PAX 2008: Pitching Games To Publishers Requires Preperation

Written by Administrator on September 29, 2008 – 12:54 pm -

You’ve been thinking for years about the next great game that could sell millions of copies and now you want to get it developed. Who do you go to? What should I expect when pitching the game? What do I to prepare for the pitch meeting? These questions were answered by Zombie games president John Williamson and panel guests on Friday night at the Penny Arcade Expo.

“So you want to pitch a game?” focused most of its discussion on choosing the right game ideas, what you are expected to do to prepare for that pitch meeting and what to do during the pitch to publishers. The panelists, including developers and business people that work with publishers told the crowd of gamers started the panel by speaking about the over 1,500 to 2,000 pitches they are sent to them every year, and how only 3 to 5 of those ideas become games that are sold in the market.

The process of an idea becoming a game goes through steps that include coming up with the idea, preparing the idea for presentation, presenting it to an agent inside the company in charge of game development and ends with the approval by the companies heads.

Many think that there idea could become the next big game, but Williamson and his panel gave the aspiring game makers advice about what to do before starting to shop around their game:

* Cultivate your idea: Though you have an idea, have you looked at
all the questions that people might have behind it. What will the
art style be? Who is this game towards? What differentiate this
game from other? Can you describe the game in under 15 seconds?
* Create a demo: Proof of concept is very big for the publishers. If
you can show you have more than just an idea, you on well on your
way. The demo doesn’t have to be perfect said the panel, but
should show that you are serious about the idea.
* Find the right developer for your game: A penguin platformer game
with two brothers that wear red and green sweaters probably won’t
work well with Nintendo. Find the developer that you think works
well with your idea.
* Do your research: Research how games that compare to your game do
with the market and add that to your pitch. Also research the
costs and other things that may spark the interest of the
publishers. One panelists said he would like to see 3 – 6 months
of preperation, with 200 – 300 pages of documentation on all areas
of the game. (including budget)

Once you have done those things, the panelists said its time to find the agent working for the companies you are interested presenting to and set up appointments with them or go straight to the developers to show them your idea. Once you get those appointments, the panel gave some important tips on making a better presentation

* Simplify your presentation: Make sure you can tell a publisher
about your game idea quickly and simply so that you don’t confuse
the person you present to or even yourself when questions come up
about the idea.
* Bring your team: Bringing the developers that know the more
complicated parts of the game like art or game mechanics can help
to answer some of the publishers questions. But don’t bring too
many people or you may have too many people talking at once about
the idea.
* Don’t start with the Story: Game publishers, according to the
panel, say that most of the presentation should be about the
gameplay. Though art, story and the cost are important, if the
gameplay sucks, it won’t be picked up.
* Be prepared: Be prepared for any question that could come up from
the developers and if your game is rejected. Be prepared to find
out why it was from the developers and how you can make it better.
Their opinions may tweak your game to the level it needs to become
a game later on.

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