Cold form emails suck! This is not how you get sales from game devs.

The only things that could possibly be worse are unsolicited calls and junk mail. I really hate being interrupted when I’m working or trying to relax. Then as for the junk mail, I shudder thinking of the paper waste. I wept with joy when I moved right after New Year's for many reasons, not the least of which meant I could stop getting enough junk mail from tax software and related companies to wallpaper my entire condo. An old professional association sold them my fucking information which is a really bad tactic. There'll always be a sucker waiting to buy a mailing list, and someone soulless enough to sell it. Toad Tribune subs can rejoice that I'd never do that.

Man with tattoo facepalming

This is pretty much exactly how I feel.

I'm not responding that yellow tag from the post office, like hell if I'm giving any of those companies I never even bought anything from my new address. Many who were still spamming me by phone, email, and tree murder despite my having left boutique and commercial tax prep behind. But enough about junk mail. I’ve gotten so many cold form emails both at Himalaya and Sonic Toad which while less invasive than an unsolicited call, I legit wonder how the hell any of the people trying to sell their services to my companies actually make any money.

Maybe I’m just being opinionated or biased here. But I honestly feel that there are times and places when an impersonal canned letter is appropriate. A totally bland introductory sales pitch email to someone who may not know of your company's existence, and who you have zero familiarity with, is not one of them.

Granted, cold form emails have to work to some extent or else this method wouldn’t still persist. Maybe it's just me, but cold opens just strike me as not making an effort whatsoever so I simply ignore messages with them. Case in point: right before Sonic Toad 2.0 launched, I got some form letter through my contact box talking about what a cool website I had and how I clearly needed some back-end solution that would be useful for my non-existent employees. Mind you, the site wasn’t the beautiful spiffy version you’re looking at now: no, it was the shitty Version 1.0 I threw together with a pre-cut template, stock photos the service provided, a phone selfie, and a couple pictures of Yael in 2 hours just because I needed *a* website. Moreover, the email just said “Hello” instead of being addressed to me when my name was still visible on my old site. Or hell, even if it was addressed to “Sonic Toad” that at least would’ve gotten me to look for more than 2 seconds before hitting the delete button.

Then Himalaya easily gets hundreds of cold messages from development talent as well as businesses both in and out of the gaming industry. I actually plan to do a separate post about freelancers who email companies they're unfamiliar with, as well as provide exclusive tips to Toad Tribune subscribers, applicable whether or not you work in gaming so sign up if you haven't already! While a person looking for work-- opposed to looking for a sale-- would still technically count as B2B correspondence, I'm keeping this focus on companies that have more money and bodies behind them to the point that they have sales departments or independent sales agents. Because some devs really do need your talent right then, and hey, you don’t know til you ask. And honestly, it’s not the freelance artists, programmers, and composers who do this that bother me: you’re hustling, you’re trying, more often than not you at least address and I’m sorry Chris and I can’t respond to every single email we get.

It’s really the B2B salespeople who suck ass at this more than the hustlers trying to put themselves out there.

Corporate sales departments really don’t get that indie game developers have very different financial realities and needs from AAA/frontline and midsize development studios. Recruiters and HR services don't get that small studios usually lack actual ongoing staffing needs. Yet we get tons of emails from these services when we’re happy non-employers. They need to concentrate on bigger devs-- or find different ways to help with indies' needs for talent, be they non-employer or not.

The inverse would be all the business match-making services who hit us up, and are also just made of fail when it comes to trying to match up game developers with companies looking to gamify their marketing or internal processes. If you want a social game made for your company and the studio you ask never put social elements in their games and has neither the aptitude or desire to work on a project like that, it’s not going to work out. You need to look at what kind of games that developer has made or talked about making, and if it aligns with what you’re looking for or else you’re just wasting all parties’ time. But most of all, TELL THEM what you liked about the gameplay, aesthetics, the writing, and how it lines up with what you’re looking for! Himalaya's heart and soul is point-and-click adventure games. We want to do other stuff too, what with our foray into mobile and experimental games that my compatriots at Playcrafting have exposed me to. But these matchmakers seriously don't even look at our catalog for those crucial 5 seconds to know that we don't do VR/AR or F2P? It's just, "Oh, it's *a* game studio, they probably have a workforce the size of an entire Pacific Island and $80 million laying around just like Activision!" Seriously, would you condone such a half-assed approach in someone provides services to you? I think not!

Their efforts are just like those half-assed B2B pitches we ignore. Because to get back to those, for crying out loud, address the developers by their studio names if not their real names and spend at least 20-30 seconds actually looking at their website and/or the dev team members’ bios and other works (read: if you’re pitching me and you talk about my books, my writing here and on Gamasutra, that gets you my attention sooner than some bland statement like “Cool website” that doesn’t tell me you actually looked at it.) Why else would you want to lose yourself in that sea of never-ending cold-open emails that we just don’t even bother to open or read all the way through if we do? A boilerplate is fine to start from, but personalize it a little if you don’t want it shitcanned. If you don’t have the time to look for and personalize those leads yourself, hire someone to help you with it.


Why not post to FlexJobs? Lots of  B2B stuff on there for all industries, whether you're location-independent or want a local salesperson for intermittent work. If you give me affiliate money by clicking that lovely banner as part of your marketing effort, that too could also get my attention!

Look, sales is a tough field and it’s not like all salespeople are Rod from Birdemic but this impersonal approach is like trying to build a 20-story building with a foundation made of jello and 3-day-old balloons. So, do you work in B2B? Do you want to like, NOT suck at trying sell yourself to game developers of all sizes?

Get in touch with me. You won’t be sorry. Because impersonal form emails suck harder than running out of toilet paper after food poisoning, but your sales techniques don’t have to!


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