Smith knows what he wants in a pitch, but just as importantly, he knows precisely what he doesn't want. He gave an overview of his approach to independent pitches, and then broke down a quick and dirty list of "do's" and "do not's." Read through Smith's pet peeves and praises below.
- Know what your game is. Be able to pitch your game in 30 seconds, and make sure your entire development team has a cohesive idea of what its doing. Smith played a clip of the Motorstorm developers separately describing their game, all of them using the phrase "brutal, off-road racing." The CEO of EyeToy Lemmings developer Team 17, however, said "Um" and looked at the ceiling a lot.
- Keep visuals simple and bold. Rip-o-matics work well as a quick and cheap option to showcase the main element of a game. Pre-rendered videos are expensive, but can work even when a project doesn't have a line of code to the actual game. Prototypes should demonstrate fun gameplay, not fancy graphics.
- Research. Don't be the developer who asks, "What's a Vita?"
- Manage your expectations. Sony will not back any game unless it will benefit the publisher itself, not just you. Be prepared to negotiate your IP: "Our goal is to get exclusive content," Smith said.
- Be able to adapt. By the end of development, most games don't resemble their initial pitches; keep this in mind and know that it's natural.
- Tailor your presentation. Pitching a game to Sony with a photo of XBLA controls might be a bad idea. Even Sony wants to feel special.
- Sell yourself as a company and as individuals. Sony has to work with the people, not just the game idea. Even if the pitch doesn't fly, the team might. Media Molecule is a great example of Sony wanting to work with the people, and then following through.
- Practice your pitch. Just like momma always said.
- Choose the right person for the pitch. The head of the company may not be the best person to deliver a pitch, hinging on language barriers, knowledge about the project or presentation technique. Pick someone on the team who can talk about your game to a room of suits with ease.
- Have assets. These include a one-page overview, screenshots or video, all on a USB stick for the publisher to keep. Don't waste time or money on swag.
- Show passion. If you don't care, why should Sony?
- Be boring. Make the presentation engaging and funny in appropriate places. Show some personality.
- Bitch and whinge about other developers or publishers. It's a small industry.
- Spend the entire time on your pitch. Leave room for Sony to ask questions and clarify your points.
- Bullshit. Sony's people know what they're doing and will be able to tell if you don't. Don't make things up if you truly don't know the answer.
- Tell publisher how to do his job. Don't tell Sony why it's a terrible publisher, and definitely don't tell Smith what he does wrong.
- Be late. Again, we're sure momma told you the same thing.
- Be hungover. Pitches are many times conducted during industry conferences, the night after blow-out parties. You have the rest of your life to drink; maybe take the night off if you have a presentation in the morning.