Electronics ARts Ad —  Scientific American, sept ‘83

Mobile Game Publishing 2.0

Moneyball for f2p games

EA’s original vision of video game publishing - let the software artist focus on creating amazing games and leave it to the publisher to take care of the business side of gaming.

This blog post marks the 30 anniversary of the EA “software artist” ad. Now people are communicating anytime, anywhere using written, spoken, visual, location and gesture data. Software artists today have the means to connect directly with over one billion mobile smart phone users. New forms of games and storytelling are emerging.

With all this potential, it is ironic that mobile app discovery is broken and the cost user acquisition is just going up.

We need a new breed of game publishers.

Let’s fix it

Game publishers are critical in helping commercialize the work of a new generation of software artists. Here is what they will need to manage :

“Old school” game development :

Old school game development process (photo: IEEE)

In today’s market, shipping is a continual process not a final event. Analytics is an on-going process — the focus is not on releasing a finished product, quickly gathering Minimum Viable Metrics. Game publishers need to help software artists get over the fear of being punched in the face by being mentors, coaches and trusted advisors.

Game development now (taken from lean startup) :

Lean method applied to game development (photo :TheLeanStartup)

The new breed of publishers will work with software artists like music labels work with musicians. Tracking prototypes and early alphas is all part of A&R. They will serve as mentors and coaches so the software artist can focus on creating the best game possible.

Console game publishing is about big bets over a long period of time. However, since the focus is on starting, gaining traction, and meeting minimum viable metrics, game publishers can make a lot of smaller bets early on (like an incubator or story developers at Pixar). Not all games will make it and continued resources will be put in to the ones that meet or exceed minimum viable metrics at every step of the production cycle. They oversee a stable of games and have visibility to what is gaining traction and share their learnings so the software artist can focus on creating the best game possible.

Since UA is the new retail shelf space, game publishers must understand a game’s LTV so they can effectively manage UA providers, cross promotion deals and handle user attribution. They will focus on the numbers so the software artist can focus on creating the best game possible.

Game publishers need to help manage the marketing of free to play games — using social and blog networks, guerrilla marketing, press, app store reviews and relationships with platform providers, etc. However, mobile games are service oriented so they need to do this in the context of the live game. They will have the metrics and understand audience sentiment so there is tight integration there so that the software artist can focus on creating the best game possible.

Game publishers deal with any user facing issues that come about when delivering games as a service. This critical information helps them understand the voice behind the metrics. They also conduct live events and promotions . They understand and manage these marketing and business objectives so the software artist can focus on creating the best game possible.

Photo credit : Chris Hecker

Proof of words — move fast and tokenize things

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