Pitches from a Publisher's Point of View
Cheeky Parrot Games is often contacted by designers looking to pitch their game so I thought it might be helpful to write about what I consider in these situations.
Cheeky Parrot is now eight years old and we have published seven games. A few of these I consider evergreen i.e. they have been reprinted at least once and continue to sell well enough that I consider it important to keep them in print. Others haven't done as well, making it possible to compare and contrast to get an idea of what is likely to be successful for us. At any given time, I like to have one project under development as well, so this means our capacity to take on anything new is likely restricted.
In the early days of the company, I described Cheeky Parrot as publishing board and card games for the family, casual, and gift markets, and we had two card games on the market. Over time my sense of what exactly makes a game Cheeky has sharpened to the point that I usually know within the first few minutes if this is a game for us.
So what makes a Cheeky game? Broadly, it needs to be relatively simple, relatively quick to play, and able to be produced to yield a relatively affordable recommended retail price. It has to be wholesome and family-friendly and preferably playable by two to four or more people. I'm not especially interested in publishing a party, word, or roll-and-write game, but I never say never. Beyond that, the game needs a certain something, a je ne sais quoi that makes it special in some way. This could be an unusual theme, knock-your-socks-off art, or a unique twist on a mechanic.
If the game has that special spark, the next thing I have to consider is whether it will fit or can be made to fit into our existing range, so theme is a big consideration here, which leads to how I can imagine the game looking, including its box size. Box size, then componentry, determine how much the game will cost to produce. If the game has components I haven't used before, I may need to talk to our preferred manufacturer to get a manufacturing estimate.
If I'm still keen to proceed, the next step is to offer the designer a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to give ourselves time to continue playtesting and tweaking or, if the game feels finished, to run it by different players to get feedback. This often happens at events like Board Games by the Bay or Wellycon, and since attendees at these events are usually not my target market, I've learned to calibrate their feedback.
Additional steps before I'm ready to convert the MOU to a royalty agreement and to proceed with manufacture include finalising the component list, then the specs; getting quotes from manufacturers; and, sometimes, starting to get artwork done. Perfecting the rules involves cycles of blind testing and back-and-forth with the designer. Being a one-woman company, it's important to me to work with people I get along well with, and to keep them involved and invested as much as possible in the process.