Pitching to Publishers. Straightforward advice to improve the chances of getting your game signed. Introduction
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Straightforward advice to improve the chances of getting your game signed
Do get lots and lots of business cards. More than you think you'll need. You will get through them far faster than you expect and you don't want to run out. Keep some on you at all times at shows as you never know who you will end up talking to over lunch or at the social events in the evening.
Do check and double check all of your equipment before your meeting. Even if you checked it before you left the office - gremlins always seem to creep in when you transport things. This is particularly true for shows, where you will be taking more equipment. Make sure all consoles and PCs are functioning correctly and can output to your monitors correctly. Make sure your speaker system works.
This is a good time to show a teaser video if you have one, before embarking on a short presentation and then moving onto a playable demo (if you have one) and wrapping up with questions.
The success of your project (and possibly the survival of your company) is going to depend on the company you chose, so gather as much information as possible. Which formats are they focusing on? Are there any genres they won’t consider? Do they have any specific gaps in their portfolio? How many projects do their producers handle at once? How often do they visit? How is their sales and marketing department set up? Do they focus on their main franchises only? Do they prefer to front or back-weight their development deals? Do they sign multi-product deals? Do they look to acquire developers at the end of successful projects?
Before you start, tell your audience that you are going to give them a copy of the presentation so they don't need to copy it out. This will mean they can pay more attention to what you’re saying but don't get annoyed if they do take some notes - they are probably getting down a few key figures, comparing your proposal to others or making notes on your approach & attitude.
Include a help screen showing the control layout and make it easily accessible (one button press) as it is often easier to pick up the controls for a new game by seeing a picture of the controller than by someone telling you them verbally (I certainly find this to be the case personally). Also, don’t make your debug mode too easy to access, as you don’t want the player blundering into it by mistake.
Now, how to follow up your hottest leads? The best asset you can have is an eloquent advocate for your project inside the publisher, so maintaining a good relationship with your acquisitions contact is essential.
Be wary of publishers asking for large amounts of unpaid work before any deal is signed. Decide in advance how much you are prepared to provide before they put pen to paper and stick to your guns when necessary. Obviously, the more interested parties you have, the stronger your position. Hopefully you will successfully place your game with a publisher, but for any publisher that turns the game down, do not be afraid to ask for the reasons behind the decision. If you have acted professionally and courteously, they really owe it to you to explain their reasoning.