An initiative of:
The third edition of La Caravane, a tour for Quebec video game entrepreneurs, was an opportunity for them to develop their business and penetrate new markets. Usually organized as a regional tour through Montréal, Sherbrooke, Québec City and the Saguenay to meet independent game development studios, the initiative had to reinvent itself to cope with the new reality of COVID-19 and social distancing constraints.
How will video game entrepreneurs overcome these challenges to boost their global business development? Take a look at this unique event that gave industry players inspiration and tips on how to promote their activities.
1- La Caravane: Promoting Quebec video game excellence around the world
From June 16 to July 10, the province’s independent studios participated in Quebec’s first virtual edition of La Caravane. An initiative by Ubisoft, La Guilde du jeu vidéo and Québec EPIX, La Caravane has been reinvented this year, offering a unique lineup of:
- Four training sessions with experts
- Sales pitch sessions
- Professional discussions with international delegates and investors
The goal? To go on a virtual world tour to promote their innovations and penetrate new markets.
2- A look back at the success of the virtual training sessions with experts
2.1 An overview of La Caravane Part 1
From June 16 to 19, over 70 participants—including 34 different studios and many independent programmers and collaborators in the industry—discovered business opportunities, shortened their learning curve, and improved the quality of their sales pitch.
Let’s look back at this exciting, exclusive event:
- 1 well-known host, Carl-Edwin Michel, Founder and CEO of Northern Arena
- 1 kick-off by Francis Baillet, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Ubisoft
- 11 speakers preparing participants to meet publishers and investors from all over the world
2.2 Day 1 – Show your passion for the game
Improve your chances of being chosen quickly by a publisher
“This is the perfect time to pitch your projects!” said Julien Cuny, Portfolio Director at Google Stadia, live from California.
Pitching your project is just the beginning of a long process—here are some tips to help you save time:
- Keep in mind that your game represents you
- Avoid leaving out details and looking like amateurs
- Include high-quality videos and a slideshow that present the essence of your game
- Ask developers you know and trust to listen to your pitch and give you feedback
- Describe all the specifics, like the type of perspective used in the game
“Usually, simple oversights don’t have major consequences, but here, neglecting the smallest detail can cost you dearly. You need to transmit the most information possible and make a good impression right from the start,” added Julien Cuny, a video games and entertainment specialist, sharing experience he acquired in Monaco, Paris, Montréal, Toronto, and California.
Build a co-development team that’s more than just a business relationship
“100% of new AAA games are produced collaboratively,” said Julien Ramette, Business Development Director, and Nathalie Provost, Director of Codev Outsourcing—two Ubisoft executives located in France and Montréal, respectively.
They described the inner workings of video game production at Ubisoft that should be considered in your action plan:
- You need to know how to work in collaboration with multiple production studios
- You need to be able to manage multiple workplace cultures, which change from one team to the next
- You need to be able to convince people you’re serious, but how?
- Concentrate on innovation
- Focus on production plan quality, the key steps of the project, and marketing strategy
- Communicate clearly and honestly about the project’s issues and challenges
- Aim to expand the cultural, social and educational framework of the game
“It’s like signing a marriage contract!” Julien Ramette and Nathalie Provost emphasized.
Create games that people want to play
CEO of Game Seer Bertrand Vernizeau, who is based in Switzerland, recommends the following:
- Make sure investors can visualize your concept without being in your head
- Put your prototype in your investor’s hands, even though it’s your baby
“There are no rules. Sub-par teams can make great games, while video game geeks from well-known companies don’t necessarily work well together. Team chemistry is what counts when it comes to finding an existing segment and developing it for the sake of the community,” specified Bertrand Vernizeau, an investor who is just about to release his latest game.
2.3 Day 2 – In the United States, Europe and Asia, your brand makes you unique
Europe: Germany, the U.K. and Sweden – Understand local particularities and target collaborators:
- Germany has a market of 34.3 million video game players, 48% of whom are women
- Gamers over 50 are the largest group of video game players in Germany (29% of the market, 10 million players)
- The U.K. is the fifth largest video game market in the world (CAD 9.75 billion) and, like Germany, 48% of its gamers are female
- Over half of the British population plays video games (37.3 million residents, a mature and experienced video game market)
- Sweden is the gateway to the Scandinavian video game industry
- The lack of industry talent in Sweden leads to consolidations and acquisitions elsewhere in the world
A useful portrait of European video game markets presented by two economic attachés from Investissement Québec: Katharina Benz, who works for the General Delegation of Quebec in Munich and Onur Devrim, who works for the General Delegation of Quebec in London.
Asia: Japan – Tips for conquering the market:
- Saying that Japanese players are passionate about video games is an understatement. Did you know that 17% of them play 6 to 10 hours a week, 7% play 11 to 15 hours a week, and 12% play more than 16 hours a week?
- The recent video game prohibition goes against their civil rights.
- Japanese gamers are attached to physical copies. 28% purchase games on disk and other physical media, which they buy from stores.
- This society that emphasizes agreement and prefers not to use the word “no” exhibits long-term loyalty once trust and goodwill has been established.
An array of key characteristics from Thierry Slama, International Trade Advisor, Asia-Pacific and Oceania Markets for the Government of Quebec.
North America: United States – Wise recommendations:
- Fine tune a sales pitch that focuses exclusively on the benefits game publishers can reap
- Prepare, prepare, prepare
- You have 30 seconds to make an elevator pitch
- You have 15 to 30 minutes to pitch a game during a meeting
- Distinguish yourself by the experience your game provides
- Get right to the point in this saturated, competitive market
An overview by Mélissa Isom, Commercial Attaché to the Delegation of Quebec in Los Angeles.
2.4 Day 3 – Your project should captivate gamers or revolutionize the video game industry
“Nothing is worse than presenting a poor copy that will not generate a return on investment,” emphasized Denis François Gravel, President and Presentation Advisor at PRESENTability.
Here are a few tips for creating a charismatic pitch and hooking someone in 15 seconds:
- Convince the investor to finance your game
- Convince them that your concept is promising
- Convince them that they will be investing in a talented team
“We don’t go to the hardware store to buy drill bits. We go so that we can make a hole in the wall,
” quipped Denis François Gravel.
- Create a project around a humanitarian or eco-friendly theme, for example
- Develop a video game that no one has ever seen before
2.5 Day 4 – The presentation – Don’t underestimate your calling card
Convey the essential: The value of your game
The CEO of ManaVoid Entertainment, Chris Chancey, used his passion for gaming to inspire.
Creating a memorable presentation – SLIDESHOW AND KEY MESSAGE:
- Start with a picture of the game that is worth a thousand words
- Start a dialogue with the video game publisher and find out about their needs
- Show your project video
- Condense your arguments into an elevator pitch
- Talk about opportunities, the market, Kickstarter-type market tests, your successes, the game’s storylines, etc.
The trick is to prove that you are on top of:
- Your numbers
- Your market
- Your ability to produce the game thanks to a solid team
- Your game’s potential with your target audience, which has been tested at trade shows, for example
- Your game development team’s ability to think strategically and elicit emotion, which will give future investors confidence
90 seconds to build a memorable three-step presentation
Louis-Étienne Beaupré, Studio Head at Sunny Side Up, talked about the reality of video game marketing:
- Present your concept’s added value.
- Invest in your game. Avoid false economies.
- Focus on the music. It’s crucial. It reflects the game’s personality, intensity and rhythm. It elicits emotion.
- Demonstrate what makes you unique.
- Create value with your brand.
3- Part 2: Test your innovations and get them approved with GamesfromQuébec
Apart from innovation, planning your business development strategy is essential. Comments from participants suggest that the first virtual La Caravane was a success so far. Now armed with best practices for sales pitches, La Caravane participants had an unprecedented opportunity to get ahead of the pack in the video game industry and create business ties with potential international investors.
From July 6 to 10, they presented their sales pitch to a panel of international delegates, investors and potential partners, grouped according to target market. A total of 21 B2B meetings were held. The panel gave participants feedback on their pitch during Part 2 of the first virtual La Caravane.
La Caravane is an initiative of Ubisoft, La Guilde du jeu vidéo and Québec EPIX, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) and the Government of Quebec.
For more information, contact:
Advisor, International Market Development