3 key things to look for in a publisher

ironSource GM Nadav Ashkenazy discusses the key things to consider before partnering with a publisher

3 key things to look for in a publisher

Guest post by Nadav Ashkenazy, GM at Supersonic Studios.

Working with a publisher to help grow your game is a smart decision for a lot of developers, but choosing “the one” needs some careful consideration. How can you decide who to trust to take your game to the heights you’ve dreamed of? I’m not experienced in making that decision, but I’ve seen and spoken with thousands of developers who’ve taken that step. That process has helped me understand what’s important to them, and I’ve worked to implement that into the core of Supersonic’s DNA. Here are three key areas that are the most important to consider:

Look for a long-term partner

Rather than switching publishers for every single game, it’s more practical to choose a publisher that you can see yourself working with for the long haul.

When evaluating this, keep the following things in mind: Is the publisher invested in helping you become a better developer or only in this particular game’s success? Do they understand your working methods and your niche? Is there trust? Are your opinions being considered or have you lost control of your game? In short, is this a true partnership?

Achieving long-term success (and enjoying the road in getting there) is based on building a strong relationship with your publisher. Look for someone who takes the time to listen to you and understand your point of view. By creating good communication habits (and mutual respect), you are more likely to collaborate successfully and grow together over the long term.

Trust is also a key component to a successful relationship, and the best way to create and maintain trust is through transparency. Look for publishers who readily and consistently share data, trends and information with you. If they are sharing that information with you, it’s a mark that they’re planning to invest in your long-term success and not just the performance of one game.

Our Superstars program is based on this principle. We’re committed to sharing our best practices and insights with our partner developers, and in giving them access to critical data about the performance of their games so that they continue to grow and evolve as developers themselves. The more transparency there is, the better strategic decisions we can make together as a team.

Choose a publisher with a quick test turnaround

Due to the highly-competitive nature of mobile games (and hyper-casual games in particular), it’s (unfortunately) likely that many games won’t have strong enough market appeal. Therefore, building and testing games quickly is key to not getting bogged down investing resources in concepts that aren’t viable. This is why we recommend that developers begin with building an MVP (minimal viable product) that validates their game concept, before they go on to further development. The MVP need only include the first few levels of a game, and basic functionality, in order to create different variations of video ads that can be tested out to gauge market interest.

That’s where speedy testing comes in. A developer needs access to a platform that enables them to easily upload and test their game, without too much manual work getting in the way. Cracking the right CPI, retention and playtime is what counts at this very early stage, and having a platform where you can quickly test and track the MVP’s success is a must.

In July, Supersonic launched a user-friendly, self-serve platform that streamlines the process for mobile game developers to test the likelihood of their game’s ability to scale and be profitable. Once uploaded, a game can easily be viability tested directly by the game developer through ad campaigns. Once a game is showing promise, it’s important that there’s an expert there to consult with you on where to take the game next. Are more ads needed to further test the concept? Is the game ready for further development and needs some design or gameplay tweaks and an expert’s input?

A streamlined, automated testing process not only means developers get a fast answer on where to invest their resources, but also enables a publisher to test games at scale - meaning more games overall have a chance of success.

Find a publisher with strong execution

Ultimately, you want your game to succeed financially, and this means working with a publisher who has experts in every area of a game’s execution. Most hyper-casual studios include a game designer and a couple of developers, and perhaps also an artist.

Your publisher must compliment all of the other skills that are needed, and that doesn’t just mean being good at UA and monetisation - it means being great at them, which means knowing them so deeply that they can confidently innovate and get creative. You need people who can look at the entire picture of a game, not just specific KPIs, since long-term success is about building for profitability at scale. Working with experts that know what’s important to look at and when, will make or break your game.

Developers that join the Superstars program will get just that - access to experts not just in creating ad campaigns, managing user acquisition at scale, and monetisation strategies, but also in ad creative analytics, game funnels and optimisation, game localisation and more. And it’s not just about getting access to experts, but also the best technology around. That’s why our Supersonic Superstar developers get early access to all the cutting-edge tech we’re developing and launching.

Every developer has the chance to be a superstar. Our Supersonic Superstars contest (with $150k available for each winning studio), is open from November 1st - December 17th 2020. Win, and you’ll not only get cash prizes, but also an invite to the exclusive Superstars program.

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