As a games reviewer I receive literally hundreds of press releases from many different studios a week asking for me to cover their games. As much as I would love to cover each and every game that is presented to me there just isn’t enough time and the reality really comes down to what I look at and determine based on the pitch, which game I believe will be the most fun for me to cover. To give your game the best possible chance at being looked at you should follow these rules when approaching critics to review your game.
Have a Good Subject Line
The very first thing I see is the subject line. Make me want to open your email and read further. I may open some bad subject lines from time to time just to see if there is more substance within, but I would say about 75% of the time if the subject line reads “PRESS RELEASE FOR [GAME],” then into the trash you go. Give me a reason to open up your release- but also don’t be misleading.
You should always remember in the back of your mind that reviewers get tons of emails daily, so your presentation has to start right from the get go. I have told you that I receive hundreds of emails a week and I run a very small channel, so I can only imagine reviewers with large channels must be receiving THOUSANDS of emails a week from all over. Do not rely on us wanting to play your game, as games to review are not a rare commodity.
Make Your Info Easily Accessible
This is the number one thing I look for when opening up emails and sifting through the endless chains of press releases. If I open up your press release and do not immediately see info on where I can obtain more information about your game (website, media assets link, gameplay video links) into the trash you go. I am sorry but it is the truth, I do not have the time or patience to read some long description about how your game is “changing the industry” or “inventing a whole new mechanic”.
1) It probably isn’t doing those things.
2) I really don’t care.
I just want to see a short and to the point overview of what your game is and information that will guide me to learn more about the product.
Give Me Feedback
So you got past the gauntlet and I actually took the time to review your game. I will always reply back once my review goes live so you can check it out yourself. Good or bad, giving some feedback on what I wrote or made a video of is a great thing. It shows me you took the time to look at my review and that you care about the content I provided. There is also a fine line between giving me negative feedback and harassment. If I gave you a less than stellar review and you are not satisfied, contact me and give me some reasons to revisit your game. I have gone back and done follow up reviews on games that did not resonate with me on the first go. After some feedback from the developers and some updates they made to fix bugs and other mechanical functions I went back and the review changed from “don’t waste your time with this game” to “it may have some flaws still but its worth checking out”.
I respect developers who take the time to listen to what I had to say and go back in a fix things. It speaks volumes that you actually care about your game and are willing to work with me to fix your flaws which also in turn starts to build a professional relationship with me. If I see that you take my criticism to heart and you reach out to me further to mend your flaws it makes me all the more likely to reach back out to you on future projects or even running features on you and your studio- such as interviews. This will allow you to get your name out there even more.
These are just 3 simple tips to get you going. There are tons of awesome things you can do to make your press releases flashy yet simple enough to catch the attention of journalists and get them to give your game a look. Don’t be afraid to follow up on requests but still be mindful that we are sifting through a ton of press releases all day and it may take some time to get to yours. Build respectable and professional relationships with the media and can be sure that the same respect will be awarded back to you. Don’t get discouraged when you see a bad review but take it as a lesson learned and make your game better to shut up those critics in the future.
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