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Pitching, Profits, and Publiushers (Oh My!)

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BitsyGuy
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Joined: 08/16/2008

I've been developing a game with some other friends off and on for the past two years. We have play tested and tweaked the game, and I am about to complete a polished prototype. I have an "in" to get the game in front of an exec at Hasbro, but before I move forward, I am hoping to get some advise and insight on a couple of different topics:

1. Due to my background, I am familiar with pitching movies and story ideas, but a board game seems to be a slightly different story. From personal experience, can anyone share some do's and do not's of pitching a game?

2. If the game is actually picked up by Hasbro, or another publisher, what is a typical financial agreement? Are rights to the game simply purchased by the publisher from the creator? Is profit sharing a typical practice? Or is this negotiated on a case by case basis?

I look forward to reading some wise words from people who have "been there" and "done that," as well as perusing the rest of the info available on this site.

Redcap
Redcap's picture
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Question 2 first: 5% is high,

Question 2 first:
5% is high, 2% is normal. They will give you between those. Usually a 5 year agreement which you keep the rights to the game, so after the five years it is still yours.

Suggestions for 1:
Put yourself in the exec's shoes. He here hundreds of pitches, so what are some things that will turn him off immediatley? Maybe even roleplay with a friend and have him write down everything that might annoy him if he had to hear it for the 500th time.
Don't do the following:
1) say, "this game is the best game ever."
2)say,"We stand to make millions."
3)Delving into great detail as to how exactly your game mechanics work, the more general you are at first the better. They will ask for specifics if your game is something that interests them.

Things to do:
4)Focus on the unique aspects of the game, not the aspects it has in common with others.
5)If possible, bring a proto-type and let the exec finger through some of the cards. If he asks to see more you have it with you and you know you have sparked interest.
6)Talk a little (20 seconds) as to how the game was made, and how much playtesting it has been through. Saying you made this in 2 months is very un-impressive. But saying, "it has taken 2 years and countless hours of playtesting to get the game you see here." is impressive, meaning you did your research and tested the product.

I am sure others can give better advice, but there you go.

Willi B
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Just back from GenCon where

Just back from GenCon where Mike Gray of Hasbro and 3 others gave a seminar on the whole topic. Hasbro will be 2% regardless in most every case.

If it is your first game (i.e., you have no credit to your name) you can always expect that the company will at least attempt/expect to pay you less.

Most companies will have you sign something that protects them saying basically that even if they come out with an exact copy of your game next year without you, you have no rights to it (this is to make sure if they are already doing the same thing, you don't sue them).

The first description a company wants to here is the 2 sentence summation that tells them what your game is (like the movie pitch). If they want to see more, it will usually be a prototype request. The more professional prototype the better, but always have it with you.

Get a thick skin... know that you will be rejected most of the time for various reasons. I have a party game I'm pretty happy with and feel comfortable that it will land and be my first publication.... but it has already been rejected by 1 company and given a delay by another. Both of these companies passed simply because they have games in the game category they are bringing out right now and want a gap before they release something else in that category.

A very important thing to remember is that this is normal. Even if you have the best thing ever, they might be already filled in the game or genre category until 2010.

Always look at every game possible at conventions and online to make sure your game is unique.

Lastly, make sure to take the time to the time to know the companies and not only what they produce and what their product line is, but try to find out what they want to do. Hasbro may have their finger in every pot, but that isn't true for most companies. Try to develop contacts with people in the business.... even if a publisher might not create a science fiction based card game, they might point you to someone who is.

Good luck!

Scott B Reynolds
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Joined: 08/19/2008
Big Pitch

Congratulations on getting to the big pitch. I also attended the panel discussions with Mike Gray from Hasbro (and others) and I took some notes. Being an experienced presenter you may already know this stuff, but it was helpful to me:

1. Practice your presentation.
2. Learn everything you can about the person listening to your pitch. Use the information to direct your presentation.
3. Know your game’s rules inside and out.
4. Make the best prototype possible, including a finished set of rules.
5. What is your game about? Answer in one sentence.
6. What is the object of the game? Answer this efficiently.
7. If you do sell the game be sure to tell everyone you pitched it to. It will hurt your reputation if you don’t. And, it will show them you have value.
8. Never say “Everyone will enjoy this game".

In another discussion about publishing your game, they said you should expect 5-15%, but the publisher will most likely expect to get back their initial investment first. Every publisher is different, and Hasbro is so big they probably make their own rules.

In the end, be sure you own the IP. If there is a sequel, you will want to control it.

I hope this helps, and good luck. Let us know how it goes.

Scott B Reynolds
Abstract Strategy Games

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