Our guide to mobile game publishers
Regardless of whether you’re just getting started in the world of mobile game development, or more experienced, partnering with a publisher can seriously help you earn a profit and scale your game business.
But, depending on the size of your studio, the resources available to you already, and your experience with developing and growing games, publishers can help you in different ways:
- Expertise in UA and monetization that can turn your game into a profitable business
- Rich game design experience and a broad understanding of the market to adjust your game so it’s the best fit for the target audience
- Advanced technology to optimize game metrics and maximize LTV
- Help in adopting the right processes and methodologies to make sure you’re following best practices, prioritizing efficiently, and not wasting time or resources
- Financial support to aggressively scale your game and have significant, massive growth
Whatever resources and help you want comes down to how collaborative you want to be with your publisher and in turn how transparent and cooperative they’ll be with you. Though virtually anyone can work with a publisher, here are three common types of game developers and how they stand to benefit from a partnership.
Newcomers to hyper-casual game development
For solo hobbyists looking to get into game design as a full-time job, understanding the basic foundations of success - the KPIs to aim for, what good ad creative looks like, etc - how to run marketability tests, and getting help from those that can handle the manual parts of UA and monetization are often the major challenges. While your concept for a game could be great, it can be difficult to actualize the idea and create a profitable business from it.
Of course, most publishers offer the financial resources that developers new to the business need to fund user acquisition and other costs. But it’s important to also look for a partner that will work closely with you and offer more than just financing. Specifically, publishers that value a collaborative, transparent, and holistic process can walk you throughout the steps to launch and after. Regardless of whether you understand the basics of marketability - CPI, CTR, prototype testing, etc - a publishing partner can set up the marketability test for you and help you understand the KPIs. Supersonic, for example, has a self-serve platform that lets any developer upload their game and Supersonic handles the rest, both in terms of marketability testing and reporting on the results.
Gabriel Coriuu represents a success story of a developer who quit his day job and started his own game design studio Seenax out of a love for art and programming. While Seenax is now an established developer with hit games under his belt, Coriuu started out as a newcomer and talks about his experience working with Supersonic to turn his passion into a profit: “Supersonic offers very fair deals and respects the developer’s IP rights, so there's nothing to lose whatsoever. ”
Supersonic worked closely with Gabriel to improve his game, Hide ‘N Seek, by building and optimizing the ad implementation strategy and waterfalls while also testing and scaling creatives that brought down CPI. In working with Supersonic, Hide ‘N Seek reached #1 on Android and #5 on iOS within a few days in the US, increased retention 48%, and boosted playtime 33%.
Professional indie developers
If you’re an established indie game studio that has experience launching games and understands the building blocks of a monetization strategy, then the ideal publisher partner can help you get insight to and analyze market trends, test your game’s concept, and elevate your game to the next level.
The key is finding publishers that offer transparency, ad design and creative help, and UA and monetization expertise. The Israeli indie development team at Gemo was looking for help in these areas when shopping around for a publisher. After partnering with Supersonic for their game Sort It 3D, they reached #1 on both app stores, boosted LTV 30%, and increased playtime 20%. In this case, their expertise in perfecting the growth loop helped Gemo boost retention and enhance their UA strategy for sustained growth.
Oz and Eti Maharshaks from the Gemo team describe the partnership in their words: “We felt like we’re working towards a shared goal - which is still true today. At no point did they want to overhaul our game or take it away from us. Months in, and we’re still talking daily, investigating problems together, and sharing tips.”
Established game studios
For game studios of 15 or more people that are looking to scale and earn more profit, they can get significant support from publishers that are experts in growing games and maximizing revenue. Established studios often already have experience launching their games, but publishers can get their business to the next level with their expertise in ad creatives, UA, and monetization - and all the maintenance that comes after the launch. Plus, publishers can provide valuable feedback and insights - having tested, optimized, and launched a wide net of games.
Freeplay, which has three studio locations across the globe, shows how a larger game developer can benefit from working with a publisher. They partnered with Supersonic for their game, Join Clash, and together they achieved the #2 spot on iOS and Android in the US, stayed in the top 100 charts for 6 months, and doubled LTV. Evgeniy Sidorov, Lead Game Producer at Freeplay, said, “The amazing work that we did together with Supersonic to improve both the game’s LTV and the creatives resulted in rapid growth that took us all the way to the #2 spot in the U.S. charts while maintaining significant profit along the entire way.”
Now, who do publishers work with?
While we’ve discussed what each type of developer should look for in a publisher, the question remains: What do publishers seek in a development partner? One of the most important qualities that mobile game publishers look for in developers is quality of execution. This is something that Tomer Geller, Lead Game Designer for Supersonic, describes further, saying that if you have any previously launched games or samples of your current game for publishers to play and test, then this can be an excellent way to show off your skills and get a publishing partner on board sooner rather than later. Quality is key.
Learn more by checking out our other blogs, including ‘How To Do Market Research For Your Apps’, ‘5 Tips For A Profitable Hyper Casual Game Launch’, and ‘4 Tips To Get The Attention Of A Mobile Game Publisher’