We know the feeling. You’ve been working hard at this thing for months - years even - and you’re so deep in the game, the detail, the dev journey, that it’s hard to explain exactly what you’ve made without basically writing your autobiography. We’ve been there. Really.
When you think about it though, apart from your announcement and then release day, a pitch is perhaps your other biggest opportunity to get people excited about the game you're making. The ideal pitch or submission – just like a trailer - will leave its audience thinking "This is great, I need it!” or in the case of a publisher, like us “This is great… we need to get involved before someone else does!"
Getting it right is tough, but I really think that less is more where pitching a game to a potential partner is concerned, so I thought I’d share some tips for getting that submission email (either to us or to anyone) just right.
When you design your game, you think about your audience all the time; ‘Will they get this puzzle?’ ‘Is the path obvious enough?’ Well, pitching’s just the same.
Think about who you’re mailing or speaking to. How much time will they have, how many other submissions they have seen today, how is your game going to stand out? Is the difference clear enough? Are you hiding what’s special about your game behind paragraphs of text that aren’t really that important?
I’d really suggest cutting straight to the good stuff.
Here’s one example of how a good submission mail might work:
Hi YoYo! We’re [STUDIO NAME]. We heard you’re publishing games now and we’d like to submit [GAME NAME], a game we’re making about [CONCEPT] for consideration. We’ve included some links to a playable demo and a shared folder, which has some press kit, screenshots and more videos. Some Info: Team: 5 people, full time. Percentage Complete: 90% Estimated completion: Oct 2018 Target Platforms: Initially - Steam, Then PS4, Xbox, Switch Thanks! [DEV NAME] [EMBEDDED GIF SCREENSHOT] [COUPLE OF CONCEPT ART IMAGES] Links: - Game website - Developer website, Especially if you’ve made some PREVIOUS HITS - Demo Build - Game/ Dev Twitters - Link to shared folder.
I love getting mails like this. It’s awesome. It gives me everything I need to know at a glance and makes my job so much easier.
This developer understands the context in which this mail will be read. And they're confident enough in their own game to let it do the work.
That's exciting! It makes me think "this team’s great!” and that’s a good start, right?
With this mail format I can check out the gifs and screenshots right away.
Does this look cool in an instant? It's the same question players will ask when they see the game online, on a storefront, or on a YouTube thumbnail. So make sure to pick the right screenshots. The ones that best sum up your game.
If you’re not far enough into production to have screenshots that look ‘finished’, then it’s fine to mock up a ‘game in a frame’; letting us know where you’re heading is just as good and builds confidence in the team’s vision.
I can’t overstate this – visuals are important. It’s everyone’s first encounter with your game, let us know what we’re getting or going to get eventually.
If the images look cool, I’ll want to know more. So I follow the links. This team got my interest, and I'm acting on it. Next stop? The demo build!
Builds aren’t essential. If you don’t have one yet, that’s ok. If you do have one, include it in the first mail, it’ll make a difference.
When we play your demo, what we’re looking for is:
And that’s most of it.
There’s no rocket-science here; if you have something great, make sure you present all the awesome and unique bits as clearly and obviously as you can.
Give us clear and direct info so that we can decide quickly, because it’s possible that you have something brilliant about your game, but we’ve been looking for a while and can’t see it yet, and that could get lost.
You got all of that? Cool. So… MAIL US! firstname.lastname@example.org