The Big Indie Pitch, a regular event run by the makers of PocketGamer.biz, sees indie developers engage in a rapid-fire pitching competition for fame and those sweet promotional packages.
The event gives indies four minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers, and industry pundits, each receiving invaluable feedback, before the judges pick three winners.
The indie view
The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it across the world. We've sat down with a number of past BIP contestants to offer their views on the event, its attendees, and the games on show.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?
Pixel Play: Pixel Play LLC founder Andy Gotcher is motivated to bring ‘byte’ size entertainment to the masses through original and adventurous arcade games. Andy is a seasoned Art Director/Game Designer who has helped create huge hits like Words With Friends, Chess With Friends, Matching With Friends, We Rule, Halo Wars, Terminator 3, Mission Impossible, Stuntman, and Riff The Robot. Truth be told, he was a founding teammate for a handful of these titles, even though he’s pretty chill about that. Andy worked in the mixed reality space for several years, too.
He’s joined by his wife Valerie – she shines a lens on characters created by Andy that humanises and connects them to the gaming community. Valerie is a speech therapist and experienced leader with a history of success in the human services industry. She finds deep satisfaction in connecting people to what they need and is passionate about bringing joy to Pixel Play fans. Valerie is responsible for establishing a nonprofit in Dallas, Texas and led the organisation as its Executive Director for 10 years.
We extend additional credits to our contractors and friends: Geoffrey Dagley, Adam Gernes, Nich Mebane, David Chow, and the Pixel Pioneers.
Can you tell us about PXLPLAY that you pitched at the competition?
PXLPLAY is our first release for mobile. It’s a free casual arcade game designed to bring endless fun to everyone who plays. With simple instructions and tap-tap gameplay, “PXL” is the first character you’ll meet. His happy bright colour grabs your attention, and he’s hungry for pixel points. And more friends. Continue the adventure with PXL and you’ll find a unique path each time you play, while achievements and surprising boosts will keep you engaged in this stress-free and colourful pixel world. The ability to shrink and grow, accelerate, earn more pixel points, and expand your collection of playful characters is limitless.
What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of PXLPLAY that players may never have seen before?
As the developers, our favourite element of PXLPLAY is that a unique path is randomly generated each time someone plays the game (after the tutorials have been completed). This makes it impossible to memorise the sequence of jumps, slides, turns, and other obstacles. Your character can shrink and grow, accelerate and decelerate - these surprises are also randomised in placement along the path, adding more challenge to keep your line straight and perfectly centred. But yet, because it’s so simple and easy to play, these combined features provide gameplay with a fantastic balance of carefree fun and challenge. Another favourite of ours is the visual accessibility and user interface features offered in the game, and it is professionally localised for 12 languages. Our testers - the Pixel Pioneers - really love the characters (over 50) and enjoy trying to reach a new high score each play. Some of their favourite characters include Dead PXL, Foxy, Zombie, Fry, Clucky, and Zippy.
PXLPLAY is a one-touch arcade runner. What made you choose this genre, and what do you think you bring to it that may not have been seen before?
Because simple is good. PXLPLAY appeals to a wide audience and there are elements that both our 11-year-old and 49-year-old testers are drawn to and have fallen in love with. Plus we’ve made a strong effort to reduce advertising noise in PXLPLAY, including making sure that repeated play isn’t advertisement-dependent. PXLPLAY is visually stunning and the colours shift gradually during play, and there are no banner ads to distract the eye. Although the core gameplay isn’t new in this genre, we’ve elevated the user experience to the best of our ability.
How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop PXLPLAY for?
Andy has previous experience and success in the mobile space and considers everyone with a handheld device to be a gamer. So, when prioritising accessibility and affordability for a wide audience of players, mobile is a great fit. Because he has also worked in console game development, he knew that mobile would be a great place for a small indie studio to launch its initial products.
Looking at the studio now, how hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?
It’s tough. Indie developers must have perseverance, grit, and a plan. We’ve both been in leadership / entrepreneurial roles in the past and embrace the work ethic required. The most difficult aspect is working out how to get noticed in a crowded space when there isn’t a large bucket of resources for advertising and marketing at the ready. As parents who work from home, it is also a challenge to balance work and home/parenting life in a healthy way.
Are there any tips and advice you would give to an independent developer out there who is just starting out?
You must have a plan that considers a short and long-term budget, mitigation of risk, and realistic timelines. Plan to spend extra time learning skills required in areas that aren’t your strengths, and have a game plan (and budget) to bring in contractors to fill the gaps. Also, marketing and networking can’t be ignored until your launch date - have an audience ready and waiting for your game.
How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?
It was really fun. We’re humble learners, always, and enjoyed fielding a variety of questions from different perspectives in the gaming industry. It was truly special to be part of the first in-person PG Connects event in the US after a long ‘Covid’ gap. Seeing and engaging with people while they played our game was delightful and we are grateful for the experience.
What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?
The Big Indie Pitch gave us validation that the visual elements of PXLPLAY are solid from an accessibility and audience appeal perspective. We gained insight from both experienced and inexperienced casual gamers for improving the gameplay introduction and initial engagement touchpoints so we’re meeting the goal of producing a product that is truly for everyone. Overall, attending PG Connects in Seattle was a fantastic opportunity to network, share ideas, ask questions, meet publishers, and promote our company.
What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?
For PXLPLAY users, we anticipate consistent new character additions and will use our social channels to engage players in this process - like choosing their names, for example. From the company perspective, PXLPLAY serves as our springboard. Andy built this engine as adjustable modules that can be adapted easily and efficiently for new titles in the future. We aspire to develop for platforms beyond mobile as well. Also, in the short term, Pixel Play LLC will provide local sponsorship to support education, the arts, and healthy recreational outlets for youth. We’re working on what large-scale philanthropy looks like for Pixel Play LLC in the future - stay tuned.
Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you, or even our new Digital pitches.