Game Development Cultivate

What We Learned About How To Pitch Our Game

16 Sep 2019
Written by Jenny

The week before last, we made the ten hour train journey from Plymouth up to Dundee to take part in the UK Games Fund pitch practice event. We prepared a pitch deck (find out what this is below!) and practiced our verbal pitch to go along with it. This post is about the things we learned at the event and what content we will include in our future pitches. We recommend looking at multiple sources of info on how to pitch your game as different people have different ideas.

The Practice Pitch Event

At the event itself, each Round 5 and Transfuzer company sat at a table while industry professionals (UKGF people, publishers, and people working in games) came to us to listen and get feedback on each pitch.

Each pitch session was twenty minutes long. Over the one and a half day event, we pitched to six people, tweaking our pitch between each based on the ongoing feedback. Some feedback was contradictory because everyone has their own ideas on what should be in a pitch! Publishers, for instance, are more focused on the gameplay and the budget and so wanted to see both these aspects upfront. To quote (paraphrase!) one of the publishers “I want to see what the game is and then I want to know what the risk is.”

A Valuable Experience

We discovered the reality of pitch meetings: that they entirely depend on who you’re pitching to. Some people are happy to wait until the end of your pitch and then ask questions. Others are keen to have a conversation as you go! If there’s one thing we can recommend in terms of being prepared to pitch, it’s be prepared to think on your feet.

There’s nothing like the repetition of a pitch to different people who want to know different things, to cement your own ideas about your game. Doing so helped us discover what we felt was important to get across. Over the course of the different pitches, we were able to tighten the information in our pitch, discarding some slides and reshuffling others. And, by pitch number three, we weren’t even looking at our notes!

What we’ve learned about the components of a good pitch…

Start snappy! (with an elevator pitch)

An elevator pitch is a very short and concise pitch of your idea. Ideally it should only be a couple of sentences long. It can be a surprisingly difficult task to get your game idea across well in such a short space of time, and is a great exercise to really hone in on the core concept of your game and why that will be interesting to people. Being able to talk about your game in a succinct manner is an important skill.

Aim your Pitch

Different people/professionals want different things from pitches. Make sure you know who you’re pitching to and tailor your pitch accordingly. For instance, if you’re pitching to a publisher, how does your game fit into the publisher’s ‘catalogue’ of other games? Is the budget you have in line with their budgets?

Pitch Deck

Pitching to a publisher or investor will often involve sending or presenting a pitch deck to them. For us, this was a Google Slides presentation containing all of the data they might want to know about, though the actual pitching was more of a conversation than a presentation. Our current (after pulling it apart and putting it back together from the feedback we received) version follows this structure:

Title page

  • Over this slide, we basically made our elevator pitch in order to get the game idea across quickly and clearly.

Our pitch's title page - the logo and a brief desciption of the game.

The game

  • The first slide describes our game in terms of other games - this is used by some people as an elevator pitch itself, but we opted to describe the game ourselves followed by this one! So we use:

“Stardew Valley meets Oxenfree with a prehistoric sci-fi twist”

It helps anyone who knows these games to instantly understand what we’re going for. The difficulty of this approach is that not everyone will know the games you’re referring to, so it might cause confusion rather than encourage clarity.

  • The next slide starts a video of the gameplay, and while that’s playing, we explain the game’s unique selling points.

  • We’ll also talk about the game’s features here.

Audience

  • We have a slide with key information about our target audience, followed by a slide that evidences why our target audience makes sense (using measurable data such as Google keyword search frequencies and information we have on games similar to ours that have done well)..

Route to Market

To make our route to market clear, we use a timeline with key milestones and dates. For us, the milestones are ‘EGX Prototype’ (this is a small version of a prototype that our UKGF grant covers so far), ‘Vertical Slice’, ‘Alpha/Beta Testing’, ‘Early Access release’, ‘Full release’, and ‘Further Development’.

We include our planned release platforms on this slide too, and we make sure to emphasise that we already have experience on releasing to most of these platforms.

Our next slide also follows the timeline format, with information on our planned price points, our projected sales figures, and how many copies we envisage selling in the first 3 months after Early Access release.

Budget

Anyone considering investing in your game needs to know that you have a firm handle on how much the game is going to cost, where that money is going to be spent, and how much you’re asking them for.

We used The GameDev Business Handbook’s budget spreadsheet as a guide, and then created our own version. (The book is great if you’re looking to start your own business - we recommend it!)

We then talk about how much funding we’re seeking and from whom, which milestone this funding will take us to, and our (semi-) passive income from the online courses we create.

Who we are?

We then give an overview of who we are, what experience we have, and how/why we’re the ones who should make this game.

For the UK Games Fund pitches, we added some extra slides in about how we plan to a sustainable studio, and the impact that funding will have on both our studio and our game.

We hope this post is helpful for you - and best of luck on your pitching mission!

You can find out about storytelling through games through our other blog posts and by signing up to our online course GAME WRITING: STORYTELLING THROUGH VIDEO GAMES.

Jenny also has two programming courses CODING IN UNITY: MASTERING PROCEDURAL MESH GENERATION and CODING IN UNITY: INTRODUCTION TO SHADERS, or you can find more information on her website.

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