Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Category: Business(Page 1 of 22)

Know How To Pitch Your Game

For any entertainment property knowing how to pitch it is integral to getting funding, backers, and sales.

A few weeks back, Paradox did an hour long stream on how to pitch to them. If you’re thinking of pitching to Paradox then you really need to watch it – or any other studio for that matter. They go into brand building, familiarity with consumers, and they reveal that game studios propose non-strategy games (90% of all pitches get rejected!). Be sure to know what a publisher actually publishes before pitching them!

Paradox takes board games pitches on based on their intellectual property, and of course the best way to do that is to send them a copy of the game. For more on board game pitches check out the panel we did with Bamboozle Brothers at Board Game Jam.

Never just pitch an idea – show something that reveals it!

You have to be really short and concise with you pitch! Panelists on the Pitching Secrets Revealed session at GDC 2013 all agree that you should use the minimum amount of time you need to describe your game, then use any remaining time to go into more details. For example, if you have a 15 minute pitch session you should use the first 5 to deliver your pitch and the rest of the time to answer questions.

Pitch for a card game

Pitch for a card game

Similarly, at GDC Europe in 2014 Rami Ismail (from Vlambeer) gave a talk about how to sell and why it’s important to be able to do pitch well. Basically, if you don’t know how to talk about your game then you can’t sell it. And if you can’t pitch it then you can’t sell it. If you can keep the summary of your game in one sentence then that’s even better.

You can watch his talk on the GDC Vault, he starts talking about pitching at the 14 minute mark.

For creating a good pitch deck (AKA PowerPoint) see this early post about Bubble Gum Interactive’s template.

On Marketing Indie Games In 2016

Marketing games is already a difficult challenge and marketing indie games is playing the marketing game on hard more. In 2015 game companies spent $630 million on TV ads with one company, Supercell, spending nearly $60 million themselves on 29 ads.
Marketing spending on games

How can a small indie company compete with these big spenders? Many have tried and thankfully they have also documented their success and failures when marketing their indie games. One thing I have noticed this year is the death of the idea that good games will sell.

Various talks and meetings I had at GDC have led me to believe that the industry has learned as a whole that marketing matters – a lot!

As a result, here are some wise words that I’ve come across about how to get your indie game seen in this changing landscape.

Community

Community
Hannah Flynn of Failbetter Games attributes success to having a very strong community, which she acknowledges can be a challenge.

In indie games, your community is everything. The gaming community at large cares more about games than any other community I’ve worked in cares about anything. Their ratings, recommendations, reviews, feedback, fanart, streams and videos are worth their weight in gold. Investing in your community is crucial to your future.

It’s not just your community that you are trying to build that matters, there are already many communities that you may want to consider joining. The TIGSource forum is one of the best known. To discover more communities take a look at the big list of indie development forums.

YouTube and Twitch

Streamers use Twitch and YouTube because it’s presently a great way to get a large audience, which means you might want to do the same thing. Over at Wero Creative we’re trying that out. We’re streaming every Wednesday (3pm EST) this summer to see if people are actually interested in watching us make our games.

Watch live video from werocreative on www.twitch.tv

You can stream like we’re trying or you can approach streamers.

Both YouTube and Twitch are popular places for people to discover new games. Minecraft benefitted from positive exposure from streamers and you can too. The key though is have a game that is interesting for both the viewers and the player – try to think of ways the streamer can interact with viewers.

The key to this approach is finding personalities who want to review the sort of game you are making. Reach out to them and hope that they want to review your indie game. Indeed, Pocket Gamer has a good summary of how to approach and work with influential streamers.

Don’t know of any popular streamers? You’re lucky that somebody create a list you can spam: contact list off YouTubers – or don’t because spamming them will make them hate you. On that note, if you make things hard for streamers then they’ll likely ignore you or worse they’ll berate you.

Discoverability

One apporach to indie game marketing: gifs
One way to be found is by putting yourself out there.

In a world filled with emoji and GIFs and all that jazz one needs to utilize visuals effectively. Indeed, a picture is worth a thousand words and a GIF can be worth way more. Black Shell Games (now also a PR/marketing company) noted in a Reddit post that the key is visual media.

Don’t spend week after week perfecting your copy down to a T if you could instead spend a few hours culling breathtaking video footage and screenshots that sell your game much better than text does. Even on the App Store and Play Store, the icon and screenshots are stunning for most hit apps, and encourage people to play the game.

One way to get discovered is through being part of game bundles. Jaime Dominguez-Blazquez discovered this when promoting the game Vortex Attack, as well as other important notes, in his post mortem on releasing the game on Steam.

Luckily for me, a few days after there was someone, Alie from Groupees (a site about bundles) telling me that placing my game in his bundle would help it to get extra visibility. … I just had to wait a month for the bundle to become active but it was great. We sold almost 4000 units; from that about 25% of the people took time to vote the game in Greenlight.

At first, I thought it was pretty good as it ended up increasing my visibility permanently.

Here is how it went (it’s the green line):

Sales of Vortex Attack

Another way to get discovered is to find a publisher (which is a whole other can of worms). This used to be a really great and guaranteed way to have your game found because it let the studio focus on making the game and publisher focus on marketing. The catch is that over the years the role of the publisher has changed – and it depends greatly on the size of your studio and the publisher in how effective the relationship can be.

Rob Remakes is incredibly skeptical about the benefits that a publisher can provide in terms of helping your game get the attention it deserves.

As ever, there’s no guarantees here that a publisher can definitely get you pushed on sites you may not normally be able to reach (and this is also why PR and Marketing firms exist too, but that’s not for this post) but upping the odds, yeah? It’s not just about mailshots either, it’s about what we call mixers (where devs and journalists meet to talk about works) and show floors and organising demonstrations for the press and sorting keys out and so much more. It’s work.

If none of the above is working for you then jump on to the current trend of in-app advertising and integration.

Price point of a game

photo-1434871619871-1f315a50efba

Yes, the price point of your game is part of marketing mix, in short – your pricing strategy matters. That Wikipedia link is based more on physical goods than digital, but the core ideas apply to video games. A good publisher can probably help you figure out what price to sell at.

The core problem with video games is that here never is a good price for them. Over at the Guardian Simon Parkin asks the question is the price of a video game ever really right? He examines expectations of the consumer and of the creator and how neither might not matter in the actual price.

Similarly, the price of games themselves has remained fairly constant for the past 20-odd years: the blockbusters cost around £40-£50, budget and independent titles around £10, and phone and tablet games go for a couple of quid or nothing at all. The pricing is reflective of nothing much beyond consumer expectations. It often doesn’t account for the number of hours that went into a game’s production or the value and quality of the game itself.

Conclusion

The attitude that a good game will sell on its own has changed and now indies are finding that they need to market games as much as create them. Marketing indie games is hard, but you can do it!

There are ways you can market your game in these competitive times:

  • Embrace communities (whatever that means to your game)
  • Reach out to streamers
  • Become a streamer yourself
  • Consider a publisher
  • Have the right price

Other things to think about:

Escape The Game: My Book On How To Make Escape Rooms

I wrote a book about how to make escape rooms. If you are thinking of opening an escape game or are wondering what goes on behind-the-scenes at an escape room this book is for you.

Escape the Game: how to make escape rooms

Escape the Game is all about how to make escape rooms. It goes beyond only design issues to the business issues that concern escape room creators based on the broad questions that have come my way as a consultant, game designer, and professor of game design.

I’ve worked on escape rooms and have blogged about them (On Designing Escape Games For The Real World and Tips on Designing Room Escape Games), so I figured it was about time I write out my thoughts in a more coherent manner. Thus, the book Escape the Game took shape.

Escape the Game cast of characters.

Escape the Game cast of characters.

I was inspired to write Escape the Game by playing escape rooms that made major, but easily fixed, game design mistakes. I hope to inspire designers to think holistically, to think about their escape rooms as more than the sum of their parts.

Escape the Game book cover

Get my book Escape the Game to find out even more ways to design your escape room.


Indeed, the first draft was just answers to questions that people have emailed me because of the popularity of my posts on designing escape rooms. Escape the Game is now more than that.

Escape the Game looks at the high-concept aspects of making escape games like issues around game flow. The later half of the book goes into aspects of making escape rooms that escape room owners wish they knew before they started; practical things like what to charge and legal issues unique to escape rooms.

I address the most common questions that people have about designing, making, and running escape rooms. I want anybody who designs puzzles and challenges to know that the mechanics are the message. If there is a disconnect between the mechanics of a puzzle and what you’re trying to convey to the players then it makes for a lacklustre play experience.

You can get a good idea of what’s in the book from the table of contents:

Get Escape the Game on Amazon now to learn how to make escape rooms!

ESAC Releases Essential Facts 2015

Every year the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) releases a neat document with the essential facts about Canada’s video game industry. This year’s is similar to previous years in that breaks down the player demographics and provides some serious numbers on how well the games industry in Canada is doing.

ESAC2015

You can see the full Essential Facts About the Canadian Video Game Industry here.

From their press release:

“Canada’s video game industry plays a positive and vital role in our economy,” said Jayson Hilchie, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC). “It’s a highly skilled, highly paid industry that employs young creative people; it’s demonstrating how Canada can create jobs and prosperity, export its creativity around the world and ultimately lead in the new economy of the future,” he added.

The growth experienced in 2014 is partially owed to innovation in the video game industry, including the introduction of a new generation of consoles into the market, but also other factors like huge Canadian blockbusters hitting the market, a continued explosion in popularity of mobile games (which accounted for 65% of all completed projects in 2014) and because of a positive business climate for video game developers in a majority of Canadian provinces.

Companies’ outlook for the future continues to be positive, with several companies expecting the growth rate to continue over the next two years. In fact, it’s estimated that 1377 jobs will need to be filled in technical and creative roles in the next 12-24 months.

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