I'm in Culver City right now for the IndieCade 2012 conference. Yesterday, the day before the official conference began, an event called IndieXchange took place as an optional component offered for attendees who were also entrants of the IndieCade competition.
The IndieCade website describes IndieXchange as: "...a day-long series of practical, developer-focused workshops, networking opportunities, and one-on-one meetings arranged between developers who have submitted their games to IndieCade and a variety of investors, art leaders, and publishers interested in investing in games and meeting developers."
The first event of the day was a 'coffee mingle' in the a good sized room at the Culver City Veteran's Memorial building in the host city. Clusters of indies munched on pastries, coffee and energy drinks while talking fervently about games and their anticipations of the festival, conference and awards ceremony.
Next we were invited to listen to a presentation called "Pitch Clinic" where we were given some good advice about how to share our games with prospective investors and publishers. The same "pitch" strategies can be employed to pitch to a crowd funding audience or the press but mainly the speaker focused on strategies for pitching to publishers.
Here is a summary of the "Pitch Clinic" hosted by Geoffrey Zatkin, President, COO and Co-Founder, EEDAR which was founded in 2006 "with the goal of increasing video game industry profitability through disruptive, data and technology driven research services."
- Many indies see iOS as the most viable platform for selling their games. We should be aware that the amount of games released each year is on iOS is growing exponentially. Over 45,000 games were launched on iOS in 2011.
- On the iOS developers and publishers of games and apps now have a "discovery problem" because there are too many games to hope to be noticed without making efforts to gain visibility. Utilizing the series of a publisher is a way to get visibility.
- Knowing the right way to pitch your game is the way to get someone (like a publisher) excited about your game.
- Insight: Publishers and investors aren't investing in a game, they are actually investing in a long term relationship with YOU the developer so you need to communicate to them that you are someone that they can feel comfortable about starting a relationship with.
- You need to communicate who you are and what you are about. Be relatable. Have something to communicate about yourself. If you make something cool make sure it is viewable and easily accessible to your pitch target. Communicate the who, what when and where or with whom of your project.
- Choose an individual from your team or to represent your team who is best at pitching the vision of your project. Know and understand well all of the important aspects of your game and your company.
- Communicate who is the audience for our game and why the target audience will want it. Do this by highlighting your USPs (unique selling points.) This can best be communicated be demonstrating vertical slices (a portion of the game that shows off the core elements in a mostly polished manner, like a snippet of what the final game will look like.)
- Again, as a dev pitching yourself, you need to demonstrate a tangible product and demonstrate that you have thought about the aspects of the game well. Know things like: What will be the esrb rating? How much money have you raised so far? (this lets them know that someone believes in you and your project and therefore increases your appeal to them as investors.) How much more money and time will you need to make the game? How big will your team be? What tools will you need? Etc. Etc.
- Game quality matters more now than ever. For every 10 metacritc point increase, sales double. Make the highest quality game you can.
This clinic then switched into an interactive exercise where seven audience volunteers, devlivered off-the-cuff 45 second pitches for their games to the group. After, using poker chips, we would all choose how to "invest" or distribute our chips on a table creating a discernable visual distribution of the groups investments.
While Mr. Zatkin, the facilitator/ speaker was preparing the timer for the first pitcher, the audience member nervously muttered into the microphone, "I'll warn you now, this is going to sound stupid." To which an audience member jokingly shouted "Take my money!"
After the "Pitch Clinic" I returned to the coffee mingle area and met Rusty Moyher developer of IndieCade nominated Bloop. We talked a bit and then opened our laptops to share our respective projects with one another. After just a few short minutes, we were demo'ing our game to throngs of fellow attendees, some of whom proceded to open their laptops and tablets and share their games with everyone too. It was very awesome when that happenned.