Publishers in the video games industry have three main roles to play in the value chain:
- Marketing of titles
- Distribution of titles
- Technological support for development
Now back to that interview with Kozlov, it seems to me that co-production could also lower reliance on publishers for technological support. So that bullet on the list becomes much less certain, if not crossed off altogether.
What remains is marketing. In my blog I have discussed examples of great marketing that does not necessarily involve million dollar budgets. Viral advertising and word-of-mouth are tactics employed very successfully by some independent developers.
The question is, will there be enough room in the value chain of the future, to justify the existence of publishers as we know them today? Or will publishing be reduced to involve only the console manufacturers like Microsoft, who would merely enforce platform standard compliance and make titles available on Live? On the other side, is it too far fetched to imagine production studios becoming their own publishers?