David Jaffe sounds off on the publisher-developer dynamic.
David Jaffe, the creator of God of War and Twisted Metal, is a blunt and outspoken man. He doesn’t censor himself, and he says exactly what he means. Which is what he did at a recent panel he was at with GamesBeat, GameSpot, and Scopely, where he discussed the publisher and developer relationship and, in a topic particularly close to his heart, marketing a game.
“[The publisher and developer dynamic is] kind of like going out on a date with someone you’ve just met,” Jaffe said, discussing the first pitch a developer makes to a publisher- ultimately, Jaffe said, it comes down to being genuine (on both ends) as well as some level of mutual respect.
“For me, it’s always been about making the customer happy,” Jaffe said, noting that the publisher is technically the first customer you have to sell your game to, and so you must sometimes go out of your way to please them.
Jaffe also discussed the tendency a lot of developers have to blame publishers for their games’ failings, especially near the end of development, bringing up, for instance, an issue like marketing.
“All the marketing in the world isn’t going to help a game that doesn’t have a commercial hook,” Jaffe said. He talked about his own PS3 exclusive Twisted Metal, which saw less marketing than something like Uncharted or Killzone. He noted that while it can be frustrating for a developer working on a title with less market appeal, they need to “just f***ing deal with it.”
Which, I guess, is true in a sense- after all, the publisher made the game possible in the first place.