Microsoft Just Pulled a “Sony” (Circa 2006)

Let’s look back to 2005 and 2006.  Sony’s Playstation 2 was the clear leader of that console generation.  The original XBox had a healthy market but they didn’t end up with near the penetration of the Playstation 2.  Sony comes out at E3 in 2006 and announces a console that will cost a minimum of $499 and there was a $599 version as well.  The gaming world was taken aback.  Sony had overstepped their reach and would pay for it.  Gamers jumped to the new Xbox 360 and the 360 would maintain the dominant market share versus Sony until today.

Now Microsoft has announced the Xbox One and you will be hard pressed to find a lot of good press on it.  Between the price tag ($499) the always on connectivity (face it, a camera and mic you cannot turn off is creepy), and the stance on used games they have set themselves up to trail Sony by this time next year.  The PS4 is cheaper ($399), it doesn’t operate like some creepy Big Brother, and you can play used games. Sony is also welcoming the Indie developers with open arms by allowing them to sell directly without a publisher attached.

This is one of those years where publishers are going to have to gamble on their investments because no matter how it looks now, we don’t know who is going to lead in market share.  If I were sitting in the greenlight meetings I would make it simple.  Core Games lead on PS4, casual and children’s games lead on the 360 (not the One).  With Microsoft’s market share right now there will be a lot of consoles being handed down to the younger brothers, sisters, cousins etc.  EA, Activison, and Take Two can all afford to launch games for both of the new consoles, but for the smaller publishing houses I would be making sure I have a PS4 Development Kit ASAP.

Licensing A Book For Games: How To Know If There Is A Good Fit

Several years ago I had the honor of working with a great author and her team to create a hidden object game based on her book.  The game was a fantastic success and hit #1 on several of the major sites.  As I am now able to return my focus to licensing with The Powell Group I wanted to share some insight into creating a similar success with a book.

The first step in the process is determining if the fan base of a book or author is going to help a game with it’s discoverability or aid in the monetization of a project.  One of the key reasons a developer or publisher is going to want to work with you is to boost the profile of the game they are creating.  For this reason you typically want to stick to books or authors who have been New York Times Bestsellers or have an extremely fanatical following.

Next you need to understand the gaming ecosystem and be able to pair your property with the right style of game.  Everything from the platform to the genre will depend on matching the properties audience with that of the game.  For example, when we created “Mary Kay Andrews: The Fixer Upper” we knew that the average demographic was women over the age of 30.  This tied in very well with the hidden object style of gameplay on PCs and Macs at the time.  The story in the book was well suited to this style of game as well and this synergy helped up create a success.  Creating an action game for a console would have resulted in a tragic failure as the demographics of those games are completely different.

Once you identify the best options for the platform and genre of the game you need to find the right partner to develop and publish the game.  Many times you can license your property directly to a publisher but you may want to find a developer who is willing to do the same thing.  The key to success here is working with an established team that has a successful track record with the genre and platform you have identified.

If you have any questions at all please let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.

They Aren’t “Connections” They Are People

A comment from Jordan Blackman inspired this post so credit where it’s due (and a shameless plug to check out his blog).  Jordan lamented the fact that people don’t refer to friends, colleagues, and clients anymore as “people”, just connections.  He’s right… and it’s sad.

If you want to do business development and do it well you have to have relationships, not just email addresses.  You need to be checking in with people on regular basis and seeing what you can do for them, not just pushing your latest sales email at them.  The best opportunities always come from understanding what the person on the other end of that email or phone call is doing and how you can support them.  So how do you do this?

I use a variety of products and services to track the people I know, remind me to check in with them, and manage how I can help them.  Primarily you MUST have a CRM solution and lately my favorite has been Nutshell.  I’ve used others in the past such as Goldmine, Salesforce, and Zoho but for a small company that needs an affordable, powerful system I’m loving it.  With the native ability to track twitter feeds I can tell at a glance what is going on at the personal or corporate level and I use the Google Apps integration to track my incoming and outgoing emails from people.  Why?  I always know what is important in their world and where we left off our last conversation.

I use another service called Contactually to remind me to check in with people that I haven’t spoken to recently.  Contactually also integrates with some CRM’s and your email accounts to follow when you speak to people.  By placing the people you do business with in “buckets” you can tell the service to remind you to check in every “X” amount of days.  Their dashboard gives you a color coded “at a glance” look into who you haven’t spoken to in a while.

The next time you’re checking in with your “connections” take a moment to step back and connect with them personally.  We’re all busy but pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of sending that email on occasion.  I’ve had great business relationships emerge from conversations that started with no business intention at all.  Get to know those “connections”, you’ll find that they are people too and you should strive to treat them as such.


Getting the Most From GDC: Step Three – Follow up!

As the show doors close and you wistfully dream of actually sleeping you still have a good bit of work to do. First off, don’t worry about that cough.  It’s called con-crud and it’ll pass in about a week.  Second off, start and schedule your follow ups.  While you were at the show you should have been grabbing all the business cards you could find and networking your butt off.  Now it’s time to put all that information to work.  Within the first three business days of your return, one week tops, you should have accomplished the following:

  • Entered all the business cards into your CRM (you do have a CRM don’t you?)
  • Connected to all the contacts via LinkedIN
  • Followed up by email or phone with each person from whom you received a card

Following these three simple steps will be a huge help to you in the weeks and months to come.  The notes you jotted on the back of each card will help you remember who was who, that’s why we did that.  Take the contact data and any notes from meetings and enter them into your CRM so you have that information down the road.  If you don’t have a CRM solution don’t worry, I’m going to do a post soon outlining the options and my recommendations.

Next you need to reach out to all those people on LinkedIN.  When you do this, do NOT use the standard LinkedIN blurb.  Take 20 seconds and write a one line note to your potential contact.  It is more personal and it makes a world of difference.  When I get connection requests from people I don’t know on LinkedIN I reject them flatly if they don’t take the time to introduce themselves.

Finally outline any upcoming opportunities and deliverables that may have come from your meeting and follow up with everyone via email.  Let them know you appreciated their time and move the needle a little further in your relationship by taking that next step.

GDC and the other shows we go to are great for networking and getting face time with the people we work with all year long.  By archiving that knowledge and building on it after the show you’re going to set yourself up for a much better batch of results when it’s all said and done.

Have fun at the show everyone, I hope to see you there!

Getting the Most From GDC: Step Two – Being Ready When It All Goes to Hell

So you have identified your targets, booked your meetings, and now you’re getting ready to head to San Francisco.  Guess what?  No matter how well you coordinated it’s all going to go to hell.  Meetings will reschedule, people will blow off the meetings, and somehow the two of you will end up different locations (Protip:  Don’t schedule meetings for “A” Starbucks – there’s a million of them).  Side rant, Starbucks is the worst place in the world to schedule meetings, everyone does it.  It’s going to be loud, crowded and you’ll get nothing accomplished.  It’s like the “W”, only smaller.

Confirmations: Send an email to simply confirm your meeting, sounds simple… few people do it.  I don’t know how many times I’ve had meetings get moved or cancelled at this stage, had I not emailed them to confirm the meeting I’m sure no one would have let me know and that is my time wasted.  Late in the week before the show send an email to each individual you are meeting with.  In the email include the following:

  • Time of the meeting
  • Location of the meeting
  • Picture of yourself (Not that one of you playing beer pong from Facebook)
  • Your mobile number
  • Request their mobile number

Here you’ve confirmed your meeting and you’ve given them the information they need to reach you at the show in the event they need reschedule.  Make sure you get these out in time for people to read them before they leave the office and hit the road.

Packing: You can buy new socks in San Francisco, it’s harder to get business cards.  Make sure you pack a lot of them, if you’re doing your job correctly you’ll run out.  Also make sure you print out your schedule.  Google Calendars and smartphones are awesome, until an entire tradeshow is taxing a wi-fi connection and deep in the bowels of a convention center there is no cell service.  A physical copy will always be ready for you.  I also like to jot down a few key points for each meeting on my schedule, that why if I only end up with a few minutes to chat I can make sure my key points are expressed or questions get answered.

At the Show: Once you are at the show there are three things you should always have on you.  Business Cards, your physical schedule, and a pen.  Hand out cards to everyone you talk to and make sure you jot a note down on the back of any card you receive.  I’ve been doing this for fifteen years now and I STILL get home with that one card that I’m going “Who the hell was this?”.  Take a moment at the end of the day to write yourself a reminder on the back “Met with Adrian – iOS developer”  Easy enough.  Make sure you are picking up any industry and trade magazines.  Some of the national organizations put together brochures and booklets about companies in their country, you can often get good contacts and leads there.

Finally.. be kind to one another.  Introduce people that you know but don’t know one another and when you do so say more than their name.  “Rick, this is Jay, he is a business development consultant.  Jay, Rick is with XYZ company and they just started publishing iOS titles”.  These rule also applies at parties and mixers, don’t be “That guy/girl” but we covered that in the last episode.

Have fun everyone, I’ll see you in San Fran.

Getting the Most From GDC: Step One – Know Your Role

Game Developer Conference

Game Developer Conference

GDC is just over a month out and the industry is starting to realize we’re all going to be descending on San Francisco for yet another year.  Some folks may not know this but there is actual business that goes on at that show.  I’m serious!  It’s not all just developer rants, free swag, and beer.  I can tell I already lost some of you.

Going to a show to get business done is work, trade shows aren’t a vacation and you need to prepare for them as such.  That’s not saying you can’t have fun, some of your best networking and relationship building is going to be done after the expo closes.  You just can’t show up to those parties completely smashed.  I’ve seen everything from leads passing out to CEO’s coping a feel on their interns.  Don’t be that guy!  Have a drink, be social, but take it all in moderation.

Everyone should be starting to book their meetings in the next two weeks so this is the time to start getting ready.  Sit down and identify your goals from a company and individual standpoint.  Are you going alone to evangelize your business or do you have multiple members of your team that will be there for staff development as well?  Use this time to educate your junior members, don’t have them in meetings where they are adding no value.  Have them on the expo floor demoing the new tools or in the sessions learning about the latest trends in the industry.  Your executives and biz dev types need to be the ones running the meetings.

Once you have your goals and objectives set you should target and identify your meetings.  Use your own network, LinkedIN, or the conference sessions and speaker list to see who is going to be attending this year.  Don’t book “meetings for meetings sake” it wastes your time and those you meet with.  Tier your targets into three groups and start from the top.  That way you know you’ll get the meetings you need and they will be worthwhile.  Once you get an acceptance, schedule that meeting immediately in Outlook or Google (or whatever you use) and make sure the other attendee’s are notified.  So where should you meet?

This is key as it will effect your scheduling.  Not all of your meeting will be at the show itself so you need to be aware of that when you’re booking them.  Many people will want to meet at the “W” Hotel near the show and it is quite convenient   Because of that it is usually packed with people and I typically avoid trying to do meetings there.  The W is great for networking, but try to find somewhere a little quieter for your meetings.  Nothing is going to get done if you and your attendees spend the entire time saying “Hello” to everyone walking by.  Now if your meetings are near one another, a half hour slot should suffice for an introduction meeting.  Use your own discretion if this is a client or you have specifics to discuss.  Also check your walking times between meetings and make sure you have time to get from one hotel to the show or another hotel.

I’ll deepen this discussion in further posts but in summary:

  • Define your show objectives now
  • Tier your targets for meetings
  • Contact those companies
  • Book your meetings wisely

I’ve been doing this for many years, if you have any questions at all feel free to reach out to me!

Finding and Using the Right Images

Pinterest LogoI’ll get back to the game industry rhetoric soon but I wanted to throw this out there as it’s information I’ve found very useful lately. I’ve been working on reformatting the professional side of Verus Entertainment‘s various social media sites lately and I found a few interesting articles I wanted to share along the way.

First is this massive infographic, click through on it to see the full size version but as I had to create new cover images and logo images for Google+ and Facebook I found it to be very helpful.

The second is an article on Shareaholic that guides you through the legal use of images in your blog posts.  Tips on where to get them and how to use them effectively are also in there.

You can also find these articles and a few more in my growing Pinterest board. Enjoy!