Ben Moss is responsible for business development and marketing with LiveOps publisher Fundamentally Games. After studying marketing at university, Moss discovered a way to combine his love of games and eSports and his knowledge of marketing within his first industry role.
After organising dozens of meetings with games developers around the world, Moss found his love of video games could also help him become more effective and efficient when planning and scheduling business development meetings.
Listen well, as Moss explains the parallels between a boss fight in World of Warcraft and researching a developer's portfolio.
Flashback to late 2020: If I had been told that I was going to be solely responsible for setting up, preparing for, and managing meetings all on my lonesome when I’d originally applied to work at Fundamentally Games I most likely would have run for the hills and never returned.
The very thought of going from a structured, higher-education mindset, where things are mostly set up for me, to suddenly having a blank slate to fill on my own is the stuff of nightmares.
To snap back to June of 2021: I have found meeting preparation and all the buzz surrounding speaking to game development teams to be the highlight of my role. I went from being utterly lost to pretty much chomping at the bit for any opportunity to sit one-on-one with a team to chat gaming (and business development of course)
Fail to prepare...?
How on earth did I even get to this state after doing a complete 180 from nervousness to creating a meeting preparation pipeline that worked for me? In reality, it ended up having quite possibly the nerdiest, game-related answer imaginable; I used experiences from my time playing games.
Researching for a boss-fight in World of Warcraft was really no different to looking up a dev team’s portfolio.
Not only that, but after multiple meetings with game dev teams up to this point, I thought it’d be interesting to get my own idea on meeting-prep out there so that if there’s anyone else in the same boat as I was then it may just give them the nudge required to get right into the swing of things. Now, what are these references you ask? How do they exactly tie into meeting preparation? Let me crack right into it with a few quick to summarise points:
- Pick your battlefields (where to attend to maximise the chance for success)
- Choosing the right hero matchup (pick who to meet at face value)
- Tactics make an encounter go smooth (research, research, research)
- Post-game breakdowns (taking breaks, and avoiding burnout)
- Maximising fun where possible (it’s what it says on the tin)
It’s important to keep in mind before we delve into all this that Fundamentally Games is a publisher, with my job specifically centring around scouting for games that we’d love to publish and all that.
While what I’ll put in the rest of this article might not necessarily be what you’re after if you’re a game developer, for example, it should still end up being useful to at least give you talented lot insight into how publishers like us might think.
Who knows, maybe throughout all this twisted rambling of a caffeine-filled gamer and marketer is some information that can work from the side of the dev too.
Pick your battlefields
Don’t worry, it’s not as violent as it sounds. But it is paramount to make sure you pick the right place to be before you even consider planning for the meetings themselves.
Sometimes when you attend events that either occur at the same time in a week, or follow a week on from a similar one, you often run into the same developer teams, the same publishers, and the same investors.
For some, this might be fine, but if your time is precious and you think it might be better to maybe have a few weeks between events to maximise the people you meet, then do it.
In other words, check to see what the event is geared around. Is it mobile? PC? Console? Is it targeting ad companies or developers? Think about any bias that attendees may have, for example, if it’s an event geared for predominantly PC titles, and you’re a mobile developer, maybe you might need to be a bit more selective in who you try to meet. It will save you time and effort in the long run.
Choosing the right hero matchup
So, you’re getting ready to organise your meets? Regardless of the event, it’s all the same: company profile after company profile with the information you need to sift through.
It might be a lot to work through at the start but believe me It’s so worth it in the long run. However, before you get into the research part of things there is an element of just judging a book by its cover so to speak.
Perhaps it’s genre-based, perhaps it’s the funding you need. Regardless of all that, we all have a set amount of time at an event and only so many things we can fit in. So, just like when you’re about to get into a pick-phase in a match of League of Legends or decide what unit to pick next in a game of StarCraft II you always need to consider your matchup.
Maybe you might need to be a bit more selective in who you try to meet.
In other words, what do you think will work best and give you the easiest match? Or what do you think might work but could require a bit more player skill? Whatever route you decide to go you always need to end up doing some element of research, which leads me right into the next stage of meeting prep (It’s almost like I planned it).
Tactics make an encounter go smooth
It’s no secret to anyone that knows me, or works with me, that I’m a massive fan of World of Warcraft’s endgame raiding experience. I spend two nights a week leading a diverse bunch of people through encounters that might look simple on paper but actually need a great deal of research on their ‘tactics’ and how best to carry it out.
It didn’t take long for the thought to hit me that researching for a boss-fight in World of Warcraft was really no different to looking up a developer team’s portfolio, their pitch deck or their current marketing via trailers, social posts and so on.
Sure, this meant my job was a bit easier as the meeting would go more smoothly, but it also meant that less time was needed to be spent asking the ‘simpler’ questions that I could have easily found out via prior research. I highly recommend turning any time spare into a means of getting to know your meeting buddy and just chat about video games because at the end of the day: that’s really what we’re all passionate about.
The usual suspects are great here: LinkedIn, Twitter, and everything in-between. Consider any hints you can get from their listings, their bios and so on. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to fill in their profile for these events, especially when they are only unlocked a week or so before the show so it can be challenging.
Try not to go back-to-back on 15 or 30-minute slots for anything longer than two hours at a time.
You can always look them up on the various app stores or even look up the website from their email address. If you have access to tools like Reflection.io or Steamspy you may even get some insight into how their titles are performing. All this preparation adds up.
Now the meetings have been scouted, planned, booked, and researched it’s now down to you (the almighty participant extraordinaire) to take good care of yourself and make sure burnout never becomes a factor.
My personal tip here? Try not to go back-to-back on 15 or 30-minute slots for anything longer than two hours at a time. Not only can you feel worn out and tired, but there’s also another risk. What’s that you might ask? I think it comes down to sounding genuine, and not like you’re just a complete back-to-back meeting machine repeating the same pitch or company line.
Making sure you have a few breaks throughout your event schedules is key to being upbeat, awake and most importantly, aware. You don’t want your meetings to blend into one, so you forget what’s what, or struggle to find time to write notes.
I think of it almost like in esports events where you tend to always have the hosts give a five to 10-minute break between the ending of a match and a post-game breakdown. It gives the audience (the game developer you’re meeting with) and the hosts time to decompress. Failing that, there’s always coffee.
Maximising fun where possible
When you boil it down the absolute best key to meeting preparation and thus the meeting itself is enjoyment and fun. How you find that is up to you. Personally, I like to try to make conversation with stuff I see in the background of someone on their call, be that a figurine, a piece of art, a book.
You’ll never know what that conversation might lead to, plus it helps form a relationship with that developer, financer or publisher that goes far beyond just business. To make things even better, enjoying your meeting processes means you’ll end up being more productive with them the next time an event comes around. You know what they say, positivity breeds positivity or something like that.
By no means does this equate to business being off the table. On the contrary, both you and your meeting guest need to come away knowing what you both are about, what you both need, and clear next steps to build a working relationship together. That always works best when creating trust through a positive, enjoyable and authentic experience. Mixing the ability to get across the business side of yourself as well as the side that’s focused on fun is a great way to be as genuine as possible.
The flavour text
To round this up into what I like to call the ‘disclaimer’ of the whole thing. All my experiences thus far with business development and meetings are from a world with no physical events going on.
I’m certain a lot of what I’ve mentioned in this article is also applicable to the outside world (a mystical place that I’m told has great networking parties) but that won’t stop me from coming back in a while after I’ve got some physical events under my belt to do a bit of a comparison-piece (that’s a tease for a part two of this article).
Want to talk more about everything games, business development or have any questions? Then you can reach me on Twitter. In the meantime, I’ll be on the other side of the dark portal.