How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch

I’ve seen my game pitches in my time, and I’ve made quite a few myself but I’m continually amazed and just what some people think they’re doing.  Think about all those poor saps who’ve been sent to the slaughter on “X Factor” for our amusement when they totally and utterly fail to deliver anything that a mother wouldn’t love.  Think about all those sorry ideas you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that are just pitiful. But it doesn’t have to be this way…

When I’ve been on the receiving end, it often feels like “X Factor”, the person pitching stands up, stumbles to introduce themselves and then proceeds to claim they’ve got the best thing you’ve ever seen, all their friends and colleagues have seen it and they’re passionate about it. It’s the next GTA, or God Of War, or Forza…and then….sitting on the edge of my seat I wait…out comes the pitch and the presentation to go with it. I finally get to see something and oh dear, oh dear, it rarely lives up to the hype and expectations that the person pitching sets.

The sad part is, some of the games are actually fundamentally good and it’s just that pitch itself and / or the person pitching is bad. Both of these are fixable or at least made a little bit easier.

Here’s a few pointers to get you started

  1. X Statement. Produce a concise statement that sums up your game succinctly. It should capture the essence of what you’re game is about and set realistic expectations. It’s difficult to do, and even harder to do well, but the thought behind it will cause you to explore what you’re really pitching.
  2. Who Am I? What Am I doing? Why do I care? These are things I want to know as a gamer, to check if this is something I want to play. Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you’ve covered these key topics in your pitch.
  3. Would your mother understand it? When you’ve written your pitch, ask yourself if your mother would understand what you’re saying or showing. This may seem silly but remember that the people you’re pitching to have to understand your proposition in 15-20 minutes. They haven’t lived with every nuance of the design for months and know everything you’re implying.
  4. It’s all about you. There are many case studies that show that a large part of someone accepting the pitch is whether they like the person (and team) pitching the idea. If you come across as unsure, incompetent, uncaring then why would you care should you get the work? This can be a tough one to crack when you’ve taken the same idea around lots of people but it’s very important to get right. Stay fresh or go home.
  5. Make every word and image count. Optimise the life out of your presentation when it’s ready to make sure you’re maximising your presentation time, communicating efficiently and clearly, not repeating key statements and getting everything you want to say in there.
  6. Keep it simple This is a little different to point 3, I’m referring to the content itself. Your objective is to hook the person and start a conversation about your pitch. Shy away from going into uber detail that would scare someone off, keep numbers to a minimum, keep the text light on each page.
  7. Practise, practise, practice. I mean this. Really practice your pitch, think about every word. The reason is that when it comes to presentation time you’ll know what you’re going to say, remember everything you want to get across and also, critically, be more confident about what you’re doing.

I would say that I have a pet hate, which is that the most common phrase I hear has to be  ”Pixar Style Animation” and it fills me with dread.

There are 2 reasons:

  1. Pixar communicates a style and ethos all of it’s own that goes deeper than just it’s animation, it’s about how it makes you feel. There’s an emotion they’re you just can’t put into words, but it’s there and it’s what makes it so good.
  2. More importantly you’ve set my expectations very high and I’m more likely to be thinking “Prove It” or “I bet it isn’t” before I’ve seen anything. I’m instantly on the back foot and expecting failure. What is the person trying to say in the 1st place?I’m all for setting aspiration goals but you need to be able to prove them. Above all, do what you say you’re going to do.

There are many similar phrases that you just simply have to be able to back up. Think about what expectations your setting and if they exist in the real world before promising them. Would you fall for it?

Summary

So, there it is, a few pointers on mostly what to avoid when preparing your pitch and doing the presentation itself. Take your time, make sure you’re ready, don’t rush and remember.

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

If you’re business depends on it, it’s worth the time and effort to get it right and get a professional to run through it with you! Shameless self plug. ;)

As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a comment or contact me directly.

### UPDATE:

I’ve followed up with more information in ‘How To Improve Your Pitch – Part 2

Further Reading

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