One of the biggest challenges as an indie developer is to create awareness for your game without spending money on advertising. Competitions and events where you can show your game are your way to go. If you have a unique and great game, chances are you will be noticed. And it’s not always the winner that takes it all. So don’t get discouraged if you only make it into the top list but not onto the big stage.
In the last nine months I have probably looked at 400-600 (mainly) mobile games in various stages of pre-launch. It’s great to see all the talent out there bringing great and unique game concepts to life. That is why I believe that anything great and new in our industry will come from the Indie Scene.
I can only encourage everybody to apply for any opportunity there is to show your game. The judges in the various competitions consist of publishers who are looking for great content and some of them are people you should get to know anyway. Take the Big Indie Pitch from the guys over at Pocketgamer.biz – it’s a speed-dating event where you get to pitch your game to journalists and publishers. You also get to exchange business cards and grow your network. So even if your current game doesn’t win, you can go back to them at a later point in time for coverage, a publishing deal, etc. Many of the other competitions are similar and offer similar opportunities.
First you need to impress the selection committee. In order to do that, you should have a great, short and impactful video that shows off the best of your gameplay. It doesn’t need to be lengthy but it needs to prove that you are serious about your game. Here are some examples:
Once you have been chosen, the next steps will depend on the competition. Some contests just require you to submit a build, some – like the Big Indie Pitch – require you to pitch your game to the judges. Everybody will want to play your game or prototype, but there are also other things that you should consider:
1. What is your elevator pitch before you let them play?
2. What exactly do you want them to play (is it a vertical slice that looks really great?)
3. What’s the device that shows off your game in the best possible way?
4. How do you stand out and how does your game become something to remember?
5. What is the business model going to be? (especially important for judges who are publishers)
6. How do you follow up with the judges after the competition is over?
The judges are always looking for something that is fresh and new. They have seen about 150 endless runners in the last two weeks and about 50 puzzle games. And they are all humans: so if you have a very mediocre artist, you are using the default UI from Game Maker, the logo of your game looks like your nephew drew it and your main character looks even worse, you have to make sure your game idea is so amazing and addictive, and your controls need to be so slick and intuitive, that all of this outweighs your shortcomings on the art side. And be aware, that you are competing with teams, that also have great ideas and will go the extra mile on the art side.
I know it’s not about the art, but think of graphics as part of the first impression. Looking back at my involvement as a judge in some competitions, the games that didn’t win but at least were considered, were recognized because of their great style and probably didn’t get to the final because the gameplay was not so amazing.
I hope this has inspired you to show off your game. Don’t be afraid that somebody might duplicate it. If it’s great, you will have copies coming from Asia within 2 weeks after your launch.