Pitching for real

Nine pitches. Nine hopeful game developers. Four tough judges. Growing Games Pitch Competition was a day of nerves, excitement, disappointment and finally: Glory.

 

- "Hey Mark. You can’t improve it anymore now. It’s perfect!"
- "Yeah, but I just changed it completely for the third time..."

Mark Folkenberg is still working on his pitch for ”Books & Magic – The Little Mermaid”. He’s already pitched it twice today, but in a few minutes, it will be for real. A panel consisting of Peter Schrøder from Egmont, Ali Emek from Logic Artists, Charlotte Delran from CIDE and Heidi Lindegaard from IBM will soon hear his pitch for the first time, critique his idea, performance and progress and finally decide if he’ll be the winner of a travel grant to Games Developers Conference in San Francisco next year.

Growing Games – Pitch CompetitionThe panel. Peter Schrøder, Ali Emek, Charlotte Delran and Heidi Lindegaard

But Mark isn’t the only person with sweaty palms and eyes fixed firmly at a powerpoint presentation right now. Most of his competitors are spending the final minutes before the competition in the soft cinema-chairs at Cinemeteket preparing and memorizing their pitches. Only a few are mingling outside, drinking coffee with members of the audience.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 071The Growing Games Pitch Competition 2015 was held on December 10, at The Danish Film Institute.

Fierce competition
Growing Games Pitch Competition is the final event of the year for the games developers, who have been enrolled in the Growing Games program in 2015. It’s a competition with some hefty prizes.

Besides from the travel grant worth 10.000 DKK – awarded by the Danish Producers Association - IBM has donated cloud storage worth up to $120.000 for the most promising startup. But it’s also a celebration and a showcase for potential investors. Quite a few of the 75 audience members are taking notes, as the competition progresses.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 016Nine brave pitchers and great audience. Jan Neiiendam, Vice President at Danish Producers Association bids welcome.

Lift off
First up is Alfred Nguyen who wants to merge western and eastern storytelling with his animé inspired game Forgotton Anne. "We are working to reach the hearts and minds of an audience that we believe are out there", says Alfred.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 027We are creating a crafted experience, explains Alfred Nguyen.

The judges are quite tough in their comments when his 5-minute pitch is over. "I’m still wondering what the game is about", says one jury member.

We are working to reach the hearts and minds of an audience that we believe are out there.

But Alfred keeps his cool:"We are not looking for people to come back. We are creating a crafted experience, that they only have to experience once."

Later in the day, Alfred wins the people’s choice award. The audience certainly loves his idea.

Animation and VR
The pitches continue. Charlotte de la Gournerie from Sun Creature Studios has an idea for a very early concept game. Her company works in animation and is looking for a games studio to cooperate with on the project. Ali Emek is ”not really that interested”.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 034Charlotte de la Gournerie from Sun Creature Studios

Christian Anton pitches a VR experience called Dreamspace. It sounds like a fun game, but Peter Schrøder criticizes him for not having considered what he’s offering a potential investor.

Ali Emek, who himself has pitched several hundred times, takes the opportunity to tell all the pitchers that they need to focus on the business side of their projects including basic information like which platform they’re targeting.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 036Christian Anton, Dreamspace.

The tension in the room is building. Are the judges going to continue being this critical?

Football and a VR shop
Next up is Christian Mørch and Dennis Gravenhorst pitching their football manager game. They are hoping to take on one of the largest competitors in the gaming industry, SEGA’s Football Manager. Peter Schrøder isn’t convinced they are able to show customers that they are truly unique and really stand out.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 039Dennis Gravenhorst, FMOTY, later won the prize for most improved pitch.

It’s time for the final pitch before the coffee break: Simon Lajboschitz from Khora takes the stage. He and his partner Peter Fischer has been in business for ten days and want to create the world’s first VR shop. 

 "We don’t want your money. We want your heart."

They already got the location in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking district.

- "We don’t want your money. We want your heart", says Simon.

For the first time today, the judges seem genuinely excited.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 042Simon Lajboschitz from Khora in front of the judges. Peter Fisher behind the screen.

Better times
It seems that Simon’s pitch combined with fresh coffee, cookies and a bit of mingling may be exactly what this competition needs.

Maiken Nysom brings a knitted bunny to her pitch for a children’s game called Fuzzy House. Peter Schrøder tells her to find a marketing strategy that might involve US knitting communities if she wants to achieve global success.

Maiken Nysom presents Fuzzy House - the most boring game of the year.

Pitch number 7 is Mark Folkenberg and his app/ book combination. His idea is, that kids should read the book through the mobile phone which will cause the pages to come alive. The Little Mermaid will virtually be swimming in the sea. He has already ordered 7000 books from the printer and has preorders in Denmark for 1300 books.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 056Mark Folkenberg from Books And Magic.

You are not going to sell 40.000 copies. You are either going to sell 10 or a hell of a lot. 40.000 is neither good nor bad.

Heidi Lindegaard (who has replaced Brandon Jones in the jury) criticizes Mark Folkenberg for not having brought the book to the pitch.

Peter Kjær is up next and he’s definitely a bit of a fan favorite in the room. He was also at the competition last year and he confidently takes the stage.

- "I believe e-sports is the future. And I believe that as a small company, we have to do one thing and do it great", he says. And asks for 3 million €.

Charlotte Delran asks if he could do with less. But Ali Emek believes that Peter is actually asking for too little and that 3 million is far from enough to compete with the other companies in his field.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 064Peter Kjær believes in e-sports. Here he is showing BattleSouls.

Final pitch
It’s time for the last pitcher of the day. Casper Friis Farsøe from Frostwolf Studios has been waiting in his seat during the entire competition and finally gets to take the stage. His game is a hardcore strategy game called Metallions. He is asking for 3 million DKR and hopes to sell 40.000 copies in the initial 3 months of launching.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 066Casper Friis Farsøe shows the experienced team behind Frostwolf Studios.

Peter Schrøder finds his number unrealistic.

- "Get me drooling", he says. "Show me the money. You are not going to sell 40.000 copies. You are either going to sell 10 or a hell of a lot. 40.000 is neither good nor bad."

And that is how the competition ends. Before the audience gets out of their seats, last year’s winner Michael Rud goes on stage to tell everybody what’s been going since he left last year’s competition a winner.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 049Michael Rud, CEO & Creative Director at PlayWood Project, and 2014 Pitch competition Champ.

- "In May we got supported by the Danish Game scheme, he says. This gave us the resources we needed to develop a very strong Alpha build. Thanks to the Danish Film Institute for believing in us. Secondly, we have got greenlight for distribution on STEAM, early in 2016."

That’s what it’s all about. Growing a games business is a painstaking process, but whoever wins today might just get a few steps ahead. With that in mind, the pitchers can have a beer. And everybody waits while the judges deliberate.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 079Break before announcements. Natasha Isabella A. Bonfils talks to Troels Landerholm and Kristian Hedeholm.

And the winner is...
The winner of this year’s Growing Games Pitch Competition is announced. A proud and happy Peter Kjær from Pixeleap can take home the oversized check, diploma, champagne and start planning his trip to San Francisco. Peter wins both the travel grant and the IBM award and the judges tell him, that  they are awarding him for having a grand vision and ambition.

Growing Games – Pitch Competition – 092Peter Kjær, Growing Games Pitch Champion 2015 with jury members Charlotte Delran and Ali Emek.

It’s the end of a full year of hard work and high hopes for the aspiring game developers. None of them have reached their end goal of global success and recognition yet. But one of them reached one of his goals today. To return to the Growing Games Pitch Competition and leave as a winner. Perhaps one of the other 8 pitchers will repeat his act next year.

FuzzyHouse

Image Gallery from Growing Games Pitch Competition on Flickr

ABOUT GROWING GAMES

 

Growing Games is a series of workshops presented by Interactive Denmark, focusing on business development for companies within game development, digital media, web, and interactive design. Through expert presentations, network and matchmaking Growing Games offer an outstanding way to strengthen business and achieve ambitions.

The yearly Pitch Competition is the season finale of the Growing Games workshop series, in 2015 held on December 10, at Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen

The First prize was a travel grant worth DKK 10.000, sponsored by Danish Producers Association, to boost international presence in 2016. The winner was selected by the jury.

IBM granted the most promising Gaming Startup the IBM Growing Games Cloud Startup Award. Selection of the winner was made by IBM. 

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