More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Games Lift: What we do in our workshops

Good things are happening in our Games Lift Incubator workshops right now. A lot of them are confidential. But some of them are not! We got to listen in on two veterans of game marketing and pitching. One of them is a new addition. Find out more in our new Games Lift Log entry!

The games industry is changing rapidly, all the time. In order to give our teams the info that’s most relevant right now, we at the Games Lift Incubator strive to win over real, established experts actively working in their industry. We are overjoyed that local luminaries like Super Crowd’s Wolf Lang and Michael Schieben, co-author of The Product Field are making a return.

Our newest discovery

One particularly noteworthy addition to our line-up of coaches and speakers is Simon Carless. He hardly needs an introduction: Among other things, he shaped Gamasutra (recently renamed, the Game Developers Conference and the Independent Games Festival. These days, his GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter is required reading for anyone interested in selling games on Steam and elsewhere.

Simon is adept at pulling gems out of his immense store of knowledge. His first point is the sheer importance of discoverability. Being seen at all is the biggest challenge for developers, he reminds us.

On Steam alone, there are over 250 games getting released every week. How do you stand out in a marketplace this crowded? For Simon, it all has to start with an inward look: What is your game’s hook? How to define it and how to put it into words can be hard to explain. The wide variety of game projects in this year’s Games Lift Incubator is testament to that. But when Simon talks to every team individually, he is remarkably quick at identifying what’s important. For Monstersongs, the genre description alone is a looker: A “VR rock musical”? That sounds completely new! For others, it might be something that players can cling to. Tool1’s project The Invitation could be described as a looter-shooter, for example. Simon knows how popular the genre is among players today and strongly encourages the dev team to get the term front and center when describing their game.

Simon also has 10 commandments of Game Discoverability on hand. In contrast to other commandments you may have heard, Simon’s get remarkably specific. That is because there is concrete data behind them. When Simon talks about the importance of Steam wishlist additions or followers, he knows how they relate to each other and to sales. For readers of his newsletter, this might sound familiar. What’s new is the interactivity. He has a way of quickly finding an encouraging answer to almost any question.

A sneak peek into Simon Carless' workshop on game discoverability

Big Pitcher

Steffen Rühl is another well-known name in the games industry. He has worked in business development at astragon, dtp and EA. And he sat on a variety of juries and funding committees, among them the “Deutscher Entwicklerpreis”(German Developer Award)German Developer Innovation Prize from its inception. In his pitch training workshop, he brings a real insider’s perspective.

His style of presentation is remarkably interactive, even in a Zoom meeting. “What do you need?”, is his first question. And he isn’t afraid of following teams where they need to go – even if it is testing the limits of his workshop.

Perhaps the most encouraging lesson Steffen has for the teams is to be themselves. He may be blunt about what works and what doesn’t, about how the person doing the pitching has to adapt to the audience. But he keeps emphasizing the need for each team’s personality and its vision to shine through. Showing enthusiasm is essential.

Steffen is refreshingly open about the necessary limits of all expertise. Most participants in this year’s Games Lift Incubator aren’t newcomers, so he invites them to share their own experiences with specific juries and committees. What he can do is put them into context in new and enlightening ways. 

A real eye-opener are Steffen’s reminders to think about the people at the other side of the table. What do publishers, investors, or members of a jury actually look for in a game? Identifying the different goals and needs, and addressing them in your pitch can be a north star when deciding what to include and what to emphasize. The money guy from a big publisher might actually be risk-averse because backing a commercial flop could end his career. An investor, on the other hand, might actively search for a talented team with long odds.

Steffen’s talk quickly runs into the time limit. He doesn’t sweat it and keeps answering questions well into the break. After lunch, he still coaches each team individually. But we won’t sit in on that. What we will get to see, however, are the results of Steffen’s coaching – at a later date.

The Games Lift teams in Steffen Rühl's workshop


Games Lift 2021 - Accelerating Now

The preparations are done. Now comes the fun part: The 2021 iteration of our Games Lift Incubator has begun in full. Workshops are in session. Read more in entry #2 of our Games Lift Incubator Log.

Games Lift 2021 - New and Improved

After our first Games Lift Incubator 2020 was a success, we worked on the program for the new Games Lift teams 2021. Find out what is new and what improved in our Incubator Log #3

Kick-off for Games Lift Teams 2021!

It’s on: Yesterday, we kicked off the intensive phase of Games Lift Incubator 2021 together with the five dev teams from Hamburg. For the next three months, the teams will be able to fully concentrate on their game ideas and attend workshops and individual mentoring sessions with international industry experts.

Games Lift Incubator: these are the five teams 2021

Five up-and-coming game developer teams from Hamburg convinced the awarding committee with their project ideas, pitching their way into the Games Lift Incubator 2021. The incubator program starts on September 9 and aims to prepare the teams for the challenges of developing and marketing their games projects in the international markets – through start-up funding of 15,000 euros per team and an intensive three-month workshop and mentoring program under the guidance of international industry experts.

Games Lift returns: Apply now to grow your game – like these developers did last year

Last year, Gamecity Hamburg launched the Games Lift Incubator. Five teams took their projects to the next stage during their time in the incubator. Now Games Lift is about to return.

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