Making sure your game is fun should be your first priority, but getting people to actually notice it is important too. One of the best ways to let the world know your game even exists is the internet; mainly, gaming websites. This is why so many game developers shoot e-mails at sites in hopes that they’ll write an article or review on their game. And as we’ve mentioned in other articles, like Four Things To Consider Early In Game Development, you’d be smart to begin marketing your game as early as possible.
Of course, you also have to consider that no video game news site can satisfy the request of every email they receive from developers. This means that only a select few games will get any attention from the guys and gals in charge of the site. Whether your game is one of them often depends on the quality of the actual email, not the game itself.
Here are a few surefire ways to get website writers to pass up on your press emails:
1. Have a terrible subject line
The subject line is number one on this list for a reason: it’s perhaps the most important part of the press email.
It is the first thing the person will read, which means it is likely to get sent straight into the virtual trash can if it isn’t up to snuff. If a site receives dozens, if not hundreds, of PR emails in one given day, you can be sure they’ll only bother opening the ones with subject lines that don’t read like they were written by a 1st-grader.
Make sure the subject line describes your game as much as possible with as few words as possible. This will allow the reader to immediately get an idea of what your game is about and what you want. Whether you’re running a Kickstarter campaign or need more votes on Steam Greenlight, make it clear and concise. Here are two examples of subject lines. Which do you think would get opened, and which would get deleted?
Subject Line #1: Hi! My name is Whatever and I’m making an awesome game for PC. It’s like Halo but better! Think you can help us get coverage?
Subject Line #2: Cool Studio would like to announce that Game Title is releasing for iOS this month. Press kit inside.
2. Make the email body a wall of text.
When browsing Facebook or the comments section of a site, chances are that you never sit there and read the 500 word rants someone left. So what makes you think that website writers and editors will bother reading your massive press email? The truth is, it’s not about word count, but how neat and presentable it looks.
Instead of getting wordy, simply provide the essentials: an intro sentence that talks about the game in a nutshell followed by important details like the genre, platform, release, date, etc.
150 to 200 words is all you need to inform the reader, especially when you also have an image or two and a trailer to show off. Last but not least, definitely toss in a download code in there so they don’t have to buy the game, and make sure it is very visible so they don’t miss it.
3. Don’t include a press kit.
In this day and age, failing to provide a link to a press kit of some kind is a big mistake if you want sites to help you get coverage. Many would argue that it isn’t necessary, but usually this is coming from people who have never worked for a game site. Those with experience will tell you that they absolutely love press kits for one reason: it means less work for them.
For those of you unaware, a press kit is basically a bunch of promotional material that is both convenient and informative.
For example, you can learn all you need to about Shovel Knight by checking out the fantastic press kit page Yacht Club has provided for it. Theirs is a perfect example because it has all the essentials: a good-sized description, list of key features, and quotes from other sites mentioning their game.
As you may have noticed, they also sprinkled around screenshots, links to social media pages, and videos as well. It also doesn’t hurt to have a section talking about you and your studio if you make it interesting. Your game is more likely to receive coverage if the writer/editor can easily pull info from your press kit, which also helps them get more excited about your game.