Designer’s guide to Essen Spiel – Part 1

designer tips, event, game design


After dreaming about it for years, I finally went to Essen Spiel in order to pitch my games to publishers. Have you ever thought of going? If so, read on!

When you book an appointment with a publisher you’re taking up time that could be spent on someone else. It’s unlikely that you’ll have a chance to play the games during the meeting so the publisher will have little more than your description to visualize your game.

If you can’t convince a publisher that your game is the best in the world, they’ll be more inclined to go with someone who can.

Book early
The longer you wait, the fewer affordable rooms and flights you’ll be able to find. If you really want to go, the best thing you can do is commit early.

Your hand luggage should include a prototype of each game, a change of underwear and basic hygiene gear. Everything you can’t quickly replace in Germany should go in your hand luggage.

Schedule appointments
If you only follow one step in this guide make it this one! Otherwise it’s very unlikely that the publishers will have time to see your games.

Start by making a list of all the publishers you want to talk to. If you follow them in social networks you already know if they’re going to be there. If not, you’ll want to find out which publishers your games fit into.

To do so, there are two possible starting points. Spiel releases a complete exhibitor list and floor maps but it’s only published two weeks before the event. You can go through it and check the publisher’s websites to see which fit your games, but keep in mind there are a lot of them. This year there were 910 exhibitors.

If you want to start the list earlier there’s another way. BoardGameGeek compiles a list of all the new games that are going to be at Essen, and you can scroll through them to find games with theme and components that are similar to yours. From there it’s easy to look for the publisher’s contact details.

As for the e-mails, I kept them short:


I’m a game designer and I’d like to show you my games! Do you have 30 minutes at Essen Spiel?

Thank you for your time,

These few lines started several dialogues that lead to sending them a short description of the game’s themes and mechanics, along with a mid-game picture to make it easier to visualize.

It’s easy to go crazy and e-mail a big amount of publishers. I don’t blame you, this is exciting! One word of advice though: when booking meetings you should count on the time to go from meeting to meeting. Spiel is a huge event that takes place in several halls with hundreds of booths. I found half an hour to be just enough time to get lost and find my way to the right booth in time!

Follow this link to read Part 2, which will cover the last steps before the event!

4 thoughts on “Designer’s guide to Essen Spiel – Part 1

    1. Muito obrigado, campeão! 🙂 Ainda te procurei entre reuniões mas estivemos desencontrados. Gostava de te ter desejado boa sorte pessoalmente, mas ficam aqui os meus desejos para o próximo troféu!

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