Are Big Publishers Really Needed?

Editors Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of OmniGamer

The Video Game industry is evolving, and the changes that it is going through seem to be good. There is a lot more “growing up” to do, but you can’t deny the fact that it is trying. One change that I would like to see happen is the removal of big publishers. EA, Activision, Take Two, and others seem to be holding the industry back, and I believe that they are no longer needed.

A majority of the games published are done so by big publishers, and you often hear horor stories of how employees are treated. You also often hear of the bad practices these companies have when it comes to publishing games. Just look to High Moon Studios, where the staff of the Deadpool Dev team was laid off as soon as the game was done.

I understand that if it weren’t for big publishers we would not have the big blockbuster franchises that we have now. Franchises such as Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, Mass Effect, and many others would not exist. However, I also know that if it weren’t for big publishers we would probably have Star Wars: Battlefront 3, Mega Man Legends 3, The Dark Knight, and many other games that were canceled before release.


The industry seems to be moving in away from big publishers already however, at a very slow pace. With crowd funding opportunities like Kickstarter and Indiegogo it’s easy to make a game without using a publisher. Because a publisher is basically an entity that invests money into a game. However, they are more than an investor because once they invest they have the ability to take complete control over the creative direction of a game. Investing in a game’s Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign does not give gamers creative direction over a game although some games do solicit ideas from their backers.

Take a look at two of the most funded projects on Kickstarter, Project Eternity by Obsidian and Wasteland 2 by inXile. Project Eternity was able to raise over 3 million dollars, and it looks to be one of the best RPG’s of 2014. Wasteland 2 was able to raise over 2 million dollars, and it looks to be a great title set for release this year. These titles were able to raise millions of dollars, and they did it without contacting a publisher. In fact inXile tried to get publisher support behind Wasteland 2, and every publisher they went to said no. We could have been had a sequel to the spiritual successor of Fallout, but no publisher wanted to make it.

Even though crowd funding seems to be a big thing in recent months there have been developers who have made great games on very small budgets. Indie development has become huge, and although we refer to every year as the “year of the indie” it seems that this year is a great year for indie developers. This year saw or will see the release of titles like Sanctum 2, Frozen Endzone, Strike Suit Zero, Runner2, Slender: The Arrival, BattleBlock Theater, and many others.


Although funding is a major part of going with a publisher, they also act as a distributor for a game. However, with services like Steam Greenlight, developers can distribute their game on Steam for a very low cost. They also get the added benefit of reaching out to the people that matter, their customers. If publishing on a console is something a developer wants to do then they are in luck, as all 3 major console manufactures are beefing up on indie dev relations. They want to make it easier, and more cost effective for indie developer to make games for their consoles.

Only time will tell if we will ever get rid of big publishers. I hope that we do, and I know that I am not alone in this feeling. The only way that I can accept publishers staying around if if they were to change tier business practices, but I can not see that happening. What are your thoughts on publishers? Should they stay or should they go?

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