Editors note: This article was written by Sarah Impey, Marketing Manager at GameAnalytics. You can find the original article here.
Publishers see lots of pitches from hyper-casual game developers. They’re looking for very specific things and they can afford to be picky. So here’s our guide to exactly what publishers expect from you and how you can show them your game ticks all the boxes.
Pitching hyper-casual games is different to pitching any other kind of product
If you’ve been reading our blogs about developing hyper-casual games, you’ll know it’s all about speed and testing. You have to create a minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as possible and then test, test, test to see if it’s likely to be marketable, scalable, and profitable.
Publishers are working on the same premise – it’s all about speed and testing. You need to show them what they want to see as quickly as possible and back it all up with your testing results. And it’s not just about the game. Publishers are also looking at you and deciding if you’re the kind of developer they want to work with.
Part one: your game
Hyper-casual is a very specific genre. You’ll need to show that your game has all the elements that have been proven to make these games successful:
- A clear and compelling core gameplay loop
- Smooth player controls and interactions that directly affect the outcome of the game
- A process of reward and feedback to keep your players engaged
- Clear goals that give a sense of progression to the core gameplay loop
- An accessible user interface and an attractive visual style
- Enough content to keep players coming back after seven days
- A reliable system for testing, tracking, and improving your game
- Any extra assets you have, like trailers, creatives, and ads
Still developing your game? Here’s are a few guides you can follow:
Part two: your testing results
It’s no good telling a publisher how great you think your game is, if you don’t have the stats to back it up.
Ultimately you need your testing results to show that your game has:
- High enough IPM (installs per mille)
- Low enough CPI (cost per install)
- Enough appeal to keep players engaged (retention rates)
Our GameDev Toolbox has all the products and services you need to measure these stats and get them where they need to be.
What stats should you be hitting?
We’ve listed out some rough benchmarks below for what KPIs you should be getting. Pretty much all of these stats are from our Benchmarks+ platform. Which now has a free tier, meaning you can now see key KPIs across all metrics and genres for 2019. Sign up for free here.
So here are some good baseline figures – including the minimum you’ll need to be viable (to be in the top 25% of games) and what’ll really catch a publisher’s eye (top 2%).
To be viable: 4%
To be in the elite: 10%
To be viable: around $0.50
To be in the elite: around $0.20
To be viable: roughly 35% day one retention, 8% day seven, and 5% day 14.
To be in the elite: roughly 50% day one retention, 17% day seven, and 10% day 14.
Keep in mind, the CTR can be often higher on some ad networks. And if Android is also included, then CPIs can also be lower. It’ll also depend on the publisher you’re speaking to. So make sure to use these as a very rough guide.
These aren’t the only metrics that publishers will use to assess your game. But they’re the key ones. As long as you make it clear and readable, you can include any metrics you think show your game’s potential.
Part three: your pitch
You have a lot of information to get across. So you’ll need to be thorough, but concise. And nothing will impress them more if you come prepared and ready. Here are the topics you’ll need to cover:
Introducing your team
Keep it very succinct. Just say who each member is, what they do, and what their credentials are. There’s no need to go into great detail.
Your game’s ‘elevator pitch’
Keep this to one or two sentences. Explain the concept in its most simple form. And be sure to get across what makes it different – this is what’ll make you stand out the most!
The key details about your game
This is all the information we covered in part one. Cover each subject with just a sentence or two.
This is everything we covered in part two. There’s no need to write around these figures. Just give them the data in a clear, easy to read way.
Your plan for next steps
It’s good to have suggestions for what you’ll do next if the publisher agrees to work with you. Let them know how much development time you’ll need, how much it’ll cost and what you expect to achieve.
You can also propose a monetization model. How does your game make money? How could you develop and improve this model over time? What are you testing, and why?
Part four: how to avoid common mistakes
Present yourself as a long-term partner, not a one-time seller
If a publisher decides to give your game the green light, you don’t just sign some forms and then sit back while the money rolls in. Getting published is just the start.
You’ll need to show them you’ll be continually testing, iterating, and improving your game. You need to show you’ll work with them in the long term to make your game a success.
Show don't tell
When you’re presenting something subjective, like your art style or core gameplay loop, let your work speak for itself. If you tell a publisher you have a ‘brilliant art style’ or ‘amazing gameplay’, it adds nothing and sounds a bit pushy. Just show them what they need to see and let them make their own judgements.
When you’re presenting something objective, like your retention rates or cost per install, let the metrics do the talking. Saying ‘we have brilliant day one retention rates’ is of no value – that’s just your opinion. Saying ‘we have 40% day one retention rates’ is what makes an impression.
And if your metrics aren’t quite high enough? That’s sometimes OK, because that is what they’re there for. But you need to share with them what your plans are if you want them to take you seriously.
Show potential, not a polished product
You want a publisher to see you as someone who knows game development and the hyper-casual market inside out. So you should be pitching a minimum viable product with potential and good metrics. That shows you’re developing quickly and testing constantly.
A lot of developers pitch fully polished games that they’ve already poured huge amounts of time and money into. This just shows they’re not developing in the fast, efficient, hyper-casual way.