So, today I wanted to talk about press/review requests. I’ve made mistakes in the past that ended up stopping me from actually getting Early Access to upcoming games for press coverage. I’ve also seen people write e-mails to me, wanting me to review their games, but I ended up not feeling super interested because of certain things they said, did or because of things they didn’t mention. Hence, I wanted to talk about these things and errors today. I will also explain why I dislike/like certain things in e-mails. Hence, dear developers:
Talk about your game!
I know this sounds obvious but there are not enough developers out there that do that. In the e-mail itself, I’d love to hear about your game. What was your inspiration? What’s your game about? What’s something special about your game? I love hearing that sort of stuff before I actually approach the game. Don’t spoil the game for me obviously… but talk a little about it and the interesting bits that I may not see as a player but that matter to you as a developer. What I often see from developers is that they mention the genres but don’t actually talk about what makes their game unique. Often, I check out the steam page and there is so much information there… Why don’t you have that, potentially summarised, in your e-mail? If I can’t see why I should cover the game, why would I? And as someone who’s getting a lot of these e-mails these days and whose queue is really full right now… I’d find it hard to actually prioritize some titles over others. Unless you want me to cover your game in a few months, make it seem interesting or give me a reason to maybe move it ahead.
Embargoes! Press Kits! Important Information!
Tell me what I need to know. Tell me about at what date and what time I’m allowed to write about your games. If you don’t mention an embargo, I may get to it whenever… but if it’s embargoed for a special day for a specific reason, then that takes priority, obviously. Similarly, if you don’t want me to cover/showcase certain sections or content from specific points in the game, tell me about it. The average time that is required to play a session, run, or playthrough would also be great to know. Similarly, I’d love to hear about what the price point is going to be or if there are any expansions, DLC, further updates, etc. planned upon release. All of that information can be quite nice in my reviews/for my readers. And also, a press kit with logos, header images (1200×675 ideally), and maybe some art is incredibly great for me as it saves me a lot of time, trying to look for stuff like that online or trying to doctor images together.
Write “unique” e-mails!
Again, this one may sound obvious but it doesn’t feel great to receive an e-mail that literally 50 other sites have also received – but I get it that you send a lot of these out. I know that that’s the case and I don’t care really too much about it. My issue is just that generic copy-pasta e-mails along the lines of “Hey, I made this game, please review it, here’s a key” are not great really as it seems that you put little to no effort into them. I’m a one-man blog. I don’t have a team or anything that writes these reviews for me. As someone who runs this blog by himself, I’d love to see you at least look up my name in the About section. “Hey, Dan!” sounds a lot better than “Hello” – it’s more personal and it establishes a connection of sorts already, which can be in your favour. Similarly, I don’t care about compliments but seeing that you at least know about my reviews or what I do is a good way to make it look like you actually care about getting reviewed here. Don’t say that you don’t need my review or that it’d be a chance for me… Because I don’t care if it’s a “big chance” or whatever. Don’t say that your game is super successful already with “thousands of downloads”. Don’t mention how “famous Twitch streamers played the game already” because… I can look that stuff up and it doesn’t matter to me really. At last, don’t put me into the carbon copy if you have a copy paste mail… because I don’t want to see the hundreds of other websites that you’re messaging with the same text and I’m sure they don’t want to see that either. Use the Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy) instead of the Cc (Carbon Copy) if you do that but at least make it sound like you care about people’s site even if you don’t necessarily mean it. Fake it till you make it. Just don’t make it seem obvious.
So, that’s just my opinion here but I find these points quite important, overall, and they can often be a dealbreaker for me that decides whether or not I’ll actually cover a game or whether I put it on the “maybe” pile. I’ve seen things like people putting me into the Cc alongside plenty of other people while also not mentioning anything about their game and just dropping steam keys… which is btw really bad if you write the same mail to plenty of people… What I’m getting at is that putting in a bit more effort can yield to better results.
Now when it comes to requesting Early Access to a game as a streamer or YouTuber or even as a blogger, here are some small bullet points that I’ve seen on social media and that I’ve learned about myself…
Only mention your big platforms!
I thought that it would make me seem more versatile if I mentioned my YouTube and Twitch channels. As a blogger, my blog has the biggest reach. I can talk about my blog’s monthly views and the Steam Curator Page’s influenced views. That really helps me. If I mention my 20 subs Youtube Channel with barely any videos or views, then that sucks. It worsens my chances. Heck, my Twitch channel may have a great community but it wouldn’t do me a favour to mention that to get a chance to play a game. If you’re big on YouTube but your Twitch channel has few followers, then don’t mention your Twitch channel as that decreases your chances. And for whatever reason publishers, developers, and some brands end up only looking at your followers… So, mention your other stats more as in your CCV, your hours watched, your views, etc. I’ve had a person once look at my WordPress followers before and I got rejected. What I should have done is mentioning my actual monthly views, the referrals, my Alexa rank or whatever. Those kinds of stats mean more than follows on Twitter or whatever for a blog or website – but for whatever reason, a lot of people still only check your follower count and think that you’re not a good fit because of that. Make yourself heard and show them that your blog is worth it. Show them that you’re a good fit for their brand, etc. It may make a difference. But realise that…
You’re nothing special.
You’re not entitled to anything. No matter how big or successful you are,… There are thousands of other people that do the exact same thing as you do. You’re not entitled to review keys, sponsorships, or interviews. I’ve seen people rant on Twitter before that they were denied a key before or whatever… Don’t do that either. It’s not a good look for you and the internet isn’t the biggest place in the world. In the first place, there are a lot of embargo breakers out there as well as other people that can harm a brand quite badly if they were to get access. If you’re a shitty and controversial person, you may not end up getting anything. If you end up ranting publicly about getting denied stuff, then that’s you putting a stepping stone in front of you. If you get denied, you may try to make yourself heard (as mentioned above) BUT it’s important to do so in a respectful manner or else you might get blocked.
Don’t break embargoes!
I talked about it before but embargo breakers are super shitty people that play, review or showcase a game despite promising to not do so before a certain date. Again, you’re not entitled to anything and hence you may not be offered a key all that early. Clara Sia from Devolver Digital mentioned it before on Twitter: “Don’t blame the people that sent you the key. Blame embargo breakers instead.” They (developers, publishers, brands, etc.) already are kind enough to work with you. If you break their trust, you may end up even cancelling whole projects because of your loose lips, your greed or your idiocy. I’m linking to Clara quite a lot here because she’s great and she has these tweets over there that actually were eye-openers for me. Without her, I wouldn’t have known that I’m hindering myself by mentioned my YouTube and Twitch channels. Similarly, she’s just a great person with great views and an awesome Twitch channel. So give her a follow sometime on Twitter or on Twitch.
Either way, this has been a bit of a longer post (on top of it being a late post). I just figured it’d be good to talk about all of this sometime. I’ve been meaning to write about this prompt quite a lot lately. Whenever I reject a game because the developer doesn’t seem to care about who covers it, as long as someone does… I don’t know. It makes me feel bad. When you end your mail with “What would it take for you to review this game?” instead of “Have a nice day” or “Looking forward to hearing back from you” or “Sincerely” or even “Yours”, that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, almost as if you want me to demand money for coverage which is just… weird. Almost as if you’re not confident in your game. I don’t know. So, I figured I’d make this post and talk a bit about things that bothered me. Similarly, I wanted to link it to those points about streamers asking for keys. I myself linked to YT and Twitch instead of just the blog when I only wanted to review a game on the blog and it bit me in the butt. The other points were mainly from stuff I’ve seen. Hope you enjoyed this one.