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  • How I Successfully Pitched My First Game As A Solo Dev

    [11.10.20]
    - Carl-Frederik Wibroe
  • Hi there! 

    My name is Carl, and last month I officially announced my first game; Peachleaf Pirates.

    To celebrate the announcement, I wanted to share how I went from working in a hotel to successfully pitching my game, and making the plunge into full-time development with no experience at all; with this first post focusing solely on the pitching side of things.

    Now, there are quite a few resources on how to pitch, but there aren't that many examples of actual successful indie pitches out there, so I figured that it might be of value to some to share how I approached it. Every game and pitch are unique, so your mileage may vary.

    What's a Peachleaf?

    It should probably be mentioned that while the pitch below is a fairly accurate representation of the final product; the pitch leans heavily towards emphasizing the farm-sim aspects of the game, but the final game is more weird RPG genre-mash than it is farm-sim. I also frequently and blatantly name-drop both the Monkey Island-series and Stardew Valley throughout the pitch, and just to be clear; systemically, Peachleaf does not have the depth of Stardew, and I'm not of the illusion that it comes even close to the masterpiece that is the Monkey Island-series! I've learned from playtester feedback that managing player expectations is super important, so if you end up trying out the game, please don't expect Stardew/MI.  

    I've also included the game-design document I sent out with my pitch here, but, again, I don't want you leaving disappointed, so even though the game-design doc is actually surprisingly accurate for the final game, please don't take the design doc as gospel as things have changed a little bit throughout development.

    How I pitched

    I pitched to 23 publishers. 
    10 didn't respond. 
    7 politely declined.
    6 responded with interest, and I ended up signing with an indie publisher called Digerati.

    I approached pitching as the most important game-dev task I had for about two months, and I went about it slightly untraditionally. At this point, I'd been developing the game part-time for about 9 months, learning how to do so as I went along.

    Trailer

    The first thing I did was create a teaser-trailer. This took FOREVER, as I also had to learn how to capture footage and video-edit as well as compose and record music for the trailer. I have the advantage of having been making music all my life, but video-editing is a whole other beast. Looking back at the trailer now, the game sure has come a long way since then, but the original trailer still conveys the main ideas of the game. Here's the trailer I used for pitching, and here's the final announce-trailer.

    Iterative pitching 

    I started out by sending my pitch to 5 publishers. I chose the publishers that I actually didn't really want to go with to pitch to first, as I was hoping to get a little bit of feedback on the pitch from them, but wouldn't get super sad about not getting an offer.

    The first 5 all declined or didn't respond, but the ones that declined actually offered some super valuable feedback, both knowingly and not. You see, I had set up a website to host my pitch, with a unique URL for the various publishers. That way I could track what they actually clicked on, and how long they spent there, etc. Some of the publishers also provided their reasons for declining which was amazing feedback as well!

    And while some didn't reply, even those that declined were super polite about it, and this email is probably the politest "No thanks" I've ever gotten in any context:

    But I then repeated that approach, and effectively iterated my way through pitches. All 6 interested publishers were from the last and second last iteration of my pitch.

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