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How to structure a killer game pitch deck

You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years developing your game, it’s ready to take to the next step… You’ve decided you want the help of a publisher. Now what?

One of the key parts of game development is pitching your game, so don’t overlook the importance of creating a killer pitch deck. 

We’ve put together a quick guide to the most crucial parts of the pitching process. We used our experience with indie games and got a little help from some people really in the know.

Special thanks to Oscar Clark the Co-CEO & Chief Strategy Officer at Fundamentally Games, George Perkins the Head of Doing Stuff at Super Rare Games, K. A. Pedersen a game scout at Fireshine Games and James Brooksby CEO of Absolutely Games.

Do your Research

The backbone to a great pitch is solid research so don’t skimp here.

Research the publishers

It’s often the case that they’ll specialise in some way, or have different areas of strength and offer different opportunities for your game. To know who is the best fit for you, you first need to look at your game and what you need.

Your first port of call is to set out the specifics of your game:

  • Game genre – Who is publishing games similar to yours? These may be the ones you shortlist. Steam is a great resource for this information.
  • Who is your target audience? Create a persona for your ideal player.
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What is your game’s unique selling point?

Then drill down into where you are specifically needing help. Perhaps;

  • Funding
  • Release Management
  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • Community games testing

One of the most important things to know is who you’re pitching to! There’s no point pitching your PC game to a mobile-only publisher.  Do your research on the specific publishers you’ll be pitching to and tailor your pitch to each to line up with their values and business strategy. 

Why the pitch deck is important!

A pitch deck is just a short overview presentation of your game, right?

“Come on, Hannah, I can write for days about my game… I got this”.

I hear you shout… But slow down! 

Contrary to popular belief, publishers don’t want to listen to the trials and tribulations of a game dev. With nearly 11,000 new games released on steam last year, I’m confident you’re not the only one pitching a game to them this week.

They want to know why your game is going to be a success, and why should they give you what you’re asking for?

So, what needs to be in a pitch deck?

Pitching

Aim to keep your presentation to 40 minutes. This allows time for questions after your presentation in an hour meeting, however also be prepared with a 20-minute version in case you only get half an hour to present.

Each publisher will prioritise certain things in a pitch deck but let’s look at the key areas. 

I asked Oscar Clark from Fundamentally Games, who are a publisher specifically looking to help game teams who are making living games, what they prioritise in a pitch deck.

“If you are pitching to us we need to know that you understand what keeps a player playing your game; and how the mechanics (what players do), Context loop (Purpose and progression) and Metagame (social/lifestyle) deliver ‘predictable surprise’ each and every day/week/month.”

In practical terms they want to know the following:

  1. Why are you making this game? 
  2. Why will the players care?
  3. What makes it living?
  4. Do you have funding to complete the game?
  5. What are you looking for from a partner?”

With the help of James Brooksby (who has plenty of experience in this area), I’ve broken down writing your pitch deck into a winning structure.

Who?

Show off the team that made the game, and their experience. This is your opportunity to build trust and confidence in your team’s ability and show why you’re the team to put this game together in an enjoyable and successful way.

Oscar Clark explains the evaluation starts with the market potential for that game, but it’s at least as important as how they think they can work with the team.

Why?

Why are you making this game and who are you making it for? 

This is where the research you did earlier in the process comes in. Proving there’s an opportunity you’ve identified, and the strategy that will mean your game will succeed.

What?

Here’s your game’s big moment! Time to shine!

Deconstruct your game and gameplay to show what makes your game different from all your competitors.

Try not to over or underdo this section, important to include:

  1. Elevator pitch of your game – 30 seconds to say. Keep it clear, concise and attention-grabbing.
  2. Then talk through your game visuals – Include Screenshots / GIFs /  Marketing Art / Concept Art and Trailers if you can, although keep it to only the highest quality ones that really give a vision of your game.

George Perkins told me “It’s important to know what your vision for the final game look and play is” and K.A stressed the point of games that are visually striking getting a much better reception from Fireshine.

How?

Where are you now, and what do you need to get where you want to be.

George simplified this down to how much money and time you need to make the full game?

Ideally, present a milestone calendar with the budget needed for each stage – even if it’s rough it will show you’ve thought about the long term development.

Conclusion

Your last slide should state the key info you want the audience to remember/take note of.

  • A sentence about your team.
  • Brief summary of the opportunity you identified and how your game takes advantage of it.
  • When are your main milestones?
  • What do you need to achieve them?

Do I really need a playable demo?

Fireshine, Super Rare and Fundamentally Games ALL put emphasis on a good playable demo being a huge selling point. So in short, Yes if you want to give yourself the best chance.

“Show us the game (ideally let us play) – and any data you have gathered to date!  You won’t believe how many game devs don’t do that early enough.”

“The more annoyed I am I can’t play the full game now, the more likely we are to sign it!”

“Don’t pitch too early in development, come with a playable demo”

To Conclude

You get one chance to get this pitch right, so don’t waste time. Get straight to the point and open on the thing you want to be remembered for.

Make your pitch as visual as possible. No one enjoys a wall of text in a presentation.

Relax and be yourself, publishers are not just evaluating your game.

James’s top tip is to make sure you understand the amount of time you’ve been allocated and don’t forget to leave time for questions.

Don’t ramble, be concise and probably don’t pitch to your favourite publisher first – Chances are it won’t be your best pitch.

If you need help with the creatives for your game, get in touch. We’d love to help.

Thanks again to Oscar Clark, George Perkins, K. A. Pedersen and James Brooksby.

Good Luck and Enjoy.

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