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I'm always looking at how marketing and self-publishing is evolving. Here's an updated marketing overview for game developers looking to market their own games. It's focused more on a social, community and asset-backed program that is executable by those that don't have tons of cash to pour into an advertising campaign.
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I just returned from my second trip to Buenos Aires Argentina this year. I really love the country, the culture, the people and how the games industry works there. I was invited by the Ministry of Culture to give a talk on how games and studios are funded. The presentation is below and I decided to include a company funding template as well as an updated a game pitch template.
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I recently returned from a trip to Argentina where I met with many of the local game studios and discussed their businesses as well as their games. There are a lot of changes going on affecting the industry there, many of which affect studios around the world. Here are some of the main challenges:
Project Management - This is probably the #1 issue faced by studios around the world, with special consideration for German and Austrian studios which tend to have fantastic project management resources and skills. Other countries tend to suffer from a lack of strong project management and tracking, meaning they have a hard time improving their speed and profitability.
Staffing - Always a top priority, training and retaining the best staff is difficult and instability within the games industry often pushes those that need more security in their job to other IT industries.
Content Fit - Studios that do a lot of work-for-hire are constantly trying to build their own IP, but often choose the wrong time to make the investment. It's a good general rule that for every 3-4 projects you complete, you probably have enough money in reserve to start pre-production on an internal idea. Then again, you need to have staff available and you shouldn't hire to prototype in my opinion. Use remnant time, but continue to track it so you know the real cost of the project.
Fluctuating Currency Markets - As new governments come into power, the stability of currency versus the world market becomes either an issue or an opportunity. Sometimes this is a real advantage where local prices remain the same, but studios are paid on international contracts. This is a time to build a war chest and prepare for changes as the rest of the world catches up to what their true purchasing power is in the country as well.
Market Changes - The market is always changing, so if you aren't following what's going on, you will probably miss the boat. Years ago when the retail purge of 2008 was happening and many B and A studios found there were no longer as many value product being built for consoles, most studios made the jump to mobile. Then the business model evolved and studios couldn't compete with true businesses being run in the sector. The jump to VR began. While VR is exciting, there still isn't an install base capable of supporting most game studios, which is why the platforms themselves were supporting the funding of titles to try to push hardware sales. The current trend is to move to digital console and Steam, but the challenges of discovery remain.
Lack of Publishers - Most emerging regions lack local publishing resources and know-how, which results in games never reaching their potential. We work to build studios into self-publishers and distributors and provide that external guidance and expertise so opportunities can be capitalized upon.
Lack of Funding - Most regions have a couple VCs that have dipped their toes in the water of investing in game studios. These are usually the first, largest, or most connected studios, but often don't have the best potential to return the investment. This hinders second wave companies from getting access to capital. Mezzanine funding (post seed, friends and family, or Series A) is often non-existent meaning without a hit game, the studio is done or converts to looking for work-for-hire projects.
So there are some of the challenges, but there are a lot of opportunities mixed in.
Lower Costs - If you can build cheaper, and at acceptable quality, there are a lot of buyers.
Unrestrained Creativity - Without funding and more established expectations, or even market viability research, studios sometimes create real gems that with the right help can reach their full potential.
We're always looking to work with new studios that are doing great things, so if you think you are ready to address the issues and embrace the opportunities, get in touch.
I just got back from OrlandoiX15, a conference and expo focused on technology and games in the central Florida area. I met a number of great indie teams and believe there is a lot more talent in the Orlando area than people know. My goal is to help nurture some of the teams I met and help them become full working studios that have sustainable businesses.
But now, it's time to focus on the next conference. I'm gearing up for EXPOEVA, a game development conference in Buenos Aires that takes place November 5-6th (http://expoeva.com/). The organizers have asked me to come down and hold a pitching workshop for developers so the local studios can learn more about the process of getting a game signed with a publisher. I've given this type of talk a few times in places like Germany and New Zealand and am looking forward to helping the teams in Argentina up their game in their publisher relations.
I encourage anyone interested in meeting during the show to reach out so we can setup a time to meet in person. I'm always excited to meet new people and hear about their experiences, while hopefully giving them advice on how to be better at whatever they choose to do.