99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One…

According to Ismail (2014) a pitch is an effective way of communicating an idea or ‘value proposition’. A value proposition is the promise of value in any form, not necessarily monetary. This can be anything – an idea, an invention, a business proposal – but for the sake of this blog we will discussing game pitches. Pitching is useful, and important, as it allows a game designer to convey their idea in a fast, concise and interesting manner. The basic structure of a pitch allows for a cohesive presentation and is adaptable so that it can be changed whether pitching by email, in person or presentation and can also be adjusted to suit the audience, whether that be the press, players, publisher or platform.

Three simply questions – who, what and why – are the key components of the pitch according to Ismail (2014). These questions flow nicely and allow the pitcher to build their case in a logical manner. Ismail (2014) discusses how the pitch should have a pyramid shape: with each level building upon the last and containing more information, detail and depth. The general structure of a pitch is outlined in the diagram below and these sections can be shortened or expanded upon to suit the pitch and audience.

pitching-01

WHO?

In this section you should introduce yourself, state your role, exchange business cards and give a little detail about your credentials, experience and past work.

This section will differ greatly as how you convey yourself (or your company) will probably depend on your goal and your audience. For example, if you were a small company pitching to a publisher for the first time you may want to appear organized, professional and business minded. However, an established designer pitching to potential players would choose to convey themselves in a more informal manner.

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Tim Schafer’s crowdfunding campaign video for ‘Pyschonauts 2’ shows off his own (and DoubleFine’s) sense of humor and informality.

WHAT?

This section is all about explaining the game’s concept. You should start with the hook (also called the razor or lede) and expand upon it from there. As Ismail (2014) states, this should be as simple and short as possible. Heady-Carroll (2016) has some great examples of razors in the article she wrote on Gamasutra. One example I found was the game Superhot:

An FPS where time only moves when you do.”

This is a great example as it is extremely concise and simple whilst also being intriguing enough for the listener to want to know more. Honing the razor is something that takes time but is truly essential. It is usually the first thing a person will hear or read about the game so it really needs to make sense and capture their attention.

From there you should go into more detail about the game and discuss the core features of the game. In general, giving a quick overview and average play session is a good idea before delving into even more detail. Again, this differs on the game and audience. A publisher might want to hear more about how the design allows for monetisation possiblities whilst a player might want to hear more about the engaging and fast-paced action. This is one of those things that really depends on the situation. It is up to you to feel out what you should go into more detail about by considering what is important to your game and your audience. Some of these topics could include gameplay features, narrative, genre, art, tech, monetisation, leaderboards, community and so on. It is also important to discuss what platforms and marketplaces the game will be coming to.

WHY?

The last and largest section is the one in which you will discuss why you are pitching the game. This will take careful consideration and will, of course, truly depend on the game, the audience and the goal of the pitch. Are you trying to get published? Are you trying to create a community of fans to support the crowdfunding campaign? Are you trying to raise awareness about the game? Are you trying to gain support or help from another company or designer?

Once you understand the goal of your pitch you can delve into these topics and demonstrate why (and how) your game is worth it to the audience. This might involve discussing why it is unique, fun, profitable, stream able, achievable or many other things. It is good to provide proof when doing this. You could demonstrate the uniqueness and depth of the art through concept images, mockups and screenshots.

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Indivisible was marketed as an RPG from the makers of Skullgirls. As such its crowdfunding campaign used a lot of concept art and images as the art and animation was one of the biggest selling points.

You could demonstrate that your game is going to be profitable to a publisher through monetisation strategies and predicted statistics. You may include a breakdown of budget, schedule or planning if trying to gain crowdfunding.

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Indivisible also broke down their modular environment design process to prove their ability to create the game within time and scope.

This section should really drive home why your game is worth it to the audience and convince them that it is.

FINAL POINTS

Plan and practice the pitch! Test it on friends and family, get feedback and apply it. A pitch is something that needs to be honed – so work on it!

vlcsnap-2016-07-17-22h22m24s153The pitch should be as engaging and concise as possible. You should not drone on, bore or irritate your audience. A presentation is a presentation – present yourself well and use general presentation techniques to engage and convince your audience.

After the pitch ask the audience if they have any questions. This gives them an opportunity to clear up any confusion, concerns or inquiries and allows them to engage with you. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge, planning and consideration.

REFERENCES

Heady-Carroll, M. (2016). Pitching Games: What Has Worked for Us So Far and May Help You Too!. Retrieved
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MollyHeadyCarroll/20160401/269268/Pitching_Games_What_Has_Worked_for_Us_So_Far_and_May_Help_You_Too.php

Ismail, R. (2014). In 3 Sentences or Less: Perfecting Your Pitch [Video]. Retrieved
http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020877/In-3-Sentences-or-Less

 

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