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Dragonback Media Interactive

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Title: Dragonback Media Interactive


1
Dragonback Media Interactive
  • Approaching Game Publishers
  • Josh Galloway

2
The publishing and development process
  • Start up funding is needed to staff and train a
    proper core development team, unless you can find
    5-10 experienced developers that are willing to
    work for the first year for free
  • Publishers and Investors should be approached
    with professionalism, too many new developers and
    entrepreneurs present themselves as if its a
    hobby industry with little or no qualified
    knowledge and research of the industry
  • A playable prototype or proof of concept is
    usually required to secure a publishing contract
    , especially for new development teams/studios
  • New development teams without one or more
    collective releases behind their belt will find
    it difficult to get a publishing deal. New
    development teams comprised of experienced
    developers with releases behind their belts often
    still need funding to get them to the point where
    they can get a publishing contract.
  • Veteran developers with a hit title behind
    their belt may be able to ride on their success
    and pitch a game with their previous work in lieu
    of a playable prototype.

3
The publishing and development process
  • Funding is required to fund the prototype phase
    of the first product, as it requires 5-10
    developers 6-9 months after the pre-production
    and technical feasibility is finished to complete
    a prototype, depending on the scope of the
    project
  • A full mainstream AAA PC/Console product requires
    a team of 15-35 developers on a 18-36 month
    development cycle
  • The prototype or proof of concept is pitched to
    major publishers along with a design treatment,
    schedules, technical design and feasibility,
    financial budgeting, competitive analysis, and
    risk analysis to secure a global publishing,
    marketing, and distribution contract

4
The publishing and development process
  • A major global publishing contract for a AAA
    PC/Console project can generate advance royalties
    in excess of 1 million USD, budget titles can
    generate as much as 500k USD in advance
    royalties. These of course will be scaled based
    on many factors such as the location of both the
    developer and the funding company, and the amount
    of risk taken.
  • First time or new development teams rarely will
    see more than 25 what a seasoned veteran
    development studio can secure in advance
    royalties, as these companies are seen as a much
    higher risk. Be prepared to secure alternative
    funding long before you ever reach the stage of
    talking to a publisher if you are just starting
    out.
  • Advance royalties are used to fund completion of
    the prototype or proof of concept, they rarely
    cover expenses incurred in getting the pitch into
    the publishers hands.
  • Additional royalties/revenue is earned through
    actual sales of the product at a rate of 20-35

5
Publisher needs
  • Know the company you are pitching to, many
    publishers have different groups or business
    units that focus on different areas or segments
    of the industry.
  • Every publisher is different, learn as much as
    you can about the publishers practices, their
    content in the pipeline, and tailor your pitch as
    much as possible to the company you are pitching
    to
  • As the development cycle is more often than not
    2-3 or more years cradle to grave, publishers
    often know and have already signed most of what
    they will release over the next 2-3 years.
  • Publishers already know the budget they will
    spend on development of all titles across all
    business units for the next 2-3 years.

6
Publisher needs
  • Evolutionary or Revolutionary?
  • Most games that get signed are an evolution of
    previously successful concepts
  • Some familiarity to both the publisher and
    consumer
  • Avoid clones and copy-cat games and concepts,
    they may seem a for sure thing, but if they
    dont improve upon the original they are nothing
    we havent seen before
  • Revolutionary games
  • These concepts are a hard sell as they carry
    more risk
  • Some would say there are no new ideas, and that
    its impossible to create a new genre
  • Rewards are enormous if executed properly, fail
    enormously if executed poorly
  • The harder it is to explain the idea, the longer
    it takes to pitch, and the more likely you are to
    lose attention and interest
  • The first 3-5 minutes of your pitch are the most
    important, choose carefully the focus and
    direction you wish to take

7
Publisher needs
  • Games that are fun to play but more importantly
    are marketable to a specific target audience.
  • Products with a consistent level of production
    quality
  • Products that come out on time and under budget
  • Developers that can consistently provide all of
    the above

8
The Pitch
  • How to contact the publisher
  • Every publisher has one or more people
    responsible for developer submissions
  • Eqv to AR for the music industry
  • Production department
  • Sr or Exec Producer, Maybe a Director or Biz Dev
    officer
  • Contact the publisher (by phone) and enquire as
    to who handles content submissions
  • Call and ask for this person by name the
    following day
  • Brief introduction
  • Ask about their content submission policies
  • Answer any questions they may ask about your
    company and product
  • If they are taking submissions this person will
    let you know how to submit your proposal

9
The Pitch
  • General email contacts often found off a
    companies website may not get answered, use the
    phone to get in touch with the proper person
  • bluebirds or unsolicited content submissions
    mailed to a publisher are rarely taken seriously,
    and for legal reasons are often ignored
  • The initial pitch must get into the hands of
    someone with some level of decision making power

10
The Pitch
  • Making your presentation
  • Your first point of contact with a publisher will
    be the development or product acquisition group.
  • Unless you already have an existing relationship
    with the publisher your chances of getting a face
    to face meeting to make your initial presentation
    are almost low.

11
The Pitch
  • Making your presentation
  • Most publishers receive a dozen presentations per
    day and 90 of these do not meet the publisher's
    needs (or their required level of quality).
  • To meet with each developer would mean that
    someone would spend the majority of every day in
    meetings discussing products that they will not
    be publishing. This simply isn't an acceptable
    use of their time.
  • Because of this most publishers will insist that
    a product is submitted in the first instance by
    post. The submission will receive a "first pass"
    review to decide if it is worth considering.
    (Anything produced in crayon will be rejected at
    this stage with a standard reject letter.) If it
    survives this first pass then the proposal will
    have taken its first step into the acquisitions
    process.

12
The Pitch
  • Contacting a publisher at GDC or E3 without an
    appointment is like standing outside the
    Whitehouse hoping to meet the President
  • If you are planning to pitch at GDC or E3 get in
    contact with the proper person and get a meeting
    scheduled several weeks or even months in advance
  • Dropping a submission at a publishers booth at
    GDC or E3 is still considered a bluebird
  • GDC and E3 are great opportunities to network,
    meet your peers, and build relationships with
    others within the industry

13
The Pitch
  • Contacts and relationships can make a difference
  • Pitching your game to a QA intern will get you
    nowhere, get it into the hands of a Producer
    level or above
  • Get to know established game developers and game
    companies that already have contact and
    relationships
  • A good referral or recommendation from an already
    trusted source goes a long way
  • Other places to build contacts and relationships
  • Local and regional IGDA
  • Business social networks, Orkut.com,
    Linkedin.com, as referrals and introductions are
    made via a trusted network

14
The Pitch
  • Youve got the contact and they have agreed to
    look at your submission, now what?
  • Concept treatment (high level product overview)
  • Never less than 5, rarely more than 15-20 pages
  • Product description, Concept, Exec summary
  • Key features and design elements
  • Genre, audience (demographics)
  • Key drivers, differentiators
  • Competitive analysis
  • Conceptual artwork, screenshots
  • Schedule and budget
  • Company background
  • Key man bio(s)
  • Previous work and accomplishments

15
The Pitch
  • Follow up with your contact within a reasonable
    amount of time after they have received the
    Concept doc
  • Answer any questions they may have
  • Judge their interest
  • Arrange to meet face to face for a full product
    pitch

16
The Real Pitch
  • If there is further interest the Publisher will
    want a full pitching session with the developer.
    This usually means the developer visiting the
    publisher.
  • Developers will usually go on a road show meeting
    several publishers individually over several
    days.
  • They may give you an hour they may give you the
    entire afternoon, be prepared to give the same
    pitch to more than one group within the company.

17
The Real Pitch
  • Objectives
  • 1. Present the product clearly to the target
    audience
  • 2. Emphasize and Illustrate the key points
    (business and creative) of the product
  • 3. Demonstrate the development teams
    professional and creative talent

18
The Real Pitch
  • Target audience The Publisher
  • Production department (producers, etc)
  • Evaluate the products potential as a game
  • Suitable on a commercial basis
  • Production values, and quality of gameplay
  • Non-production (sales, marketing, PR, Sr
    Management)
  • Sales potential
  • Marketing hooks
  • Likely ROI
  • Possibility of sequels, franchise

19
The Real Pitch
  • Pitch document (along with relevant powerpoint
    presentation)
  • Treatment and/or Sales sheet, maybe different
    from previously submitted document
  • This gives a brief outline of the game concept
    (one or two paragraphs)
  • key business information
  • Cost
  • Completion date or schedule
  • Team
  • Target market
  • Formats, platforms
  • contact details
  • This document is the vanguard of your attack on
    the publishers wallet and it targets the
    non-development segment of your audience.

20
The Real Pitch
  • Design document
  • This provides complete game play/design
    information for those who want it. The audience
    for this document will be the publisher's
    production staff. They will be expected to render
    an opinion as to the quality of your game design
    for the non-development members of the audience.
  • Game design is never complete, do not be too
    rigid, the Publisher will always have feedback,
    comments, and potential changes they will wish to
    make to the product, especially with new teams

21
The Real Pitch
  • Demo - The key here is "less but better".
  • The reality is that documentation alone will no
    longer get you a deal. Where previously a
    publisher might sign a project based on a video
    presentation they now expect to see working code.
  • The demo should show key features and visuals
    from the game and should be well polished and as
    bug free as possible.
  • It is far better to spend time ensuring the demo
    works smoothly than it is to try and add extra
    features that may make it unstable.
  • The demo will be viewed by non-development staff
    who may not see past the rough edges so keep it
    tidy

22
The Real Pitch
  • Demo
  • Should be hands-on for the publisher rather than
    a guided tour if possible.
  • An IGDA (Independent Game Developers Association)
    publisher survey conducted in February 2003
    revealed that the majority of publishers consider
    the demo to be the most important element of a
    product pitch by far and that most will not sign
    a game with a poor quality/nonexistent demo.

23
The Real Pitch
  • Schedule and Budget
  • Pert and/or Gant charts, Microsoft Project files
  • Detailed breakdown of the schedule, production
    pipeline, financial operational budget, and
    financial sales and projections for the project.
  • Not necessary if presenting a completed product
    but as most games are publisher funded you will
    need to show how you intend to spend their money.

24
The Real Pitch
  • Competitive Analysis
  • This is a review of the existing titles that your
    game will be competing with.
  • This document helps to show that you understand
    the genre you are targeting and that you have
    examined the competition thoroughly.
  • The document should give a brief overview of each
    competing title, review scores, sales figures and
    key features of each title.

25
The Real Pitch
  • First five minutes
  • Many publishers now like to see a description of
    the first five minutes of play.
  • It helps them visualize what the game will be
    like and also helps to convince them that you can
    visualize your own game.

26
The Real Pitch
  • Development Team
  • A brief document describing your company/team,
    yours plans for the company and the teams
    previous experience.
  • This is important as publishers want your concept
    to be backed up by a development team with
    knowledge and understanding of the industry and
    development cycle, and/or a proven track record.

27
The publishing and development process
  • The further into the development cycle a game is
    when presented the more interested that publisher
    may be in the title, there is value in showing
    commitment and financial investment into a
    project
  • Once a publisher has given the verbal green
    light they may assign a producer to the
    title/developer to finalize the pre-production
    phase. The producer will work with the developer
    to finalize a game design, technical design, and
    other pre-production work to ensure that the end
    result will be something that is both fun to
    play, and more importantly marketable by the
    publisher.
  • For a project being developed with a third party
    developer, the publisher may provide a small
    amount of funding (if needed) for the completion
    of the design doc, additional concept artwork,
    and in some cases additional work on the
    prototype or proof of concept. In most cases
    this is considered the first milestone, and first
    step towards a publishing contract.
  • The Publisher will arrange to have one or more
    staff such as a producer visit your company to do
    full due dilligence and will want to discuss the
    project in depth and talk with most of the key
    developers on the team.

28
The publishing and development process
  • Publishers will perform multiple levels of due
    diligence and evaluate any and all risks
    associated with a particular concept, technology,
    or company. They will send representatives to
    your company during the due diligence process.
  • Technology risks
  • Production Pipeline deficiencies
  • Creative risks
  • Production risks
  • Publishers will do their homework. They will
    know to some degree what to offer in advance
    royalties.
  • Do your homework and get feedback from
    experienced developers before pitching your
    product
  • 10 people is too few, and 40 people is to many to
    do what a publisher knows a reasonable developer
    can do with 20, this is determined by the type
    and scope of your project
  • 12 months is too much time for a casual game to
    be downloaded off Real arcade, but not enough for
    some quality budget games
  • Publishers will have a general idea of local
    operational and labor costs within your
    country/region before entering into a contact

29
Negotiating a Deal
  • Scott Miller, 3D Realms
  • 10 Developer Commandments
  • Basis of the GodGames publishing model
  • Can be found on the IGDA site
  • Powerpoint version can be loaded from the AGDS
    website along with this presentation

30
Designing and Making games
  • Alan Emrich
  • www.alanemrich.com
  • Game project management course (Game Producer
    101)
  • 11 weeks
  • Entire course subject online
  • Taught internally at Warner Bros Interactivce

31
Signing Games real experience
  • The exception to all rules
  • Not know, no previous experience
  • Croatia?
  • Bluebird
  • No design doc
  • Alpha build
  • Advances
  • Currently releases
  • Serious Sam 2nd Enc
  • Serious Sam 2
  • X-box title
  • Engine licensing

32
Signing Games real experience
  • Known franchise License acquired by Take 2 when
    Bungie sold to Microsoft
  • New development team w/ developers from previous
    project
  • Start-up funding provided by a well-known game
    industry Angel investor
  • Take2 invested property and funding to cover
    development only
  • 12 month dev cycle
  • 50 of typical AAA budget

33
Signing Games real experience
  • Unknown new developer
  • Ex-Microsoft employees
  • Great gameplay
  • Alpha build
  • Passed up by Godgames
  • Currently working on
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea (MMORPG)

34
TOP 10 INDUSTRY FACTS
  • 1.  U.S. computer and video game software sales
    grew four percent in 2004 to 7.3 billion -- a
    more than doubling of industry software sales
    since 1996.
  • 2.  Seventy-five percent of American heads of
    households play computer and video games.
  • 3.  In 2004, more than 248 million computer and
    video games were sold, almost two games for every
    household in America.
  • 4.  The average game player is 30 years old and
    has been playing games for 9.5 years.
  • 5.  The average game buyer is 37 years old.  In
    2005, 95 percent of computer game buyers and 84
    percent of console game buyers were over the age
    of 18.
  • 6. Eighty-three percent of all games sold in
    2004 were rated "E" for Everyone or "T" for
    Teen.  For more information on ratings, please
    see www.esrb.org.

35
TOP 10 INDUSTRY FACTS
  • 7.  Eighty-seven percent of game players under
    the age of 18 report that they get their parents
    permission when renting or buying games, and 92
    percent say their parents are present when they
    buy games.
  • 8.  Forty-three percent of all game players are
    women. In fact, women over the age of 18
    represent a greater portion of the game-playing
    population (28 percent) than boys from ages 6 to
    17 (21 percent).
  • 9.  In 2004, 19 percent of Americans over the age
    of 50 played video games, an increase from nine
    percent in 1999.
  • 10.  Forty-two percent of game players say they
    play games online one or more hours per week. In
    addition, 34 percent of heads of households play
    games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone
    or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.

36
Know your industry
  • Avoiding mistakes early will save you a lot of
    frustration later on.
  • The best source of qualified information on the
    industry comes from working in the industry
  • The next best source of qualified information on
    the industry is industry insiders
  • The SE Asia game industry is still in its
    infancy, yet exists in almost every market
  • There are at least a handful of industry veterans
    (if not more) with at least 2-3 years of
    experience in almost every country within SE
    Asia, branch out to reach these people
  • The local IGDA Chapter is a good place to meet
    industry insiders and like minded people, both of
    which are essential to success
  • If you ask questions, listen to the answers.
    Take their experiences and advice seriously.

37
Know your industry
  • Realities of the industry
  • Despite what you may have heard, it is not easy
    to break into this industry
  • Given recent growth and success of the global
    game industry, every major VC, hedge fund, angel
    investor, wants to be involved
  • Publishers should be considered an investor
  • Investors will always want to minimize risk, and
    increase their chance of an early ROI
  • Investors will probably not invest in a company,
    individual, or group of individuals that needs
    1-2 years or more to learn how to make a
    successful title, and another 2-3 years to
    provide them with a return on that investment (a
    hit title)
  • They will invest in groups or individuals that
    can make them feel secure in the return on their
    investment, this level of confidence only comes
    with experience

38
Know your industry
  • Realities of the industry
  • Best jobs to the top dogs
  • There will always be someone better, more
    talented, with more experience, and better
    contacts than you
  • Best contracts go to the best developers
  • There will always be a group with more collective
    relevant experience, more talented individuals,
    with better contacts than your group
  • A group with collective relevant experience and a
    good idea will always beat out a group with NO
    experience and a great idea
  • The old boy network is not a myth
  • Contacts and relationships DO matter

39
Know your industry
  • A good business plan, design document, financial
    projection, technology demo will not guarantee
    you investment
  • Being able to write a good business plan,
    conceptualize a good idea, write a solid
    financial operation plan and projection, or
    program current technology can almost guarantee
    you a job
  • Its estimated that only 1 of pitched game ideas
    and designs ever see full production and the
    chance of success

40
Know your industry
  • Realities of the industry
  • Everybody must start somewhere, its never at the
    top
  • At least 2-3 years working in the industry to
    gain real relevant work experience should not be
    seen as a sacrifice in furthering your career
  • Do not waste time by venturing out on your own
    too early, this always spells disaster, your time
    is better spent learning and absorbing as much
    information about the industry as you can while
    working with experienced individuals
  • ANY experience within the industry is better than
    no experience at all
  • Do not pass up any opportunities to gain relevant
    industry work experience

41
Know your industry
  • Realities of the industry
  • Ideas are a dime a dozen
  • Good ideas exist
  • Great ideas are rare
  • Developers are a dime a dozen
  • Good developers exist
  • Great developers are rare
  • Great development teams comprised of experienced
    developers that can also cultivate great ideas in
    a hit driven industry are the needle in a
    haystack

42
Know your industry
  • Realities of the industry
  • Modern feats of engineering such as the KLCC Twin
    Towers were designed by a team of qualified and
    experienced engineers long before they were built
  • Modern game companies, and modern game
    development, complex as they have become, also
    require a sound foundation on which to build
    success

43
Sharpen your edge
  • Do you understand the global game industry and
    business models associated with specific segments
    of this industry?
  • Do you understand or have worked with major
    global game industry development and/or
    publishing companies?
  • Keys to success
  • Understand the publishing and development
    process!
  • Understand the needs of global publishers!
  • Understand the production values needed for
    success!

44
Sharpen your edge
  • Know what is needed to attract major publishers
    and secure publishing agreements, including
    project funding in the form of advance royalties!
  • Understand the local game development environment
    in terms of business (startup, operations) and
    skilled resources available!
  • Be committed to developing and transferring
    games, concepts, art, 3D modeling, animation, and
    other related technology skill sets to your
    market.
  • With this knowledge you will have a better chance
    to succeed.

45
Know your weakness
  • Local companies are often not aware of the needs
    of global leaders in the industry.
  • They are often inexperienced
  • Lack of experienced local resources
  • Less of a critical mass, self-sustaining industry
  • Often do not understand the publishing process
  • Often do not know on what terms to negotiate and
    secure a publishing contract
  • Often do not have the contacts necessary to have
    their content properly reviewed, acquired, and
    properly funded
  • There is a tendency in Asia to copy success
    rather than improve upon or evolve

46
Know your strengths
  • Local companies have strengths that often
    compliment proper awareness and understanding of
    the needs of global leaders in the industry.
  • New blood, new ideas
  • Removed from the center
  • Removed from some of the issues facing the
    industry in other parts of the world
  • Less expensive local resources, labor, overhead,
    etc
  • Less financial risk for the publisher, greater
    return for both parties, only if proper
    production values exist to make a success
  • Window to a new world
  • Western companies looking to increase market
    share cannot afford to ignore Asia, being able to
    provide feedback on your own region will make you
    a more valuable partner
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