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8 Apr 2015

Beyond The Elevator Pitch: Pitching To Indie Game Publishers

I received a comment last night on one of our past posts from last year about perfecting your elevator pitch. The reader was ecstatic about the post, and mentioned that it cleared up a lot of confusion for them. I urge you to give it a read as well, because it’s a post that will help you to speak professionally about your indie game and your studio as well – no matter whom you are talking to!

The reader also asked what indie developers should do beyond the elevator pitch. It’s a great question, too: how do you use the elevator pitch beyond just shooting the breeze to fellow indie developers and the like? Then it dawned on me: an elevator pitch would be ideal if you were pitching to indie game publishers.

Publishers are making a comeback. They have found the value in the independent games niche and are partnering with the brightest indie developers in their niche. Heck, even our own Trey Smith has published a few games with publisher Ketchapp! Publishers are making waves in independent book publishing as well, so it’s a trend that happening across all of independent entertainment.

When you want to pitch to that dream publisher that could help your indie studio to gain more notoriety than ever before, keep these few things in mind.

Just the facts

The main idea behind an elevator pitch is to clearly describe everything related to your indie game: what it is, what it’s about, the game’s target audience, and most importantly, how you plan for it to be successful. As stated in the original article, avoid jargon at all costs! When pitching to indie game publishers, you need to clearly explain to them what makes your indie game so appealing and why it’s better than the other choices out there in your niche.

As stated in the original article as well, be sure not to name drop other games. One of the examples I gave in the original article was pitching a F2P MOBA to the listener: if you state that you are doing X and Y better than League of Legends, the mind of the listener is going to automatically go to LoL and compare your game to it. Don’t do this; instead, you would want to prove why your MOBA should be picked up by your potential partner without name dropping.

Now, if you have concrete data that proves why you’re better than the titans in your niche? Then this is one of the only times you would want to name drop anybody/any game. Be sure the data is proven though: if the publisher is able to destroy your argument, it isn’t going to look good for the game you are pitching. Unless you can say with 100% certainty that you are doing something differently in your niche that could become lucrative, it’s best to not mention proven brands.

Finally, be sure to avoid empty phrases. Explain yourself fully, and the pitch will go fine.

What’s in it for them?

The hardest part of publishing your indie game to a publisher, you need to prove why the publisher needs to partner with your indie studio. Use data such as a consistent increase in sales, a rabid fan base, why your niche is lucrative, how you are approaching your niche in a unique manner (and why it will be lucrative for both of you), etc. Prove in your pitch to the potential publisher that if they don’t partner with your indie studio, they are missing out on an awesome opportunity!

Is this the start of a solid business relationship?

Finally, your pitch needs to put to rest any hesitation the publisher may have to partner with you. If possible, include a multi-year plan for your indie studio to release games under your publisher’s umbrella, and mention why each game will theoretically be a hit. As in the last point, you want to prove to your potential publisher that they need you more than you need them! Come across as a professional, and they will positively respond to your pitch.

Do you have any questions or comments about going ‘beyond the elevator pitch’ and pitching to indie game publishers? Let us know in the comments below!

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