INSIGHT FROM OVER 160 GAME JOURNALISTS ON HOW PRs AND GAME STUDIOS CAN IMPROVE THEIR CHANCES OF COVERAGE
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Writing about video games for a living: sounds like the dream job, right? Not exactly. While video game journalism comes with some obvious perks, game journalists are often overworked, underpaid and under pressure. Smaller teams with ambitious KPIs to hit, inboxes taking a relentless hammering and a never-ending list of games to cover means that often, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
We published our first journalist survey in 2018, and in this new version, over 160 journalists share their thoughts on the state of game journalism in 2022 and what PRs and game studios can do to improve their chances of coverage (tip: don’t mention blockchain or NFTs.)
For PRs, getting your game covered or feature pitch picked up has never been more challenging. So what can games PRs do to separate themselves from the crowd? And what do game journalists need from PRs if they’re going to cover our stories?
Rather than rely on guesswork, we thought we’d dispel some of the myths and mystique around game journalism by kindly asking game journalists worldwide to answer some of our most pressing questions about their profession.
- How many pitches do you get every day?
- Are you likely to cover blockchain games?
- What are your top five reasons for rejecting pitches or ignoring emails?
- Do you agree that Resident Evil 4 is the best game ever made? (we didn’t really ask this, but it is)
We received over 160 responses from Editors in Chief, section editors, community managers, staff writers and freelancers from websites and publications across the world, including IGN, Eurogamer, Kotaku, CNET, PCGamesN, TheGamer, and loads more.
Some of these questions were multi-choice, and some of these featured the usually-ignored ‘other’ box as a response, where we encouraged respondents to provide additional information. Surprisingly, respondents did the complete opposite of ignoring it, often leaving in-depth responses about the daily challenges they face and what they’re looking for from PRs and game studios.
And because we’re cheeky, we even asked journalists to share specific advice on what PRs and game studios can do to improve their chances of coverage. We got so many excellent responses that there was no way of fitting them all in, but you’ll find some of the ones we found the most interesting – and useful – towards the end of this document.
Before we dive into the findings, we’d like to thank all the journalists who contributed to this report.
Whether you’re an independent video game developer, PR professional, content creator or anyone looking to approach games media, this report will further your understanding of video game journalism and content creation and give you some tips on what you need do to build better relationships with journalists.
We get it. You read through enough white papers and reports as it is and just want the key findings, so we’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you. That said, there’s so much good stuff in here that we could honestly flesh this executive summary out into three or four pages (but that would defeat the point of a ‘summary’, wouldn’t it?)
So, after you’re done reading the bits below, we reckon it’s in your best interests to take a read through every other page in this report, even if your busy schedule means you’ll need to work through it a page at a time.
Trust us; it’ll be worth it.
- The survey features responses from over 160 video game journalists across print, web, video and radio.
- PC was the most common platform for reviewing games on (86% of respondents), followed by Nintendo Switch (84%), PS5 (76%), and Xbox Series X/S (67%). Only 35% of respondents have access to VR platforms.
- 34% of respondents focussed their coverage on tips, guides and/or walkthroughs – PRs and studios should think about what they can do to support journalists with guided content.
- Over half of respondents create video content, and 40% create podcast/audio content, so PRs should ensure their media kits/assets contain plenty of audio and video content when they’re pitching games for review.
- 42% of respondents receive between 11 and 30 pitches every single day, and 21% of respondents receive over 30 pitches every day!
- When we asked journalists how likely it was that they would cover blockchain games within the next 6–12 months, 75% of respondents said it’s ‘unlikely’, while 20% said it was ‘somewhat likely’, and only 5% said ‘very likely.’
- The majority of respondents aired frustrations with short lead times, and over half said a three-week lead is the minimum needed to review a game properly in advance of launch; longer lead times could improve changes of coverage, especially as lack of time is cited as one of the main reasons journalists pass on review opportunities.
- When considering what games to review, the following three factors were the most important:
- The game seems like a good fit for the publication’s audience
- They genuinely like the look of the game
- The game came directly from a developer or publisher
- The top three reasons for rejecting a review request were:
- The game looks poor
- Too busy to review the game
- The game isn’t appropriate for the publication’s audience
- When asked about which elements are the most important in emails about review requests, the following three factors were the most important:
- Provides clear dates
- Email gets the point across efficiently
- Email contains access to a media kit/relevant resources
As you might expect, the vast majority of journalists we surveyed review games across multiple platforms, but PC was the most popular.
Surprisingly, the Nintendo Switch was the second most popular platform for reviewing games on. As a portable hybrid console, it could take the strain off being tied down to the couch when reviewing larger games with shorter lead times than they’d like (much more on that later…)
When we last ran this survey in 2018, only 32% of participants reviewed games for VR platforms. That number hasn’t changed much since then, highlighting some of the challenges of getting VR games coverage. This often means that outside of specialist VR publications, only the most prominent VR games get a look-in from traditional games media.
A lucky 15% of journalists we surveyed have their hands on a Steam Deck (we’re not jealous, promise), and while only 39% of respondents review mobile games, that number shouldn’t be surprising as there aren’t as many outlets that cover mobile games when compared to PC and
As you may expect, reviews, news and previews are gaming journalists’ most common editorial areas. Features aren’t too far behind either, so PRs and studios pushing for coverage should make sure they’ve got interesting angles and spokespeople lined up to create stories around a game’s release outside of reviews.
“AS SOMEONE WHO COVERS GUIDES A LOT, THINGS LIKE INTERNAL MAPS AND THE LOCATIONS OF COLLECTABLES, KEY TIPS, THINGS WE MIGHT MISS AND GENERAL POINTERS ARE ALWAYS SUPER HELPFUL AND SAVE US A LOT OF TIME.”RESPONDENT
But the most interesting finding from this question is that 34% of the journalists we surveyed create content focused on tips, guides and walkthroughs. It’s only in the last two or three years that video game websites have made a big push to grow their staff teams with specific roles that specialise in guided content, and it’s also a growing area of focus for freelancers due to the amount of time that creating guided content takes.
It’s often a rush to the finish line for game websites to see who can dominate SEO rankings and get their guided content out there first for a big game release like Elden Ring. Understandably, writing original guided content is a long and difficult task. PRs and game studios should consider how they can support gaming publications with their coverage, whether it’s providing more detailed and in-depth player guides in review kits or supplying tips and secrets post-release
Online blogs and websites remain the predominant content medium for our respondents, although it’s interesting to see that over half of them create video content too. It’s not clear whether this content is native to the site(s) they write for or for platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.
Either way, PRs might want to consider including extra video content in their media kits outside of the typical game trailers, so time-strapped journalists don’t have to spend extra time gathering footage.
Our survey also found that 40% of respondents are engaged in podcasting, and we expect this to grow with podcasts gathering big audiences and services like Spotify and Apple Music heavily
promoting them. PRs and studios should consider how to track podcast coverage and how they can work with journalists to create podcast content, such as supplying studio staff for interviews.
Fewer than 10% of journalists create content for print publications. It’s no secret that gaming magazines are becoming increasingly difficult to find on store shelves. While it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever return to the golden years of gaming magazines, there’s some hope yet in the emergence of independent and specialist print publications such as Wireframe, Switch Player, and, of course, the lovely Lost In Cult’s [lock-on] gaming journals.
This is one of the most common questions amongst PR professionals and one to which no one seems to know the answer. Well, now we do. While nearly 38% of respondents said they received fewer than 10 review requests and/or pitches a day; bear in mind this adds up to 50
requests per week on top of the work that they’re already doing.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why journalists might pass on your pitch or the opportunity to review your game. This can often be down to the fact that they’re simply too busy or missed your email in the first place.
“WE GET SO MANY REVIEW REQUESTS AND ONLY HAVE THE TIME/RESOURCES TO COVER A SMALL HANDFUL. THE MOST LIKELY WAY TO GET US TO COVER YOUR GAME IS TO PITCH IT TO US EARLY AND PROVIDE US WITH A REVIEW CODE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE (TWO WEEKS-PLUS WOULD BE GREAT).”
Over half of the journalists we surveyed receive between 11–50 pitches and/or review requests every single day, and over one-third receive 20 or more.
Amazingly, 8% of respondents said that they receive 50 or more pitches and/or review requests. Every. Single. Day. That’s over 250 requests a week, or over 1000 requests per month. That’s a lot of juggling…
The good news is that 36% of journalists are happy to take a look at a game as early as possible. But we would temper that with a warning that you want to make the best possible impression, so a proof of concept with placeholder artwork may not be the best thing to supply!
The next highest response was that 20% of game journalists wanted game access during a playable beta, which is typically when a title will be fairly polished but might contain forgivable bugs and other areas to improve on.
“IT DEPENDS ON A LOT OF FACTORS. OBVIOUSLY, GAMES I CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY ARE THINGS I AM MORE OPEN TO TRYING EARLIER, THOUGH A LOT OF IT ALSO HINGES ON TIME. BUT, ON AVERAGE, EARLY ACCESS WOULD PROBABLY BE THE BEST TIME, AS THERE IS LESS OF A NEED TO FILL IN THE BLANKS.”
While 14% of journalists were happy to wait until launch for playable code, we’d never advise leaving a PR campaign or issuing code this late, especially for larger AAA games.
Ah, discoverability. With so many games out there, journalists rely on numerous channels for discovering new games to review, especially as smaller and independent studios might not have the time or resources to approach journalists and share details of their games directly.
We asked game journalists to rate 12 different discovery channels in order of importance for
Over 80% of respondents said being pitched a game directly from a developer or publisher was ‘important’ or ‘very important’, highlighting how much they value direct relationships and appreciate the studios that invest time into doing This. That said, 68% of journalists provided the same response for being contacted by PRs. Anyone worried about the disappearance of gaming events can take solace in the fact that 88% of journalists cited discovering games at events ‘of importance,’ with 59% saying it was
‘important’ or ‘very important.’ Newswires still remain an important form of game discoverability too, with Gamespress (68%), Terminals (64%) and other PR newswires (70%) scoring from ‘moderately important’ to ‘very important.’
“WE ALWAYS ENJOY HEARING ABOUT NEW THINGS. EVEN IF WE DON’T COVER THEM IMMEDIATELY, WE SAVE ALL PR RELEASES FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. I WISH WE COULD COVER EVERYTHING, BUT RESOURCES ARE LIMITED.”
Surprisingly, 81% of respondents did not seem to use forums or community channels to find out about games (although we’d bet the opposite when it comes to gaming news…) but a third of respondents did cite streaming and video platforms such as YouTube and Twitch as places
where they discover new content.
One of the most important findings from this question is that 34% of journalists rely on being given a game to review by their editor or manager, which means they often don’t have a say in which games they do or don’t cover.
Also interesting is the influence of other games media on journalists when discovering which games to cover, with 40% of journalists saying it was moderately important. For journalists, seeing a competing publication dedicating a large amount of time and space to a game they weren’t planning on covering may sway them otherwise.
Pitching is a fine art that can take a lot of time to master. While it’s important not to overthink it, important pitches can take hours to research and craft. Often, it can be that one important email that makes the difference between getting your game seen by millions of people or only a few hundred, so you better make sure you get it right.
“MOST OF THE WELL-REPUTED SITES GET A LOT OF PITCHES, AND SOMETIMES THEY CAN GO DOWN IN THE MAILBOX. TO MAKE SURE THE PITCH IS WELL-RECEIVED BY THE EDITOR, IT NEEDS TO BE VERY CLEAR, CONCISE AND MENTION WHAT THE AGENCY/DEVELOPER IS LOOKING FOR FROM THE MEDIA OUTLET.”
So what does a good email pitch look like? For a start, it helps to spell the name of the person you’re emailing correctly, but PR professionals and studios should do plenty of things to improve their chances of coverage. As we’ve seen already, journalists are incredibly busy, so supplying them with everything they need in one email helps.
“DON’T MAKE ME ASK FOR ASSETS. I SHOULD HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED WITHIN YOUR FIRST EMAIL TO WRITE A STORY. IT SAVES EVERYONE TIME.”RESPONDENT
We asked journalists to rank 12 different factors on pitching to the press in order of importance, and several things came across loud and clear in terms of what they’re looking for.
94% of respondents said that providing clear dates around release and any details on embargoes was ‘important’ or ‘very important,’ so make sure this information isn’t easy to miss on your first pitch.
“BEFORE PITCHING TO SOMEONE, LOOK UP THEIR OPENCRITIC PAGE TO GET A FEEL FOR SOMEONE’S TASTE AS YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET SOMEONE TO LOOK AT YOUR PITCH IF IT’S WITHIN THEIR PREFERRED GENRE.”RESPONDENT
Forget about long-winded emails too. 65% of journalists said it was ‘very important’ that any pitch emails that land in their inbox get their point across efficiently, while 84% said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that any email pitches they receive include a link to a relevant media kit and/or resources.
Over half of respondents said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that emails include a key features lists for the games they reference. Drafting key feature lists can be an easy way for PRs and studios to pull out the key highlights of any games they’re pitching in and present them in a digestible format. 81% of journalists said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that pitch emails include a trailer or gameplay video link.
“TRY TO SHRINK THE PITCH. GET DIRECTLY TO THE POINT IN JUST 2-3 PARAGRAPHS.”RESPONDENT
“INCLUDE BASIC GAME INFO IN A NICE SUMMARY BLOCK SOMEWHERE; PLATFORMS, ESRB RATING, RELEASE DATE, DEVELOPER NAME, PUBLISHER, LINKS TO SOCIAL CHANNELS. IF I HAVE TO GO DIGGING ONLINE FOR GAME BASICS THE PITCH MOVES TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INBOX.”RESPONDENT
In summary, linking to additional assets that can be viewed outside of the main pitch email is an easy way for journalists to get all of the vital information that they need.
If they’re interested in reviewing your game, rather than trying to cram everything into a single email.
Make sure you never send assets as attachments too, as this can increase the risk of your emails landing in spam folders.
There are plenty of factors that journalists haveto consider when it comes to which games they
review, so we gave journalists 12 of them and asked them to rate them in order of importance.
Results stress the importance of recognising the readership of the publications you’re pitching to.
61% of journalists said it is ‘very important’ thatthe games they review are a good fit for their audience, which jumps to 83% if we include those who said it is ‘important’. This was the most popular response and proves that above all else, journalists always have ‘catering for their audience’s priorities’ at the top of their list.
We can’t imagine anything more frustrating than having to sink 50+ hours into a review for a game
that you don’t enjoy, so perhaps it’s no surprise that 77% of journalists said genuinely liking the
game (or believing they will) is an ‘important’ of ‘very important’ determiner of what they review.
“SEARCH DRIVES THE MOST TRAFFIC, SO IT’S VERY HELPFUL WHEN PRs ASSOCIATE AN UNKNOWN GAME WITH A TERM (LIKE D&D, OR CITY BUILDER) THAT HAS A HIGH SEARCH VALUE.”
We highlighted the importance of assets in the previous question, but the lack of or missing assets can also dictate whether a game is considered for review. 66% of respondents believe supporting a pitch with assets is either ‘important’ or ‘very important,’ while including some sort of code or game build is considered of importance to 63% of journalists.
Trust and relationships are also an important part of considering games for coverage, as 68% of respondents said it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ if a game comes from a publisher or developer that they know.
Just over 60% consider it ‘important’ or ‘very important’ if they have covered the game
previously in some form and our findings also show journalists are open to new experiences, with fewer of them caring about games being part of a pre-existing franchise or one that they have played previously. Though not essential, pitching to a journalist that has positively reviewed a game that’s part of a franchise could increase your chances of coverage.
As the media landscape becomes more competitive we’re seeing more websites focus on
the SEO value of coverage, too. There’s an opportunity here for smaller developers if your game can be included in round-up articles such as “10 games like Elden Ring” or “turn-based games like Fire Emblem.
If you’ve ever felt like journalists are ignoring your emails, you’re about to find out why. We gave
journalists 15 reasons why they might ignore or reject emails and asked them to choose the top
To ensure we didn’t miss anything, we also left room for them to add any additional thoughts
in the ‘others’ option. The results make for some worthwhile reading.
Two answers came out top with each taking 64% of the vote. The first reason journalists might reject or ignore a pitch is that the game they’re being pitched doesn’t look like it’s worth their time! And the second reason of equal importance is that they’re too busy to review the game(s) that they’re being pitched.
The third most popular reason for turning down or ignoring a pitch is that the game isn’t the right fit for the publication’s audience, whilst the fourth most popular reason is down to a poorly crafted pitch.
This might involve spelling or grammatical errors, a lack of information, or other mistakes that poorly reflect the game the email is pitching. This highlights the importance of taking your time and double-checking everything when you’re pitching (tip: get someone else to double-check before you send.)
It’s important to remember that journalists don’t have access to every console or platform out there, as over half of respondents said they turn down pitches or ignore them because they’ve been pitched a game on a platform that they can’t access.
While most agencies and studios have access to keys for multiple platforms, PRs and studios should double-check a journalist’s portfolio if they’re offering a review code for a game that’s exclusive to a single platform. This will save your time and theirs!
Interestingly, 20% of journalists provided a game’s low impact on site rankings/SEO as a
reason they might ignore or reject email pitches, something that’s also supported by 42% of
journalists saying they’re not interested in reviewing games that have been out for several
weeks or months.
While journalist/PR relationships are important, this doesn’t seem to be a determinator of granting or turning down coverage.
Less than 5 of respondents said pitch emails are ignored or rejected because the journalist doesn’t know the PR agency. Many respondents also highlighted issues surrounding ethics, saying they’re unlikely to cover any video games that feature blockchain technology, NFTs or questionable monetisation
PRs and game studios all have their preferred ways of hosting media kits, but we wanted to find
out which platforms journalists prefer. Google Drive is the clear winner here, but it was interesting to see the independent and free resource Presskit take second place.
Interestingly, a WeTransfer link was one of the least popular choices, presumably as there’s no
way to preview the files you’re downloading first.
The video game industry’s response to blockchain technology and NFTs has been less than favourable.
Despite the growing popularity of blockchain games, they’re still an incredibly divisive topic amongst gamers. So divisive, in fact, that some studios such as Team17 and GSC Gameworld have stepped back on their plans to introduce blockchain technology following backlash from gamers.
“IT’S HARD TO VERIFY WHAT’S LEGITIMATE AND WHAT’S NOT WITH HOW EXPERIMENTAL THE SPACE IS AT THE MOMENT. WE’RE FLOODED WITH REQUESTS FOR GAMES LIKE THIS AND HAVE NO WAY TO DETERMINE WHAT’S WORTHWHILE OR IMPORTANT. PR RELEASES FOR THESE GAMES ALSO TEND TO BE TERRIBLE. THEY DON’T INCLUDE SCREENSHOTS, VIDEO, OR ANY TEXT DETAILING HOW THE GAME ACTUALLY PLAYS. THEY ARE LARGELY A SEA OF HOLLOW BUZZWORDS THAT PAINT AN UNCLEAR PICTURE OF WHAT THE GAME IS. I ALSO FIND THAT MOST BLOCKCHAIN GAMES AREN’T
REALLY GAMES, SO MUCH AS GAMIFIED FINANCE. WE’RE A VIDEO GAME SITE, NOT A FINANCIAL TECH ONE.”
So what do journalists think? Animosity towards anything blockchain-related is high. A whopping 75% of respondents said it’s unlikely they’ll cover blockchain-based games in the next 6–12 months, while 20% said it was somewhat likely and 5% said it was very likely.
“BLOCKCHAIN IS A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM. IT IS BEING TOUTED AS A PANACEA FOR ISSUES WHICH DO NOT EXIST AND WHICH OFFER NO ACTUAL VALUE TO THE PLAYERS.”
As for the reasons why? There were some similarities between a lot of the responses that we got, many of which cited they don’t believe their audience is interested or would be receptive to blockchain games coverage.
Others stated a general lack of interest in covering blockchain games, while others were more passionate in the way they expressed their dislike of blockchain games. Take a look through some of the
responses yourself and see what you think (we recommend downloading the survey from the link above so you can see more).
Games are getting bigger and journalists are more strapped for time as a result, making this a
very important question.
54% of journalists said ‘three weeks’ was the amount of time they’d like to offer a build for review, while 18% of journalists preferred ‘four weeks’.
Looking at those figures together means that three weeks is the minimum amount of time they’d like to review a game.
It’s not unusual for game journalists to receive review code a week before launch. This is not enough.
“TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE WITH GAMES JOURNALISM. WHETHER IT’S A REVIEW CODE, OR A NEWS PIECE, THE MORE TIME WE CAN HAVE WITH THE INFORMATION THE BETTER. SEND OUT NEWS A COUPLE OF DAYS AHEAD WITH EMBARGO TIME. DAYS TO REVIEW A GAME BUT STILL TRYING TO HIT EMBARGOES IS STRESSFUL. A GOOD WINDOW FOR REVIEW IS TWO SOLID WEEKS BEFORE THERESPONDENT
Unfortunately, it’s becoming more common for freelancers to put themselves in inappropriate working positions by working ungodly hours to finish a game in time, often on an experience that’s less than enjoyable.
While it’s sometimes out of the hands of PRs to choose when they issue code, the findings from this survey show that journalists prefer to receive review codes no less than three weeks before a game’s launch.
“HAVING SUFFICIENT TIME AHEAD OF A REVIEW EMBARGO TO PLAY THE GAME IS A HUGE HELP – AT LEAST TWO WEEKS IDEALLY, OR MORE FOR BIGGER GAMES. IT’S ALSO REALLY HELPFUL WHEN PITCHES FOR REVIEW COVERAGE IN PARTICULAR INCLUDE A ROUGH ESTIMATE OF COMPLETION TIME.”
Remember that journalists will often want to play your game in full and then have to write up a review, make edits and/or create video content afterwards.
Not providing a long-enough lead time could result in your game not being covered, or not meeting the expectations of the noise you want to make on
Q13: WHAT’S YOUR VIEW OF INFLUENCERS VS ‘TRADITIONAL’ GAMES JOURNALISM?
We’re always interested in this question, given the growing popularity of influencer marketing and the perception of influencer coverage amongst video game journalists. 76% of journalists believe that influencers will continue to co-exist with traditional game journalism, while 11% said they were indifferent to the future relationship between the two.
“I HAVE NO PROBLEM IN GENERAL WITH INFLUENCERS, BUT IT GETS FRUSTRATING WITH THEY ARE GIVEN PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR THINGS LIKE ACCESS/CODES OVER MEDIA OUTLETS WHO HAVE WAY MORE EXPERIENCE/KNOWLEDGE ON THE GAME(S) IN QUESTION.”
“[INFLUENCERS] AREN’T A THREAT, BUT THEY DON’T ADD CRITICAL VALUE. SCREAMING ‘THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER,’ FOR 45 MINUTES ISN’T WHAT I WOULD CONSIDER GOOD WORK. AND WITH ‘SPONSORSHIPS,’ I KNOW THAT IT WOULD TAKE A LOT FOR ME TO PERSONALLY CARE WHAT AN ‘INFLUENCER’ SAYS, VERSUS ONE OF MY PEERS AT A TRADITIONAL OUTLET.”
A small percentage of game journalists believe that influencers are a ‘significant threat’ to game
journalism, and we provided room for others to leave their thoughts. Let’s take a look at some of the detailed responses.
P.S. If you’re allocating review codes to influencers over journalists, don’t think that’s
Q14: DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTING COMMENTS/TIPS FOR PR AGENCIES AND DEVELOPERS LOOKING TO PITCH THEIR GAMES TO YOU?
We wanted to leave all of the journalists we surveyed with the option of leaving parting comments and tips that could help PR agencies and studios improve their chances of coverage and grow relationships with them.
We weren’t expecting this many answers, nor were we expecting this level of detail, so we’re
incredibly grateful to all of those that went out of their way to provide useful feedback and advice.
If you’re one of those that contributed, thank you.
There are some common threads amongst theresponses we received. Journalists encourage follow-ups (within reason) as they admit they can sometimes miss e-mails. Similarly, a lot of journalists highlight the importance of personalised contact and maintaining professional relationships by being a good communicator and respecting the work pressures they’re under.
A lot of journalists highlighted their frustrations with how codes are being allocated. Game journalists don’t have the financial freedom of being able to afford every game they want to review, and if they’re not provided code when they need it, this often means they won’t cover that
game at all.
Lots of journalists stressed the importance of ensuring marketing assets are in the right size, format and place, and many more expressed their grievances about short lead times for reviewing games. Another common piece of advice was providing completion times for any games that are distributed for reviews, and ensuring that platform compatibility is mentioned at the beginning of any outreach. Here’s what some of them said:
“The most important request I have to PRs is to give us enough lead time to review your games. While we’re largely comfortable skipping embargoes if we don’t have enough time, we want to do our readers a service by getting our reviews out before they make an impulse purchase. A rushed review period is only a detriment to games. It makes any flaws stand out much more, as a progress stalling issue that may otherwise be nitpicked seems much more damning. You do your games a disservice when you send them out days before launch. Also, remember that we need time to digest and write reviews, in addition to playing. Seven days might seem like enough time, but you need to factor in how long it takes to write, edit, and format a review. Always build at least three extra days into your press timelines. And please, it’s always appreciated when you send estimated game length along with review codes.”
“Unique” is an ungradable adjective. You do not have “very/most unique” features or games. They’re either unique or they aren’t. That and it’s/its are common mistakes in PR and they drive me crazy.”
“Please do not attach megabytes of assets or animated gifs directly to emails. Give me links to all of that stuff. Also, don’t try to be “cute” in your pitch email—you can have fun with it, but I want to quickly be able to learn about the game, not wade through jokes to get to that information.”
“Please, always send a press kit with a 1280×720 resolution key art (or logo if a key art is not possible).”
“Time is of the essence with games journalism. Whether it’s a review code, or a news piece, the more time we can have with the information the better. Send out news a couple of days ahead with embargo times.”
“Please keep chasing people up! I miss emails, and appreciate being reminded.”
“I’m generally very open-minded – I’ll review imports and experimental games, will borrow hardware to access something, and love exposing readers to curious or obscure things. Many of the things on this list, like not knowing the developer or [the game] not being localised.”
“It is never a good idea to passiveaggressively ask: “Can you tell me when you’ll publish the article?” when it is not even sure there will be an article at all (mostly because the game is abysmal). * Please do not try to tell editors what is good for their audience or for the sites they are writing for.”
“It would be great if some PR agencies at least acknowledge the fact they received a request or at least send a rejection email for a request from smaller sites. I know they get loads of requests but there’s nothing worse than waiting for an email and feeling ignored.”
“As for sending PR gifts out – please check with us first and if you can let us know the contents. If you’re planning on shipping a water bottle and a USB from the US to the UK, I’d rather you didn’t – please think of the environment and the air miles behind these things”
OUR RECIPE FOR A (NEARLY) PERFECT PITCH TO GAMING JOURNALISTS
- Don’t take the scattershot approach: personalise your pitch and take time to research the journalists that you contact. This will allow you to get a better idea of their tastes, pitch preferences and what platforms they own
- Follow-up on emails that don’t get a response after a couple of days. Youcan use this as an opportunity to add new information to your pitch too,but be reasonable with your follow-ups (don’t follow-up every day!)
- Respect the pressures that journalists are under and take the time to build relationships with them by being timely, not ignoring emails, following up and ensuring they have everything they need
- Make sure journalists have enough time as possible to review your game. Where possible, issue review codes three weeks before launch (and remember to include details on the estimated time needed to completethe game)
- Be wary of pitching blockchain games to outlets that don’t cover them. You’ll only be wasting your time if you don’t
- Think about what you can do to support journalists moving into new areas such as content creation for podcasts and guides
- Keep your pitch clear and concise and make sure you get straight to the point. Don’t force comedy and stay away from buzzwords (unique!)
- When you pitch, make sure the journalist has everything they might possibly need for coverage in that initial email
- If you’re working on an independent or lesser-known title, think about how you can boost the appeal of your game with SEO-friendly keywords or comparisons to other titles
- ALWAYS think of the publication’s target audience as your own – is your game something they will genuinely be interested in or are you pitching to the wrong audience?