Tilting Point's hunt for indies

As the mobile publisher ramps up its publishing plans, president Dan Sherman tells us why its reaching out to indies
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Mobile games publisher Tilting Point has mostly been making headlines in recent times through its partnership with Rock Band creators Harmonix, but the firm is also working closely with promising indie developers.

The firm recently opened a game submission portal, making it easier for independent studios to contact the firm, show off their games and begin the dialogue that could lead to a publishing partnership. 

To find out more, we spoke to Tilting Point's president and co-founder Dan Sherman.

Why start this initiative?

We’re starting to accept submissions because we see great games in later stages of development where we believe we can add value. Now that we have a full team in place and a complete service offering, we’re ready to go to work on more games.

There are so many talented developers out there whose creations deserve to be seen and played, but in a crowded marketplace talent alone isn’t enough to break through. As a developer you need to be thinking about marketing and platform relationships, but if you only work on one or two games a year, understandably you may not have the same relationships and expertise in these areas as your much larger competitors.

While our quality bar for partnerships remains high, our submission process makes it easy for independent developers to reach us. Now, anyone can bring their work to our attention and be considered for our partnership offering.

What do studios need to do to apply? What qualifies?

We accept submissions through our website which you can access here: www.tiltingpoint.com/submit/

We’re primarily looking for games that are at least 50 per cent complete, with a playable demo or at least a gameplay video available. We’re looking for extremely high quality games that are fun to play, marketable and have real commercial potential.

As a developer you need to be thinking about marketing and platform relationships, but if you only work on one or two games a year, understandably you may not have the same relationships and expertise in these areas as your much larger competitors.

What services are you offering to indie developers?

We offer all of the services that a developer needs to compete and succeed in the market. The most important service we provide is marketing. We find that, increasingly, developers need help standing out from the crowd and getting the attention of players, press and platform owners. We have an in-house marketing team that handles marketing strategy, advertising asset creation, media buying, user acquisition, PR, community management and customer support. Our relationships with key personnel at the major platform owners like Apple and Google ensure our partners’ games are given the attention and feature promotion they deserve.

In addition, we have a complete range of services on the product and intelligence side, including market research, revenue forecasting, product management, monetization strategy, UI/UX design, QA, legal and data analysis.

We handle all of these critical functions so that developers can focus entirely on making the best games possible.

How much interest have you received in these services since your started this?

A lot. There’s clearly a demand for what we do, which I believe is unique in our industry. We offer best-in-class publishing services exclusively to independent developers, without all the conflicts and issues typically associated with publishers. We’re receiving a steady flow of submissions through our website, as well as enquiries and referrals from our existing relationships which run deep and span the globe.

What's the advantages of having a partner like Harmonix? How does it benefit Tilting Point?

We aim to work with the best independent developers around and Harmonix is clearly among them. It makes everything easier when the developer has a truly talented and highly competent team in place, with a lot of experience making high quality games that are adored by consumers. They’re incredibly savvy when it comes to technology and workflow management, which makes the day-to-day activities of a partnership easier for everyone. Not to mention we’ve worked together successfully before through our shared history with EA Partners and Rock Band.

Like us, they focus on the bigger picture – that this is not just about releasing an app together, but creating and launching a new, mobile-first brand that can live for many years.

Even more advantageous is the fact that no one in the world has more credibility in the field of music games, which our research indicates has enormous potential on mobile. 

Like us, Harmonix focuses on the bigger picture. This is not just about releasing an app together, but creating and launching a new, mobile-first brand that can live for many years.

What can Tilting Point bring to this partnership?

In addition to the marketing muscle and the full suite of publishing services I mentioned, we bring a lot of mobile expertise to the partnership. Key members of our team come from places like PopCap and Zynga, where they worked on tremendously successful mobile games like Bejeweled Blitz, Plants vs. Zombies and Draw Something. There’s a lot of talent and expertise here that complements what Harmonix does on the design and technology side.

In this case, we’re also fully funding the development of the game, which offloads a lot of Harmonix’s risk and allows them to attack this opportunity in a much bigger way than they might have done otherwise.

Are you looking for more partnerships?

Absolutely. In addition to picking up individual titles we also continue to look for more long-term partnerships like the ones we have with Harmonix, Signal Studios and other top independent studios.

I’d like to encourage all developers out there to consider getting in touch with Tilting Point, whether that’s through our submission portal or just dropping us an email. Wherever you are located – Europe, Asia, anywhere – regardless of what language you speak, if you have a game in advanced stages of development and want to give it the best possible chance of success, we want to hear from you.

We have a very international, multi-lingual team and we evaluate all submissions. Even if you don’t decide to take us on as your partner, you may receive useful feedback that can help you make your game better. The first step is to contact us and tell us what you are looking for in a partner.

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