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  • What Publishers Look For In Games

    [07.09.19]
    - David Logan

  • What You Need from Them

    • When in the talks with a publisher, be transparent on your expectations and needs from them, such as:

    • Before you submit your pitch, have estimates of:

      • Budget to make your game

        • Be transparent and explain why and how funding will be used

      • Your timeline

        • Be prepared to show the task breakdown per month for each person

      • What additional talent you need to complete your game

    • As a publisher knows what they are able and willing to provide, it is important for your time and theirs that you are open and honest about your needs early on

    Advice for a Great Pitch

    General

    • Avoid bandwagoning to a current craze/gimmick - unless your game really calls for it or the publisher is looking for it

    • Don't pitch a game for an IP without already having the licensing deal, hoping the publisher could help you secure that deal for you

      • The exception here is if the publisher owns the rights to the IP, and you're making a pitch at hopes of getting approval from them

    • Make sure your business plan is realistic

      • Don't be afraid to dream big, but also be prepared to admit to the challenges you will face and how you plan to address them

    • Tailor your pitches to the publisher you are approaching

      • Be mindful of your time and theirs and show them something they want to look at

        • Don't show a mobile-only publisher your console-only game, or don't show your horror game to a publisher that typically is known for lighter and friendlier genres

    • Think about your pitch from a mutually beneficial perspective

      • Be upfront about what you need from the publisher, but also outline what it is that you are providing for them as well

    • Be passionate about your game, your company, and your brand

    In-Person

    • Be professional

    • Dress well

    • Be prepared for many different situations when it comes to pitching your game

      • Prepare physical materials in the event there are some tech issues

      • Think about potential questions and how to answer them

      • Have a fact/breakdown sheets that can be passed around for latecomers

      • Come with your own devices, in case of incompatibility, or prepare for all types

    • Choose the right team and people

      • Not everyone can hype up the room and push your game in the right direction, so figure out who on your team is the best for this

        • Be enthusiastic, honest, sell your hook, know your audience, and know your direction

      • Don't waste time by starting only once all your technical setup is ready

        • Have team members prepare the tech, while others are socializing and getting a read of the room

        • Break out any literature you may have prepared, in the event setup is taking longer than expected

    • Leave time for questions and clarification

      • Don't get annoyed or worried when asked questions

        • Questions are a means of getting clarity based on your pitch, and different people are going to have different questions

    • Be sure to exchange business cards if you haven't previously done so

    Email

    • Keep your pitch short, clear, and interesting

    • Toss in a cool visual GIF that is low in size

      • High quality image that represents your game works well, too

    • Include an easily accessible link to a compelling YouTube trailer

    • Preferably using bullet points, cleanly lay out the details of your game

      • Brief and graspable description of your game's plot and gameplay

      • Target platforms and audience

      • The needs of your project

    • Include a link to where someone can access a playable build of your game

    • Make sure your format is actually email friendly

      • It's easy for your formatting to get a little awry when you copy/paste from somewhere else or after dropping in any images/GIFs

      • Extra points for you if you can even make it mobile friendly for those who may be reading your email pitch on their phones

    Paper Cut Mansion of indie developer Space Lizard Studio put together their pitch in a great looking email (even on mobile!) with good readability and succinct bullets. Everything is quick and to the point. Hyperlinks helped to highlight and draw the eye to the important things they want their reader to see; plus, it makes attaching assets like videos and builds really clean. With just a glance, a publisher already knows key points about the game - core concept, platforms, and needs. Check out ongoing development of the game on Facebook!​

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