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wbrill23

How to "Sell" (pitch) a Proof of Concept/Prototype?

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I'm currently working on a POC along with a prototype for my Digital Multimedia Development course. We're talking about crowdsourcing this week, which leaves me with a few questions. How would you sell your idea for a game? I'm sure there are plenty of ways to go about it, but just in a general, step by step fashion, how would you do it? And are there any advantages to crowdsourcing your idea? Crowdsourcing is a pretty new concept for me.

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I would take the part about doing anything with an "idea" out of the picture. You need proof that you can implement this idea into something tangible. The best way to get an idea of what works and what doesn't work is to look at the current crowd sourcing that is going on with games today and review what is and isn't successful. Pay attention to what they initially had when they first started promotion. You also have to consider why anyone would want your game to be brought to production and what benefits they get for backing you.

I don't know if there is a "step by step", but if I was to go down this route I wouldn't even bother unless I had at least game play footage, amazing concept art, and lengthy detailed write ups for all the different aspects in what make this game worth backing. I would also find out how to compensate backers, which of course differs from game to game. (Credits, in-game items, status within the game, free DLC for life, part of the production brain storming team, flying out for meeting with the devs, ect...)

Does your course provide marketing as part of the material? If the topic about 'crowd sourcing' is coming up in class discussion by the teacher as part of the course then the teacher should be providing some details on what makes a successful campaign and what doesn't. Or is this just some extra home work research?

There are both advantages and disadvantages depending on how you set up everything with backers. The greatest advantage without a doubt is the financial backing provided which allows you to produce a quality product with the right amount of funding. You're also building a following and community along the way. The disadvantages can come when you allow 'ideas' to flow in from the backers unchecked, and allow the flow of development be decided by backers. This is the double edged sword in receiving their money and having to consider their input. Also, if you're not good in managing the money you can quickly find yourself among the many other failed projects which shut down due to "no cash flow". There is another thing to consider here, the money obtained through such a campaign is for your development costs, which means you'll have to keep in mind when you sell your game that your backers (depending on your arrangement) wont be paying for the game at retail rate, if at all. Which means if you're not able to make this your full-time job, you're going to be looking for a job really quick unless you can either generate enough sales, or provide alternative content to generate revenue. The cost to market can be very high, especially if you have zero experience. Thankfully a successful crowd funded project can provide it's own free buzz, but you still have to stay relevant.

You also will see a lot of problems with such campaigns which is why a lot of them never hit retail in comparison to the amount which get started. I've seen games which took money and made false promises day and night. I've also seen developers misuse the money, and even pick up and leave. There is also a bit of a bad taint spread across games that are crowd funded and if people should or shouldn't back them. There is also the flip side too, many great games got created which otherwise wouldn't have been possible, but they're not as common as the amount that fail to release successfully.

I personally would rather put up my own money or if I didn't have the cash and I believed in my product enough to take people's money online, why not use my credit to fund the project if possible or find another way to generate revenue. As a business person  I've always believed if I'm not willing to put my own neck on the line for my project (personally guarantee, put up my assets,  and financially be liable) then it's not worth doing to begin with. The last thing I would want it to do is take another person's money, and have a project flop. I might be able to walk away financially scott free by crowd funding but all those people still lost their hard earned money which I wouldn't be comfortable with because there are no guarantees in this business; You have to accept the risks at either your expense, someone else's, or both.

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13 hours ago, Rutin said:

I was to go down this route I wouldn't even bother unless I had at least game play footage, amazing concept art, and lengthy detailed write ups for all the different aspects in what make this game worth backing

I don't follow gamedev projects on KS to know if this is common but isn't this a bit chicken & egg? It seems to imply you've already done a huge amount of the work which would be expensive.

KS seemed to start off as a platform for people who had a prototype, but not the funds for manufacturing/distribution, to gauge interest and raise funds accordingly. Of course these days it's just used as a marketplace ("buy for 65% off retail price, but we're never going to sell it retail") but still.

Maybe it's just the harsh reality?

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1 hour ago, d000hg said:

I don't follow gamedev projects on KS to know if this is common but isn't this a bit chicken & egg? It seems to imply you've already done a huge amount of the work which would be expensive.

KS seemed to start off as a platform for people who had a prototype, but not the funds for manufacturing/distribution, to gauge interest and raise funds accordingly. Of course these days it's just used as a marketplace ("buy for 65% off retail price, but we're never going to sell it retail") but still.

Maybe it's just the harsh reality?

You forgot the 'if' part in the quote ;) 

15 hours ago, Rutin said:

but if I was to go down this route I wouldn't even bother unless I had at least game play footage, amazing concept art, and lengthy detailed write ups for all the different aspects in what make this game worth backing. I would also find out how to compensate backers, which of course differs from game to game. (Credits, in-game items, status within the game, free DLC for life, part of the production brain storming team, flying out for meeting with the devs, ect...)

You can put together game play footage without polished graphics, which is why I added in the part about having good concept art which would imply what the desired look would be for the game if funding happened. The game play footage can be a demo level, or a concept, and it goes a long way to show you're really serious about making the game. Anyone can go online and write paragraphs about their "amazing" idea and say give me money. You have to ask yourself this first, why would you back a game that is based 100% on an idea and if you don't even know if the "development" team even has the ability to make the game or manage the creation of their game? (This I guess would change if you're dealing with an artist and designer who would like to fund money to hire a programmer, but even then, a small demo would go along way)

I also said "if I" in the above quote so I'm speaking for myself personally because if I was serious about asking the public for money I would at least go the extra mile and make a demo level. There are a lot of projects that have small game play footage even if the visuals are rough, but at least that shows you're dealing with someone that actually can produce something. Again, as I'm speaking for myself I personally have the resources to put together a small proof of concept if I wanted to start a crowd sourced project, and wouldn't bother unless I can show the public I've put in the blood, sweat, and tears before asking for their help.

On Kickstarter you'll see a mix of projects: https://www.kickstarter.com/games?ref=home

These are projects that have some "proof of concept" just by looking at the home page quickly:

 

I just took the first projects I could see of the main page. You're free to do your own research as well regarding what projects have and don't have, but my personal opinion is still the same. I wouldn't waste anyone's time or money unless I've put in the hard hours and produced a proof of concept even in rough game play footage, no matter how small the footage. If someone wants to start crowd sourcing their game idea solely based off the "idea" then best of luck.

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22 hours ago, d000hg said:

I don't follow gamedev projects on KS to know if this is common but isn't this a bit chicken & egg? It seems to imply you've already done a huge amount of the work which would be expensive.

KS seemed to start off as a platform for people who had a prototype, but not the funds for manufacturing/distribution, to gauge interest and raise funds accordingly. Of course these days it's just used as a marketplace ("buy for 65% off retail price, but we're never going to sell it retail") but still.

Maybe it's just the harsh reality?

You're right, this is the harsh reality. The problem is that whatever Kickstarter was originally intended to be, doesn't matter - your project has to compete with whatever else is on there, and that typically means projects that are already partially funded and partially complete. They have a much more impressive-looking offering and suggest a lower level of risk to backers. It's uncommon for any footage on there to be final game footage, but in terms of showing part of a vertical slice as a proof of concept, they are a valuable way of convincing backers that you are able to deliver.

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