Before you go to a publisher with your new board game baby, you should spend some time on your Elevator Pitch. An Elevator Pitch is a 30 seconds or less description of your game. Sounds easy, but you can easily get tongue-tied and forget some important aspects of your game if you just wing it. If you created a Sales Sheet that we described in Step 14, then you should have a lot of your Elevator Pitch ready.
So what should be included in an Elevator Pitch?
Name of the Game: Hopefully the name of your game is already interesting and makes a publisher want to know more.
Type of Game: Is it a party game or a strategy game? Whatever it is, it should be mentioned immediately so they know right off the bat what you’re talking about.
Type of game play: Does your game have tile laying, resource management, worker placement etc…? Use the industry terms to describe your game.
How many players: Pretty simple – but it’s important to a publisher to know if your game is only a 2 player game or can reach the magical 5 or 6 player target that some publisher want.
Why your game is different: Here’s your opportunity to dazzle the publisher with why your game needs to be published. What makes it different? Why should the publisher publish this game? Steer clear of saying things like “everyone who has played this has loved it” as publishers know that the majority of your playtesters are probably your friends and family. Even if they’re not, don’t waste your precious 30 seconds with empty praise that means nothing to a publisher.
Leave them wanting more: Give them a tease that will intrigue them to know more about the game – and possibly a playtest.
That’s about all the time you’d have! So let’s see an example of what this would look like. Here’s an Elevator Pitch for one of our upcoming games called Akrotiri:
Akrotiri is a Euro-style strategy game that has tile placement, move and deliver and a clever treasure finding mechanic. It’s a game for 2-5 players where each player is an explorer searching for lost temples in the Mediterranean. They ship resources back to Akrotiri from the islands they are creating by the tile placement in an effort to raise enough money to fund expeditions to find temples. How they find temples is based on a new and interesting mechanic that I’d like to show you if you have more time.
The goal would be to ensure that this doesn’t sound dry and robotic – like you memorized it. You have to add your own personality to it when you say it. That said, saying this 3-5 times to yourself (out loud!) before you meet a publisher will help when you have to give the spiel for real! Combine a well practiced Elevator Pitch with a professional looking Sales Sheet and you’re definitely going to stand out from the crowd!
Next up we’ll be talking about the two ways you can get in touch with a publisher: in person or online.
The elevator pitch – that magical 30 seconds in which the decision maker is trapped and at the mercy of the hungry game designer.
This is make or break time, bucko.
Do you have what it takes?
At any game convention where publishers are around, always have copies of your sell sheets handy, or a business card at the very least. If you can carry your prototype with you at all times without looking like you’re headed out on safari, do so! And have your pitch ready to roll.
If there’s time – and I know 30 seconds isn’t long – you can also add in bits about:
Theme – as inconsequential as some designers thing theme may be, it (plus the cover art) is a prime force in moving product off shelves. At the end of the day, that is what publishers want to do. So if you’ve got an interesting theme, sell it.
Components – some companies are in the hunt for specific games that use specific components – and conversely, some are avoiding them. So being upfront that the game is a card game or uses electronics may have some bearing to prospective publishers.
Know Your Audience – When you’re pitching, if you know a bit about who you’re pitching to it can go a long way. There are companies that expressly state things like: No CCGs. No Dungeon Crawlers. No Miniature Games. It pays not to waste their time with your game about exploring dungeons that uses a collectabile miniature system with optional card expansions because the next time you *do* have a product they might want, you won’t be “that guy”.
Let them know this isn’t just a vapourspiel – If you have a prototype ready to play, let them know that you would love to play it with them later at the convention or send it to them sometime. Get their business card or contact information so you can get their mailing address if they will accept your prototype.
Many companies will not look at unsolicited prototypes, so don’t just send stuff with the expectation that it’ll get looked at. You will most likely end up sorely disappointed. Games are kind of like vampires – the publisher has to agree to let a prototype in the door.
Your job in the elevator pitch is to ensure that your game has the highest probability of being invited to the ball. The elevator pitch is really make or break time. It is an opportunity that you cannot afford to waste. Jay and I often talk about making the most of an opportunity by being prepared. If you follow the steps above, have your pitch, sell sheets, and prototypes ready to go you will be prepared.
So, press “up”, step inside and make your own luck!