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Jay Powell of IndieGameBusiness and the Powell Group: “Never take your foot off the gas”

Jay Powell, founder and CEO of Powell Group and IndieGameBusiness, worked in the games industry for well over a decade in different roles, when he started the Powell Group. “I realized that there’s a niche in this industry for me to do just bizdev for a lot of companies,” he explained. He named it the Powell ‘Group’ to create the impression of a larger organization, even though it initially consisted of just him. Over time, it grew into a more substantial entity, providing business development services to a variety of clients in the games industry.

The idea for IndieGameBusiness stemmed from Powell’s frustration with the lack of business education for developers. While speaking at a GDC event, he realized many developers didn’t know basic business practices. Initially attempting to address this through white papers, Powell found they weren’t effective. “Nobody reads white papers and so I didn’t know how to teach people to do this,” he said. A survey revealed developers preferred learning through YouTube, leading Powell to team up with Dan ‘Indie’ Long to start streaming talks on Twitch in 2018. The venture expanded to digital conferences, offering a platform for developers to meet publishers and other industry professionals. Despite initial skepticism, the initiative grew significantly, with Powell noting, “Now we have almost 8,000 people on the Discord server.”

Effective strategies

So, what does the Powell Group actually do? According to Jay Powell the company offers a range of services tailored to different needs. For developers, they assist in finding publishers, provide feedback on demos, and generate targeted lists of potential publishers. They also conduct market research, both for service providers and on a consumer level, to test new game concepts. Additionally, for publishers and investors, the Powell Group offers in-depth project audits to ensure games are fun, marketing strategies are effective, and production pipelines are efficient. 

In order to better help developers connect with publishers, the Powell Group has partnered with Representing Games, a division of MeetToMatch*. “The process is very simple. We have a link on the website where you can submit a game. We have a green light meeting every single week to see what stood out and what didn’t.” This partnership allows them to provide valuable insights and facilitate publisher-developer matches based on current market trends and publisher demands. If a project is not a fit, they still offer consulting to help developers refine their pitch decks and prepare their demos. For those preferring a DIY approach, Powell notes that there are many free resources available, such as videos on improving Steam pages and marketing strategies.

Pitching can be daunting

Talking about the major business challenges in the games industry, Powell names visibility and standing out. Developers must constantly strive to get their games noticed amid the vast amount of content available. The size of the industry and the effort required to reach potential publishers are significant hurdles. “The sheer amount of work it takes to go out and pitch your game is often overlooked,” he says. With a list of roughly 600 publishers, the task of pitching can be daunting. Some developers mistakenly believe they have pitched to everyone after approaching just 15 or 20 publishers, but the reality is that successful outreach requires much more extensive efforts. “Don’t ever take your foot off the gas. That doesn’t mean never take a vacation but you can’t ever stop looking for new opportunities.

*Full disclosure, PreMortem.Games is a division of MeetToMatch.

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