Meeting with publishers is an important milestone in a game’s development. With PAX East fast approaching, many indie developers will get their first chance to engage with a publisher, which could mean a significant boost in funding and reach for their projects. Although these meetings are important, many developers struggle to make a good first impression. With the right preparation, however, these developers can impress the publishing team and form a partnership that creates a high-quality final product for gamers.
Your Pre-Meeting Checklist
To succeed in your first meeting with a publisher, think about the interaction from their perspective. During an introductory meeting with a developer, a publisher attempts to gauge:
- Potential market interest in the game
- The uniqueness of the game and how it may fit with the publisher’s other titles
- The quality of your team
- Whether or not they think you can develop a successful title.
- Whether or not they want to work with you.
To convince the publisher both you and your game are worthwhile, prepare for the meeting by focusing in the right areas. You should:
- Compile any relevant content developed so far. This includes trailer links, game demo (if available), and any other resource that offers a better feel for the game.
- Develop a list of what you need moving forward. The publisher wants to know exactly what you want from the relationship. Do you need marketing? Do you need distribution? More importantly, how much funding do you require and what is the breakdown of those costs? Publishers will notice if you fail to factor in costs for QA and localization, so cover all of your bases in your calculations and be prepared with a clear number.
- Collect links to any media coverage. Write-ups on industry websites are valuable to major platforms like PlayStation and Nintendo because the coverage demonstrates the current excitement level around your game. While media coverage is useful for building a network of fans before launch, it is not required. In some cases, keeping the game under wraps is helpful because it can be used as leverage with the major platforms by offering exclusive rights to a game.
- Write an explanation of what makes this game different from others in the same genre. Publishers hesitate to work on a carbon copy of an existing video game, so be prepared to explain what makes your game unique.
- Be comfortable with all the details of your game. Regardless of whether you prepare to pitch your first game or 30th game, be polished, professional, and confident in your delivery.
A well-constructed presentation reveals the best parts of your game while answering most of the questions publishers have. If you impress a publisher early on by being organized and professional, you improve your chances of snagging a working relationship.
Examples of Great Developer Pitches
Two of the developers we’re working with, Mega Cat Studios and Driven Arts, impressed us early on with their detailed presentations.
Mega Cat Studios – Bite the Bullet
When Mega Cat Studios pitched Bite the Bullet, a roguelite RPG platformer where you eat your enemies to power up your character and weapons, they brought a number of resources to support themselves and their game. They did the following:
- Went into detail about the game. This level of detail mattered because Bite the Bullet looks like a normal run-and-gun platformer. Once you start to play, however, you realize the game is a unique RPG.
- Showed an exciting video to demonstrate gameplay and capture the unique elements that set Bite the Bullet apart from similar games.
- Provided a list of detailed marketing ideas. This gave us a window into the team’s creativity and showed us that they think beyond the usual development responsibilities.
- Supplied a spreadsheet of what they had already invested. These details showed where the team had already been successful and revealed where they still needed to go.
- Knew exactly how much money they required and where they wanted to spend resources moving forward. By requesting a specific budget early on, we were able to make a quick decision on whether or not we could financially support them.
The Mega Cat Studios team was so well-organized and had such an intriguing product, we quickly decided to work with them. Thanks to the detailed presentation, we started our working relationship without needing to review every single detail of the game’s progress up to that point.
Driven Arts – Days of War
When Driven Arts pitched Days of War, a competitive WWII FPS, they worked hard to explain why they believed their game would become successful. They did the following:
- Provided a list of user statistics, thanks to an Early Access version of their game. These numbers proved that Days of War already had a reliable fanbase and that the game could work on a larger scale with the right team and financial resources behind it.
- Explained the development milestones they already reached and had planned for the future. This history showed us how far the development team managed to go on their own and showed that they could be self-reliant in meeting deadlines.
- Showed a compelling video that captured Days of War gameplay. The Days of War video gave us a better idea of how the game stands apart from most first-person shooters, especially with its brutal warfare.
The Driven Arts team showed us that they were creative enough to develop a high-quality game with intense attention to detail. Between the team’s obvious talent and the following they built on their own, we were happy to partner with them.
Meeting with a publisher for the first time is nerve-racking. If you feel uncomfortable presenting, pull enough data and visual assets to demonstrate the quality of your game to publishers. Make these resources your focal point during conversations to help you in your presentation.
Meet Graffiti Games at PAX East
If you’d like a chance to meet a publisher and talk about your game, visit us at PAX East in Boston from February 27 – March 1. Find us in booth #25011 or schedule a meeting with Alex Van Lepp, our Marketing Director.