Pitching Board Games at Protospiel North

This is the second post about Protospiel North. To learn more about what Protospiel North is all about – and about the games I play tested while there, check out the first post.
There were three publishers at Protospiel North and we had to set up 15 minute appointements with each of them in advance. This was organized through the event itself. The publishers in attendance were:
giveit1) Josh Bricker from Flux Capacity – a new publisher that has successfully launched Give it to the King on Kickstarter this past August.
2) Mark MacKinnon from Dyskami – another new publisher that has his first successful Kickstarter game ready to hit retail soon: Upon a Fable.
3) Doc and Kevin from Mercury Games – I’ve pitched to them twice before – and the first game they published was from one of my pitches – Quarrantine designed by Mark Klassen. So we had history together!
Since there were only three publishers, but multiple designers that wanted to pitch game ideas, we decided that it would be better if the designers each claimed a table and then have the publishers go from table to table. This was interesting to us as we’ve never been able to pitch like this before!!
proto-north-gamesThe big benefit to us was that we could pre-set up each game to make it easier to show all of our games. This was good because we didn’t follow our own advice and we didn’t have any of our sales sheets ready in time for this event!! Yikes! We had eight games that we wanted to pitch so we laid them all out – each ready to start playing immediately.  We put two tables together and sorted our games into similar types of games:
  • three quick-reaction family games (EI-EI-O, Short Order Showdown and Jam Slam)
  • two word games (Lost for Words and Chainables)
  • one party game (Clunatics)
  • one strategy game (SimpliCITY)
  • one abstract game (still untitled!)
When a publisher came around for our 15 minute slot, we welcomed them and got right to business (we had met them prior to this actual pitch session). I showed them how our games were arranged and asked them which game or games that they’d like to hear our pitch or play a sample round.
An now, for the first time ever – you can actually watch me pitching SimpliCITY to Josh Bricker! You’ll note that I’m not using sales sheets – and that’s because of the fact that we had publishers come around to our table instead of us going to them. Check it out:
All three publishers were impressed at the variety and quality of our games – or so they said! 🙂 They were all interested in SimpliCITY and Clunatics and each of them wanted to come back afterwards to play one of our games. Nice!
Here’s where you shouldn’t do what Sen and Jay did – play your game with a potentially interested publisher with untested tweaks to your game!!! We had playtested SimpliCITY the night before and while everything worked out fine, we had one idea from Al Leduc to get rid of the score tracks. We brainstormed it and thought it was such a great idea that we implemented it right away. It was pretty crazy since it could have backfired on us. Fortunately it didn’t and each playtest went very well. We did manage to tweak it once more before playtesting it with another publisher which made it even better!
In the end, Josh from Flux Capacity expressed interest in taking another look at the game. We’re talking with him now to figure out if it will be at another convention or if we’ll simply mail him a copy of the game. I’m excited to show him a couple of the improvements we’ve made since he’s played it. It’s funny – the game was ready to be pitched when we brought it – but when you’re surrounded by game designers, there’s bound to be some good ideas floating around that might throw a monkey wrench in your plans!
Mark from Dyskami liked Clunatics and wanted to take a copy with him back to his playtest group! Huzzah!
So in the end we have publsihers interested in two of our games – nice! All in all, the weekend was fantastic. The time went by so fast though and I didn’t get enough time to playtest all the games that I wanted to try. Next time…next time!
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The Gathering of Friends: Part 5 – Pitching to Toy Vault, Abacusspiele, Amigo and Mercury

The pitching continues! The Gathering had been very successful already, in terms of making new friends, getting connections, and generally just getting to know people from the publishing companies! Tuesday we had a meeting with Ed from Toy Vault. I had noticed on the Gathering forum a post from Ed stating that he was open to looking at designs. I emailed him and he replied with a time slot on Tuesday morning!

Rob and I tag teamed again showing multiple designs to Ed. Of our designs he seemed to like Hog the Remote, But Wait, There’s More and Captionary. He also liked a design from GAC member, Al Leduc called A Game of Cat and Mouse. We played it and had a good time with it, but he didn’t see it fitting with Toy Vault at this time. It was uncanny how Ed could know which place I was going to in the game every round!

He decided to take the prototype of Hog the Remote and But Wait, There’s More and said we should find some people one night and play each of them. Cool! He was curious about Captionary and wanted to see that game played out before committing to taking that one. More on this in my next post!!

By this time it was lunch and we all decided to go out and get some Indian food. We bumped into Stefan from Asmodee and we all went out for lunch. It was a great lunch full of behind the scene stuff in the board game world. I told Stefan that Filosofia picked up EIEI-O. He was fine with that as it might mean he will distribute the game anyway. I’m not sure what kind of deal they have with Filosofia, but I do know that their offices are right next to each other! It was a great lunch (well the food was only OK and the restaurant we chose was pretty yucky – but the company was great!).

When I got back I managed to get some time with Matthias from Abacusspiele. I pitched Eat at Joes, Clunatics and others, but he was most interested in Eat at Joes. He took a sales sheet and that was that. Quick one!

Amigo and Mercury Games Wednesday morning Rob had set up a meeting with Christian Hildenbrand from Amigo. If you recall, Christian was how I got invited the Gathering in the first place – so I already really liked him!

We found out that Amigo is really focused on card games at the moment. He was also interested in looking at party games (which was good as we didn’t have any card games!). We spent a couple hours pitching him various games and he really liked Eat at Joes and even wanted to take the prototype back with him. He also liked the idea for Hog the Remote, Clunatics and Captionary. He took a sales sheet for each of those. I told him that Pegasus Spiele is currently assessing Clunatics and he said he knew them, so he would call them when he got back to Germany to find out their thoughts on the game! It’s a pretty small industry!

We were getting hungry so the three of us went to TGIF for lunch and had some great conversations about games and non-game things. It was just great to get to know him as a person instead of as a publisher. That’s the big advantage the Gathering has over any other convention. It’s a longer convention and it’s pretty exclusive so everyone is more casual and relaxed.

Rob bumped into Kevin who used to work at Valley Games and was the person who Rob actually signed contracts with for his game Two by Two. Kevin has a new partner they are creating a new game company called Mercury games. They were looking for a game to be their launch game. Rob showed them his game Coffee and we played a game of that. Later on we played Iron Horse Bandits with them as well. At this point I was running out of games to show people! None of our games seemed to fit with what they were looking at as a launch game.

Next up – one more day of pitching to publishers and then a summary of my experiences!

-Jay Cormier