How can I fund my mobile game after it’s launched?

In our last post, we outlined the two types of deals generally available for pre-launch games: equity financing and publisher deals. In this post, we talk about two additional deal types that become available once your game is complete and ready for launch.

Distribution deals:

A distribution deal is when a publisher takes a game that is complete, (or very close) and provides marketing and distribution support.  They will provide all of the post-launch services from a traditional publishing deal, but didn’t make a commitment on the funding required to build the game. This allows them to see a game that’s fully built and assess it’s chances for success.

Distribution deals usually revolve around the marketing commitment that the publisher will provide. While PR and advice are important, it’s often impossible to distinguish publisher’s quality in these areas before launch. In our experience, the critical factors in a distribution deal come down to:

  1. App store relationships: In the US, this is a question of whether the game will be featured by Apple or Google, in which relationships play a big role. Internationally, payment relationships with the various app stores becomes critical.
  2. Owned-distribution: Some publishers have unique distribution that they can offer. Tango, for example, touts its ability to distribute games to users of the Tango messenger app. For the right type of app, this can be a major distribution plus, eliminating the marketing costs in #3 that play a huge role in today’s gaming environment.
  3. Marketing commitment: Almost all of the top grossing games are supported by massive marketing budgets, so the publisher’s marketing commitment will play a critical role in the success of your game. Publishers will typically evaluate whether the expected lifetime value of the game exceeds the cost of acquiring a new player through marketing. This is one reason that Scouting Reports are helpful to both developers and publishers, as they can provide insight into whether the game can be marketed successfully.

Marketing financing

Marking financing deals, or royalty-based financing deals, are designed for post-launch games that are looking to grow quickly through paid marketing. This growth tends to be expensive, because the cost to acquire a new player is high, and getting near the top of the top grossing games chart requires millions of players. Marketing financing provides funding that is designed to help the company fund this growth without diluting themselves via equity or committing to a publishing deal.

Marketing financing deals typically see the funding partner paying for acquisition marketing. They are then entitled to all revenue until they have been paid back for their marketing outlay. After that has been recouped, the parties split revenue. Typically developers receive a higher percentage of the revenue than in a publishing deal, and the developer remains responsible for marketing, launch, customer service, et al.

This can be highly attractive growth financing, but is only available to launched games that can profitably acquire new users. Scouting Reports can be very helpful in determining whether your game qualifies and we can connect you to appropriate partners.

Should you buy King.com at their IPO?

James Surowiecki has an interesting take on the key question surrounding the King.com IPO: can they repeat their success with Candy Crush Saga?

Spoiler alert: his answer is no, citing the long history in games, movie studios, books, and virtually every other form of hits-driven entertainment. It’s incredibly difficult to repeatedly create successful entertainment franchises, and great new ideas tend to come from anywhere.

That said, King.com has a smart model for catching lightning if it happens to strike. They test lots of games on their website, looking for the right combination of user engagement and monetization that can produce another hit. If, and only if, those games show the right signs of life, they are built for mobile and aggressively marketed.

Sound familiar? It should, as it’s the strategy our Scouting Reports offer. They provide an inside look at the potential for a game to be the next Candy Crush Saga, by comparing your game’s stats to top grossing peers. Much like King.com’s approach, you should be ready to aggressively market great scoring games, or try to re-work games with lower scores.

Introducing Scouting Reports

We’re excited to release Scouting Reports today. They’re the best way for great new games to find equity investors or publishers that will help them grow.

The existing model is broken. Far too many games are developed but never see the light of day because they aren’t tuned & marketed properly. Meanwhile, most games are losers for publishers. It’s very hard to tell what will be successful in free-to-play, so everyone gets treated like an average game. That means that if you create a great game, you probably won’t get the great deal you deserve.

Scouting Reports change all that. Our free scoring process measures your game on the key metrics that drive freemium success: retention, monetization, market size and longevity. We use data science to find great games, using our dataset on 5000+ top  games. Our scores are tough, because they’re against top grossing peers, but a high score means a great game.

A great score provides information for you and potential partners that eliminates risk and makes it more likely you’ll get a great deal. You can then connect with investors and publishers through our system who want to see games like yours. We only allow active investors and publishers to have access and you have control over who you share with.

Publishers and investors see pre-screened games that can become top grossing games and have control over what types of games they see, minimum scores, and more.

If you’re a developer, publisher, or investor, learn more here: thinkgaming.com and let us know any comments or feedback you have.