Having a good sell sheet can be a key part of getting your game picked up by a publisher.
Sell sheets are useful for a variety of different situations: They look good online and in physical form so they can be used for any of the following: they can be emailed or posted on social media sites, they can be sent via conventional mail, they can be placed beside your game during a demo, and they’re nice to hand directly to publishers. A good sell sheet communicates the core of what your game is and gives publishers an idea of the potential for your game.
What is a Sell Sheet?
A sell sheet is a one-page document that is given to a publisher that includes exactly the right amount and kind of information a publisher needs to know, to determine if they should take a closer look at a game; no more, and no less.
Below are previous posts on the League of Gamemakers focusing on sell sheets. If you have not yet read these pieces, they are highly recommended:
- How to Build a Sell Sheet for your Game
- Giant Walls of Text & Other Sell Sheet Mistakes: A Sell Sheet Makeover
- Graphic Design Tips for Sell Sheets: A Sell Sheet Makeover Part 2
Examples of Sell Sheets
The sell sheets below are examples for you to look at and learn from. They were submitted voluntarily by their creators, and were not selected by any kind of criteria. You can see strengths and weaknesses in different approaches while you build your own sell sheets. Some of the documents had their file sizes reduced, so some images may not be high quality. Feel free to comment with your thoughts about what makes a good sell sheet in the comments section below.
Game designer by night, and middle school science and pre-engineering teacher by day. He lives in Santa Maria California with his amazing wife and two unrealistically well-behaved children.
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10 Readers CommentedJoin discussion
Luke, you’ve put together a good collection of various Sell Sheet designs. Many of which I feel do a good job. I do think their are several that could benefit from “less is better” in the amount of text used. One sell sheet was almost all text of the same font size without any text being Bold. I think a designer should think in terms of a 30 second commercial. Keep it brief, make sure the selling points stand out and important facts such as component list & number of players, age and play time are included.
I view a sell sheet as a little bit like the paper incarnation of an ‘elevator pitch’ or landing page. What works in an elevator pitch should be included, what doesn’t should be left out.
I’m going to go through each of the sheets and give my thoughts, whatever they’re worth. (Re-posted from Facebook)
Saturn Rising: This is clearly presented and includes wonderfully brief, to-the-point highlights. The component shots are also distinctive and will help the publisher recall the game. I do agree with James that it needs to lose the background, and I feel that I still don’t have a great feel for the game. Of course if this is given as part of pitch, including more that gives the “feel” of the game might not be so important.
Rocks & Docks: This doesn’t seem to belong. It’s a sell sheet for a buyer, not a publisher.
De Stijl: (Yes, this is mine.) This doesn’t really have a lot of text, yet text is what is prominent. A simple game like this may benefit from graphically presenting game play. Also, the artistic theme of the game doesn’t need to play such a large role in the layout of the sell sheet.
Faberge Chickens: This gives information appropriately in both text and photos. It might benefit from simple headings and could use some focus on cleaning up the design… drop the background and rearrange the various elements for a more natural flow of reading.
Garden Masters: My first thought here is that there seems to be way too much going on. Two simple things to fix would be to use a more unified color scheme and limit yourself to two fonts. In your “how-to” I would suggest either focusing on one of the most crucial aspect of game play or simplifying that presentation and putting it in a rectangular table. Whatever you do… simplify.
Genome: Great visual and textual information, but it’s too crowded. Create some white spaces by shrinking the size of your photos. You could also remove the board from the bottom pictures, focusing on the particular components or shorten their captions to a few words. Using a lighter font would also help. In addition, the Unpub, Protospiel, and Kublacon icons should be drastically shrunk. Really, though, this is a pretty strongly presented sheet.
Goblin Tobaggon: Overlapping a picture that takes up most of the background is tricky business, but this sell sheet does it well. My main advice here would be to move important information away from the edge of the sheet. It’s literally being marginalized and not all printers print close to the edge.
Bamboo Harvest: This one definitely needs a bit of work. The main advice is LESS TEXT, MORE WHITE SPACE. Get rid of the thank you. Shrink the logo, and put the game title in a large font right next to it. (I missed the title the first few times I looked at it.) Separate the quick info from the features. Use headings. This needs quite a bit of word-smithing to reduce text. Use as few words as possible to say as much as you can. Also, take more photos of your game to find a better representative picture.
Interstellar Envoys: I’m not going to comment on this design of mine. Luke liked it while James said it was getting there. What could make it better?
Knight Shift: I love the incorporation of the them with the banners on the right. This sheet has a nice clean, simple format. The title and heading font is difficult to reat. I really like the “Hell is other squires” section, but it seems out of place for a sell sheet. You’ve got the important info, along with some flavor, in the “How does it work?” section already.
Prism: Again, it needs more white space (actually gray in this case). Increase the margins. Single space the components to give yourself more room in other areas. Get rid of the black borders and the horizontal line in the headings; they chop everything up too much. Consider resizing the pictures to give yourself room, too.
Red Shift: The picture in the middle chops everything up too much for me. Try repositioning it to allow more room for the text. Right now the text on the left is all bunched up, and it doesn’t need to be. The text on the left and on the bottom almost seem to be describing two different games. Rectify that, and combine and reduce the text in these sections. Then include either a “how to play” or a “features” section (probably a features section.) Get rid of the background, and finally STAY AWAY from ALL CAPS and RIGHT ALIGN. These practices decrease readability.
Rocket Cats in Space: The horizontal format of this caught my eye right away. That’s good in an electronic format, but may be annoying in a printed format if a publisher would need to turn the page while reviewing the sheets collected that day. The text is too small, but the text does a great job of summarizing information and letting the viewer get a good feel for the game. I would also suggest incorporating additional graphic elements from the game. Generally, the format itself is very readable but is different enough that it does a good job of grabbing attention.
UFO Racing League: Some good stuff here, but a lot to comment on. Spell check (componants). Again, you need more white space. While I find the computer-rendered diagrams informative, I think the photo gives enough visual info for a publisher. Focus less on directions for game play, summarizing each game play section with one sentence. I like the “Game Type” section, but get rid of the dots between the legs of the “interactive” icon. The font of the selling points does not match the rest of the sheet. The body font could be larger and maybe should be changed to something slightly more readable, though it’s not awful.
Swim to Shore: I could almost just copy/paste my comments from “Genome” so I won’t say much. One additional thought is that the text on the bottom seems unimportant because of its placement. Try swapping its position with that of the gameplay captions.
Tinker Tailor: This has a beautiful, clean design… one of my favorites. Each section is clearly delineated, and there’s a good bit of white space. Try to cut back on the text a little, and perhaps include a photo showing game play.
Spaceship Ping: (referencing the redesign posted on Facebook) I really like the redesign. It has a clear presentation that is easy to read and gives a good feel for the game. The main thing I would say here is to keep working on the wording.
Against the Legends: (posted on Facebook) This has a nice overall look. The layout is easy to follow and nicely reflects the game’s theme. Consider dropping the text boxes. Your sentences are too long and need work on the wording/phrasing. Use one font for all the body text and another, if wanted, for the headings. Don’t use italics.
Okay, done. Feel free to take or leave my advice, everyone. Even fervently disagree if you want. I’m not an expert, just a teacher with a background in art and an interest in design. I hope some of you find some of this helpful. 🙂
Lucas – I think the theme of your sell sheet is brilliant! It gives the reader a general idea of what the game is like within about 0.5 seconds of looking at it, which is exactly what you want. I could see toning it down a hair at most; otherwise, well done!
I would change “every game is different” to “high replayability” or something similar. “every game is different” makes it sound like the rules or strategy will be void the next time I play it.
A lot of people complained about the background, but I actually like it. I’m probably biased though. Maybe set the transparency on the text boxes to be less see-through if people have trouble reading.
Add label to figure at bottom. It looks neat, but is it a colony?
Add a component list. I don’t know if this game needs cards, boards, tokens, etc. How is a publisher going to know roughly how much it will cost to produce?
Rocks and Docks
Change ages to 13+. 13 is the limit for component testing in certain countries, and ~14+ seems odd.
This looks like it already is available for purchase. If you are trying to pick up a publisher, you might want to remove the bits about ordering one today, price, and where you can buy it. If you are targeting organizations to buy it, then you’re fine.
“It is also suitable for consumers to play with friends or family members” makes it sound like it is medicine. Give it a lighter tone.
Text could be bigger, it was hard to read.
It seems like a nice, simple game. Use less words to describe it, because it came off as harder to play than it is.
Maybe consider an easier scoring example to include. It took me a minute to figure out that black card borders divided a section in two for more points.
Is each round scored, you do you just total the end when everyone has played 6 cards and it’s over?
The “Features” section and subsequent text in yellow seem a little redundant.
On the component list, you don’t have to title each component. Just say 9 boards size x” by z” and “10 dice”
Picture could be bigger. Remove frame border. Maybe zoomed in more or a more clear picture.
The wicker basket background is kind of distracting and hard to read off of.
“Before the famous eggs, there were the …” This is confusing, I’m not sure what famous eggs you’re talking about.
The font for the boxed section at the bottom is hard to read. Just use the font you’ve used everywhere else.
Don’t include a tutorial of how to play. Just include a picture of components. You could remove all that blue text.
Game Mechanics could be shorter. Maybe just include a couple of those in the Overview section
Try not to include hyperlinks, most people won’t type it all in and visit. If it is a tutorial or intro video or something, just tell them what to search for on youtube.
A lot of pictures. Maybe remove the top right one? Not sure what it is or what it adds.
Make the bottom of the page less wordy. Create a succinct description that is a paragraph from all that.
Good design, some areas are hard to read though. Add more contrast between the blues. The contact info is also hard to read.
Remove “Thanks” section. Remove artwork credit. Remove “standard corner markings in case someone wants to play Bridge.”
Make Title more clear. I didn’t see it in the trees at first. Large, bold, and at the top of the page.
Change first paragraph to bullet list of 3-5 things.
Don’t define “Resource management”, “Cut-throat”, etc. Whoever you’re pitching this to will know.
I wouldn’t use “Ingratiate”. Not a common term, someone might be off put by it. Maybe “Immerse” ?
To reduce text, I would make the “Ingratiate” and “React” sections bullet points. Make the “Game component” sections in a box instead of bullet points to differentiate them.
I like the flag sections.
Jasmine’s phone number has a typo.
The title “Hell is other Squires” is strange. Some might find it off-putting.
Very wordy sections with lots of game examples. Try just reducing to bullet points that highlight what make it unique.
Kind of hard to read with contrast of Black text on dark grey background.
Components could be smaller. They take up a lot of room.
Try taking our words as much as possible. Remember, someone isn’t going to want to read the whole paragraph to get the idea. They just want to glance at it.
My own, so I’m going to skip, but I have made a lot of improvements to it. Easier to read font, larger text, shorter description with bullet points, better picture
Nice, simple design.
Make text larger and contrast more with background. Very hard to read.
UFO Racing League
Very busy, not much white space. Also, try making the sections flow into each other so that it is easier to read then searching the page for the next section.
Font is not easiest font to read. Consider others.
I’ve heard there’s an update to this sell sheet already, but basically get rid of paragraphs and use bullet points instead.
Not sure what picture at bottom right is supposed to be.
No component list. How will the publisher know how much it costs?
Swim to Shore
Same comments as Genome, basically. Also, if presenting multiple games simultaneously, it might help for the sell sheets to be differently styled to help set them apart.
Far too many words. Reduce to bullet points. Imagine elevator pitching this in 30 seconds.
You pictures break up the text which make it less easy to read. Make them flow together.
Figuring my thoughts might be beneficial to a game designer Sometime in the Future. I’m a visual artist who sells at conventions, and I have to deal with customers reading (or not reading, or misunderstanding) my signs all day long. I also have an interest in user interface design, and I’m a sometimes-gamer. My pseudo-outside-looking-in ponderings:
I’m going to break these up into separate comments. That’s a huge wall o’ text to cram into one. I have them zoomed to approximately the size of an 8.5×11″ piece of paper on my monitor. I’ve written these without looking at the OP’s detailed responses, to avoid contamination bias.
Pertinent info right at the top, good. Not sure what ‘thematic rondel’ is, maybe the game board pictured? If so, maybe put something else in place of this text? I can see that the game board is round and has a theme. I don’t need text to tell me that. The other two features tell me a lot about the game (and both features are attractive to me as a gamer). There’s some room in the Features text box for at least one more line, if not two: use it.
I’m bugged by the spacing and centering being different between the two text boxes. “Saturns Moon Titan” is centered, but “Features” is not. The spacing between the bullets and the list items is different.
I’m going to guess that the graphic at the bottom is a personal game board of each person’s colony. I think I would cut this in half along the vertical axis, move the left half over so it’s lined up with the two text boxes on both sides, delete the right half (maybe put a dashed line or fade-out on the right edge of the remaining image, so it’s more obvious that it’s just a partial view) , and put more text in its place. Because I have no idea what the mechanics are or what other pieces are involved. Is there a random element, like dice or a deck of cards?
Contact info: maybe also include a phone#, and/or a website? Oh, and if you’ve got a company (with a DBA name), then buy a domain and find someplace to host it. Put up a website, even a simple one, that has more info about you, the games you make, etc etc. Not impressed with “@gmail…” I barely have a web presence for my business, and I have my own domain and email from that domain that’s forwarded to my gmail account. Customers / clients see my official email address, not the gmail one.
Please see my first comment for info on my background and why my opinion might be useful.
Rocks & Docks:
These player testimonials are too general to be worth anything.
The tilted logo+text is jarring – I understand it’s supposed to convey a sense of movement, but it doesn’t fit with the perspective-skewed photo of the game box, nor with the otherwise perpendicular content of the rest of the sheet.
I don’t like the scribbled-look background color behind the “Make friends” line. Aside from the radiused corners at the top, there are no other curved lines on this page. Also, that font bears a suspicious resemblance to Comic Sans… (wrong tool. very bad. never use this).
Oh, wait! The pertinent info is right there at the top. I missed it at first – the font’s slightly too small and hard to read.
The final tag line – so does the game not have a win condition; i.e., is it co-op? I’m curious now, because I’m not sure if the questions come out of a deck of cards, or what. Co-op might be better for a therapeutic environment. This game could literally be, everyone takes turns answering the exact same question, for all I know. Not really a game, then. Or it could be everyone takes turns answering random questions. I have no idea.
Please see my first comment for info on my background and why my opinion might be useful.
Name is a little awkward to pronounce. I kept thinking the final L was actually an i. Features: good. The mechanics of the game benefit from being simple, because they can be completely described here. Only drawback: the dead red space in the lower right hand area. Put something there! Or re-arrange the text boxes and make the text bigger to fill out more space – there’s a lot of padding in the blue box with the age, #players, and time icons.
In general, there’s too much padding in the Premise, How to, and Components text boxes. Embiggen the font. PS, I really want to play this game!
Thanks for the critique, Artemis. If you’re interested in a copy of the game, there’s a print and play version on BGG. You could also get it from Game Crafter or PrinterStudio. Or send me an email and I’ll swap you a copy for a review.
So many bad design decisions, I don’t know where to start… the basket weave background is hella annoying. We’ve got 5 text boxes, and 5 different formatting styles. Use a unified font throughout your sheet; if you want two, use one for the headers, and the second for the detail paragraphs. Use unified borders, unified shapes… seriously, we’ve got this weird picture-frame thing, this round double-border thing, two octagons with different borders and fonts, a curvy thing for the title, and then an open-sided text box for the age/#players/time, which is missing two of those three. There are further problems with the font regarding readability and padding, the former of which are fairly technical, so I won’t go into those (look how the word “Chips” butts up against the right border in the upper RH octagon… yeah).
If a client came to me with this for tweaking, I would scrap their entire design and start fresh.
Also, speaking of bad design, these comment boxes will not allow for the insertion of more than one carriage return. It makes reading the comments here difficult. Perhaps this is a browser problem – firefox on OSX – I’m seeing no white space between paragraphs on anything once it is published to the site, awaiting moderation or no.