What Does a Game Publisher Do?

What Does a Game Publisher Do?

If you’re immersed in the gaming world or interested in the game development process, you’ve likely come across the term “game publisher.” However, what exactly is the role of publishers?

In this article, we’ll examine all of their duties and how they help with game production. Be it financing or circulation, we will examine the distinct ways game publishers contribute to the industry and their impact on the games we love to play.

Let’s dive in and explore the game publishing world!

Game Publishers: Traditional, Indie, and Self-Publishing

The video game publishing market is highly complicated, and there are various types of publishers to be aware of.

The three faces of indie games: traditional, indie, and self-publishing

Let’s take a look at 3 types of game publishers!

1. Major Game Publishers

Some of the biggest video game publishers are familiar to everyone – think EA, Ubisoft, and Activision.

These top game studios possess the necessary resources and proficiency to finance, promote, and distribute video games on a grand scale. They typically partner with third-party game developers and have teams in place for marketing, public relations, and distribution.

2. Indie Game Publishers (Independent Publishers)

These publishers partner with self-employed game developers to bring their imaginative ideas to the market.

Although they may not have the same level of resources as major publishers, they can offer essential assistance in areas like funding, promoting, and distributing games. These game publishers for indie games usually concentrate on a specific niche or type of game and place less emphasis on high-budget releases.

Some of best indie game publishers include Indie Fund, Team17, Devolver Digital, Annapurna Interactive, and Humble Games.

3. Self-publishing

Game developers have greater opportunities to self-publish video games with the rise of digital distribution platforms such as Steam and the App Store. This alternative approach grants developers complete control over their games, but also demands that they handle all aspects of the publishing process, from financing to promoting and distributing their works.

Though self-publishing comes with various challenges, it’s an increasingly appealing option for developers looking to maintain autonomy and maximize their potential profits.

On the other hand, we can differentiate game publishers by the game genre they publish. For example, we have clicker game publishers, idle game publishers, or incremental game publishers like Kongregate.

What Does a Game Publisher Do?

So, what exactly does a game publisher do?

In short, game publishers play a vital role in bringing video games to the market. They provide various essential services for developing, marketing, and distributing video games.

1. Development and Funding

Developing video games can be extensive and cost a lot of money.

Some game designers lack the funds to handle it solo. That’s where game publishers come into the picture, assisting by providing the necessary resources, grants, and capital.

A game developer working on a game with multiple monitors and lamps

Game publishers provide a budget to game makers, which they can use to pay their staff, secure equipment, and produce artwork for the game.

Game publishers offer support during the game creation process, giving access to quality control testing and market trend expertise. They even provide input on the game design and suggest enhancing it.

To sum it up, game publishers significantly contribute to the successful completion of a game by providing both funding and support.

2. Marketing and Distribution

The dissemination and promotion of a video game is crucial, and the game publishers hold a vital role in these operations. Armed with extensive resources and expertise, game publishers advertise the game to make it accessible to a broader audience.

A board with a pinned paper for marketing and distribution

A foremost marketing obligation of a game publisher is to plan and execute a successful marketing strategy.

Marketing means creating trailers, posters, and other marketing materials and reaching a broader audience via various advertising channels such as social media, television, and email.

Game publishers are also responsible for public relations, maintaining communication with the media, and sparking interest in the game.

Another significant marketing aspect is establishing a robust brand identity for the game.

Game publishers collaborate closely with the development team to craft a brand that appeals to the target audience and stands out in the crowded gaming market. They also help create the game’s website and social medias, which act as a hub for interacting with the gaming community and keeping them updated on the game’s developing progress.

Regarding distribution, game publishers have a number of possible choices to them.

They can opt to distribute the game through physical retailers, digital stores, or form partnerships with console manufacturers. They also participate in negotiating distribution agreements, supervise the logistics, and ensure that the game reaches the hands of players with ease.

The protection of intellectual property and the management of legalities are needed for video game development and distribution. And game publishers perform a vital role in these domains.

They manage many legal and commercial matters essential to the successful launch and circulation of video games.

A scale on a book represents for legal works

Game publishers must obtain the ownership rights to the content of the game. This includes acquiring the rights to any musical compositions, artworks, or other materials and ensuring that the game’s design and functions do not violate on the rights of any third parties.

They also monitor the game’s trademark and copyright registration, which is critical for safeguarding the game’s identity and discouraging others from exploiting it.

Regarding legal affairs, game publishers also carry out a variety of tasks related to the distribution and sale of the game, including negotiating distribution contracts, addressing consumer grievances and disputes, and guaranteeing conformity with laws and regulations regarding the sale of video games.

Difference Between Developer and Publisher

Regarding video game development, it’s important to distinguish between game developers vs. game publishers since they play vital roles in the beginning and spread of video games with separate responsibilities and focus areas.

A man's head divided into two equal sections: one is coder, one is publisher

Game developers are the conceivers of the game, tasked with designing and scripting the game, fashioning the visual and audio elements, and bringing the game to existence. They may be a small indie squad or a vast studio with hundreds of employees.

On the other hand, game publishers embody the business aspect of the video game industry. They are responsible for financing the game creation, controlling the budget, and overseeing the development journey.

Game publishers also handle the distribution and marketing of the game, including publishing task, determining the cost, and advertising. They may be a small publisher or a substantial corporation with various games under their authority.

In conclusion, game developers are accountable for crafting the game, while publishers are in charge of bringing the game to market and ensuring its prosperity. The cooperation between developers and publishers is critical to successfully producing and distributing a video game.

How to Become a Game Publisher?

Becoming a game publisher is a difficult but satisfying path for those interested in the commercial aspect of the video game industry.

Listed below are five steps that one should follow to achieve this career goal:

1. Learn about the game industry

Develop an understanding of the game creation cycle and the various positions in the industry, including game creation, publishing, advertising, and delivery. This will provide you a solid basis for understanding the role of a game publisher.

Gaining hands-on experience in the field and cultivating connections can significantly advance your career growth and progress. Hence, search for internships or entry-level positions in the game industry to start your journey.

2. Get a business education

A thorough grasp of business concepts and procedures is crucial for success as a game publisher.

Enroll in a business, marketing, or a comparable program to acquire the necessary knowledge. If you want to establish your own publishing business, you should have a thorough plan that outlines your objectives, strategy, and budget.

3. Build a network and seek out opportunities

Networking plays a crucial role in success in the game industry. Participating in publishing events, joining professional organizations, and connecting with other industry professionals are good ideas.

Moreover, search for opportunities to collaborate with game developers to publish their games and forge strong relationships with them to assist in disseminating their games.

4. Find funding

Publishing games require substantial capital, and you will probably need to obtain funding from investors or venture capitalists to commence operations.

5. Keep learning and adapting

The game industry constantly changes, so staying updated with the latest trends and advancements is crucial. Continuously educating yourself and adapting will enable you to remain competitive in the industry.

Game developers talking and keep learning from each other

Bear in mind that becoming a game publisher is not a quick process. It demands time, education, and hands-on experience.

Yet, with determination and hard effort, you can transform your gaming passion into a successful career as a game publisher.


The video game distribution industry is crucial in presenting games to the public.

Game publishers finance, endorse, and circulate games, ensuring that they are targeted toward the appropriate audience and generate income. Were it not for game publishers’ dedicated and persistent work, numerous of our treasured games would have never reached the public eye.

We trust that this article has furnished valuable insights into the sphere of game publishers and their indispensable role in the industry.

So the next time you play your favorite games, pause for a second and salute the game publishers in making it possible.

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