Professional Services
Order outsourcing

Find the Perfect Partner: How to Choose the Right Investor or Publisher for Your Funding Journey

Discover ways to navigate the world of game investors and publishers to find the best fit for your success.

In the dynamic world of game development, publishers and investors are the lifeblood of the industry. Game developers and studios alike rely heavily on their connections, advice, publicity, and funding, especially as marketing becomes more complex and competition intensifies. Having the right publisher or investor on your side can be the ultimate catalyst that makes your game a hit and propels your gaming studio toward success.

While crafting your pitch is important for building your business, finding the right investor or partner from the get-go is the foundation that ensures stability and strength as you create your game. Navigating the partnership landscape with publishers and investors requires background research and a tailored pitch. From team size to game genres and monetary models to support scope, understanding the specific requirements of each potential partner can elevate your pitch and open the door to a partnership that aligns perfectly with your goals.

In this guide, we’ll dive into where and how you can find an ideal partner, the intricacies of selecting them, and how to leverage those relationships to uncover new partnership opportunities as you grow your gaming business.

Publishers vs. Investors: Which One Does Your Game Need?

Publishers and investors are vital elements of financial support and partnership for game developers. However, while they provide crucial funding and monetary resources that studios need to grow and thrive, their roles can also expand beyond that. 

Both offer a wide range of advantages and benefits that can be key to high-barrier growth opportunities for indie studios or new developers. They also serve different purposes depending on what they can offer. For example, many studios reach out to investors for initial funding through the development stages of the game and then later find an experienced publisher to take care of pre-launch, launch, and post-launch once the game is ready. 

It all starts with your project and its needs. First, becoming familiar with what your project lacks, such as marketing support, development personnel, or funding, then outlining what you can do to fill those gaps arms you with a comprehensive and detailed “ask” when you contact a publisher or investor. This approach clearly communicates your plans, goals, and vision and allows potential partners to become familiar with your game and your business, building a stronger foundation for your relationship from the beginning. 

By understanding all of the ways publishers and investors can provide support, and harnessing all of their advantages, you can find new ways to effectively launch your games into the market and catalyze your growth in the industry. Let’s explore the diverse range of services and benefits publishers and investors can offer and how each of them can impact the trajectory of your game development journey in their own way.

What Investors Do

Game investors typically analyze the ins and outs of your gaming studio, team and personnel, business operations, and overall growth potential. Some are general investors interested in fast returns, while others specialize in game investments and bring in-depth industry knowledge. Game investors are motivated to take a stake in your company and its shares to build equity from their investment. Usually, studios that have already published games and also have great KPIs are more likely to gain attention from investors. 

Investors also provide you with capital if they’re primarily financial investors. Still, more often than not, they also become strategic investors, offering you a wealth of knowledge and resources to build your game and ensure your business’s long-term success. Additionally, investors are long-term partners on a global scale, often remaining with you as your games and company grow — until a bigger investor comes along and they finally see a return on their investment. 

What They Offer

  • Funding for your games and the security for making long-term decisions.
  • Creative freedom and feedback when it comes to game development. 
  • A wealth of strategic business knowledge that helps you make informed business decisions.
  • The time you need to go to market, make some mistakes, adapt, improve, and overcome challenges. 
  • A strategic and insightful partner who often invests as much in you as your company. 

What Publishers Do

Publishers work with studios in a more game-centric capacity, usually only working with you until the end of a game’s cycle. While investors are there long-term, delving into your business and its long-term goals, publishers are primarily game-focused and typically sign a single game with future claims to any sequels, prequels, or new platforms. This distinction is why publishers are a great option for new developers who lack resources but want to learn how to launch and market their game and implement that experience in the future.

Most publishers also provide funding and capital, but primarily for launch rather than development, so you’ll typically need to self-fund your game’s development. Publishers usually have regional strengths carved out for sales too, centering around a defined market or audience they will likely target for game sales.

The bottom line is that publishers make money when your game makes money, meaning that partnering with a publisher typically results in them taking a cut of your game’s revenue.

What They Offer

  • Funding for your game’s development, launch, marketing, localization, and community management.
  • The ability to learn how your games can be launched and marketed from gaming industry pros.
  • Opportunity to get feedback and support during the development process.
  • Publishers often target regional markets, making it possible for you to work with multiple publishers and maximize the global success of your game. 
  • A partner with an in-depth understanding of the games industry and can offer tailored feedback and advice.
  • Marketing budget and strategy executed by the publisher, you, and your team.

Investors and publishers each have a diverse range of services and benefits they bring to the table, and identifying your needs from a partner can help you narrow down the candidates and with whom you choose to partner.

Reasons to work with a publisher or investor

Finding the right publisher or investor who aligns with your goals, values, and vision can be instrumental in achieving long-term success in the competitive gaming industry. When considering potential partners for your game, working with a publisher or investor can offer numerous benefits across different game development and release aspects. From assisting with funding and distribution to marketing your game and localizing it, working with a publisher or investor can greatly improve your game’s and game business’ success.

Funding. Needed capital is the biggest reason most developers seek out an investor and publisher since the most important resource studios need to bring their games to life is capital. Not only does working with a publisher or investor provide the financial resources necessary to help you reach the launch of your title, but it also helps alleviate financial risk, allowing you to focus on creating a high-quality game without compromising your vision. In some cases, publishers and investors can also help with business development, ensuring your finances grow more steadily in the long term. 

Marketing and connections. Publishers and investors often have well-established networks and marketing expertise, which means they can assist in promoting your game to a wider audience through targeted marketing campaigns, influencer partnerships, and media exposure. Their connections within the industry can open doors to valuable opportunities for game promotions and other collaborations with contacts you can use for your projects, from producers to musicians.

Distribution. Publishers and investors excel in distribution and often leverage their existing relationships with platforms, storefronts, and marketplaces, as well as their expertise in logistics and compliance, like rating systems and local regulations. By partnering with a publisher or investor, you can tap into their distribution channels, reaching larger audiences and maximizing your game's visibility across multiple platforms and regions. 

Age rating systems include PEGI for European countries, ESBR for North America, USK for Germany, and the Australian Classification, to start with. Source.

Passing certifications for first-party companies like Sony or Microsoft to release your game for a certain platform can also be difficult and time-consuming– another process publishers can guide studios through, in addition to negotiations on a studio’s behalf. Similarly, publishers have connections with major platforms like Steam and PSN, allowing studios to be featured faster and can handle initial permits, upload builds, construct promotions, and do most of the paperwork on your behalf. 

Industry expertise. Publishers and investors bring valuable and in-depth gaming industry expertise to the table. They possess in-depth knowledge of market trends, cross-platform distribution, first-party quality checks and certifications, designing assets for different storefronts, and successful game launches. Collaborating with them can provide valuable insight, guidance, and mentorship throughout the development process, helping you make informed decisions and improve the overall quality of your game. 

Community management and support. Community management is an important factor in growing and retaining an audience, and publishers and investors alike often have dedicated community management teams that can engage with your player community, provide customer support, and address any issues that may arise. Funding partners’ experience in community management can help cultivate a vibrant and loyal player base, ensuring long-term engagement and satisfaction. 

Quality assurance. Publishers and investors typically have access to extensive quality assurance (QA) resources and expertise. They can help test a studio’s game to ensure it’s bug-free and error-free while also conducting performance testing on various platforms and PC configurations. They can also help identify and address glitches and usability issues, ensuring players a polished and smooth gaming experience. With their resources and connections, they also can assemble focus groups and conduct closed testing sessions to enhance the overall quality of your game before its release.

Localization. Localization is more than a simple translation of the in-game text. Quality localization involves specific cultural, colloquial, and semantic adaptations for each region the game is being sold to, and expanding your game's reach to international markets often requires a lot of time and cost. Localization is another area where investors and publishers can offer benefits with professional services to translate your game into different languages and adapt it to local cultural nuances. This area of expertise from funding partners can significantly improve accessibility and appeal to players from diverse regions.

Finding the Right Partner

Once you've identified and understood your studio's needs, which type of partner you need to collaborate with, and all the benefits they can offer you and your growing business, it’s time to find your future partner. Here are a few effective ways to find the right publisher or investor for you:

  • Research and network. Research within the gaming industry to identify potential partners that align with your goals and vision. Attend industry events, conferences, and networking sessions to connect with investors and publishers specializing in game investments and publishing. 
  • Get recommendations. Reach out to fellow game developers, industry professionals, and mentors who may have valuable insights or recommendations for suitable partners. Their experiences and advice can provide practical guidance in finding the right fit for your studio.
  • Online platforms and direct outreach. Utilize online platforms, forums, and communities focused on game development and investment. Choose spaces where you can engage in discussions, share your studio's achievements and aspirations, and proactively reach out to individuals or organizations that align with your requirements. There are also a few specially curated lists that can help you discover a potential partner:
  • Pitch events and competitions. Participate in game development pitch events, contests, and showcases where investors and publishers seek promising projects. These events provide an excellent platform to showcase your game, pitch your ideas, and attract the attention of potential partners.
  • Engage with industry networks. Join industry organizations, associations, and communities dedicated to game development and publishing. These networks often provide resources, mentorship programs, and opportunities to connect with investors and publishers who may be looking to support studios like yours.

Ensure Compatibility

Finding the perfect partner goes beyond aligning your needs. It also requires a mutual understanding and compatibility between your studio and a potential partner. While searching for your ideal match, consider these important factors to get the most value out of the partnership:

Shared Vision and Project Alignment. Seek a partner who resonates with your game's genre, setting, team size, art style, platform, and other crucial elements. Look for those with experience and a genuine passion for projects like yours. A partner who shares your vision will be better equipped to provide valuable insights and contribute to the success of your game.

Track Record and Expertise. Research the partner's track record and industry expertise. Examine their portfolio, past projects, and success stories to gauge their ability to deliver on their promises. Look for partners with a solid reputation, a history of successful collaborations, and a deep understanding of the gaming industry. Publishers and investors, especially within your niche, likely have a reputation among developers and other studios, so ask your peers about them for first-hand accounts of their way of business. Maybe even look into interviews of the publishers where they describe what they do, as Daedalic did.

Resources and Support. Consider the resources and support your potential partner can provide and evaluate their capacity to offer funding, marketing expertise, distribution channels, localization services, and community management. For example, some publishers exclusively work with bigger, more established studios or IPs. On the other hand, some choose to work with indies, like tinyBuild, or mobile titles, while others may be focused on specific regions or prefer simulators. 

Do you think your game belongs in Devolver’s catalog?

Remember, finding the right partner is a two-way street. While you’re looking for someone who meets your needs, it’s also important to showcase your studio’s unique value to prospective funding partners. Present your strengths, achievements, and growth potential, and demonstrate why you are an attractive investment. By carefully evaluating compatibility and ensuring a strong fit, you can forge a partnership that propels your game and studio to new heights of success.

Showcase Your Game and Meet Potential Partners

During the initial marketing of your game, investors may be on the lookout for games and studios like yours. Working with media channels and influencers, giving interviews, and publishing early trailers can make publishers seek you out, so if you can attract attention to your game – do it!

Game Conferences and Exhibitions. Events like E3, GDC, and other game summits are great places to network, find partners, practice your pitch, and receive real-time feedback to help you adjust your presentation. These events allow you to put your game on display and give you the chance to have face-to-face conversations with representatives of potential publishers and investors. Game developers, investors, and publishers travel from around the world to attend these events, so showcasing your games and company is a valuable way to find a publisher or investor to partner with. 

Game Demos and Prototypes. Develop demos or prototypes of your game that effectively showcase its gameplay mechanics, graphics, and overall potential. Distribute these demos at events or through online platforms to generate interest and intrigue among potential partners — a hands-on experience with your game can leave a lasting impression and spark conversations with interested parties.

Online Platforms and Showcases. Leverage online platforms and showcases dedicated to game development and publishing. These platforms provide opportunities to exhibit your game to a global audience, attract attention from publishers, and connect with potential partners who might be actively seeking new projects. Utilize websites, forums, and social media channels to promote your game and engage with interested parties.

Streamline Your Pitch: Trim Your List

Once you’ve identified several potential partners that would be a good fit for your growth and goals, the next step is to organize the list. You want to narrow the focus of your pitch, tailoring it to each partner you approach. It is also helpful to track your progress as you meet with future partners, from the pitching process to the benefits and potential disadvantages of working with them. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Look at what they offer. Some may offer all the money you need but lack the marketing and distribution strengths. Others may only cover some of your monetary needs but have a great track record of development support and marketing. Revisit your list of requirements, and see which publishers and investors cover most of them.
  • Learn about their reputation. Take the time to understand their public perception and history working with other developers. Publishers and investors do not just lend money. Often, they’ll become committed and public partners with your studio. See if they deliver on their promises and aren’t a source of controversy. 
  • Check out portfolio performance. Do all the games they publish receive raving reviews and amass a huge following? Do they work with many developers, but only some games make headlines? Are they honest about how many successes they’ve had? Much like how they’ll research your studio’s history and viability, you do the same!
  • Bookmark the ones you’ve cut. Remember about the ones you decided not to pursue. You might want to reach out to them for a future game. Plus, publishers or your studio may pivot or change structurally, and you may be a better fit for each other after some time has passed.

Now that you’ve curated a streamlined list of potential partners to present to, it’s time to prepare and get ready for the next stage: the pitch.

Seal the Deal: Select the Perfect Partner

After engaging with publishers and investors, pitching your game, and receiving a few offers, it's important to approach the decision-making process carefully. Rushing into a partnership without thorough research can put your studio or intellectual property at risk, so take the time to review the results of your pitches and have meaningful discussions with your team about the offers on the table.

  • Ensure you only accept an offer with proper consideration and carefully analyze each offer to ensure it aligns with your long-term goals and values. It's essential to conduct detailed research and scrutinize the terms and conditions. By delving into the specifics, you can safeguard the future of your studio and protect your creative vision. 
  • Pay attention to how potential partners conduct themselves during meetings and pitches. Look for publishers and investors who exhibit meticulousness, reliability, and a commitment to your vision. Reflect the questions asked during your pitch and evaluate their understanding of your business model and needs.
  • Consider the accessibility and responsiveness of potential partners. Are they readily available for communication and discussions? Do they make promises without hesitation? These small details play a significant role in determining the ideal publisher or investor for your studio.

Find a Successful Partnership with Xsolla Funding 

Finding the right partner in the gaming industry requires thorough research, networking, and engagement with industry events, online platforms, and pitch events. When considering publishers or investors, you should evaluate factors such as funding, marketing and connections, distribution, expertise, community management and support, quality assurance, and localization. Streamlining your pitch, organizing potential partners, assessing their offerings, reputation, portfolio performance, and communication can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your studio's goals and values. 

Navigating your studio's needs, researching potential partners, and making foundational decisions for your growing company can feel overwhelming, which makes it valuable to find a partner that can give you feedback and support throughout your funding journey. Xsolla Funding prioritizes your needs throughout your game development journey, offering comprehensive support to developers, including connections to publishers and investors, in the competitive gaming industry. Built around your needs, Xsolla Funding provides tools and services to set your business up for success.

Xsolla Funding Club’s (XFC) aim is to foster connections, collaborations, and investment opportunities for developers, publishers, and investors. By joining XFC, you gain access to a network of potential partners, with the chance to transform these relationships into fruitful long-term partnerships. Apply to Xsolla Funding Club to unlock exciting funding opportunities and position your gaming industry business for success.

While XFC can help you build new partnerships, Xsolla Accelerator can start turning your game’s vision into reality. A program designed to assist developers with up to $100,000 in early funding, Accelerator can guide you in building a successful business through educational sessions and mentorship from industry experts. 

Ready to ​​build a successful gaming business? Check out xsolla.com/funding to learn how you can accelerate your game’s development and launch.

Article by Xsolla Funding Club

Through programs and platforms like Accelerator and Funding Club, the Xsolla Funding team can set you on the path toward success in the gaming industry. If you want to discover all the ways Xsolla Funding can equip your gaming business for success, visit the official website for more information.

Join discussion

Comments 0

    You might also like

    We need your consent

    We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more