I read many articles on "How (or why not without) to make mobile game without publisher". But the question that bothers me is:

"What if I make a game, that really hits the market in the eye and people start playing it BUT some publisher will see my game and make the very similar game in 2 weeks and makes it ever more succesfull?"

Is this the main reason why I should choose to go with the publisher?

EDIT: My main concern is not about my weeks spent on developing (I love it!). My concern is: Me working WITHOUT publisher (therefore using not so great marketing techniques) can take some time to get my game to peoples hart VS other developer (USING publisher) can clone my game and with publishers help get their cloned game to public much faster. Before people even realizing it is a copycat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's why there are copyright laws to protect you from this. But ultimately, there's a very blurred line of what is considered a copy of another game. You can make a game without a publisher, and it can be a success or it can be copied, at the end of the day, popular games are copied on a daily basis, there's only so much you can do about it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 9:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ "make the very similar game in 2 weeks" - is that hyperbole or are you genuinely worried about "wasting" 2 weeks of effort? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 9:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RutherRendommeleigh I believe the OP is pointing out that a publisher could make a better version of the game in a much shorter time, given they are more than one person, not that the OP is only spending 2 weeks on their game. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 9:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your recent edit: Clones usually appear after a game becomes a surprise success, not before. If your game hasn't proven that your idea sells well, nobody is going to start working on a clone. When the clones start to overtake you in sales, it will be after your game has passed its natural sales zenith. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ And by the way: If your game does spawn an army of clones, then you can pride yourself with having an accomplishment very few game developers can claim: You've created a new game genre! Enjoy your new celebrity status. Get invited to speak at the next GDC. Be confident that the game journalists will report about your next game before they have even seen a screenshot, no matter what it will be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


A publisher would not be able to protect you from someone else creating a more popular clone of your game. Games from large publishers get ripped off just as often as those from small indies. Maybe the publisher has enough money in their war chest to fight a legal battle, but considering that such lawsuits are expensive and the success rate is hard to estimate, you can't count on them being willing to invest the money required to defend your game. Especially if it isn't one of the fattest cash cows in the barn.

There are essentially two reasons why you would want to work with a publisher.

  • They complement your skillset. Maybe you are a great game developer, but you don't know anything about marketing and how to promote your game? A publisher might help out with that. They might also be able to get you into contact with people who can help you with the game itself.
  • You need their money. Publishers are sometimes willing to fund a game up-front or pay you a flat fee for your game regardless of its commercial success. So if you are in risk of running out of money or need some guaranteed payout to plan your own financial future, then selling your game to a publisher can help you. That means, if you can convince them that your game is worth it. Nobody is going to throw money at you if they are not convinced that your game will make them a profit.

But there are also reasons why you would not want to work with a publisher:

  • Executive meddling. Publishers might want to have some creative influence over your game. They might demand that you change things or force you to meet deadlines. Usually their demands are well-meaning. After all, their primary interest is making sure your game is as profitable as it can be. But maybe your game is a labor of love? You want it to be exactly the game you imagined and haters gonna hate? You don't care if you lose profits if it means you don't compromise your artistic integrity? Then you might prefer to work without a publisher behind your back.
  • IP rights. Some publishers will want to own your intellectual property rights, like the copyright to the game and its assets, the trademark or the rights to use the characters and scenario. So if you ever want to create a sequel or spinoff, you might not be able to do that without the permission of the publisher. Or even worse, the publisher might hire someone else to do that, which means you get cut out of the creative process and won't get paid. Read the contracts carefully and make sure you understand all their implications. Ask a lawyer if you need help.
  • They want their share of the money your game generates (no exceptions here). If you can cut out the middle-man and sell your game directly (like many independent developers do nowadays) you can make more money per sale for yourself. That means if you have the necessary business skills to sell your game without their help. But if you feel that the publisher's contribution won't result in enough additional sales to justify their cut, then there is little reason to work with them.

I am looking forward to playing your game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Read the contracts carefully and make sure you understand all their implications. Ask a lawyer if you need help." A decent lawyer will probably pay for himself / herself in the amount of money and troubles they save you. So if your goal is to earn anything more than pocket change doing this, and you want to have business relationships with anyone else, then getting a lawyer might be a good idea. And always get contracts for everything (for which a lawyer can be good help as well; they are probably better than you at reading, writing and negotiating contracts). \$\endgroup\$
    – Arthur
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Marketing is the main reason to use a publisher. That's what you're paying for when you sign over your IP rights and a chunk of your revenue. No matter how good your game is, it's very hard to get noticed in the mobile game market. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 18:10

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