If you want to score a good publisher, you need to think like a publisher

Engine Software's Ivo Wubbels on healthy relationships

If you want to score a good publisher, you need to think like a publisher

"Everything that has happened before will happen again," said Engine Software's Ivo Wubbels somewhat mystically during his talk at Casual Connect Europe in Amsterdam.

Wubbels wasn't attempting to read attendees' fortunes – or even quote Battlestar Galactica – but rather predict the next big trends for indies to look out for in the year ahead.

His key takeaway? Publishers are coming back into vogue, and "will be important again for developers". That's if they aren't already.

Times gone by

"It was a lot easier to create deals with publishers years ago," he continued.

"Who here remembers ECTS, the old trade show in London? I wish they'd bring it back. You could go to ECTS and sign a deal with a publisher right there in the bar afterwards if you could prove to them you had a good game."

The publishing market in 2014, however, is split, Wubbels claimed. Some publishers in the digital age can offer you a good deal, but some claim to be 'digital publishers' but actually attempting to offer the same set up as a traditional, retail based outfit.

"Many publishers tried to bring their traditional ways of working with retail to the digital space and that didn't work," said Wubbels.

"Many failed, but some are still trying, and it's important that you're aware of that. What we see right now is some publishers pretending to be a digital publisher, but they only want to take the income – they don't want to invest. That's important to note – you should be looking for publishers that will actually do something for you."

Forming relationships

So what about when you find a publisher you want to work with? How can you get them on board?

Wubbels claimed making sure you stay in the mindset of the publisher at all times – that your IP is seen as important – and that you treat them like a member of the team.

"If you see your publisher as another party, it's really difficult – you have to work together, that's the only way it works," he concluded.

"You also have to think like a publisher. What's their goal? What are they looking for? You have to understand that investing in you is all a risk to them as well."