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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Looking for a publisher at an event “Be open to everyone”

Now the pandemic is done and dusted (in most parts of the world anyway) the world opens up again for international industry events and person-to-person deal making. What do development studios need to do to secure a deal with a publisher or investor? Klaas van der Stroom, Business Developer at Representing Games: “If you really want to build relationships go to the smaller events.” 

Going to a big conference in an expensive city like San Francisco for a full week can be a financial burden for smaller companies. Plus publishers and scouts are fully booked with hopeful devs eager to show off their games. “They are looking at a new game every half hour for five days straight, so you won’t always get their full attention”, says Van der Stroom. “They might say no at GDC but they might say yes at a smaller conference when they have a bit more time. So that’s the perfect place to actually build relationships.”

Two approaches

With more than 500 game publishers worldwide it can be quite daunting for developers to figure out which ones are the right fit. Van der Stroom suggests two approaches for a successful search. “You can look at your game and find a publisher that already has similar games in its portfolio. So go on Steam and other stores and match your type of game with other games already out there.” The other approach he mentions is using online resources like the 2023 Video Game Publishers List or the Global Games Industry Guide 22/23. “Work your way down the list of Publishers and see if they fit your list of criteria. Make sure you don’t waste your time by pitching your pc game to a mobile publisher and so on.” 

Be open

“My advice is to be open to everyone”, says Van der Stroom. “Some publishers might not be a fit to your current project, but who knows for your next? It’s easier to get back in touch if you already established a relationship. Even if it was just a short chat.”

“When you’re at a conference looking for an investor or publisher, your job is to meet, meet, meet, meet as many people as possible. Take some time to eat and clear your head, but after that get straight back in.” Klaas van der Stroom talks to Jay Powell on the IndieGameBusiness podcast.

To make sure you are talking to the right people, Van der Stroom wants you to focus on 4 important things: “Check if the publisher does your type of platform. See if your budget fits theirs. Make sure they support the chosen business model of your game. And look for publishers that specialise in your kind of game.” 

Publishers are lazy

Ok, so you did your homework and managed to book some meetings with publishers at an event. How can you best prepare for these meetings? “Do some research on who you are meeting with”, says Van der Stroom. “Talking about some of their earlier successes is a good way to break the ice. Just remember that there is very little time to do a pitch. You’re not there to sell your game and make a deal on the spot. You are trying to get them interested in learning more about your game once they get back at the office.”  

If you’re not able to make it to an event and want to reach out through an email, make sure you follow some very easy rules. “Let’s assume that publishers are lazy”, says Van der Stroom. “That’s why everything has to be short, precise and clear. Every link to more materials has to work! Don’t end your message with a question if they want to meet, but send them a Calendy link. Make it as clear as possible.”

Be persisitent

Now, if you don’t get a response right away, don’t be discouraged, says Van der Stroom. “They get so many submissions that it’s hard for them to give everyone feedback. What you can do is try other channels, like LinkedIn, Discord or Twitter. Don’t spam them, but follow up if you have something new to show. Be persistent.”  

Full disclosure: Both Representing Games and PreMortem.Games are affiliated with MeetToMatch.

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