Thursday, March 22, 2012

pitchWinPLAY Competition!


Pitch your game idea. Win the competition. Play your game!

GAMEscribe, LLC announces the launch of the very first pitchWinPLAY competition!  Starting on March 25th, 2012, they will begin accepting video game pitches for a new side scrolling platformer to be developed by Renegade Kid through the official website

"We are very excited to be bringing this opportunity to creative gamers everywhere, to those who have ever had the dream to see their ideas come to life but just never had the means to make it happen." says John F. Kaiser III, founder of GAMEscribe, LLC.

To make this happen GAMEscribe has partnered up with award winning developer Renegade Kid, creators of the award winning Dementium series, cult racing hit ATV Wild Ride and critically acclaimed Mutant Mudds, to develop the winning entry into a video game for the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

"This is a very unique and exciting opportunity for everyone. To think that someone out there will submit the winning pitch and actually be able to play their game is quite magical." raves Jools Watsham, co-founder and creative director of Renegade Kid.

Game industry professionals will judge entries based on their Originality, Marketability, Feasibility and Communication.  Entrants will be narrowed down to the top 10 Semi-Finalist which will then be sent on to guest judges to help rank the top 3 choices.  Grand Prize is to have their pitch become reality!  See official website for complete list of prizes.

* Conditions and restrictions apply.  See for details.

About GAMEscribe

GAMEscribe, LLC was formed in 2011 by John F. Kaiser III with the goal of giving a means to gamers who have all these ideas for games running around in their head but no means to make them a reality.  This is now achieved through the pitchWinPLAY competitions.

About Renegade Kid

Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid LLC is an independent video-game development studio based in Austin, Texas. Best known for their award winning Dementium™ series and the critically-acclaimed Mutant Mudds™, Renegade Kid has embraced Nintendo's new Nintendo 3DS handheld with the development of Majesco's Face Racers: Photo Finish, UTV Ignition'sPlanet Crashers, and "Cult racing hit", ATV Wild Ride 3D.


Renegade Kid

Friday, March 16, 2012

“Publishing games on the 3DS is hard. I give up!”

“Publishing games on the 3DS is hard. I give up!” That’s basically what I am hearing from publishers these days. “Only first-party games are selling on the 3DS,” is what they tell me. Hm, I wonder why that would be. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the quality of the first-party games compared to the third-party games, would it? I doubt it would have anything to do with the marketing and PR efforts put into the games either. No, it must be the fact that first-party games use known brands and have the word Nintendo on them; nothing more. You can bet your bottom dollar that if these games were handled in the same manner as most third-party publishers handle their own games they’d be in the bargain bin in no time.

I think the problem with a lot of publishers these days is the fact that they spend too much time looking into the past instead of looking into the future. It seems like every move a publisher wants to take must be measured by sales numbers of the past. Sure, I get it. It is smart to see what happened in the past. It helps gauge what MIGHT happen in the future. But, it does not dictate or predict what WILL happen in the future. There are so many variables you might have to – god forbid – use your human instincts to make a grown-up decision on your own and not fall back on stale data.

Publishers may think they’re playing it safe by relying heavily on old sales data, but I believe they are forcing themselves into an ever-narrowing funnel towards extinction. Publishers are so scared to make any bold moves it is almost as if they’re paralyzed. I understand that one bold move gone bad could result in bankruptcy. I am not suggesting you put everything on the line every time. That is a sure way to go out of business too. But, at least move forward with some moxie.

There are some simple steps to take in order to produce a successful game. I know these may seem insultingly obvious, because they are! The key is to actually understand them, believe in them, and follow through with the plan.

1. Go after an audience that you know exists!
I think it goes without saying - but I’ll say it anyway - that the larger the audience, the larger potential there is for success. If you’re making a game for a niche audience, then expect a niche return. This is where old sales data can help you determine whether an audience exists in a certain genre and how big it might be. By the way, this does not mean that making another pet simulator is a good idea. There has to be a legitimate reason this proven audience will want your game.

2. Make a good game, and know that it is good!
OK, I know that sounds ridiculous. I feel ridiculous even saying it. But, this is probably the most important - yet underrated - factor in this plan. If you’re about to bet your life’s/company’s savings on this game, you’d better make sure your game is good! Focus test it. Force strangers without an agenda to play it and give you honest feedback. You must KNOW that your game is good before risking anything on it. This is something that Nintendo do so well. They know their top games are good and do not consider them finished until they are. This is the key! Don’t release crap games, especially if you know it is crap. It is also just as insulting to the player if you are unaware of how good/bad your game is. If you don’t care about the quality of your games, please go and sell soap instead.

3. Ensure development budget is relative to assumed return from sales!
Whether you’re going for an eShop game or a PS3 game, don’t overspend on the development of the game. Be smart with how much content you can deliver in regards to the genre, audience, etc. If you spend too much money here, your marketing budget will go down to compensate, and you just lost. Spending less on marketing simply means less people know about your game, which means less people will buy it. This also means that you shouldn’t go cheap, either. Too many publishers want to spend next to zero on development budgets these days, which will produce low quality games. Shocker! You need to be smart with the budget, for sure, but don’t cut the knees off your project before you even start.

4. Invest money and effort into exposing the game: marketing/PR.
I think where many publishers give up is when they see the impressively expensive marketing campaigns that Nintendo put out. Don’t forget that Nintendo earned their ability to run these campaigns. They didn’t do this with their first game. They slowly built up their company piece by piece and added cash to their bank account with smart decisions. So, if you want to dish out fancy ad campaigns, like Nintendo, do what they did. Work hard to gain that ability.

Even if your game is relatively small, and your budget is relatively small, it is vital you get the word out there to your audience as much as possible. If people don’t know your game exists, they can’t buy it. It is possible to get a small but decent ad campaign going on many of the higher-profile gaming websites for a few thousand dollars. You can easily spend $2,000 or $15,000 on a single website, depending on which site you’re talking to. The exposure your game will get will be worth it. It not only exposes the existence of your game, but it also gives the game a sense of importance; important enough for the publisher to market it. If they’re willing to put money into advertising it, then it might be worth checking out. But, be careful. Don’t overspend here either.

Let’s take Mutant Mudds as an example:

1. Go after an audience that you know exists!
Not only is the eShop a captive audience due to the newness of the market, most players who are currently active on there are tech. savvy hardcore players. An old school platformer that delivers an authentic experience should have a good chance with this audience.

2. Make a good game, and know that it is good!
I knew Mutant Mudds was a good game and ready for release. The response we were getting from everyone who played it was great. This helped give me confidence in pushing Mudds out.

3. Ensure development budget is relative to assumed return from sales!
I had no idea what the sales would be on the eShop as it was so new. So, we just made sure the team and budget were as small as possible while maintaining quality. Fortunately, the tiny team was extremely passionate about developing the game, which helped with the limited resources assigned to the project. The dev budget was small.

4. Invest money and effort into exposing the game: marketing/PR.
I researched a lot on the cost of advertising, and honestly it seemed too risky to invest marketing money into an eShop game at this time. Once the eShop market grows it will become more effective to spend money on advertising, but at this stage I think exposure in the press with news, interviews, previews, reviews, and competitions is the way to go. This takes a lot of work, but it is worth every ounce of effort.

In the end, Mutant Mudds is a success. It has met our hopes for sales. It encourages us to make more games for the eShop market. If we had spent more time and/or money on Mutant Mudds we might have a different situation. Likely a worse one. That’s not to say that the eShop can't handle larger scoped games. It will just take some time before the eShop audience is large enough for that, which I believe is just a matter of time.

Please share your thoughts on my write-up, and let me know what you think is the best way to tackle today’s volatile video-game market from your unique perspective.