Breaking into the highly competitive indie game market can be a daunting challenge for developers. To increase your chances of securing a publishing deal, it's crucial to understand how indie video game publishers evaluate submissions and greenlight games. In this article, we'll delve into the key factors that publishers consider when reviewing game submissions and the process they follow for greenlighting a project. With this knowledge, you can better prepare your game for submission and improve your chances of success.
Quality and Originality of the Game Concept
We loved Back to the Dawn for its quirkiness and Prison Break + Prison on Fire inspired theme.
Publishers seek unique, innovative game ideas that distinguish themselves from the competition.
Developers should focus on creating a fresh, engaging experience that captures players' interest and keeps them coming back for more.
Example: When the creators of "Back to the Dawn" presented their game concept – centered on a reporter unjustly imprisoned for exposing a political scheme – we were immediately drawn to its unique mechanics and visual appeal. This compelling narrative and distinct style led us to represent the game.
Market Potential and Target Audience
A Jin Yong themed wuxia RPG presented in pixel art? We were sold!
Publishers examine the potential market size and target audience to ensure the game aligns with their portfolio and business goals.
It's crucial for developers to research their target audience and create a game that appeals to that demographic.
Example: Our decision to represent "Wandering Sword" was driven by its wide-ranging appeal. The game uniquely combines elements that attract a diverse player base - the engrossing nature of role-playing games, the allure of a wuxia theme, and a distinctive pixel art style.
Gameplay Mechanics and Fun Factor
Hades from Supergiant Games is a great example of a game with addictive gameplay and strong replay value.
Engaging, enjoyable gameplay with strong replay value is essential to capture publishers' attention.
Developers should strive for intuitive, satisfying mechanics that keep players immersed and entertained.
Example: "Hades" achieved success and positive reception due to its addictive gameplay that kept players coming back for more.
Visual and Audio Design
Game publishers look out for high-quality, cohesive visual and audio design as they are vital for enhancing the overall gaming experience.
Developers should aim for a distinct, visually appealing art style and an atmospheric, immersive sound design.
Example: "Affogato" captivated us with its strong anime art style, catchy tunes and sleek sound design, making it one of the deciding factors for us to represent it.
Development Progress and Feasibility
Publishers assess the game's current development state, including prototypes, and evaluate its feasibility within their publishing timeline and budget.
A well-developed prototype or a near-complete game can instill confidence in publishers and increase the likelihood of securing a deal.
Development Team and Track Record
The experience, expertise, and track record of the development team play a critical role in a publisher's evaluation.
A strong background and history of successful projects can increase the likelihood of securing a publishing deal.
Post-launch Support and Longevity
Terraria from Re-logic is an absolute labor of love and the developer has been consistently updating the game forever.
Publishers value games with the potential for post-launch support, including updates, patches, and additional content to maintain player interest.
Developers should plan for ongoing support to ensure the game remains engaging and relevant.
Example: "Terraria" has maintained its popularity over the years, thanks to consistent support and content updates from the developers.
Monetization Strategy and Revenue Potential
Publishers evaluate a game's monetization strategy and its potential to generate revenue.
Developers should devise a well-thought-out monetization plan that balances player satisfaction with revenue generation.
Example: "Fortnite" successfully leveraged the "freemium" model, generating significant revenue while maintaining player interest.
Understanding how indie video game publishers evaluate game submissions and greenlight games is essential for developers seeking to secure a publishing deal. By focusing on factors such as originality, market potential, gameplay mechanics, and development progress, you can improve your game's chances of being picked up by a publisher. Remember, a well-prepared submission that demonstrates your game's strengths and potential will go a long way in helping you break into the competitive world of indie game publishing. Keep refining and iterating on your game concept, and stay persistent in your pursuit of success in the industry. It doesn't cost anything to submit your game to Spiral Up Games for an appraisal. Who knows, you may just get a greenlight from us!