Freelance Game Dev - How to Get Clients
According to the ESA, there were nearly 2,500 game companies in the United States in 2016. The industry size increased from $106 to $138 billion since then.
The game industry is about four to five times the size of the film industry, and it's growing rapidly.
This is good news for game developers. While a few big fish dominate this pond, the need for more, better and faster game assets, functionality, and other services is constantly growing. As more and more companies enter the space, there is an increasing demand for game development, administrative, marketing, and other services.
So to succeed as a game developer in this space, you could try to make games obviously, however that market is increasingly crowded as more companies compete for the attention of this growing market.
Another strategy, and the one I have chosen for Tech Drone is to focus on supporting those companies, and to provide tools and services to game developers as they grow in the marketplace. This includes freelance developers, artists, programmers, designers, marketers and other people who are as passionate about game development as I am.
To succeed, you need some skills. And the more skilled you are in a particular area, the more valuable you are to a game studio or publisher. In my case, I have a high proficiency in tools development, but this strategy applies for anyone: positioning.
In another blog post, Community Matters, I go into detail about some of the reasons why joining or creating a local game development community is so beneficial. It is also important because it helps build trust with other game developers, and some of them may become clients or might refer you to potential clients. There are a lot of game developers in my area, so I was able to get clients from my Meetup groups directly. However, even if this were not the case, you could use your community members as references when trying to close a new client deal. Just be sure to ask them for permission to give out their contact details first!!
My positioning strategy has helped me create a foundation that helps me in the next phase of my client acquisition strategy: warm emails. Warm emails are different from cold emails in that we have some connection to the prospective client before I contact them. Perhaps they are part of one of my Meetup groups, or maybe I met them through a friend or colleague. In any case, I focus on warm email prospects next because they have a higher chance of responding and having a positive initial experience with me that will eventually lead to a development agreement. It's important, when contacting warm prospects, to be respectful of their time. Don't send them a long-winded proposal or even a short-winded one if it's your first email on this subject. No one likes to be sold.
Instead, ask them about their current project. Read what they have to say thoroughly and try to view every situation from the prospective client's perspective! If they don't need help right now, don't press the issue. Just thank them for their time and move on to the next prospect.
Importantly: never, ever send form letters to warm prospects. People can recognize a form letter almost instantly, and they won't appreciate receiving such spam from you. Remember, the prospect is a person, not a business tool. They are a warm prospect because of your existing relationship so be respectful! Take the time to learn about what is going on in their business. Finally, always wish them well at the end, never at the start. If you start your letter with "Hi how are you doing?" it comes across as incredibly fake and perhaps a little manipulative. But, people do like it when you include some small talk and personal concern, so if you add a brief "I hope you're doing well!" at the end of your email, this simple courtesy goes a long way.
Remember lastly that game development is a very creative, exciting industry. Contact warm prospects whom you like and would like to work with, and leave the rest. With such a large number of potential clients, it's often better to pass up a deal if you don't like the client or want to work with them for some reason.
In the next post, I'm going to cover my strategy for contacting cold prospects: those potential clients with whom you have no prior relationship.
For more insights like these, consider signing up for the Tech Drone blog! You'll get a coupon code for free access to MultiGame Core as well, a powerful Unity tool that helps you create games quickly whether you're a code-free designer or a seasoned programmer.