Jan 4, 2019 IN Game Dev Talks
Learn to pitch the game from a pro
Talks with Experts
Today, we’re gonna speak with a pitching guru Walid El-Cheikh. He is the Program Manager at Aalto University Executive Education and a regular speaker and coach about entrepreneurship, games, and education. His wish is to inspire people to adopt pitching and networking as early as possible because as he says, it is not so scary, hard or uncomfortable if you have the right tools and tips. Walid came to the Pixel Federation to teach us about these tools on a Pitching Workshop! So it is not a big surprise that our topic of today’s edition of Talk with Experts will be pitching and how to make it right. (And if you feel like watching the full interview or digging into other useful Free-to-Play game dev topics, just visit our Youtube Chanel.)
Hey Walid, could you tell us why pitching is so important?
There are so many layers in gaming companies where pitching is really important. Imagine you worked years on a game and then you get it out there but can’t communicate what it is. Or imagine you as a person having great ideas within your company but you fail at communicating them to your colleagues and team so all those ideas are lost. Pitching is important for product development, for game testing, for brainstorming, for user acquisition. It is a very fundamental part of the business in general but also of the well-being of people because when you communicate your ideas and they got adopted, it is not only a nice feeling. It helps talented people to get heard properly. And the ideas that are good should be communicated.
So how to pitch a game in a game studio correctly?
When it comes to pitching a game to players, a.k.a. pitching for user acquisition, you need to understand that competition is overwhelming and it takes time for people to realize what you are offering. My first tip is to have a strong opening. Aim for clarity, simplicity so as many people as possible can understand it. Remember that you have 2 to 8 seconds for that because people have a very short attention span. You want to hook them from the very beginning, you want them to understand what you are doing, everything that is slow and takes time must go. Show the best parts of the game and prove its uniqueness, whether it is its mechanics, characters, design. It is very important to show in a very fast and very concrete way how different and unique your game is from the rest of the competition. Call to action, and try to make it bit different and original, avoid so often used rough and bit raw “Download the game”. Be honest. Always remember you are pitching to people and you want them to understand, believe and trust that this game is not a waste of time. You have to show them the best parts of the game but also not to trick or deceive them.
Next step is knowing who you are pitching to. Not all games are for everyone so targeting is vital. To sum it up, quickness, simplicity, targeting, the message and also being honest are the very fundamentals.
What are the biggest mistakes in pitching?
There are 3 elements of any successful pitch. It has to be informative, concise and memorable. Avoid too long intros, focus on the memorable parts of your game and keep in mind that every pitch is an opportunity. Make an effort to tackle the content well, to hand the right message to the right person. And keep in mind that you are talking to people, you need to persuade them to download/buy/like etc, but in an honest way. The last tip I have- if somebody doesn't like something in your game, don't be defensive. Be curious and always ask why. Any feedback is great feedback.
And do you have any advice for shy people, introverts or people who don't feel so confident when communicating?
I don't think introverts are bad at communicating and extroverts are automatically better at pitching. Shy people tend to compare themselves to people like me, who like to talk, but they forget that us, who talk too much, often lose the point of the conversation. I actually believe that introverts can master pitching better, as even if they may feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, they practice more and it is easier for them to pick up the pitching rules. So the only advice I give you is to just try and practice, find your own style, create very short sentences, communicate the message and express how you feel about it. It becomes easier. Because your ideas are important. Your talent is important and we need to give you time and space to do it. To silence people like me, the loud ones.
And the last question, what else should we know about the pitching?
Pitching is for life, we pitch every day. At work, at home or when you want your friends to go to a particular bar. Every pitch has an opening, body, argumentation, some ask or request and then closing. Whenever you are presenting something and asking, that is a pitch. And being aware that can help you a lot. Just remember the structure and you can learn it by yourself by watching videos like Dragon's Den, Shark Tank or even Steve Job’s presentation of the iPhone in 2007. Go to improvisation courses. And practice. Pitching is very important and is not difficult to learn. Everyone can do it.
So you heard it. You can do it! Did you find any of the tips helpful? Or do you have a different approach? Let’s share the tips about the topic in the Facebook group called Free to play game developers. Join our knowledge-sharing community and feel free to invite your fellow game developers as well :)