Cuphead developers panel

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Welcome back to our 5-part series where we try to teach you the foundational knowledge needed to invest, play, and join the gaming community! We spoke last week about the differences between gaming and esports. This week, we are tackling a new question: what is the difference between a game developer and a game publisher? This question has many gamers and investors alike confused, so today, we will try to help you better understand these concepts.

Developers vs Publishers

A game developer is the one who takes a concept or idea and turns it into a playable game. They then hand that game over to a publisher to be monetized. Some developer companies include Supercell (Clash of Clans), Infinity Ward (Call of Duty), Hidden Path Entertainment (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), and more.

Meanwhile, a publisher is the entity that takes a game that is either developed internally or externally and then markets it to drive profitability of the product. Major publishers include Electronic Arts (Apex Legends), Tencent Holdings (League of Legends), and many others.

call of duty modern warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is being developed by Infinity Ward, and published by Activision.

For an analogy, think of a game developer as a book author. The author is looking to find a publisher who will support the author throughout their journey. In return, the author produces content in the form of books that the publisher can then monetize. The author focuses on writing a book and the publisher monetizes it, making it a mutually beneficial relationship. Similarly, in the gaming world, developers are the ones creating the games, while the publisher is the one who takes the product and finds ways to make money for both parties.

These days, there have been an increasing number of publishers expanding into development and developers expanding into publishing, further blurring the lines between the two. Valve Corporation (Dota 2), Blizzard Entertainment (Hearthstone), and Ubisoft (Rainbow Six: Siege) all serve as examples of this trend.

Next week, we’ll be talking about the “must knows” about a gaming team, including how they make money, operate, and work!


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