Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010

Well, it’s almost here, E3 Expo 2010 and it will be followed by many other opportunities to get out there and network: Game Connection, Develop, Gamescom, and if you’re lucky, Tokyo Game Show, etc.

Over the years, I’ve attended my of these events as both someone pitching and someone listening to other peoples pitches and I have a few tips to share.

By now, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time, effort and money carefully preparing your pitch and polished your presentation. You’ve no doubt booked a flight, hotel, got some spending money and need to feed yourself and probably some clients too. Your team have packed you off with some good wishes and are waiting for you to let them know how it went. You may have family waiting on you too. All of this is a massive commitment and you’ve got a lot riding on it.

Start with the least important

When scheduling your meetings, try an schedule your least important ones first; maybe even with some people that you’re not interested in.

The reason is that it will give you some real-life experience of pitching in the environment and enable you to debug you’re pitch and tweak if before you get to the big boys. This can be a good way of weeding out problems with your demo, powerpoint deck, laptop, pointer, screen brightness too.

You’ll also get feedback that you can incorporate into your pitch, maybe these are in the form of questions that you are asked that you can then think about a really good answer for.

Pick your slot

Be aware of the typical fluctuations in a persons attention span and likely state.

I’d hedge my bets on the best time being late morning, just before lunch.

Early mornings can fall foul of preceding heavy nights out partying or jetlag. Try and avoid these is possible. If you get time, take a peek at the party schedule and avoid the day after.

Afternoons are usually toughest, as people grow weary through the draining aspect of running back-to-back meetings in hot, brightly lit environments, battling against a lack of sleep and the onset of jetlag.

Take Ownership

You’ll be meeting lots of people and have a lot to remember, but, so will the people you’re meeting and you need to make sure you’re at the top of their pile when it comes to getting your game signed.

Firstly, be clear and concise in what you say. Make everything count and don’t expect anyone to remember everything you said.

Assuming you’re pitch went well, you need to secure 2 things:

  1. Get Their Contact details. Make sure these are for the right person who you’ll be dealing with, who may be different to the person you’re presenting to, which leads on to…

2. How, when, where for you to follow up. Try and get things pre-defined, “lets have a catchup call next Wednesday at 3pm” is better than “I’ll call you soon”. Aim to secure meeting dates too don’t let these slip.

Miss these two and you’ve just wasted your time, don’t rely on the listener to chase you, you can bet your last dollar that there will be other people shouting louder than you and getting some attention.

If you find that the listener won’t commit, then you can probably take it as a sign they’re not interested and it’s time to move on.

the squeaky wheel gets the grease

Dealing with rejection

Well, dealing with someone not being interested in your pitch can sometimes be hard but don’t take it personal. Try and find out why, the listener will often be able to give you a good indication of what you need to change before the next pitch. Take this as an opportunity to adapt your presentation for the next person you meet.

There’s a lot of reasons they make not take up you’re offer and here’s a couple of non-obvious ones.

  1. Pitch Went Bad. Maybe you fluffed it, maybe you’re laptop battery expired, maybe the listener got distracted with what they’re having for lunch. There’s no real answer here, sometimes it just doesn’t go the way you wanted it.

2. “we have similar titles in our portfolio” is a typical push off from a listener and most of the time it’s genuinely down to something that already exists or something they have in development elsewhere. There are rare occasions when they want to take your idea and make it themselves, claiming this is something they had in production already. This can be something as big as the game, or something as small as a game mechanic. There’s nothing you can do about this except to expect it on rare occasions. I’ve only seen this happen a handful of times across a 20yr career and it’s always heart wrenching to see.

Do You Homework

You can be in a much strong position by doing your homework on the company and person you’re meeting beforehand. This will not only expose any likely competition for your game but also enable you to come across as interested in them. All it takes is a bit of Google action to take care of it for the most part. People can be harder to find but I’d try [blippr]LinkedIn[/blippr] and MobyGames as a starting point.

What next?

I’ll repeat this here because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT!

Always get confirmation on next steps, try and arrange a follow up call / meeting, GET THEIR CONTACT DETAILS

Perpetual Impression

As a little aside, remember that every interaction will persist through your career as everyone moves around and over time the associate producer you dismissed at a small publisher could end up being in charge of acquisitions for a large international publisher later in your career when you really need them.

A buyer never forgets

WARNING: Don’t pitch if you’re unsure. It’s not worth it in the long run.

Summary

Attending one of these huge conventions is an exciting and important time, everyone always enjoys it and always has good stories to tell. Although some of those stories should never be repeated back home. ;)

Filed under: , , and