A VIDEO GAME PUBLISHER is a company that publishes video games that
they have either developed internally or externally by a video game
developer . As with book publishers or publishers of
DVD movies, video
game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and
marketing , including market research and all aspects of advertising .
They often finance the development, sometimes by paying a video game
developer (the publisher calls this _external development_) and
sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a _studio_.
The large video game publishers also distribute the games they
publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution
companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games
they publish. Other functions usually performed by the publisher
include deciding on and paying for any licenses used by the game;
paying for localization ; layout, printing, and possibly the writing
of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such
as the box design.
Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all
internal and external development teams by providing services such as
sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality.
Because the publisher often finances development, it usually tries to
manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers
to monitor the progress of the developer, critique ongoing
development, and assist as necessary. Most video games created by an
external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on
royalties. These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain
stages of development, called milestones .
* 1 Business risks
* 2 Investor interest
* 3 Rankings
* 3.1 Major publishers
* 3.2 Mid-size publishers
* 4 See also
* 5 References
Video game publishing is associated with high risk :
Christmas selling season accounts for about a quarter of the
industry's yearly sales of video and computer games, leading to a
concentrated influx of high-quality competition every year in every
game category, all in the fourth quarter of the year.
* Product slippage is common due to the uncertain schedules of
software development. Most publishers have suffered a "false launch",
in which the development staff assures the company that game
development will be completed by a certain date, and a marketing
launch is planned around that date, including advertising commitments,
and then after all the advertising is paid for, the development staff
announces that the game will "slip", and will actually be ready
several months later than originally intended. When the game finally
appears, the effects among consumers of the marketing
launch—excitement and "buzz" over the release of the game and an
intent to purchase have dissipated, and lackluster interest leads to
weak sales. An example of this is the PSP version of _Spider-Man 3_.
These problems are compounded if the game is supposed to ship for the
Christmas selling season, but actually slips into the subsequent year.
Some developers (notably id and Epic ) have alleviated this problem by
simply saying that a given game will be released "when it's done",
only announcing a definite date once the game is released to
manufacturing . However, this sometimes can be problematic as well, as
seen with _
Duke Nukem Forever _.
* The industry has become more "hit driven" over the past decade.
Consumers buy the game that's best-marketed but not necessarily of the
highest quality, therefore buying fewer other games in that genre.
This has led to much larger game development budgets, as every game
publisher tries to ensure that its game is #1 in its category. It also
caused publishers to on occasion force developers to focus on sequels
of successful franchises instead of exploring original IP ; some
publishers such as
Activision Blizzard and
Electronic Arts have both
attracted criticism for acquiring studios with original games, and
assigning them to support roles in more mainstream franchises.
* Games are becoming more expensive to produce. Current generation
consoles have more advanced graphic capabilities than previous
consoles. Taking advantage of those capabilities requires a larger
team-size than games on earlier, simpler consoles. In order to compete
with the best games on these consoles, there are more characters to
animate; all characters must be modeled with a higher level of detail;
more textures must be created; the entire art pipeline must be made
more complex to allow the creation of normal maps and more complex
programming code is required to simulate physics in the game world,
and to render everything as precisely and quickly as possible. On this
generation of consoles, games commonly require budgets of US $15
million to $20 million. Activision's _Spider-Man 3 _, for example,
cost US$35 million to develop, not counting the cost of marketing and
sales. Every game financed is, then, a large gamble, and pressure to
succeed is high.
* Contrasting with the big budget titles increased expense of
"front-line" console games is the casual game market, in which
smaller, simpler games are published for PCs and as downloadable
console games. Also, Nintendo's
Wii console, though debuting in the
same generation as the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, requires a
smaller development budget, as innovation on the
Wii is centered
around the use of the
Wii Remote and not around the graphics pipeline.
* When publishing for game consoles , game publishers take on the
burden of a great deal of inventory risk. All significant console
Nintendo with its NES (1985) have monopolized the
manufacture of every game made for their console, and have required
all publishers to pay a royalty for every game so manufactured. This
royalty must be paid at the time of manufacturing, as opposed to
royalty payments in almost all other industries, where royalties are
paid upon actual sales of the product—and, importantly, are payable
for games that did not sell to a consumer. So, if a game publisher
orders one million copies of its game, but half of them do not sell,
the publisher has already paid the full console manufacturer royalty
on one million copies of the game, and has to absorb that cost.
Numerous video game publishers are traded publicly on stock markets .
As a group, they have had mixed performance. At present, Electronic
Arts is the only third-party publisher present in the S in April 2010,
it entered the
Fortune 500 for the first time.
Hype over video game publisher stocks has been breathless at two
* In the early 1990s, the introduction of
CD-ROM computer drives
caused hype about a multimedia revolution that would bring interactive
entertainment to the masses. Several
Hollywood movie studios formed
"interactive" divisions to profit in this allegedly booming new media.
Most of these divisions later folded after expensively producing
several games that were heavy in "full-motion video" content, but
light in the quality of gameplay.
* In the
United States , revenue from the sales of video and
computer games exceeded revenue from film box-office receipts for the
first time in the dot-com days of the late 1990s, when technology
companies in general were surrounded by hype . The video game
publishers did not, however, experience the same level of rise in
stock prices that many dot-com companies saw. This was probably
because video game publishing was seen as a more mature industry whose
prospects were fairly well understood, as opposed to the typical
exciting dot-com business model with unknown but possibly sky-high
prospects. While many technology stocks were eventually destroyed in
the dot-com crash in the early 2000s, the stock prices of the video
game publishers recovered as a group; several of the larger publishers
such as EA and
Take-Two Interactive achieved historical highs in the
Below are the largest publishers in general according to their
revenue in BIllions of Euros.
NAME OF PUBLISHER
REVENUE IN €BN
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Microsoft Game Studios
Bandai Namco Games
Bandai Namco Games
King Digital Entertainment
In 2016, the largest public companies by game revenue were Tencent,
with US$10.2 billion, followed by Sony, with US$7.8 billion and
Activision Blizzard, with US$6.6 billion, according to Newzoo.
Below are the top AA (midsize) video game publishers, ranked by
Metacritic _ in January 2014 based on game quality according to
reviews. These lists are based on the ranking by best to worst
publishers according to metacritic's website. Note that two major
Take-Two Interactive and
Sega fell to mid-size and one,
Square Enix , jumped from mid-size to major. Three mid-size publishers
ranked in 2013 were dropped from 2014 chart, namely
Xseed Games and
Kalypso Media . Note also that iOS games were not included in the
NAME OF PUBLISHER
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Focus Home Interactive
* ^ Was #1 as a major publisher
* ^ Was #7 as a major publisher
* Game development portal