Tips from the experts on how to stand out, sell your project, get the funding, and stay sane at the same time when pitching your game.
You know it from yourself. Your game is great. It’s innovative, fun, good-looking, and challenging. It’s a success waiting to happen! The question then remains – how do you convince an investor, partner, or publisher that they should feel the same way?
The fine art of pitching is all about your ability to convey the genius of you game in as little as 5 minutes, aided only by a few slides in a presentation. It’s the ability to filter out all the irrelevant stuff, and boil it all down to one little irresistible cube that makes it an irresistible offer for that investor, partner, or publisher you are trying to woo.
Pitching should be part of the abilities of almost any game developer, which is probably why Interactive Denmark chose pitching as the theme for the last of their Growing Games business development workshops in 2014. The whole day was reserved for pitching sessions, first in a test run, and then in a great finale where the Copenhagen-based developer Playwood was crowned “Best pitcher of 2014.”
But while we were there, Nordic Game Bits also asked the members of the deciding jury about their best tips for game developers regarding how to pitch their project. What should you remember, and what should you never do. Here’s what they told us.
Rasmus Koch Hansen - ex. Jagex, ex. Gree, now freelance consultant for American and Chinese clients.
- Be precise
The information you are providing should be correct and precise. Don’t promise things, you can’t keep. If theres something you are not completely sure about, then push it forward a quarter or two to give yourself some room to maneuver. If you give a precise date or number for something you’re not sure about, you’re setting yourself up for trouble in working with investors.
- Sell yourself and your team
It’s the team behind the product that builds trust. Why should we invest in you? Many times, you invest as much in the persons, and in whether you believe in that team on the other side of the table, as in the product itself.
- Look like you believe in it yourself
Even though you are the CEO, you should not be the one pitching if it doesn’t very clearly shine through that you’re passionate about the project. As an investor, you look for someone who is passionate about what they are doing. Why else would you give them money?
Søren Lass - ex. Ubisoft Danmark, ex. Ubisoft Nordic, ex. Ubisoft Montreal, ex. dtp entertainment AG, now Interactive Denmark
- Show me the product
I’m always looking for the product because in the end, thats what’s of most interest to investors and publishers. There are so many games out there, and most of them never gets released, and most of them will never make any money. So you should emphasize why a lot op people is going to buy this exact game and think it’s great. I think people forget that a lot.
- Make sure your slides and the technical details are ready for your pitch.
These things just have to be in order. Be carefull about using online content as part of your pitch (websites, YouTube-videos etc.). Your audience have no interest in waiting for you while you’re trying to connect to the wireless internet.
- Show that you can make the idea into reality
There’s plenty of good ideas out there, so you need to show that you can make them become reality. Do you have a good track-record, can you show that you have planned accordingly, and have you done your research?
Charlotte Delran – ex. IO Interactive, ex. Hapti.co, now independent strategy advisor
- Show me the money!!
Often it feels like the person pitching is not really interested in where the money is going to come from. But you’ll never survive in this business, if you’re not making money. Show me how you plan to make money from your product and that you have tested your business model.
This is something that every investor and publisher loves these days. Tell me how you are going to use analytics, or how you have already used them with your game.
- Show your game
It’s always a good idea to show something from your game. A video, some music, a mood piece. That kind of thing always works really well.
Matthew Ham - ex. Jagex, ex. Gameforge, ex. Ubisoft, ex. IO Interactive, now Game Designer at Aller’s department of innovation.
- Know what your audience wants and cares about
This is where you can practice your best stalker skills and profit. LinkedIn, company profiles, and previous emails should enable you to predict your audience and tailor your presentation to them. So if an android evangelist is there, don’t purely refer to your iOS versions.
- Don’t be afraid to feel greedy about money
Money has different value to different people, so don’t think that asking for money for realistic purposes makes you look bad. On the contrary, someone with a million dollars to invest is far more bothered as to whether the money will be spent wisely and will return a profit than whether they put half or all into your company.
By being realistic about costs you not only allow yourself to eat properly, but a potential investor will trust your other projections with more confidence. It’s also far easier to ask for money now than half way through a project.
- Know what you want, and tell it
Do you want information, money, contacts, technology or something else? It has to be 100% clear by the end of your pitch what you need and why you need it. It should also be clear as to what alternatives exist and why they are not used. It’s vital to show that you have considered several potential situations and judged as best the one you are proposing.
- Don’t be desperate
Desperation has many faces but none of them will help you. If a partner senses desperation, they can negotiate with strength, knowing you’ll be an easy target. You are also far more likely to make promises you can’t keep, or offer incentives you may regret.
- Practice makes perfect
This pairs well with not being desperate, since lack of desperation is more likely to see you making the same presentation more than once. At the very start, find your most irritating and pedantic friends, the sort who enjoy arguing in Youtube comments threads, and have them watch the initial version of your presentation with as many questions as they can manage. Then adjust, do it again and again until you feel happy. You are now ready to change it not quite as much after every time you use it in the real world.
Be sure also to read our other articles in our series with tips and tricks from the industry leaders: