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How to respond well to an RFP (request for proposal)

Many studios develop games on behalf of publishers who entrust them with the task of designing and developing a game for one of their franchises. Publishers start by selecting a list of studios likely to develop this project and send them an RFF.

Many studios develop games on behalf of publishers who entrust them with the task of designing and developing a game for one of their franchises. Publishers start by selecting a list of studios likely to develop this project and send them an RFP, a request for proposal.

The reply to an RFP is different from a pitch deck. The purpose of this publication is to share best practices for preparing it correctly, increasing your chances of being selected by the publisher and entering into exclusive negotiations with the latter.

The content of an RFP response document

There is no standard format, model that everyone uses. The studios are therefore free to put whatever they want in it. The content template that I offer you is therefore based on the best practices that I have observed among my clients.

1) Introduction

If there is a part that must seek to seduce, it is this one. The introduction is intended to seduce a possible senior official who will not read the entire document but who will want to make sure that the RFP is consistent with the franchise.

The few pages of the introduction should therefore only include a few key points that will seek to demonstrate that the game project respects the main traits of the franchise. As an option, you can add a page listing the main features of the game.

2) Marketing summary

It is a summary table that allows a marketing manager to position the game project in relation to the market. The main headings of this table are as follows:

  • Genre
  • Game world
  • Platform(s)
  • Game mode(s) and number of players
  • Target audience
  • Languages
  • USP (unique selling point)
  • Economic model
  • Age rating
  • Game structure
  • Rendering
  • Camera type(s)
  • Type(s) of control
  • Main actions of the player.

3) A comparison with competing titles (optional)

Such a comparison takes a time to prepare, which is why it is optional, but it is interesting because it demonstrates that your studio knows the competitive environment of the game that it is required to develop on behalf of the publisher.

4) Gameplay

In this part, all game mechanics should be explained and illustrated. Artwork must show what the player will see on their screen.

For games with a strong narrative dimension (action-adventure, action, RPG, adventure, etc.), I recommend developing a walkthrough describing the beginning of the game. Indeed, the simple description of the game mechanics does not always make it possible to understand what the player will experience. A walkthrough should be written like a novel. It can also describe what the player feels, thus making its reading more thrilling. Of course, a walkthrough must also be properly illustrated.

5) Monetization strategy

Today, we can no longer content ourselves with proposing a game concept without proposing a monetization strategy. The representative of a major freemium publisher once told me that he was desperate to find that half of the game projects he received didn't even mention monetization... although he kept saying that it only publishes freemium games.

As a reminder, a good monetization strategy does not consist in defining what we will sell in the game; it consists of explaining how the gaming experience will convince players to spend money on a free game.

The monetization strategy also describes retention mechanisms - short and long term - and possible in-game viralization mechanisms.

6) Artistic letter of intent

This section must show your artistic choices. If possible, it should include illustrations of backgrounds, characters, and even menu screens.

If you don't have the time or resources to develop so many assets, come up with mood boards.

7) Technical choices

List the technical solutions you plan to use: Game engine, software suites, but also project management, and versioning software.

If you plan to use your own game engine, present its advantages, list the games using it and add screenshots.

8) Presentation of your team

This part is one of the most important. It is useless to present the best game project if you do not reassure your interlocutor on your ability to carry it out.

Display the past achievements of your studio but above all, individually present the key members of your team. They are the ones who will make your offer credible. Promote their accomplishments, including at other studios.

9) Additional content (optional)

Today, many publishers are integrating additional content into the life cycle of their games. It serves to retain players, maintain media interest and, eventually, generate additional revenue.

Submit a list of additional content to the publisher. Your interlocutor may not include it in his initial budget, but it allows him to demonstrate that your game project has potential in this area.

10) "Game-as-a-service" dimension (optional)

If your game is a "live game", a game designed to support events, plan a section entirely dedicated to this theme. Some publishers, for certain game genres, place a lot of importance on this.

11) Budget

Present a relatively detailed budget. At this stage, it is useless to break it down by month; just give the overall amounts by line of expenses as well as your estimate of the number of man-days, by department (art, coding, etc.).

Finally, do not try to minimize the overall budget in the hope of seducing the publisher. Too low a budget will do you a disservice because it will make you look like amateurs who are unaware of the implications of full development.

In conclusion …

Fellow editors, help me improve this summary. Send me your comments or suggestions for improvement ([email protected]) or share them as a comment to this publication.

My previous publications:

Freemium games - Let's not forget the basics of good game design FEATURED POST

Progression mechanisms: Blessing or curse of modern action-adventure games? FEATURED POST

Ubisoft announces that it will develop free-to-play triple-A games: Has the French publisher gone mad or visionary? FEATURED POST

Pascal Luban

Creative director & game designer, freelance

Photo credit: elnavegante

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