Approaching a Publisher at Cons / by Brandon Driesse

David Martinez is a co-founder of Raw Fury, an indie game publisher we’ve had our eye on ourselves, and possibly the subject of my favorite interview this batch of Dev Talks. The man was an absolute pleasure and our first publisher in the series! With a standing at the top of his company there was no “I’m not sure I can say” or “well you know I don’t really have that kin of information” in our discussion. I apologize for the poor visual quality in the video interview(camera error), but I highly recommend watching David passionately talk about his business and how a publisher can help developers, or at least how they do it, how to engage with them, and also when a dev may not need a publisher.

Let’s get to the meat; the meet-n-greet I mean. YouTube personalities are human, game developers are human, lawyers are blood-sucking parasites, and politicians are reptilians, but publishers are also very human. We’re all equals on this earth so act like it, your time is no more important than theirs and their words carry no more weight than your own. What I’m saying is if that human you want to talk to is currently engaged with someone else then WAIT. Sit still, maybe take a short walk around, and approach them when they are available to be talked to. Have a pitch in mind already, TinyBuild has a great resource for developers unsure of how to structure a good pitch here. If you’re at a con and the environment is particularly loud you can schedule a meeting somewhere else more suited for discussion, David attended several the day of our interview before we had our time slot: we scheduled an appointment too to get this interview. We chose the rowdy expo hall for personality and our mic equipment is prepared to handle capture, but cons like PAX East provide conference rooms on the upper levels that can be reserved for such meetings.

Emailed pitches are a bit different. Not every pitch goes well and you can read a vibe better in person based on gesture and tone than a text-based email response. Be prepared for rejection, it happens a lot because not every game needs a publisher, not every publisher wants to touch the game(as we discussed in the Sweet Bandits Dev Talk), and sometimes a publisher isn’t equipment to handle more games in their catalog. Taking on more than they can chew could lead to financial ruin, a lack of communication between a plethora of devs and a feeling neglect because they don’t have the staff to fulfill all their indie’s needs; experience we’ve had firsthand.

When it comes to showing up at the con with a publisher there are a few perks, travel costs and booth expenses are all wrapped into the budget of the game’s development and the Raw Fury sets up their devs with cost of living so that they can work on the game fulltime and don’t need to raise funds to attend these sorts of conventions. Raw Fury also likes to focus on just two titles and bring the developers along to meet the fans and potential customers. This is in huge contrast with Dangen Entertainment an Hitcents who we’ve discussed in several prior articles/videos that have booths with up to eight games showing. This is to say that there is no standard among publishers and finding a really solid one can really help the dev cycle, though the are much pickier in the titles they select. There’s less cross-pollination when there’s less games to show but more focus and direct marketing on the two in the spotlight. Raw Fury publishes under a dozen games and all of them look like they’re going to be hits. Whether that be due to the talent or the funding it’s safe to say, and should be obvious, that a lot of focus on less projects certainly pushes the quality.

Talking about price David’s main takeaway was not to determine the cost of a game by the time it takes to complete it. There’s a lot of different mentalities on price but this one seems by far the most detrimental to an indie’s place in the market. Pricing games isn’t an exact science and every game deserves the time spent researching what would be best in the market for it. You spent years on the game itself, spend a little time work-shopping different scenarios once you finally hit publish(I know it’s a struggle once you just want to get the game out in the end)!