Home Gaming Martine Spaans tells us all about what it takes to be a Big Indie Pitch judge | Pocket Gamer.biz

Martine Spaans tells us all about what it takes to be a Big Indie Pitch judge | Pocket Gamer.biz

by Contributor

Pocket Gamer Connects London returns on 22nd-23rd January 2024, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Of course, this also means the return of our flagship Very Big Indie Pitch, the popular pitching competition that’s been providing developers with insight, feedback, and prizes for years. It’s also great fun! In fact, only recently, the team spoke with the organiser Sophia Aubrey Drake for her memories and tips.

What better way to celebrate ten years of Pocket Gamer Connects than by reconnecting with some of our most successful participants? In this ongoing series, we’ll learn more about where some of the developers are now, what they gained from their pitching experiences, and what advice they have for anyone heading to London for The Very Big Indie Pitch in 2024.

For our next interview, though, we’re catching up with Martine Spaans, one of our longest-serving and most respected judges, to learn more about what it’s like to be on the other side of the table! We’ll chat about her past experiences, present work and future plans.

Martine judging games as part of the Very Big Indie Pitch.

Sophia Aubrey Drake: Please introduce yourself.

Martine Spaans: My name is Martine Spaans, and I’m from the Netherlands. I’ve been in games for about 17 years, always on the publishing side of things. That started out as publishing Flash web games, but roughly 10 years ago, I moved into mobile F2P game publishing when I set up my own company Tamalaki. To this day, I’m still managing our catalogue of casual games there, but since 2022, I’ve also been General Manager at the Dutch Games Association.

You’ve been part of our pitches for a long time. How did you first become involved?

I don’t even recall what year it was [laughs]. I remember I had been a speaker at PGC before I got involved with the indie game judging. As soon as I heard of the Big Indie Pitch, I was intrigued, and I was eager to apply my knowledge of successful (mobile) games to the judging process.

Plus, it was a great way for me to scout for new games! What I love about it most is that the judging feedback gets shared with the developers afterwards. Sometimes, I later hear from a developer that the feedback helped them a lot in bringing their game to the next level.

Meet with as many publishers and game journalists as you can and let them play your game

Martine Spaans

What kinds of changes have you noticed over the years in terms of the types of games being pitched and the quality of the teams and pitches?

It used to be all about F2P mobile games, but in the last three to four years, there’s been more and more of a shift towards premium games and games for PC. It makes sense, as the mobile market got harder to break into. Plus, the F2P model simply does not fit every type of game.

As for the quality of pitches: it has only gone up. Sometimes I review a pitch where it feels the game is made by a team of 15, but then it turns out the dev team is only 4 people. There also used to be a big quality gap between Big Indie Pitches in the UK or USA and the ones in countries like India or Jordan. However, that gap has certainly become smaller and smaller.

Are there any memorable pitches that still stand out to you today?

Definitely. Some pitches left us judges with more questions than answers! However, the vast majority of the pitches were really lovely, and I’ve kept in touch with many developers afterwards. Especially team Sakura Games from Jordan. After meeting them during a Big Indie Pitch in 2018, we created and released a game together (Car Girl Garage), and we’re currently working on a bigger project.

 

Surviving as an indie can be tough in the current market. As someone with extensive experience in the industry, is there any advice you would offer developers?

Yes, meet with as many publishers and game journalists as you can and let them play your game. It’s a great way to get valuable feedback from the experts and it’s a good way to gain new industry contacts and leave an impression. The Big Indie Pitch happens to be a great starting point for that.

Martine Spaans with the Sakura Games team.

As a Big Indie Pitch judge, what would you say are the most important things a developer should remember when pitching their game to industry experts?

LET. US. PLAY.

We can’t get a good impression of your game when you only allow us to watch you play. Plus, three minutes of gameplay tells a much more important story than a 10-minute pitch.

And when your time is limited, just skip all the info about your studio, how many team members you have and where you come from. It is all secondary to the game. Focus on the game during your pitch.

LET. US. PLAY. We can’t get a good impression of your game when you only allow us to watch you play pitch

Martine Spaans

How important is attending conferences, competitions and networking opportunities for independent developers? What essential things should developers who are considering attending upcoming conferences know in order to make the most of it?

I would say it is crucial. And luckily there are also plenty of online alternatives if travel is not an option for you.

As an essential, make sure you bring a backup device and offline demos or videos. Wifi can never be relied on and I have seen too many pitches where the laptop ran out of battery.

Practice your pitch in front of friends (or a mirror) and time it. Ideally, your pitch is only three minutes, so there is some time for questions from the judges as well. And don’t forget, a game pitch is basically a pitch where you are selling, so throw some enthusiasm into it.

You’ll be at Pocket Gamer Connects London in 2024, but what else is next for you? Is there anything we should keep an eye out for?

I’ll gladly take the opportunity to point out two wonderful events in the Netherlands. Check out Indigo Showcase in June and Dutch Game Day in October.


Want to show off your exciting new game? All details for Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2024, including how to enter, can be found on our upcoming events page on BigIndiePitch.com.

If you just want to attend the conference, then tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects London 2024 (22-23 January) can be found on the Pocket Gamer Connects Website, with mid-term discounts still currently available.

Get the latest news, interviews and in-depth analysis on Twitter, Facebook, and our daily newsletter. We will be adding more Big Indie Pitch stories to the site each week.



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