, platforms and publishers CONS Equity dilution, often disproportionate to contribution Limited timeframe: teams have to find their way after a certain amount of time Not all programs are equally useful & reputable MOST SUITABLE FOR Teams with little or no experience in the industry needing a lot of guidance and support INCUBATORS & ACCELERATORS 30
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS Access to sizeable funds Access to other investors, talent and resources CONS Strong dilution Loss of control Most VCs dont have domain expertise and dont understand games MOST SUITABLE FOR Very experienced teams with an understanding of the business side of games Companies with significant traction that want to get to the next level VCs & ANGELS 31
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS Strong production and marketing support through the whole development cycle Guaranteed promotion on the platform without cost to the developer CONS Limitations on where the game can be published, (either temporarily or permanently) Giving up control of IP is often a requirement, although this is changing Strong involvement of the platform partner in creative decisions & production cycle Exposure in change of strategy or staffing in the platform partner MOST SUITABLE FOR AAA games Uber-cool indie games that make the platforms look good at E3 while they peddle their shooters Teams that have the experience, processes and patience needed to deal with a closely involved partner PLATFORMS 32
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al PROS Full-service support (development, marketing, operations, business) Funding without losing ownership and creative control Allows developers to focus on making great games while their partner handles everything else CONS Too awesome? LOL J/K (?!) Attractive deal terms only accessible to experienced teams with very high-quality games MOST SUITABLE FOR Successful teams looking to tackle more ambitious projects Commercially-minded teams looking to build franchises and brands PARTNERS EVOLVED FROM PUBLISHERS 33
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al CONCLUSIONS 34
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al Best partner depends on genre, platform, scope, team and goals ONE SIZE FITS ALL DOESNT APPLY 35
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al In todays market, developers have more options and more negotiating power POWER SHIFT 36
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al Creative control and not relinquishing IP ownership are key to building a long-term business CREATIVE CONTROL 37
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al You will be working with your partner at least through the games lifecycle - better enjoy their company A GOOD FIT IS EVERYTHING 38
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al Managing all aspects of a business is harder Most developers need partners MAKING A GAME IS HARD 39
  • Til$ng Point Conden$al QUESTIONS? www.tiltingpoint.com hello@tiltingpoint.com twitter - @tiltingpoint giordano@tiltingpoint.com twitter - @giordanobc GIORDANO CONTESTABILE Images: Slide 1 - Volkswagen ad, slide 6 - Lance Runner ad, slide 7 KFC ad, slide 8 - 6BEstudio for Top Destinos, slide 9 Harvey Nichols ad, slide 10 Platinum FMD, slide 11 Dulux ad, slide 12 Garyckarntzen, slide 13 - Hu Zheng, slide 14 Canal Plus ad, slide 15 Curli ad, slide 16 - Paperboat Creative, slide 17 Hino ad, slide 18 - Vichy Catalan, slide 19 - Grego