David · November 26, 2022

I saw this tweet asking gamedevs for gifs and read through a lot of the replies and was struck by how many of the pitches didn’t have enough to hook me on the game. As an exercise, I tried to figure out specific improvements to these pitches or must-have elements for a pitch.

I’m specifically talking about posting to “pitch threads” where someone is asking you to show off your game and you’re trying to get them to pay attention to your game. I’m not talking about progress posts where you’re often showing to an existing audience.

  • Have your elevator pitch text ready.
    • Put it in a document so you can copy-paste (or rephrase). If you’re hoping to reach new people, you need to tell them what’s special.
  • Don’t say your game is great/fun/charming/etc.
    • Don’t judge your game for your me – it’s wasting words and sounds arrogant (and engenders negative sentiment if I disagree). Instead, describe it factually and let players judge it. I think judgemental words as substitutes for awkward descriptive words is probably okay (“funny” instead of “comedic”).
  • Don’t let your game look generic.
    • Avoid showing footage of your character running around and not doing anything. If you’re not besting Uncharted, then no one’s impressed with your character movement. Your art might be good, but is it striking?
    • Sable’s art style is so striking that they might get away with showing a character walking, but most of the shots I’ve seen include the sand speeder which shows something fun for the player to do.
    • If you have a hook (musical interactions, destructible terrain, massive number of party members), then show it!
  • Get to the point.
    • Unless you’ve sold 1 M units, don’t show your studio name until the end.
    • I’d also save your game’s title card to the end (or put it in the corner).
  • Have somewhere for people to find more.
    • Your twitter profile or pinned tweet should have links for higher-quality videos, store page, etc.
  • Keep in mind the limitations of the medium.
    • Twitter makes some gifs unreadable – blurry and overly compressed. Especially dark gifs. Include a link to Youtube for a higher-quality version.
    • Is there a difference between posting m4v/mp4/gif? Does twitter make all of them gifv? I don’t have an answer here.
    • Youtube doesn’t autoplay so I’ll skip over your game.
  • Include the name of your game in your tweet.
    • If you want to imprint your game’s name on people, putting the name in there means they can look up from the GIF to see the name.
  • If it’s early in development, say so.
    • Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
    • If I know it’s early, I’m more looking at if there’s any aspect that’s interesting instead of evaluating it as a whole (cool art, interesting mechanic).

In Tech Talk Form

Related to pitches, in the talk 30 Things I Hate About Your Game Pitch, Brian Upton says:

To help sell your hook, take core feature and push off axis to see where it takes you and iterate. … Rainbow Six was FPS where twitch didn’t matter.

Figure out what’s unique about your game and use that to sell it. That way people remember your game for it’s unique hook.

Upton’s talk covers two main areas:

How to get people interested

  • What is your unique hook? (Not a pillar.)
  • What does the player do?

How to sell to publishers

  • Show the game is worthwhile (unique) and the team can execute (history, scope/capacity).
  • Monetization not the focus – sell game to users first.
  • Show core features and make them shine.
  • Don’t use final-looking placeholder. Beware too much final art.
  • Discuss and prototype tech risks.
  • Present with laptop/tablet and headphones (not a phone – they need to see).
  • Know your audience. (Publisher announced a similar game or never publishes games like yours? They’re probably not interested.)

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