Presented by Xsolla
Games are expensive to make and getting funded is a challenge even for experienced developers. In this VB Live event, join GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi and a panel of pros for tips on determining the funding you need, landing a meeting, developing and delivering a pitch, and more.
“There’s never been more games in the history of the industry — and there’s never been more money looking for good games,” says Justin Berenbaum, VP, strategic planning and GM at Xsolla Funding Club. “In my 25-plus year career in investments and money in the game industry, this is probably the craziest time I’ve seen.”
He points to the big industry news — Embracer Group’s acquisition spree, Microsoft’s recent run of investments, Tencent’s 31-deal streak last year and more. Brand new funds are popping up, like Griffin Gaming, Galaxy Fund, Kowloon, Makers, and more. Indie publishers like Raw Fury and Devolver are taking a toehold by pouring money into new indie titles. Some are investing in what Berenbaum calls triple-I games like the recent EA Originals titles, which combine indie creativity with triple A production values.
But while there’s more money in the market than ever before, it’s still a challenge for new developers to tap into the wealth.
Funding obstacles and opportunities
Across the board, investor expectations have gone up significantly over the last several years. The quality of new developer prototypes is raising the bar for what is signable or investable.
On the plus side, these developers are helping to push the boundaries of what’s possible and what’s next. On the other hand, it’s made it more difficult for developers that don’t have enough self-funding or access to early money to get a game to a solid state. They’re at a significant disadvantage when competing with folks who have that ability and experience.
“I can tell you now that most games I’ve seen over the last couple of years don’t get signed unless they have a solid prototype,” Berenbaum says. “Very rarely can someone just put together a good paper pitch and expect to get signed unless they’ve been there and done that.”
Finding publisher money is the most difficult, because the competition is fierce. Raw Fury might see 1,200 to 1,500 game pitches a year, but will only sign two to five. The other challenges are gaining access to the right people, and knowing where to find the funds.
Luckily for developers, there are many more avenues for self-publishing. Companies like Kowloon will offer a simple development contract to finish a game and self-publish. Crowdfunding, while more difficult than it looks, can be a lucrative avenue. There are more angels than ever before, giving money to developers just starting out. Some successful developers are throwing their name and money behind new games. And matchmaking platforms like Xsolla’s Funding Club are designed to facilitate matches between developers and investors.
“Our philosophy is, you don’t know where the next great game is going to come from, so the more games that can get funding, the more opportunities there are for great games to spring out of nowhere,” Berenbaum says.
Building a successful pitch
Sometimes a beautiful game can just speak for itself, but only if you get in front of the right people. Unfortunately, landing a meeting is often a matter of luck, connections, and being in the right place at the right time. Don’t rely on chance — a solid pitch and presentation sets you apart from the crowd, and convinces investors that you have a great game idea.
“Just like you continue to improve and work on your game, you have to do that with your pitch and your presentation,” Berenbaum says. “It’s not an easy skill, and continually improving it needs to be your focus.”
A pitch has a lot of moving parts, and it begins with thinking about what’s best for you and your game. Does your team have the ability to self-publish? Could you onboard people that can help you with this, or would you be hiring outside PR and marketing? Do you have a publishing plan? If you’re going to self-publish, do you have money for QA, localization, and other publishing costs?
“You have to think of this much more like a business than just building a game,” Berenbaum says. “I used to joke that games were scud missiles. We build, build, build, fire at launch, and hope they hit the target. Now even a small indie premium game is a living, breathing thing.”
In other words, games are not fire and forget — it’s about community, updates, patches and bug fixes, additional content and more. More than ever, investors and publishers are looking for the developers who are building a long-term plan, not just shipping a game.
Don’t miss this VB Live event for more insight from top investors. You’ll learn how to develop a successful funding strategy and a solid pitch, how to approach the investors of your dreams, how to determine when innovative new funding opportunities might be your best and most lucrative bet, and more.
Don’t miss out!
You’ll learn about:
- The funding available for game developers now
- Determining whether an investor is the right match
- The alternative funding options that are taking center stage
- Building a portfolio and pitch
- Successfully navigating meetings with potential investors
- And more
- Salone Sehgal, General Partner, Lumikai Ltd.
- Amy Wu, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
- Justin Berenbaum, VP, Strategic Planning & GM, Xsolla Funding Club
- Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer, GamesBeat (moderator)