So, you can't go to conventions to pitch your games. That doesn't mean you can't pitch your games! You can still pitch them VIRTUALLY! I've already pitched several games via Zoom and other video conferencing systems and while it is a bit tricky, it can be done. Here are SIX pointers for VIRTUALLY pitching your game via video conferencing.
1. Create a landing page: As you prepare for your pitch or if you want to give the publisher a "take-away" about your game, go virtual! Create a web page or blog site for your board game that shows a few images of the game in action, write a short blurb describing what's cool and unique about your game and describes the game play, and don't forget to list out the "3 essentials" (Player count, Player age and Play Time). Or you can post your sell-sheet on the web page. If you can afford it, try to secure an URL with the name of your game as the address.
You can also list your game on boardgamegeek.com - which allows you to upload photos of the game, set all of the essentials and even list the types of mechanisms that compose the game. You can upload your rule book or even print and play files.
2. Make a video: In a recent panel at San Diego Comic Con, several game publishers said that the majority of the pitches they received recently were videos. This means that you are going to have to learn how to make a video if you want to pitch your game. Don't worry, making a video isn't as hard as you might think... as long as you are prepared.
First, you need to know what to say! Play out what you are going to do. Place pieces within easy reach. "top deck" cards if you have to. Make the game play the way that you want it to. Once you've figured out your "spiel", it helps to practice it a few times first. If you aren't good at improvising, then I suggest writing a script. No one cares if you are reading from a script, just try to make your delivery natural sounding.
Then you need a camera. Unless you already have a digital camera, then great but a cell-phone camera works fine too. Many designers shoot the game from their point-of-view. That's fine as long as you can concentrate on what you are shooting and remember to focus on the game. Don't let the camera drift away from the table or components. If you find you are no good playing a game and filming at the same time, then try to get someone to help you. Just make sure they know what you are doing so you can choreograph the camera with whats going on in the game.
When shooting your game, keep it short (3 minutes or less) but take your time. Skip extraneous details like backstory and just focus on what the player does. If you are going to show of a card or component in the game, make sure you linger on it for a moment so the viewer can properly see it. (I usually give myself a "three count" while filming.) Make sure you go through the key points of the game including how many players, how long it takes and how to win the game.
If you can shoot the demo in one sitting, that's fine. If you can edit, then even better. I wouldn't get too fancy. As long as the sound is clear and legible, you don't need music or sound effects unless it is part of the game. Keep away from visual effects too. You are trying to simulate the experience of playing the game in person, not make some flashy Hollywood trailer!
Don't make the publisher have to download the video. It's best to upload your video to a host site such as YouTube or Vimeo or even link it to your BGG listing for the game. You can then easily send them the link to that site for review.
3. Learn Tabletop Simulator: Many game designers have created prototypes in Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia to test their games during the pandemic. While this is a great way to get "real live" people to play your prototype, be aware that making the virtual prototype is lot of effort and can get very frustrating without help. I have been wrestling with Tabletop Simulator since the start of the pandemic and I finally feel like I know what I'm doing.
The documentation for TTS isn't great, the interface is un-intuitive and you have to prepare files like cards individually rather than by pages - which might be different than how you might prepare them for print and play or production. I also had some size issues when importing in models based on the polygon count and rotation of the model, but thanks to the help from a few tech-savvy friends, I was able to translate my board game Rayguns and Rocketships to TTS.
Right now, I've been using TTS over Tabletopia as I already own it (it costs $19.99 on Steam) and it seems to be what the majority of players are using. Some of the better TTS tutorials I've found online are here:
General features: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MfuHyBoJGE
Helpful user short-cuts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cjWpm9kj-I
Making a prototype in TTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AZwP4pKoP4 - Ludolodge has several other tutorials that are all quite good. Check them out!
If you know of other virtual prototyping programs, please list them in the comments!
If you set up your secondary camera ahead of time to show off your game, then it will be very easy for publishers to see your game. Or you can swoop it down close to show off the information on a card or some other component.
USB cameras are stupidly inexpensive right now. You can buy one on Amazon.com from $20 to $70 depending on quality and durability. Or you can do what I did, convert your Playstation's EyeToy camera into a USB one by downloading this free driver: https://download.cnet.com/EOCP-Driver-for-Sony-Eyetoy-USB-Camera/3000-2120_4-10532564.html
Just be aware that some video conferencing systems allow for easier switching of video sources than others. I've had great success with Zoom but haven't been able to switch cameras in Microsoft Teams.
5. Set-up in advance: I find it very helpful to have your game prototype set up in advance of the call. Take a half-hour ahead of the call to set up the game as if a few rounds have already been played. But make sure to "stack the deck" ahead of time to show off the game's best features.
You might want to set up more than one game, that way if you get done faster than you anticipated, you will have the other game ready to show. And if there isn't time to show any game, at least you were prepared.
6. The other things still apply: All of the pointers I shared in the previous post still apply - you are still pitching your game to a publisher, you just happen to be once removed.
Good luck and happy pitching!