In the gaming arena most start-up entrepreneurs think that starting a company will be all fun and games. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Entrepreneurship is a bumpy road.
Here is a short list of things to consider when determining: Should I publish this game myself or should I try to work with an established publisher?
This list is in no way all inclusive, but should give a good idea of what you should consider before determining what to do, either way.
How important is your creative vision?
Some publishing companies will want to change themes, mechanics, and the aesthetics of the game. Therefore, if you have a very narrow vision of what you want the game to be it is possible that going through a publisher might be a negative experience for you.
If you're not as focused on your creative vision than it is probably ok to see changes.
What is your main purpose in designing games?
When you ponder this question your answer should give a solid idea of what you want to do. If you simply want to get games you developed to be played by as many people as possible, try to find a publisher. They might change the feel of the game though, so if you're the creative who wants it done a specific way than it still may be best to publish the game yourself. If your goal is to bring a product to market, and learn as much as you can in the process than starting a company is the way to go. The key here is for you to determine what your main purpose is. What led you to design games in the first place?
Do you see yourself running a business?
Starting a business is hard work. If you plan on publishing games you'll have to consider a lot of business decisions. How will you fund the company?
Most companies now are utilizing Kickstarter. However, Kickstarter is not as simple as just putting up a page. You must work to build a following, be active in the board game scene, play a plethora of other games, develop new games constantly, file taxes, apply for a business entity and a tex identification number, you must learn how to That is just the beginning there are a plethora of other business decisions you'll have to make.
Additionally, even Kickstarter require a capital investment before they will make anything. work with manufacturers and if you're not an artist you'll have to hire artists to work with you. That is just the beginning there are a plethora of other business decisions you'll have to make. Additionally, even Kickstarter require a capital investment before they will make any revenue.
That is just a basic glimpse at the things you'll need to do. If you're looking at actually starting a company and not just publishing one game yourself, than you'll be in for an even greater work load.
What are your other obligations?
If you have kids, a full-time job and a host of other prior obligations it is absolutely possible to start a company, but it will not be easy. Going though an established publisher would definitely require less work, while still potentially getting your game made if it is picked up.
Money, Money, Money
If a publisher picks up your game they will clearly need to make money doing so and therefore you're going to make less, in theory. Though, a large publisher has economics of scale to limit their manufacturing cost and can sell games to a wider demographic than a non-established gaming company could.
Therefore, the sales of the game might be high enough that you'll make more money working with a publisher than you would have alone. Additionally, businesses have expenses so even if you start a company and your games succeed, you still may not profit enough to pay your own salary, whereas with a publisher you'll just get cut a check. You'll have to determine how many copies of the game you could sell versus what a potential publisher could and do a cost/benefit analysis.
There are definitely quite a few more questions that you'll have to ask yourself before deciding which avenue that you'll take. However, this should give you a basic idea of some of the things you should be asking yourself.