How To Make A Game Pitch Deck to Impress Publishers
We may not like it, but money makes the world go around. Everyone needs to get paid.
Most companies rely on previous successful games to get their paychecks in the game development world.
Big companies like Nintendo and Square Enix are their own publishers and take cuts from games they have released to keep the company going. What are you supposed to do if you don’t have that pre-established cash in the vault?
Some indie developers spend their free time working on their games while they toil at a day job. A day job has worked for some devs such as Toby Fox, creator of the critically acclaimed Undertale, or ConcernedApe, developer for Stardew Valley. While this has worked for those devs, some groups are working on games where maintaining a day job isn’t possible.
That leaves the last bastion of hope: Investors.
These Angels from the sky give your gaming startup company the funds to sustain itself until it can create a game.
By far, the essential tool in landing investors is the Pitch Deck, which is what we’re going to explain to you in this blog.
What IS a Pitch Deck?
The term isn’t exclusive to games but is very common in tech.
The simplest definition is that a Pitch Deck is a visual presentation of key selling points that help developers convince investors that their product is worth an investment!
The Pitch Deck is a call to action with information that can help investors feel comfortable that their investment will be worth it. “Pitch Decks are first and foremost clear and simple, compelling, and easy to act on” (Forbes 2018).
They are typically less than ten pages or images long and quickly break down the critical points a potential investor should know. Pitch decks will vary slightly in their composition depending on the industry, and in the game industry, they are typically formatted like the following:
- Product Overview
- Gameplay Showcase
A Welcome To The Pitch - Intro
Any high school English teacher will tell you that the intro is essential for a paper. It contains the thesis of the whole document, and the introduction in a pitch deck is the same.
Instead of words, the introduction to a pitch deck should be striking, exciting, and indicate the game's tone. No one wants to see a still image of a boring logo. Investors want to see the passion behind a project, and their first impression of the intro needs to sell that!
Typically, these pages will contain images or videos that introduce the viewer and demonstrate the passion for the project.
What Is This Game? - Product Overview
Now that you’ve hooked the crowd's attention, it’s time to bring them into the fold. The Product Overview is a simple showcase of what makes your game cool, unique, and worth watching the rest of the pitch deck.
It should showcase the mechanics, game setting, or cast that would draw in a player or investor. When coming up with your product overview, think of the main mechanics that make your game enjoyable.
For Hades by Supergiant Studios, that would be the roguelike elements, the beautiful hand-drawn art style, and the deep story and cast. For a game like Fortnite by Epic Games, it might be the fast and replayable gameplay loop and their use of cosmetics that make players feel unique.
Include whatever you can think of that will rope someone in and make them want to be a part of your project.
How Does It Play? - Gameplay Showcase
The Gameplay Showcase is very simple but also optional depending on the stage in development the team finds themselves in. The Showcase is a place to put videos, pictures, and other project examples to visually pull in the viewer.
Who Is Going To Play It? - Audience
Like any product, a video game needs people who want to buy it. A Target Audience is the easiest way of showing that demographic to an investor.
Demographics might seem intimidating, but it simply explains who you expect to play your game and who you will target with your marketing.
Your first step in researching your audience will be to look at other games on the market similar to your own. From there, work backward to see who their primary age and demographics are.
Some companies and services will do this for you, but GameDeveloper.com has a fantastic step-by-step guide here to creating a spreadsheet using google analytics to help you create a firm and knowledgeable audience page.
Where Did You Get Your Idea? - Inspiration
Inspiration is similar to Audience in that it will require research. However, if you already have a game design, you’re probably already familiar with the other games that have inspired your development. That said, it’s still a significant page to have in a pitch deck.
Having a list of other successful titles will allow the investors to see further examples of profitable experiences similar to yours. This list can quickly boost an investor's trust in your project, which is the goal of the pitch deck in the first place.
When including Inspiration, try to find other games that have done well in the past but are not actively competing with your demographic at the time you intend to release.
How Long Will It Take? - Timeline
The timeline of a project is crucial. Investors will always want to have, at the very least, an estimate of when their investment will pay back. Additionally, creating a timeline will help your developers know how best to manage their time.
An infinite release period can lead to too many bloating factors, which could make the scope of your project balloon to dangerous proportions. Game bloating happens often, and any investor who has worked in games knows to avoid projects that aren’t well estimated.
Timelines can also be great for measuring budgets, as they allow you to hypothesize how much development time will be required. Timelines make it easier to estimate costs for programs you use, decide how long you’ll be advertising, and how long you’ll need to pay developers.
Who Will Work On The Game? - Team
Some people might not consider talking about themselves on the Pitch Deck. After all, you’re trying to get funding for the project itself, not the company. But in reality, talking about your team members is one of the best things you can do.
Most investors want confidence in the project, and no matter how good the idea is, you need intelligent, passionate people to complete the project.
When discussing the team, try to mix a healthy balance of qualifications and personal information. This section will help sell your credibility as a developer and create interest in the team!
How Much Will It Cost? - Budget
This is the real nucleus of the Pitch Deck and the most critical part of the research. All of the pitch deck’s content has led to getting the investors on board, and the budget is the final hurdle.
Getting a comprehensive look at the amount of money you’ll need to spend to finish a project while taking into account any issues that might crop up is essential.
You want to create a budget that considers your timeline and team. You’ll also want to show that with your budget, you can match the success of your inspiration and references. If the pitch deck still fits the school essay structure discussed above, this would be the conclusion, so make sure to finish strong!
Now It's Time To WOW Those Publishers!
At the end of the day, there is no hard step-by-step walkthrough for creating a pitch deck. It will always rely on the project, the team, and the budget you need.
It’s also not a bad idea to have multiple pitch decks for the same project. Depending on the investor you are pitching to, they can be tweaked as needed.
The goal will always be to sell yourself, your team, and your passion for the project.
If you have any questions on getting started with your game, click here to reach out!