Top tips to improve your games pitch
Hello and welcome to Collective Wisdom, where we talk to people throughout the video game industry, asking them the questions you want answered. The topics are vast and can take in any part of the development or publishing process. When we originally asked you to supply us with questions, the most-requested one was “What should you put into a pitch to a publisher?” It’s a great question, and one that there’s a lot of different answers to – with variety between companies, especially. So I spoke to the other members at Collective as well as our friends from 11 bit studios, Chucklefish and Sold Out about what they feel is the most important thing to take into account when submitting an indie video game pitch. There were a couple of reoccurring themes, such as being attention-grabbing and researching companies in advance, which we’ll go over in more detail below. So, without further delay here are some top things you can do to help make your initial game pitch stand out from the rest.
The amount of pitches that get sent through to a publisher vary, but on average 5 to 10 will be sent in per week. While that might not seem like a lot, that is a possible nine other pitches fighting for the attention of the publisher you have approached…each week. On top of this, we’ll get a lot of additional pitches around key events, such as GDC. But how can you get noticed, what can you do to rise above the rest?
Caoimhe, from Chucklefish, mentions that they “get loads of email submissions with no visual” - yet having “something that can catch the eye from the first email sent” can help make the difference and make you stand out from the crowd. This is a sentiment echoed by Chris, from Square Enix Collective: “Opening with a strong elevator pitch (ideally alongside some lovely visuals) immediately gets the reader cheering for you”.
Out of the eight screens above which ones drew your attention first?
However, there will be times you won’t be able to attach a gif or screenshot (I’m going to put our hands up now, we don’t allow screenshots when you submit your pitches via our online form)… so what do you do then? As Chris mentioned getting straight to the point is one way to alleviate this problem and is backed up by Joshua, from Sold Out, “Lore and backstory is great, but if I'm not invested in the broad strokes, I'll be bored by the details. Win me over by getting to the beating heart of your game.”
One popular method that helps with this is the elevator pitch, where you practice selling your game within a limited period of time. Imagine, you’re entering a lift with someone, the time in that lift is the only chance you have to tell them anything about your project and capture that person’s imagination. Which of the following would you prefer if you were receiving an elevator pitch: a) Someone waffling on about an obscure feature of their title that only makes sense if you knew the basics? b) Being given a quick break down of what makes the title unique?
If you, said B, you’re on the right track and it’s the same when writing up an email pitch. If after 2 to 3 lines it’s not clear what your title is, you will start to lose the reader’s attention to one of the other pitches that may have been sent in along with their other responsibilities (don’t forget not only do we look at new pitches we also have other teams who have passed the pitching stage that we are working with).
Another way to bypass the possible no image in the mail issue is to also include a link to a vertical slice gameplay video or trailer. Getting across a game mechanics can be difficult in words alone, especially if it’s something new and never seen before, or if English isn’t your first language. Uploading a visual of the core mechanics can help drastically. But don’t rely on this alone, think of this as a supplement to a well thought out elevator pitch. We see a lot of non-public YouTube videos, which definitely helps.
Not exactly the point we meant but he got straight to it
No, we’re not talking about that hit from The Who… we want to know more about you. Rufus, from 11 bit studios, says "teams and their vibe are super important”, a sentiment mirrored by Chris: “We want to know more about the people we’re going to be working with over the next few years”. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bunch of friends fresh out of college or veterans with over 20 years of experience, we want to know your history and skills. Be honest, as we’re all going to be working together as well as figuring out what support and tools will be needed to make your project a success. Being honest, not just about your background but the project as well, will help in the process. Celebrating you and (if you have one) your team is almost as important as the title you’re putting forward.
Of course, these are just a few viewpoints, but if today’s article raises any further questions about putting forward a pitch or if you have another question you would like to ask for Collective Wisdom, be sure to send them over to us via any of the methods below.
We would also like to thank Caoimhe (Chucklefish, Twitter and Discord), Joshua (Sold Out, Twitter and Discord), Rufus (11 bit studios, Twitter and Website) as well as our very own Chris for lending us their insight. If you would like to keep up-to-date with them then be sure to check out their social channels as well. With this week’s Collective Wisdom we’ve taken a deep dive into just a couple of points of what was going to be originally a five-point list. It has now expanded into something more, as we wanted to give you the best information available. Be sure to check part two coming soon, for more tips on how to perfect your gaming pitch with even more insights from indie publishers.
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