You're ugly, awkward and not that interesting. Pitching video games to journalists is a lot like online dating, and guys like Dan "Shoe" Hsu are committed heartbreakers.
Hsu, GamesBeat's editor in chief, was in Houston on Aug. 21 to explain why developers need to start caring more about the things outside their games.
It's not enough to get by with things like "quality" these days. Independent game developers need to get "dolled up" and learn that looks really do matter.
== More Trouble for Copycats ==
"Especially in today's world, in today's economy, you kind of have to be multi-faceted," Hsu said. "You have to get yourself out of the comfort zone a little bit and not think of yourself just as a game developer."
Hsu spent an hour talking to a crowd of established and un-established developers about the "Dos, Donts and Maybes" of game pitching.
Thinking about making the next "Minecraft" clone? Don't try it.
"Obviously, there is a market for s****y copycat games, but you're going to have more trouble promoting that stuff to guys like me," Hsu said.
The clone ribbing would continue into a discussion about logos. A good logo should give you a quick look into what a game will be like. A bad one will simply leave you fumbling in the dark.
"For some reason, XBOX Live indie games have a lot of box art that's been done in MS Paint, freestyle with a mouse," Hsu said. "You've really put a big obstacle in the way for me to want to play your game and/or write about it."
== Don't be a Dud ==
And that obstacle only grows bigger if the people behind the game are as uninteresting as its bland wrappings.
"You have to market yourself. You have to be likeable … Again it's like an instant roadblock for anyone who wants to pitch a game to a publisher, a retailer or a journalist.
"You've got a game like ‘Fable: Journeys'. Not a good game at all, but there's coverage out there because 1) it's a ‘Fable' game, and 2) because Peter Molyneaux is a great guy who can sell games. There's a reason why they put those guys in front of the press," Hsu said.
Winning over the hearts and minds of consumers and journalists is only part of the battle.
== Don't Neglect Your Staff ==
Whatever preconceptions you have about public relations and PR people in general, you'll need to drop them. Sure, some of them fit the model stereotype, but many more are gamers, ex-developers and ex-journalists.
Lose them, and you may have tossed any kind of exposure out the window.
"You're not just marketing your game to guys like me and consumers but to all aspects of the business," Hsu said. "If your PR guy has bought in, they see your vision, they like you, they like your game, they're more likely to push it."
Spending a little money on your project can often reap huge investments. Also, changing how you do things currently can get you some brownie points.
"SquareEnix, for some reason, will do all their emails in all-caps and it annoys the hell out of me," Hsu said.
I've got Hsu's full lecture on my YouTube channel, GameCongee:
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