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The art of the pitch

The tenth MassDigi Game Challenge, an annual pitch contest, took place last week and here are a handful of lessons learned over the past decade of the event.

Last week we held the tenth, and first virtual, MassDigi Game Challenge, an annual pitch contest that gives developers of all ages, experience levels and backgrounds a chance to make friends, meet game industry professionals, get feedback, gain some confidence and, maybe, take home a prize or two.

Over that decade, the event - which really is a ton of fun - has featured nearly 400 pitches from indies, hobbyists, high school, college and university students for everything from rogue-likes and platformers to match-3s. GigaSword, an super cool action-puzzle metroidvania, and The Camera That Bleeds, a horror mystery game, were this year’s standouts. Other top performers from recent years include games like the much-anticipated Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, the comedy stylings of The Call of Karen and the pixelated-platformer Feral Frontier.

So, what can we say that we’ve picked up from all this? Not much. Just kidding. We’ve learned a ton and here are some of the top lessons:

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about the business model along with platform choice, genre comparisons and price really helps focus a pitch. It provides needed structure to help stay in scope.
  • Lore is less important than an interesting mechanic. Ten years ago we would often hear exciting stories about the game world only to discover the core mechanic was either basic, poorly executed or, simply put, not fun.
  • From year to year, we we’ve seen returning teams improve as well as relationships between teams grow, creating a positive feedback loop with the community. This has been an effective way for all involved to build up networks, identify new team members and raise expectations.
  • Teams that prepare, practice and iterate well in advance of the contest typically stand out from the crowd on the big day in a big way.

No one knows what the future holds but one thing we’re pretty sure of is that we’ll be back next year with another Game Challenge and we hope you’ll pitch in and join us. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

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