Game publishers will never always pick up a particular game. While the story may work, the timing isn’t right for the publisher. The only way is to wait for things to align properly or create something else. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. You spent all your time programming your game and publishers are not picking it up. Sometimes, there’s something wrong that needs to be corrected before you can resubmit it.
Category or Genre Isn’t Fit for the Publisher
The most common reason why publishers reject is if the genre of your game, or its plot, isn’t right under their mission. Sometimes, games may get rejected for this reason if you didn’t do the proper research before putting your game’s universe together. This problem can also happen when it comes to the target age group of your game.
Game is Riddled with Bugs/Glitches, or the Plot is Lackluster or Difficult to Understand
Games can get rejected if your game is laden with inherent bugs that you were simply too lazy to fix. The same thing can go with your game’s plot, usually due to weak voice or style, write dull dialogue, or lackluster in-game text. It’s best to work with a literary agent, who will help you make sure your work is up to par before pitching it to publishers. You can also work with a QA tester or a critic who can offer a critique and tell you all the things that you need to fix before sending it off.
You Don’t Know Your Target Audience
Beware that if you intend on targeting both kids and adults, you’re less likely to succeed. Not all games appeal to everyone. It’s best to have a target audience in mind or an ideal type of player to which your game can appeal to. If you can show them what kind of player your game and its plot will appeal to, they’ll have a better understanding of where your game will fit in the marketplace.
The Game’s Universe Doesn’t Feel Organic
A game’s universe that pulls its weight around can lead to rejections. Regardless of where your game takes place, whether it be the real world or a fantasy world, it is likely you didn’t do the work of highlighting what’s special about your game’s setting. You can fall in love with certain parts of your game universe, and then communicate those special parts to your players.
Make sure you don’t broadly describe in detail and ensure players get those main ideas when comprehending your game. If you’re having trouble finding the right balance, hire a critic or editor who can help you.
High-Level Plot Summaries are Weak or All Over the Place
When you submit a pitch to a publisher, you’ll usually include a query letter that includes the synopsis of the game’s plot, as well as a playable demo. Every great game can be reduced to a short summary that describes what the game is about and motivates players’ interests.
In-Game Characters Aren’t Interesting or Unique
It is recommended you have a playable character who is interesting or unique. If a publisher tells you that the main character isn’t interesting or doesn’t connect to other characters, then you won’t likely succeed. It’s important the character has goals they need to accomplish, their backstory, values, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Just like everyone you see in the real world, they must be multi-dimensional.
If you’re having trouble with this, consider getting an opinion from a professional editor. They can tell you what you’re missing and help you get the character up to par.
You Don’t Have a Strong Voice
You need to have most or all of the ingredients of your game’s world in place – including characters, thematic elements, and plot. Keep in mind there is no formula or magic answer. It takes time and practice to build a strong voice. You’ll have to read and write a lot.
Predictable Plot Points
Games can be rejected if the plot of your game is boring or predictable. How can you not make a game plot predictable? Simply put, you can’t give one-notes to characters as they can become too predictable. Additionally, not having enough conflict can less likely lead to success. A core point of a game’s plot is a crisis moment or a decision between two equally good or bad things. If you don’t make that character’s choice difficult for the player to decide, then this can end up resulting in rejection.
While you can still take inspiration from other mediums such as film or TV, make sure you include stuff that nobody will see coming, and your game won’t feel predictable or cliche.
Thematic Elements are Overbearing
Nobody wants to be lectured by a game, and players and publishers won’t either. Beware that if you include strong thematic elements in your game, then you’ll have to make some changes.
Remember your characters’ goals, values, and beliefs. Make sure you align them properly with your game’s theme. If they conflict with each other, then the characters will go from flat to realistic and compelling. While this may spiral out of control, it’s a good thing. Keep your mind open!
The Plot Doesn’t Deliver a Powerful, Emotional Experience
Most video games are works of fiction. That’s why most games nowadays tend to give powerful, emotional experiences and what players choose to play specific games for. Characters’ points of view must be well-rounded, and as mentioned above, values, goals, and beliefs are different from other characters. Also consider the stakes of the characters, even if they’re playable. If they’re playing for low stakes, then the scale may drop low.
Make sure your characters are serious about the world they live in. Players don’t experience emotional experiences, and you have to show that experience to the player. Mixing action, dialogue, interior monologue and emotion, and description will give you a better chance at succeeding.
Publisher Does Not Have the Rights to a Certain Intellectual Property
If you’re creating a game based on previously established material that is protected by copyright, you’re less likely to succeed. Most publishers do not have the time and money to obtain the rights to a certain IP featured in your game.
Beware that some games aren’t right for a publisher’s business model. If that’s the case, you won’t be able to do anything about it other than move to a different publisher or game altogether.
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