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Why Pitching to Games Publishers Sucks

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A reflection by Callum Underwood of Raw Fury, a games publisher. This talk covers the weird and broken process that is pitching your indie game.

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Why Pitching to Games Publishers Sucks

  1. 1. A reflection by Callum Underwood (a publisher lol) Why pitching to publishers sucks
  2. 2. Who am I? What is my purpose? Europe @ Caffeine Special Projects @ SUPERHOT Scout @ Raw Fury Speaker notes for online: These are my jobs!
  3. 3. What am I talking about? Pitching your game to a publisher is a deeply personal event This doesn’t match up with people’s experience How can you make it easier? Speaker notes for online: I’m going to talk about why the process is weird and broken
  4. 4. The Meeting Are you pitching to the right person? Can they say yes or no? Speaker notes for online: Pitching to someone who has no decision making power is a huge waste of time
  5. 5. The Cycle “Not right now but show us the next build!” == infinite cycle of improvements and delays Speaker notes for online: I can give you feedback and ask for a build, and we could do this 100 times
  6. 6. Time Publishers can take a LONG time to come to a decision Speaker notes for online: Sometimes we don’t know, sometimes more people need to play, sometimes we miss it, or sometimes we are just so busy
  7. 7. Ghosting “They haven’t replied in weeks” Speaker notes for online: I’m sometimes guilty of this, but I try my best not to because it’s so so frustrating
  8. 8. What does the publisher want? You: “Publishers don’t know what they are looking for” Me, A Publisher: “that’s nice but not what we are looking for” Speaker notes for online: What do I mean when I say not what we are looking for? Sometimes it means the game is F2p, sometimes it just…doesn’t feel right
  9. 9. What materials does the publisher want? A build? Market forecast? Previous games? Team? Etc.. Speaker notes for online: Every publisher wants you to have different things. You should have these ready either way
  10. 10. Genre fit Do publishers have a “style”?
  11. 11. Style Speaker notes for online: No, Devolver publish amazing games that aren’t pixel!
  12. 12. Style Speaker notes for online: Same with Paradox
  13. 13. Is everything in your pitch fixed? Publishers hate: “We can scale the budget to your needs!” (sorry) Speaker notes for online: We like to think every dev is an artist with unshakeable vision, and they are letting us join them. Not that we are giving someone a job.
  14. 14. First Contact Signed! Speaker notes for online: Be succinct, and there are no rules
  15. 15. The Prototype Shipped games generally don’t look like their prototypes…
  16. 16. Get Even
  17. 17. Everybody goes to the Rapture
  18. 18. Offworld Trading Company
  19. 19. Devil May Cry
  20. 20. Spy Party
  21. 21. The Prototype The build might have taken you months. It can take publishers less than 1 minute to say no (Sometimes we don’t even play it) Speaker notes for online: I play pretty much everything. Rarely do I not play something. It can take me 5, 10 seconds to play something
  22. 22. Chicken and Egg No art pass All the art pass Speaker notes for online: You need money for artists, but we want to see what your art looks like – it’s a paradox
  23. 23. What does a publisher look for in a build Magic Atomicrops looked terrible (sorry Danny). But it had something special.
  24. 24. Gif Time - Then Old Gameplay Gifs Farm Marry Defend Recruit
  25. 25. Gif Time - Now Speaker notes for online: This is what it looked like AFTER we signed it
  26. 26. Your Budget Numbers? Budget? What? Speaker notes for online: do you start with a budget, or end? For us it’s everything minus porting, QA, loc etc, everything including that, a simple round number, your burn rate
  27. 27. Your Budget Look at this beautiful man Speaker notes for online: Shams said that if he doesn’t see a budget on the last page of a pitch deck, he sends it back. This is smart.
  28. 28. Your Budget Do you start with budget? End with budget?
  29. 29. How we view the budget Burn Rate Launch Q1 2019 Art (PCM) $5250 Programming (PCM) $2210 Music (PCM - 6) $3000 Platforms Xbox, PS4, PC, Switch Months 18 Total Development Budget $170,000k Fake numbers lol Speaker notes for online: This is specific to Raw Fury.
  30. 30. The scale problem Publishers look at MANY games
  31. 31. The scale problem Raw Fury signed less than 1% of the games reviewed in 2017 My inbox Wednesday this week Speaker notes for online: The signed line barely changes, but the review line changes MASSIVELY
  32. 32. Why? PAX booth only has room for 3 games Xbox offers an E3 announcement CERT takes a lot of time and effort Speaker notes for online: If you sign everything, you can’t give your devs love
  33. 33. Why do we not sign a game? Genre We already have a similar game Doesn’t “feel” right Doesn’t immediately cause a reaction I’m just not in the mood for that type of game I didn’t eat breakfast yet
  34. 34. QUICK VR SEGUE Publishers won’t sign your VR game because: • Fans aren’t asking for it • QA is different • PR is different • Marketing is different • Porting is different • Barriers to entry @ office • Platforms are different • Storefronts are different • Demoing is a pain in the ass • (Notice I didn’t mention money?) sorry… Speaker notes for online: VR can make money, of course, but it’s painful to pivot away From “normal” games for a publisher
  35. 35. Build & Budget Wider Play Sessions Team, Scope, Finances, Pitch Whole Team Plays Due Diligence & Face to Face Contract & Cuddles How We Choose – The Process
  36. 36. Don’t Go with This Person
  37. 37. We Want This Person!
  38. 38. Who to contact? contact@chucklefish.org publishing@nomorerobots.io info@11bitstudios.com callum@rawfury.com developers@surpriseattackgames.com contact@serenityforge.com indies@doublefine.com bandac@goodshepherd.games publishing@coffeestain.se contact@annapurnainteractive.com fork@devolverdigital.com hello@finji.co hello@curve-digital.com publishing@nkidu.com pitches@tinybuild.com collective@eu.square-enix.com gameslabel@team17.com publishing@humblebundle.com Speaker notes for online: don’t do what this guy did, although it did make me laugh. It was an honest mistake
  39. 39. Reboot is the best conference <3 @DevRelCallum on twitter callum@rawfury.com (Publishing!) Or callum@caffeine.tv (Streaming!) Please ask any questions you like Thanks to these folks for providing anecdotes or fixing my shit slides @FelipeBudinich @bobbylox @simianlogic @wombatstuff @stuckbug @steishere @KristoferRose
  • LucasPopenke

    Apr. 19, 2019
  • papaya20

    Feb. 1, 2019
  • GriddleOctopus

    Sep. 4, 2018
  • TomasRawlings

    May. 3, 2018
  • kamadake

    Apr. 25, 2018

A reflection by Callum Underwood of Raw Fury, a games publisher. This talk covers the weird and broken process that is pitching your indie game.

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