Top 9 tips on how to pitch your mobile game like a pro
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At Pocket Gamer Connects we hosted the Very Big Indie Pitch, and I got to see some truly fantastic games, many of which we'll write about over on PocketGamer.co.uk.
However, I also saw a few glaringly obvious mistakes repeated time and time again by indie developers whilst pitching their products.
So I've decided to put together a list of indispensable tips and tricks to ensure that the next time you're pitching - either at one of our Big Indie Pitch events, or in a live fire scenario - you're fully prepared to dazzle and amaze.
1. Don't tell your life story
Unless you're Hideo Kojima, or Peter Molyneux, or Rami Ismail, or Mike Bithell, or another big name creative with personal cachet, I do not see how you describing who you are or what you've done in your career as being useful or beneficial as part of a rapid-fire pitch.
You may think that graduating from university recently is a big deal, or that the death of your cat has made making this game a very personal experience, but the person on the other end of the pitch doesn't care and tunes that stuff out.
In a scenario in which you are being given the opportunity to talk about your game, use all of the time you have to talk about your game, and not yourself.
2. "And I guess that's pretty much it..."
The sentence above, and variations upon it - such as "so... yeah....", "...and that's my pitch", or simply trailing off at the end of a sentence - are a weak way to end a pitch.
They say nothing of value, and worse than this, they're negative in tone. These endings plant seeds of doubt in my mind: perhaps I should have expected more from this game, or maybe I begin thinking that you don't sound confident in your idea.
Time your pitch so that you know you have said everything you want to say, and end on a high note. I should then immediately, and excitedly, want to find out more by asking questions.
3. Losing the plot
Perhaps the story of your game is pretty nifty, but unless the entire point of your release is the narrative itself (such as in an adventure game), then don't spend too much time explaining it.
One team that spoke with me was showing a puzzler, and so I wanted to know how its systems of play interacted with one another. Yet the team squandered two thirds of the entire presentation time speaking about the plot which, as far as I could tell, didn't directly affect the way the game played.
This tip can also be applied to any aspect of your game that isn't crucial to the experience.
4. Cut the faff
When you spend even a few seconds of your time faffing about with technical elements of your presentation, you are wasting an opportunity to tell the person you're pitching to one of the bullet points of what your game offers.
Ensure that you've practised your pitch until it's super slick, and don't simply focus on practising what you're saying. You should also get used to resetting your demo on the move and getting to the content you want to show quickly.
If you can have a specially created build ready to show then this can minimise the amount of time wasted on setting up the demo. Even just putting all of the assets you want to use as part of the presentation onto one page, or taking the password off your tablet for the day, can cut valuable seconds of wasted time from your pitch.
5. Personal hygiene
Soap. Toothpaste. Deodorant.
Products like these are your friends, so use them. The very fact I have to write this point down fills me with sadness about the industry, but there it is.
Think of it this way: you've spent loads of time making your game look as good as possible to impress us, you should do the same.
Please note that I'm not suggesting for a moment that you should deliberately send the most attractive member of your team to do the presentation simply because they're pretty; instead I'm highlighting that if your body odour makes my eyes stream, then I can't play your game properly.
Staying on this theme, you should bring throat sweets and a bottle of water (or better yet, pineapple juice) with you, to keep your vocal chords in tip-top condition.
6. Let me play your game
I know this sounds obvious, but if I can't play your product, then I'm unlikely to be able to tell if I like the cut of its jib.
You should never go into a pitch without a working version of your game, even if it's simply a prototype supported by video renders or concept art.
Additionally, if you know how many people you'll be pitching to then consider bringing one device per person. Not only will everyone be able to experience the game at once, but you can also use the opportunity to show how the title runs on different devices.
7. Learn to play your game
Clearly you know how your game plays, but do you know how it plays upside down?
That might sound like an odd question, but if you're demonstrating gameplay you'll need to be able to do it from an angle you don't usually play at.
Learn to complete stages or show specific game features from above and to the side of the device, because not doing so may give judges the impression that the game is harder or less responsive than it actually is.
8. Know your audience
At the Very Big Indie Pitch, each pitching table featured different combinations of journalists, publishers, monetisation specialists, marketing executives, and so on.
Knowing who is at the table can be a real boon, as if you're talking with the people with the cash you might want to focus on how you'll make money on their investment, but if it's a table of critics you may want to highlight the creative risks you're taking.
In the very least you should try to avoid the situation one pitcher wound up in: including content in the demonstration that was clearly infringing on the copyright of one of the judge's employers. Yikes!
9. Don't underestimate your audience
If you know there's a flaw in your game, don't hope for a moment that a judge won't spot it, because they will. The people you pitch to will likely have many years of experience in the business, and can see a potential issue from a mile off.
If you're picked up on this, be ready to explain (very briefly) how you're planning on fixing it, or why you made this design decision.
On top of this, don't wait for us if we're making notes, as we can listen to what you're saying and write at the same time. On several occasions I noticed pitchers waiting for me to finish writing a sentence before continuing with their point. Don't rush the pitch by any means, but don't throw away time because you think we can't do two things at once either.
Got any more tips for potential pitchers? Drop them in the comments box below.
Post a comment - Please log in to leave a comment
Marko Grgic | 12:21 - 6 March 2014
Great tips! I have taken note :)
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