Jason Della Rocca is a longtime game industry veteran specializing in funding and investment as co-founder of the incubator Execution Labs. He joined Kris Graft and Alissa McAloon on the GDC Podcast to chat about the basics of what you need to know about seeking money to fund your game project.
A hands-on early-stage investor in more than 20 independent game studios, Della Rocca shares how to pitch to publishers, to venture capitalists, and when you should pitch your project to one or the other (but not necessarily both!).
Music by Mike Meehan.
Check out some highlights:
Jason and the "missing money problem": When to pitch to a VC instead of a publisher
"In most cases developers see [investors] as a uniform 'people with money' or 'things that have money,' and I keep on saying this: I have a missing money problem, so I'm going to go out in the world and find all the things that have money and I'm gonna knock on their door and say 'hey, can you solve my missing money problem?' And they don't really parse [who you should be pitching to].
"...If you're doing premium stuff, go down the [project-based funding] path, don't go down the VC path. If you're doing games as a service, free-to-play, highly-scalable online [games], then stick with the VC path or the venture path and don't waste your time with publishers. [Good pitching] is not only having the right pitch deck for the right audience, but it's also 'do not have one for the other audience because you shouldn't be pitching to them at all.'"
Jason on who you should pitch to
"Part of [seeking funding] is understanding who to reach out to. We're very fortunate now that there are dedicated game VCs...Part of your research is scouting for who are the right funds to chase; who should I be pitching to? And some of that's obvious because there's a list of game-dedicated funds. But there's also a growing list of non-dedicated funds that are doing game investments.
"One of the tricks is that every time you see an investment story pop up on [GameDeveloper.com], GamesBeat or whatever...go and read [their funding news articles]. Normally they say, 'funding was led by [X investor].'
"...Start logging that and start keeping your own spreadsheet and then you'll start to see patterns, like 'oh, it seems like this fund is always doing PvP games and this fund is always doing UGC games, and this fund is doing esports'...So that starts giving you a list of who you should be going after."