How to Pitch a Video Game to a Publisher
Creating a video game is not an easy task and it’s challenging to cover every aspect of the process yourself. If you decide you need a publisher’s support, the first thing you should do is prepare a proper video game pitch deck. It serves to convince the publisher that your game is worth their attention. Read on and discover tips on how to create a killer deck.
What is a pitch deck?
To put it simply, a pitch deck is a short overview presentation of your game. It aims to convince the other side to make you a deal. Keeping this in mind, you should ask yourself: Why am I preparing a pitch deck? Why should people be interested in it? Then try to answer these questions in the deck.
What do you expect from a publisher?
Before reaching out to a publisher, you should clearly state your expectations in the deck. It can be, for example, an investment amount, porting services, UX, QA, marketing, or all together. In addition, a publisher can support you after the release as well, handling sales, communication, community management, or player support.
What does a publisher expect from you?
You expect your game to be a success and so does a publisher—it’s a scenario beneficial for both sides. A publisher also wants you to come prepared, armed with information on the game’s loop, exact genres, and having done your research. If you can’t do that yet, it might be too early to pitch the game.
A clear and realistic budget and timeline are important too. Don’t show off with goals that are too ambitious and will need to be adjusted later, but rather consider your abilities and try to make a plan that will allow you to meet deadlines and make the collaboration pleasant.
You don’t need complicated, expensive tools to prepare a pitch deck—you can do it in PowerPoint or a pdf file or build it in other apps like Canva. It’s also important to proofread the deck to avoid spelling mistakes or messy parts which would be regarded as unprofessional. If you have an idea but aren’t working on it yet, you may want to progress the project a bit to raise your chances.
What to include in a pitch deck?
There are various elements a pitch deck should include. We list the most important ones below with a short explanation.
- Short description of your game—see the section below.
- Visuals—include screenshots, key visuals, concept art, etc. If you have a trailer, add it to your presentation, too.
- USP—try to come up with a unique selling proposition for the project and share it in the pitch deck.
- Target audience—you need to know who you’re trying to reach to determine how to. Familiarize yourself with the Gamer Motivation Model and customer journey, and create a player persona.
- Competition—find similar games to let the publisher understand your game better.
- Playable prototype—let the publisher experience playing the game.
- Player experience—think about the game from the player’s perspective.
- Budget—how much will your game cost the publisher?
- Milestone calendar—how long will it take you to develop the game? What are the steps of the process?
- Team information—present the team and showcase their experience and past games. strong points.
- (Optional) Mentions in the press—has your game been mentioned in the press? Share it.
Short description of your game
A pitch deck is not the right moment to share every detail about the game yet. You need to be concise, while at the same time grabbing the publisher’s attention. Try to summarize the game in 1-2 short paragraphs, add factual information (like genre and planned platforms), explain the game’s core mechanics and systems, and core loop. It’s good to include an elevator pitch at the beginning—it should be short 2-3 sentences with an idea of what the game is, inspirations, and twists.
For example, this is an elevator pitch for Chernobylite:
|Chernobylite is a science-fiction survival horror RPG set in the hyper-realistic, 3D-scanned wasteland of Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone. Chernobylite mixes free exploration of a disturbing world with unique survival and RPG mechanics and non-linear storytelling.|
In addition, you need to explain how your game will grab players’ attention. Why do you think there’s a niche for this? What is its place in the market? Who is the game for? What differentiates it from the rest?
If it’s possible, show what your game is about. Include screenshots, GIFs, trailers, gameplay videos, demo versions—all the things that are ready to show and of good quality.
How to choose a publisher?
To decide which publishers you can reach out to, you should research games similar to yours. Who published them? What was the marketing like? What areas do they focus on? Each publisher has their own personality—who would your game match? See more details on Game Developer.
Alternatively, you can find video game development communities and ask about publishers on their channels. There are also lists of publishers that can be found online. Determine their offers, since some publishers only offer support in a certain area, e.g., marketing.
When you choose your dream publisher, find a way to contact them. Many publishers offer a way to submit a game through their websites. If you want to contact a specific department, check their employee section or LinkedIn to find the right person. Are there industry events in your area? Search for a publisher there too and present your game in person.
For example, to reach All in! Games with your pitch, you can submit a game via our website or send us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that you know how to prepare a great video game pitch deck, we wish you luck! Share your experience with everyone on our Discord.