From exploring the misadventures of Flappy Bird to discussing how best to secure a feature with Apple, Pocket Gamer rocked the Gaming World stage at Apps World SF 2014.
PG's US Events Editor Martine Paris chaired a day of stellar programming that included panels with Big Fish Games, SGN, and other top publishers, an inspiring Fireside Chat with Initial Capital's Kristian Segerstrale, and an afternoon of the Big Indie Pitch, where the world's leading journalists gathered to coach indies on best PR practices and check out exciting games in their infancy.
Getting that Apple feature
Michael Ehrenberg, former App Store manager, was on hand to demystify the Apple process.
"First thing you will want to do is email appstorepromotion [at] apple.com when pitching for an editorial feature and appstoremarketing [at} apple.com for all other marcom," he said.
A fireside chat with Kristian Segerstrale
"Be short and succinct. Include key information like your Apple ID, languages, Apple-specific exclusives, top 3 features that differentiates your apps, screens and a demo video. The video should be 30 seconds max with the first 10 seconds showing how to get into the app, the next 10 seconds showing off the best features, and the last 10 seconds showing social features that might take 10-12 levels to get to.
"After submission, be sure to stay in touch with them, share valuable insights and trends about your game by emailing them at least twice a month."
Keep it polished, stupid
"Once game has been approved by the targeted app store, provide the press a bug-free pre-launch build a few weeks prior to the live date and set an embargo date to get the best app store rankings at launch," Fernando Pizarro, GM Americas for PapayaMobile urged.
"You might only get one shot to impress."
Don't drop it hot
Technorati's Byron Gordon added, "Give plenty of time to review your app before it goes live, at minimum a month."
All about the hooks
Steve Peterson, west coast editor for GamesIndustry.biz and [A]listdaily, advised the devs to do their research and tailor the pitch to the publication.
"Include hooks specific for that site's audience that will get the readers attention, include information on a famous developer that's attached or a game mechanic like the fact it runs at 60fps," he said.
Andre Bourque, managing editor, Technorati suggested, "Devs should look at thetop of the charts and explain how their game is like one of the hits. If you use Flappy Bird in a sentence these days, you're more likely to get picked up."
GamesBrief deputy editor Zoya Street counseled, "Share datapoints that aren't vanity metrics. You might want to brag about hitting 50,000 downloads but I'd much rather hear about your conversion rate or ARPDAU.
"What happened when you doubled the price of your most expensive IAP? Tell me how the sausage is made. What challenge did you face while developing the game for a particular hardware or marketing to a particular audience. Tell me what your game does for people."
Mobile Nation's Paul Acevedo recommended, "Add concrete gameplay details so I can tell my readers what it would be like to play the game and what they're getting into.
"If you can't describe monetization and IAP in a way that isn't evil, it probably is. Also, don't send a game where the reviewer has to check-in everyday, they just don't have time for that."
Big Indie Pitch judges (from left to right): Michael Ehrenberg, App Store alum; Fernando Pizarro, GM Americas, PapayaMobile; Zoya Street, GamesBrief; Paul Acevedo, Mobile Nations; Steve Peterson, GamesIndustry.Biz; Byron Gordon and Andre Bourque, Technorati, Martine Paris, Pocket Gamer, and Jeff Scott, 148Apps.
Gordon added, "Promote the idea as opposed to the app. How is your app standing out from the rest? What larger trends is your app capitalizing on? What do you know about your audience? Are they hardcore, midcourse? Will they finish the actual story to your game or will they quit half way through because they become bored or frustrated? How do you keep them engaged?"
Lastly, make it easy
Jeff Scott, editor-in-chief of 148Apps explained, "We see close to 300 pitches a day, so whatever you can do to make it easy on the writers is great, like putting all your screens, videos, briefs in a Dropbox."
And the winner is...
Following the judges remarks, 24 indies were selected to compete for best game. Each were asked to give 2 minute pitches to 8 judges in speed dating rounds and in the end two thrilling games emerged winners.
The winner of the published game went to Revel, an addictive social photo scavenger hunt where players snap pics of clues in the real world to complete five-in-a-row on a bingo board for sponsored prizes. From trade shows to night clubs, the possibilities for fun are endless.
"I'm so happy to have won the Big Indie Pitch! It was an exhilarating challenge and a great way to get your idea out not only to the press but to the other developers and attendees watching. Plus the prize of a two week banner ad on Pocket Gamer is amazing!" said Simon Czaplinski, co-founder & CEO of Odin's Hammer Apps.
The winner of the unpublished game went to Spellbounders, a lush fantasy RPG word game with whimsical gameplay that captured the imagination of the judges.
Photo courtesy of Technorati
"Thanks for putting on the Big Indie Pitch! You were great on keeping track of time and an excellent host. I had a fantastic time!' said Matt Regan, founder and CEO of InsaneRoot as he accepted his prize of a Nexus7 from the Big Indie Pitch sponsor, AppFlood (check out its blog post) and Pocket Gamer's Martine Paris.
Many thanks to Pocket Gamer photographer Jon Malloy for the great snaps. Check out the photo gallery for all the fun that was had.
Think you got what it takes? Then go for gold!
Get your game in front of all the leading mobile games journalists including Pocket Gamer, 148Apps, TouchArcade, SlideToPlay, Gamezebo, Mashable, Cult of Mac, Forbes, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and more.
The next Big Indie Pitch sponsored by Immersion will take place at GDC on Thursday 20 March from 12-3pm at 111 Minna. Compete or spectate over hosted cocktails and tasty bites.
For rules and to RSVP, visit: http://bigindiepitchgdc2014.eventbrite.com. Space is limited, pre-registration does not guarantee a spot, come early, devs will be registered first come first served until capacity is reached.
Party @ GDC!!!
The evening begins at 6pm with the PG Awards sponsored by Chukong, Kamcord and Everyplay, then spins out of control from 8 - LATE across all three floors with beats by PlayStation's legendary DJ R3Y. Mix it up over crafty cocktails and savory treats. It shall be a night to remember!
Many thanks goes to Pocket Gamer's Martine Paris for the production of these events. For speaking and sponsoring opportunities, email martine.paris [at] pocketgamer.co.uk.