Pitching a game is a crucial part of its development. Often overlooked by designers and producers, pitching a game is how someone sells a game idea to a publisher. Having such an important role to play, we wanted to share with you some information on game publishing and how you can get your game published.
Choosing a platform to distribute your game with can be a challenging decision if you’re new to the scene. Knowing how the publishing world works is essential before pitching to any old company. You need to have a solid idea and be able to translate your end goal into a pitch. With a pitch being the deciding moment if your game goes into production, considerable time should be spent preparing and perfecting.
Behind all good games, there will have been a pitch. No matter the scale of your project, they are an important influencing moment in the development of your game.
Publishing your game means having it financed and developed by a game publisher. Fundamentally, game publishers do what you can’t to get your game out there.
You present them with your idea and do everything else to get your game released if they like it. Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, and Ubisoft are all examples of big game publishers.
Even though we’ve touched on what game publishers are, what does a publisher do in gaming?
They will either hire external or internal staff to develop your game. External developers are commonly used, bringing in people outside of the company to develop your game. This can be decided by the style of your game for example. A publisher will get external developers who have worked on similar projects to yours.
Alternatively, the publisher’s studio can be used. A studio is made of internal developers within the publishing company who will develop your game in-house.
Often large publishing companies will also distribute a game for you. After a film is developed, distributing it is the most essential part of the process. Getting your game out into stores is a monumental task that would be impossible without professional help.
Smaller publishers may opt to have your game distributed by a distribution company or by using a different big video game publisher.
There are a few other things publishers will do for your game if necessary. For example, getting the appropriate licensing is a very important aspect and one that again, would be hard without professional help.
Writing the manual is also commonly done by a publisher as well as some graphics influence.
Now it’s time to discuss how you can publish your own game! With no clear answer for which method is best, we will cover the essentials and discuss how viable they are to you.
To get your game published you will have to pitch it first. This will be the focus of this section.
Before you even start making your pitch, there are a few things to consider first:
You need to research publishers first. Going to any old publisher will have your pitch dismissed or your game badly developed. For example, if your game involves a huge open world, there’s no point going to an indie game publisher who only deals with small projects. Knowing the publisher well will help you structure your pitch too. You can find out how they generally function and cater your pitch specifically to them.
This is fundamentally for any promotion or sales. You and any person involved need to know your project inside and out. Before you start making a pitch you need to check if you have a considerably deep understanding of what you are pitching. If a publisher believes for one second you are not confident in your idea, it will be dismissed without a doubt.
Now that you’re more prepared, it’s time to create your pitch.
No matter what type of game you are trying to develop, there are a few pieces of information that need to be included in every pitch. Here’s everything you should include each time:
These are the most essential influencing factors that publishers will want to know. Make sure to include them every time. Other, less essential factors to include would be special features and the character arks for example. If it’s important to the plot and overall game, include it.
The way you design your pitch will determine if it is successful. Video game publishing companies will have heard thousands before, so yours needs to be the best it possibly can.
The most basic way of making a pitch is having a written document accompanied by some concept art. This needs to contain a summary of the unique selling point of your game; what makes it different from the rest and why people will buy it. This needs to be very brief, enticing the interested parties and summarising the essence of your game. Make this engaging and meaningful, the publishers during this should feel how a player does playing the game.
Following this is usually a one or two-page gameplay walkthrough from the perspective of a player. This will cover key aspects such as key gameplay mechanics and sequences of specific interests. It is important to remember don’t get sidetracked by minor details. Everything you include should be a significant aspect to the game
There are a few other things that can make your pitch even better. Having some substance to represent your vision of the final goal can help publishers understand your project better. An amazing way to do this is by bringing along an interactive gameplay prototype. Instead of just telling the publishers what your goal is, let them experience it for themselves. If you have a good project combined with a good prototype, you’ve set yourself up for success. However, we understand this is not realistic for most people and only viable with extensive resources.
Alternatively, bringing along a non-interactive video presentation of the game can still give a good feel for it. Aswell, having concept art and views of environmental cuts will aid this.
Now that you have your pitch, it’s time to practice it. Rehearse again and again. You need to know your pitch like the back of your hand. Your delivery should be effortless and confident throughout.
After contributing so much of your time and effort into making a perfect pitch, don’t let your delivery ruin your chances.
Now it’s time to look at how to pitch a game to a publisher. By this, we mean your presenting of your pitch on the big day.
Always take the opportunity to present your pitch in person. Unless it is not possible, delivering face-to-face will have a much greater impact on the publishers and increase the chance of them financing your game. This also allows them to ask about anything you might not have included. This is invaluable and without this, your pitch might not be perceived as well.
We mentioned this when talking about rehearsing your pitch. But confidence is maybe the most important thing when delivering your pitch. You need to reassure the publishers you know exactly what you’re talking about. Stay calm and collected on the day. The publishers will want your pitch to be successful, they want to invest in you, it’s your time to show them why.
Finally, body language is also something to keep in mind. No matter how confident your words are if your body language is the opposite the publishers will pick up on this. Stand with confidence and hold your head high. This is your big moment, make sure you look good during it!
There are a few things after your pitch you can do to help your chances of success.
More than likely your pitch will be followed by a few questions from the publishers. Improvisational skills will be key here. Answer the questions truthfully and make your answer sound confident and assertive. Even on the spot, you want to prove your confidence in the game’s success.
Once finished, it is also good practice to offer to leave some material behind. Whether this is a draft trailer or just some artwork. This will give the publishers material to help their contemplation.
Now there is one final key element if you’re wondering how do you publish a game. Where to publish it!
What publishers you approach is completely up to you. Like we already mentioned, research is key here making sure the publishers you are contacting align with your project.
Still, we wanted to share with you some of the main publishers that might be of interest to you.
Steam is the largest PC game distribution company in the world. With over 100 million people in this platform community, steam is a great platform to get your work out there. After publishing your game with Steam Direct, they will distribute it handling the whole process.
Itch.io is who you want to approach if your project is an indie game. What makes this publisher so special is that you have so much control over the project and publishing is free. You can even decide on the shares that are split between you and the company!
This publisher is one of the easiest to be accepted by and like itch.io is also free. Initially, Game Joy will keep your first earnings until you spend through their platform. A great way to encourage investment and get smaller games involved. If you’ve failed to get other publishers on board, Game Jolt might be your best option.
This is the final publisher we will discuss in this article. Gog is a more prestigious publisher and harder to convince to finance your game. They turn away many game ideas and only accept those that promise success. Being a well-established company, if you are accepted they are a perfect company to make your game a big name.
These are just a very limited few options for you. There is no shortage of game publishers so make sure you pick the right one for you!
Do you now feel ready to get your game published? We hope so!
Getting your game recognised by a publisher isn’t an exact science. How you do it completely depends on what type of game you’re pitching and who you’re pitching it to. Nonetheless, this is a crucial point in the development of your game and will decide if it goes into production or not.
We know we’ve presented a lot of information to consider if your thinking of trying to get your game published. Here we want to summarise the key factors: Research is the most important initial stage. You need to know who you’re pitching to, and what games they typically work with. Your pitch will be the deciding factor for publishers. Make sure it includes all the essential information and stands out from the crowd. Finally, the delivery of your pitch will greatly impact how it’s perceived. Be confident and honest throughout. Nobody knows your game as you do, all you have to do is convey that to the publishers.
We hope you enjoyed this article and are eager to start your own pitch! Be sure to share this guide across your socials and give us a tag @musicgateway!
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