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Fundamentally Games: “We want to shake up what it means to be a publisher”

Live operations specialist is looking to publish four 'living' games

Fundamentally Games is looking to publish four 'living' games as part of its new publishing division.

The firm is a live operations specialist, and feels these types of games need a completely different kind of publishing approach.

"We started out a year ago with a vision to run live operations for games, following many years of consulting that had shown us that rather just advise developers, we could really help them deliver," says chief operating officer Ella Romanos.

"As we started signing up partners for live operations, we realised that many of them also needed help with publishing. Too many publishers do not understand living games and are only getting involved very late in the process, usually after the developer has already proven they have a successful game, and at that point the share they expect is not representative of the risk they take."

There are new games publishers cropping up all the time, in the last few weeks Playtonic Games and NDreams have both launched publishing divisions. Romanos says that what Fundamentally Games is offering is quite different.

"Too many publishers do not understand living games and are only getting involved very late in the process"

"Firstly, our entire strategy has been designed for living games. We believe publishing needs to be reimagined to work for living games. In practice this means that at the core of everything we do is live operations, because where most publishers focus primarily on acquiring users, we focus on retaining them, too.

"Secondly, we believe publishers need to be more transparent and flexible. Specifically, we will be making clear commitments of our responsibilities and activities, and will expect the same of our developer partners. Additionally, the services we provide are flexible because no project or team is the same, so developers can choose what works best for them.

"Finally, publishers need to get involved earlier, and help devs get their games ready for live, but also allow devs to keep IP and creative control. We see a lot of games with great potential being left on the shelf by publishers because they can't give the developer the support and insight they need to get the foundations right at the earlier stages. We will be using our resources, frameworks and processes to help developers from as early as their first prototype."

Ella Romanos, Fundamentally Games

The firm is just looking for four games to begin with, although it expects that to grow rapidly over time.

"Ultimately, we're looking for games with potential to scale, essentially games that can become 'living games'," Romanos continues.

"This means we are looking for games which focus on delivering ongoing quality experiences for their player, rather than finite one-time play games. Living games are all about long term engagement with a business model that delivers real ongoing value for the players. And of course, it helps that we have spent such a long-time developing exactly these kind of innovative player-friendly monetisation approaches.

"Because we can engage early, games can be anything from early prototypes to a game already live. We combine our expertise with real player data to help the developer from readiness, testing and live, always looking at what the game needs to sustain and scale."

"We don't think it's good enough to wait for the developer to do all the work before stepping in and grabbing the lion's share of the revenues"

The core publishing team features six internal staff, with additional support from "trusted freelancers". Romanos expects the team to grow as more games are signed, but that its "scalable processes" means that it can support a number of games before this becomes an issue.

The firm says that developers will be expected to fund development, and thus retain 100% of the IP. Meanwhile, Fundamentally will handle market testing, distribution, launch, ongoing live operations, community management, campaign management, PR and store optimisation. It wants to be involved early to help with monetisation, economy design and retention strategies.

Fundamentally is also offering user acquisition finance. The firm will manage the UA testing of the games it signs "using transparent KPIs before launch and then uses that data to fund and scale the game in live"

"We want to shake up what it means to be a publisher," Romanos concludes. "We don't think it's good enough to wait for the developer to do all the work before stepping in and grabbing the lion's share of the revenues. Equally, we think it's important for developers to fund and own 100% of their IP, keeping creative control. As a publisher we offer a range of expertise, testing, processes and importantly UA funding that will help our development partners by reducing risk and maximising their opportunity.

"We think publishing can be better, not just with some upfront marketing but instead a real partner to scale the game. In short, we aim to get more players, doing more things, more often and for longer."

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Christopher Dring avatar
Christopher Dring: Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who
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