What’s the difference between game developers and game publishers?

While most gamers are aware that today’s video games are playable via a multitude of platforms ranging from desktop PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets, fewer are aware of a crucial distinction concerning how those games get there in the first place – the distinction between a game developer and a game publisher.

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So, here’s a quick guide as to what roles these two critical parties play in the gaming industry.

Whether your preferences lean toward conducting a casino bonus search before trying your hand at a virtual poker table, or plunging into an action-packed role-playing epic such as Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin’s Elden Ring, the chances are that you’re not thinking about the developers and publishers who brought these immensely popular genres to you.

Casino games, for example, have soared in popularity since the transition to online casinos took place. Hence the rise of expertly compiled online casino comparison sites like VegasBonus360, with its team of legal and casino gaming specialists. However, if it weren’t for nerdy developers and their labors of love over countless hours, none of those digital slot machines (or sword-wielding fantasy heroes) would be possible in the first place.

Developers do the work of creating the games; they’re the talent behind not only how a game looks through their extraordinary artwork but, if it’s in the action/adventure genre, what the storyline and emotional/narrative tone is. They come up with the game’s concept from scratch and then craft it into digital ‘reality’ until it’s a playable game.

Developers can be individuals or solo developers, or entire organizations made up of creative talent like this. The latter range from the more boutique “indie” agencies right through to the large-scale corporate variety.

However, none of this work, especially if it comes from smaller developers, would see the light of day if it weren’t for the efforts of another commercial entity: game publishers. The fact is that game development, both in terms of time and financial cost, is expensive. Developers obviously need to recoup those costs and hopefully turn a profit too, so that they can continue to produce additional new games that people want to play.

Publishers do that invisible work for them, getting the finished products of the developers to the marketplace where money can, at last, be exchanged for games that enthusiasts want to play. Those games you see on the shelves of high street retailers or in online stores didn’t get there by magic; they were actively positioned there by publishers. Games get their public visibility thanks to the behind-the-scenes work of publishers.

Gamers will already know the names of the most notable publishers in the gaming industry even if they didn’t know what they did! Some of the more prominent and familiar names include Activation Blizzard, Bethesda Softworks, Electronic Arts (EA), Sega, Ubisoft and Valve Corporation.

It’s increasingly commonplace these days for a degree of blurring to occur between the two entities – publishers today may require developers to include certain features, for example, to make a game more marketable, and sometimes they may even come up with the original idea for a game. At the core, the developers create the visuals and the gameplay, while the publishers bring it to the buying public’s attention.