Episode 20 – Game Journalist Survey 2024: What Game Journalists Really Think (ft. Eurogamer’s Editor in Chief)

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Episode Summary

The dynamic world of games journalism is constantly evolving, with the intricate interplay of SEO and authentic reporting at its core. In the latest episode of our podcast, we were joined by Eurogamer’s Editor in Chief, Tom Phillips, who shared valuable insights gleaned from our 2024 Game Journalist Survey. The episode delved into the pressing challenges faced by games journalists, starting with the balancing act of writing content that satisfies the algorithms while simultaneously resonating with human readers. Tom emphasised the critical balance between SEO optimisation and reader engagement, suggesting that while SEO plays a pivotal role in online visibility, it should never compromise the authenticity of the storytelling.

Tom’s expertise shone through as he discussed the art of crafting a game pitch that stands out in an SEO-driven market. Developers and PR professionals alike are often caught in a web of trying to gain visibility for their games, and Tom’s advice was clear: understand the publication’s interests and present a unique angle that captivates the editor. He highlighted the necessity of targeted pitches, as indiscriminate emails often get lost in the deluge of daily correspondence that journalists navigate. Moreover, Tom cautioned against pitches related to crypto or blockchain, indicating that such topics are often viewed with skepticism.

We also explored the current landscape of gaming content creation, particularly the significance of early access reviews in shaping public opinion and purchase decisions. Tom recounted the experience of creating guide content for expansive games like Starfield, where being first to market with guides is crucial for SEO relevance. The chapter shed light on the symbiotic relationship between video and written content, as videos offer a dynamic alternative for presenting information that might be cumbersome in text form.

Furthermore, Tom addressed the nuanced world of pre-release game reviews, drawing attention to the ethical considerations and pressures unique to the video game industry. The discussion extended to the evolving relationship between journalists and PR professionals, underscoring the importance of mutual understanding and respect in light of the sheer volume of games and time constraints.

The episode wrapped up with an overview of trends in game journalism, as revealed by the 2024 Games Journalist Survey. This podcast episode was a deep dive into the strategies and challenges of melding SEO with compelling narratives in games journalism. It provided a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to refine their approach to game storytelling and PR, emphasizing that while SEO is a critical component of visibility, it must always be balanced with content that engages and informs the reader.

For more exclusive content and behind-the-scenes insights into the gaming industry, be sure to check out the full 2024 Game Journalist Survey! It is an indispensable resource for understanding the currents and undercurrents shaping the world of game journalism today.


Intro 00:02

Welcome to the Games PR Podcast, your regular dose of video game PR goodness. Sit down and relax as our team of experts and special guests share tips and tricks to help you level up your PR game with media and influencers.

BGM Tom 00:21

We are live.

Jack 00:23

Lights out, and away we go. Excellent. Welcome listeners to the Games PR Podcast. If you have some deja vu thinking, this topic is the Games Journalism Survey. I’ve already listened to one of these. This is a follow-up episode because it is 2024, and we have done the survey again. We did the study before, back in 2022, and we’re delighted to be joined once again by a member of the games journalism industry to go behind the curtains and get some on-the-ground insight. So, without further ado, I will put Tom on the spot, not the one you’re used to hearing, because we have a brand new Tom in the building. Welcome in, Tom from Eurogamer.

Eurogamer Tom 01:14

Thank you so much for having me, and I’m sorry I’m yet another Tom. There are too many of us out there.

Jack 01:20

It’s a good name.

BGM Tom 01:22

It’s a great name, although I’m slightly biased.

Eurogamer Tom 01:27

I was asking BGM Tom if we should call him that. I’ve never not worked with another Tom within the same team or in the broader company. I think it’s something to do with it being the most common birth name the year that I was born, which I won’t mention because it’ll make me feel old, but uh, yes, it’s something that I’ve dealt with at school if it makes you any better.

James 01:54

I was one of five James’ in my class at school, and almost without fail, James and I turned around every time anyone went. It was never for me, but that’s a deep sort of psychological scar I have to deal with.

Jack 02:13

It’s a good segue into my first topic, which is we asked journalists several questions, and one of the biggest challenges that came out of that was a significant emphasis on SEO. We know that SEO has been a massive topic in the industry for several years, but it doesn’t seem to have changed, and I believe it was 43% of respondents, which is almost half by my bad maths, said that SEO was one of the main challenges they faced. So I wanted to get your perspective, Tom, on what you feel about SEO, how it impacts your daily work and, if you think the people listening to this, who tend to be the game developers themselves looking to communicate their games better, what lessons can they learn when they are going to be pitching you after listening to this, hopefully with, like a Pokemon, having evolved into a new form with all the latest knowledge?

Eurogamer Tom 03:29

I love that Pokemon reference. I don’t know that I’d be so bold as to tell any developers how to pitch their games to us, but SEO certainly is something that we have to deal with as journalists daily. It’s become much more of a concern for us over the years that I’ve been doing it. To the point where we have a dedicated SEO person on our team. Who. That is their focus. They look at the articles we produce and ensure that we’re not doing anything that Google hates. Is there anything we can do that makes more sense for Google’s algorithmic eyes as it scans down the page?


Are we highlighting the correct sections of text where we want to link out to something? Um, does it make sense to end an article and not have a link at the bottom to keep people engaged and keep people on the website? If he were here right now, our SEO person would be telling me that, yes, all those things are essential and don’t significantly impact how we write our stories. Um, so much as we do, we do have to think and spend a bit more time on how we present them, the markup on the page, and how you might see them as a reader.


You have to strike a balance. There are websites out there that go for SEO, and you can see that the needle has moved more towards being something for Google’s eyes rather than humansfor . There is a balance there. I would love to work for a website that doesn’t need Google, but there are very few of those around. I mean, you’re looking to sort of the entirely Patreon founded um, more niche sort of outlets for those that can rely on um just being successful to a core audience that always that is already really engaged. Um, yeah, I think it’s a. I tIt’sbalance and it’s uh, we have a great seo guy and we have conversations all the time about like does this make sense for euro gamer, does this make sense for the audience? Um, we want to be doing stuff that’s that’s useful to them, useful to Google, but never something that puts people off, because then you’re doing the opposite of SEO, you’re you’re, you’re disengaging people instead, tom.

James 06:25

It could be too bleak an outlook.

But I’ve spoken to someone who you know owns a big games website, and what you’ve talked about there is a kind of on-page optimisation of the copy unless I misunderstood it is there. Is there a view where seo is actually dominant in you have to chase it at certain times? So, for example, helldivers 2 might be getting a bit of press at the moment. Lots of people and we can go into this in the survey guides, are massive, massive, right? Everyone? Everywhere you look, there are always 10 things I wish I knew before I started Helldivers 2, spider-man 2, whatever it is because I access them all myself. Would you say that that aspect of SEO where there’s a need, as well as things like Black Friday sales and all the other things, a need to chase the big articles, and that may be at the expense of spending time on looking at smaller indie games or other things? Or is that too bleak a presumption on my part?

Eurogamer Tom 07:37

I caught some of that, James. Sorry, a little bit for me, but I think I can answer your question. It’s a really good one because I think what you’re asking is do we spend time and resources chasing things just because they’re popular?

James 07:53

yes, yes, it’s a. It’s a very bleak question…

Eurogamer Tom 08:00

It isn’t. I mean actually, when you sort of phrase it like do we chase things that are popular? The obvious answer is yes, because not only is it popular with Google Trends, but it’s also popular with a huge proportion of the gaming audience out there, who are hopefully potential readers of ours. And when you do see something like Helldivers 2, which has been a massive, massive success for Sony this year, I’m sure they’re cackling away, delighted at how well it’s gone for them. Of course, it’s only right, I think, that as a website we cover the things that people are interested in and I don’t think that there’s anything inherently wrong in saying, well, this is really popular. We should we should dedicate a load of time to playing it ourselves. We need to understand why it’s popular. What’s fun about it? We need to look at um stories that are bubbling up from its audience, its community. What’s going to happen next um?


We do sometimes get a few grumpy comments from people saying, oh, another helldiver story. Or in January it was Palworld, oh, another Palworld story. But again, it’s a balance. We always try and balance the need to look at big, popular games that are bubbling up with the necessity to tell interesting stories about them. And with Palworld there were a bunch of interesting stories like, um, all that stuff about was it ripping off Pokemon? Are there going to be legal threats?


I mean that stuff is. It’s fascinating to me and that’s like proper journalism if you want to go talk to um, trademark lawyers and stuff like that there’s. There are so many avenues there and it’s about a big part of the game. The other thing I would say, sort of separate from all of that, is you can’t build a website on things that just interest you. You have to meet your audience where they are and you have to bring them along with you as you sort of explain to them what you think they should be interested in, what you think is cool because they’re coming to you for recommendations. You know we’re the people who, uh, have nothing better to do all day than just like go through steam and try and see what’s popular um like that.

Jack 10:22

I mean, that’s the other huge challenge that came out of this is journalists don’t have time. I think that’s the perception that game devs perhaps struggle to understand. Uh, is that sure? Their game might be fairly unique because they’ve got over the fact that they don’t want to become another power world. That’s what we’re probably going to see this time next year. All the Palworld games come out too late, um, but so as well as okay, SEO has to be important, because you know that’s what people are looking for. How do you determine and the staff as well, with the limited time you have where you should be looking, or perhaps what might be worth looking into more than others?

Eurogamer Tom 11:06

if you think that train will leave the station, let’s hop on the next one instead um, it’s a really interesting part of the job that we never stop talking about and is a daily discussion. So, are we still writing many Palworld stories in March 2024 as we record this? No, we’re not. Like, the industry’s gaze has moved on, and maybe it’s moving on from helldivers now to something else, and we look really closely at what our audience is interested in, and we can see that pretty easily.


Anyone can, really you can see on websites, what articles are generating loads of comments.


You can see if a bunch of websites sort of almost have like a trending section, like on Twitter or whatever you want to call it like these are the articles that are most popular on our sites.


So you can see what stuff is being clicked on and what stuff people are interested in. Um, and if you see that a lot of people right now want to read about helldivers, then that’s probably where you should spend a bunch of your time. But it is a balance and, going back to what I was saying earlier, you can’t just make a website that’s just about what you want, you also can’t make a website that’s just about what your readers want, because part of your role is to inform readers and tell them about stuff that they’re not already aware of, recommend things to them because there’s so many good games out there and there’s like we don’t have time to play them all. We know our readers don’t have time to play them all either, and we just have to do as best the job we can at covering the stuff that we think is cool and the stuff that we know is gonna interest our readers and generate um traffic to the website it’s, it’s always uh.

Jack 12:50

It was an interesting conversation we had recently, uh, with a view towards the b2b, and the element that the editor of that website, gamesindustrybiz, had said was that he’s been told in pitches before uh, we think your readers will be interested in this. Have you had that before? How do you feel when somebody tells you what your readers are going to be interested in as a pitching strategy?

Eurogamer Tom 13:14

uh, was that Chris Tring? He’s a good friend. Um, yeah, it’s Uh, or James Bachelor? Maybe one of those two? Yeah, good people, good people, they, yeah, we get that all the time. Of course, it’s an interesting conversation to be a part of.


Whenever a PR is pitching games to us, and I’ve been doing this job for a while, I understand I have friends who are PRs. I have regular conversations with them about stuff that they’re working on, and it’s only natural that they will, if they’re good at their job, think, yeah, that’s a game that Eurogamer will like. I mean, hopefully, that is also accurate, and that’s not always the case. That is also accurate, and that’s not always the case. Some prs are better at their jobs and understanding the industry than others. Still, the really good ones, and there are a lot of great video game prs out there, know that a website has a particular interest or know that a particular person on a website has a particular interest. And if, if they do know that and they are right, as a lot of good games prs are that saves us so much time. It saves them so much time that they can filter their pitches to us to ones that are ultimately going to be successful.


So we’re not having to sort of, you know, reluctantly, say no or scratch around for a writer who might be good for it but just doesn’t know that genre or doesn’t know that series or whatever you know. And, uh, I, I don’t mind it if a pr comes to me and says, look, we’ve got this thing. We know this person on your team likes it. Would you be interested? You know, obviously there are, there are ways of saying this that are more polite than others. If someone comes in and says you need to, you need to cover this game. It’s the best game ever, trust us. You know, we’ll always be like, okay, well, convince us. But if we can sort of see the logic there, there’s absolutely no harm in it.

BGM Tom 15:16

If there’s, if there is then something that one of the team or yourself has an interest in within that pitch, what are the elements that immediately? Then, if the core idea is interesting, what elements within the pitch are you looking for? What help? What are the assists that you need? You know, media kits and so on and so forth. What are the assists that can help people, help journalists, to get things over the line?

Eurogamer Tom 15:42

the main thing for us really is, are we going to be able to tell an interesting story from this um? Is there an interesting angle here? Is there a story to be told that maybe hasn’t been told elsewhere or already? Is there scope for one of our writers to tell an interesting story? And you know it, I’ve said this a lot, but it’s a balance.


You know, it’s not entirely on the PR to say, hey, look, there’s an interesting story here. It’s also on journalists like it’s their job to go and find the interesting story, and it’s trying to see those opportunities where those things are possible. And so if a PR is, you know, coming to us and saying, look, there’s an interesting hook here, uh, I had a pitch the other day, and it was, um, a game that’s actually changing its name. And there’s a really interesting reason why, um and you know it’s not often that games, once they’re announced, change their name. But there’s a bit of a story to it, and I was like, ah, that’s interesting.


And you know, we were pitched an interview to sort of explain all that, um, and that’s something that we’re probably going to do because, you know, I can see a story there, um, and the pr who pitched it to us, sort of understood why we’d be interested, and they provided someone who’d be able to explain it and talk about it more in a bit more depth. So of course, we’d be able to ask our own questions around it, and maybe you know mine out some interesting nuggets for quotes and that sort of thing. Um, but they came to us with the understanding that there’s this game. You might not have covered it before, but there’s a story here, and let’s sort of try and explain it to you. And then, if you’re interested, great, hopefully you are. Um, something like that.

Jack 17:23

So how do you unearth those nuggets, as it were? Because we know the amount of of games getting released. We know that translates into how many pitches are pitched to you and how many emails you’re getting. What makes you click on an email and go that one I’m gonna at least look at, rather than know off the bat, perhaps, if it’s good or not? How do you determine and for people who haven’t seen the survey yet, you know, can you give an insight into just how many emails you receive?

James 17:57

Just to underscore Jack’s point, James Bachelor told us even though he’s B2B, he gets so many emails that the only way he can deal with them is he can tell from the headline in his inbox, and he’ll just delete them from the headline without even opening them. That’s how brutal it is with the sheer volume of emails that he says he’s receiving and how he assesses them.

Eurogamer Tom 18:24

Well, okay, so I’ve been talking to you for about 20 minutes, and I’ve got about 20 emails during that time, and that’s just in the folder of things that go directly to my email address. I’m also on contact lists for people to send press releases and things to Eurogamer as a generic entity. It’s pretty prolific and actually, you know, speaking personally, I find it quite I don’t know. I like a clear inbox, and getting constant emails is not hugely fun. I try and respond to as many of them as I can. There are obviously some that are just obvious no’s. Anything with crypto in the title, I don’t know if you want to talk about that at all, but anything with blockchain, complete no, no’s.


We’ve so little time on our hands that, um, that’s an easy filter to get rid of stuff, um, and then it’s just stuff that we think is going to be relevant to our audience. You know, is that, is that a game that we’ve heard of? Is it a franchise that we’ve heard of? Is that a company that we’ve heard of? Obviously, you’ve immediately got a leg up on something that we’re not aware of already. But, um, that’s not to say that, you know, I don’t read pitches from games. I don’t know. I already do that every single day, and it’s just that they need to work a bit harder. If you put blockchain in the title, your email will probably get deleted before I read it

Jack 20:00

That is a theme we saw that’s followed on from the last survey we conducted was there’s still a blockchain, just people don’t want to cover it, and I think we’re seeing perhaps fewer blockchain games out there now because none have been able to take off. So I think that’s a theme that has just persisted from the past. This one and the last was a big no towards blockchain from journalists. Um, we talked quite heavily on news so far and a bit of features, but guide content was something that stood out, as well as being a really common theme. How would you guys go about discussing which games are worth making guides on?


We’ve touched on Palworld, perhaps already no longer being relevant, but I think a huge, huge amount of the industry was trying to create Palworld content because it was such an I don’t know. James and Tom have played a hell of a lot of helldivers and no doubt would have been searching for things online for that. So, what do you think makes good guide content and how can developers go about assisting with providing the materials to make guides happen?

Eurogamer Tom 21:25

the key thing for developers or publishers is just to provide access at launch or when you provide review keys for guides and for someone to do the review. It’s such a core thing now and um, it’s it’s. It’s pretty common actually that the publishers, and yeah, it’s these publishers really at that point that you’re speaking to, um that they do provide access for guides too. A couple of companies are still a little bit cautious about it because, obviously, they don’t want, like the ending boss guide, to go up alongside the review and spoil the end of the game. And that’s fine, we understand and you know. Sometimes, there are embargoes on specific bits of the game, like you can cover up to a certain point at a certain time. We’re very happy to work with those. It’s just what you need. You need that access, especially when you’re talking about games where it’s like a 60, 80, 100 plus hour thing.


Like last year, a notable example, let’s say, was Starfield right, which came out, uh, September sort of time, and um, codes were limited, and everybody was chasing Starfield guides.


It was the next Skyrim, the thing that people would be playing for ages, or so we thought.


There is a huge pressure to be there, with guys content on day one, as well as to provide the review, because, um, if you’re not there on day one, then it’s really bad news for you. If you want to be there still on day 10 or 11, you need to be there on day one, or Google just doesn’t pay attention to you because everybody is doing it. You need to be one of the first, and it’s a massive consideration. And we have a specific guides team that works on guides production, and they’re really good at what they do, and they’re very good at picking the guides, the games to focus on when picking things to do guides, for. Not every game that comes out needs guides. Like a lot of games probably don’t need it in the same way, but we, yeah, we’re good at picking the ones that we think probably will or that enough of our audience will. That it’s worth us spending our time making guides for that game.

Jack 24:04

Um, as well, yeah, where do you see the crossover of um video coming in here? Because if some people like to turn their written reviews into video reviews, other people might just be searching TikTok or Youtube for things like starfield tips and tricks and things like that. Do you think it’s important to tailor content that might not suit a written piece for video, if it’s perhaps providing enough b-roll, or is that something you still want control over, rather than letting the publisher start impacting how much material they’re giving that you’re meant to use?

Eurogamer Tom 24:52

I think I’d just say that some things make more sense for video than others. I don’t have any issue with reviews being video reviews, and I think that actually, if you’ve spent some time with the game, a publisher has provided you with B roll, or you’ve been able to capture your own footage and been able to put that in the review at launch I mean, a picture speaks a thousand words, right, and a 10 minute let’s play speaks probably even more of those, and it’s just really nice to provide that for readers. Obviously, not all publishers want to do it, and that’s fine. Not all games are quite where they need to be at launch, and maybe you don’t want people capturing footage on release day or if you’re playing pre-release code, that’s fine too. But yeah, it’s a useful tool to communicate some of the weird and wonderful things you can find in games.


Um, there’s definitely video angles that are unique to video. Uh, we do a bunch and you know it’s the stuff that like. There are video guides and that’s just a really useful way of communicating to readers how to get through a particular section or where to find a particular thing if they want to go hunt out some easter eggs, like it’s so much easier to do that on a video than write a paragraph of text which is like turn left at this street corner. You know it, yeah, so it’s definitely, definitely placeful I can relate to that.

BGM Tom 26:22

I used to have to do a lot of written guide content and it wasn’t fun. Uh many, uh many an editor would be like.

James 26:29

This makes no sense, and I’m like it does when you’re playing it, but I think I think with you guys last june, tom, but you saved me on diablo because I had my build and I had every single level and the spells I had to unlock at each level and I printed it out and I’d sit there on the counter to print out. So I went old school on that one and I literally sat there every time I leveled up and chose the correct pathways for my bit of sorcerer build and it was incredibly useful. So there are some sometimes that you know you can go very old school it feels like timeless content.

Jack 27:03

We’re all different ages here, but I think we’ve all, as james said, printing out. It used to be like that growing up you’d be printing out cheat codes when they were a thing um, because couldn’t memorize them, or you would memorize them from printing them out, because you’re only allowed an hour or two on the computer. Um, so I think guides some. Some people feel like it’s a new form of content and I think the way of presenting it is new, but as a a type of content, it is one of the oldest out there really, um, so I think the difference is we just saw more respondents talking more about pivoting into video after writing, and we’ve also seen podcasts on the rise.


We’re on a podcast right now, but podcasts are becoming increasingly common and you referenced patreon at the start as well as a form of of revenue. We’re seeing a lot of sites putting content behind paywalls in order to reward the most loyal readers and give them something different. Um, what are your thoughts on on that, and do you think that’s something that’s a kind of a fad, or you think that’s going to be the permanent way forward?

Eurogamer Tom 28:16

I don’t think it’s a fad. I think it only works for specific things, and typically, we’ve seen it work really well for people who have already built up a following for themselves, whether on YouTube or on social media, even on Twitter but like, and then they or they work on a large site, and then they built up enough of a personal following on that site that they then go off and set up their own patreon and do well out of that. I think it’s great when, when that happens, um, I think that, uh, I think that a lot of the ones that you’ve seen are, with american games, journalists, and they probably I’m going to pay them a compliment are much better at creating a couple of personality around themselves. I think British people maybe just myself a little bit more reserved, and when I look at the hellfire that is X at the moment, it really makes me not want to post ever. So do I want to go out there and start, like, building a following and interacting with people. I’ve got enough work already. I’ll leave it to to people who are already doing it very well. Um, that’s yeah, it works for some people and that’s great, um, the.


The thing that I would say, though, is uh, this all boils down to how do you pay for the journalism that you provide, and for some people, that is patreon and it works really well.


Um, because if your, if your model is that you put out like one really good, high quality piece of content every month, that’s not going to work as a website, but it will work as a patreon.


If you want to spend that month making an incredible piece of content that you put out, you can build up to, you can interact with your followers, your community with in the meantime, and then they look forward to that moment and then they get that feeling that, okay, my bank account, my paypal, is just in charge five dollars, but I’ve now got this amazing piece of content and it’s going to be like a half an hour watch or an hour watch or something like that.


Like that revenue to me makes sense. It’s much harder to introduce a paywall to a website that previously didn’t have it and make the argument that actually, guys, we really need this money because you’re ad blocking all of our content and we’re not getting paid the same way that we used to. That’s something where you know I’ve worked at Eurogamer for 14 years this year and we don’t have a paywall. We have an optional subscription which you can pay for to remove ads, but that’s very much an opt-in and it’s something that we’re still growing. It’s growing every month, but it’s still like a fraction of the traffic that comes to a website and basically reads with ads and hopefully doesn’t.

BGM Tom 31:08

I’ve got them I was gonna, um, I was gonna touch on, actually because I know you have like the spot, the supporters, um, like articles, when, when choosing what to write about, for those is there more freedom? Because there’s less. Obviously there’s still the seo focus of the site as a whole, but because that’s gated content, you can kind of have the flexibility and thinking, because I know I’m a big fan of christian donlon and his uh piece on Haunty I believe it’s pronounced. I looked at that and I thought that’s probably something that wouldn’t get written about normally, but because it’s behind a paid gate, there’s more flexibility in that. Is that something that you think is the truth? I think that.

Eurogamer Tom 32:03

So the way it works on your gamer is you, you. The way we try and pitch it is that you are paying for a version of the site that looks a lot better, because everyone prefers to have site with no ads, right, and uh, that’s what you’re paying for. And then our thanks to you is that you do get um some exclusive written content every month. Um, there’s a game of the week article that goes up every week, and um then a list feature called five of the best, and um, then a couple of long form articles. Every so often it’s um, I don’t know, I don’t know that there’s more freedom to that, but, um, we’ve experimented with it a bit.


We, a while ago, did do subscriber posts that weren’t about games, and I don’t think that actually, I mean, there were great pieces of writing because they were by people like Christian Donnan, who are just great whether they’re writing about Mario or Corn Flakes. But what we found from our readers was they really do want to read what we think about video games, because we spend all of our time talking and thinking about video games, not Corn Flakes, talking and thinking about video games, not cornflakes. So, actually, while there probably is more freedom there because we’re not trying to pitch subscriber content to Google and SEO as much as we would other stuff. Our readers are still subscribing to us because we’re Eurogamer, not Eurocornflakes, if that makes sense.

Jack 33:38

I remember back when you used to get toys in cereal boxes, and that makes me think of when you get given those review codes. Um, what is you know? A lot of respondents talked about three weeks being the ideal time to get a code in hand to start prepping for a review. Is that something you’re aligned with? Do you think it could be different depending on the type of game? To some games? Will you need more? We know there are some horror stories out there of certain companies giving review codes on the evening before the launch, or very, very close, or not even giving codes out at all. Um, what are your views on the three week? And then, how do you think having a review on day one impacts, because some people see a day one review as common. Other people think they would rather have reviews out before the game is out, similar to how movies and things work. Why are games different?

Eurogamer Tom 34:38

a few different things in there yeah, to answer your last question, first, I think games are different because they can change and be updated up to including and way beyond the day of launch, whereas you can’t do that with films. Although now I’m saying that off the top of my head, I do remember that when the movie cats came out, they did subsequently release an update to the Cats movie that removed all of the Cats’ bumholes because it was so distressing for people to watch People like James Corden turn around and face away from the camera. But that’s a side note. What I think is three weeks would be lovely if everyone did three weeks. We’d be a lot happier if anyone listening to this wants to send us a game three weeks, three weeks early. Thank you so much. Not only are you more likely to get coverage, because we will be able to schedule playing the game, writing about it and finding a nice slot for it on the website. It’s so much easier when we’ve got that lead time. We would build around a three-week run-up. Um I it’s very rare that we get the full three weeks. Usually it’s a week and a half, sometimes it’s less, sometimes we don’t get one at all because well, let’s be honest the game’s not quite ready for launch and they don’t want people to play it before the launch day, day one patch arrives, or you know, it’s a live service game and the servers don’t get switched on until a few days beforehand. And some of that reasoning can also overlap with the prior point that it wasn’t quite ready for the servers to be turned on. It should depend on different games. I mean, you don’t need three weeks for I’m going to pull a random upcoming indie game that I’m really looking forward to off the top of my head plucky squire. Probably don’t need three weeks for that. When that comes out later this year week and a half, I think it’s like probably going to be an eight hour great game. Can’t wait for it. Absolutely fine, the next board is gate. That comes along. Yes, please, three weeks, that would be great.


I am slightly terrified that later this year assassin’s creed samurai game whatever it ends up being called it’s going to come out and I’m the assassin’s creed guy on eurogamer and I’m probably going to review that game and that’s going to be a lot of playing in a probably not very long amount of time to play it. And you know partially, it’s just how are we going to create a really good quality review of this game. How are we going to make sure that we played enough of it or even completed the story and done enough of the side content and it’s a 200 hour game to be able to form, like a, an informed opinion of it? It’s also just I don’t want to like boohoo games journalists too much, but like speaking personally, I think we are in this job because we really love video games and want to share our passion with others others.


It is a miserable experience to play a video game like that, which no one normally would finish in like three and a half days. You know to pull a random number out of our heads, but you know, say, review code came in on the monday and the embargoes on the thursday afternoon. That’s just not representative of how normal people play that game. And then you’re expecting people to write a review and be equally as excited about this game, despite the fact that you’ve probably not slept like more than four hours a night, because you’re just getting up and starting to play the game again. And then you’re stuck on the bug and there’s no walkthroughs out there yet because the game’s not been released, so no one knows how to get past the bug and then you’re phoning up pr and being like there’s a bug, do you know any way around? Yeah, that’s three. Three weeks would be lovely. Thank you very much within those three weeks.

Jack 38:33

Um, obviously you’ll be getting continually pitched lots of other games that you won’t be able to cover. Um, we’ve touched on what you’d want to see in some of these pitches, just what would be useful as we move towards the end. What is an absolute no-go? What don’t you want to see in these pitches? What makes an awful, awful pitch Blockchain?

Eurogamer Tom 38:56

Blockchain. I think just, I will consider every single pitch that we get sent. You know, putting blockchain and crypto to a side and they’re really, we just don’t really get much most of those now the fad has thankfully ended I will consider every pitch and as long as that pitch is reasonable and, um, you know, if we say I’m sorry, we just don’t have time right now, like 99 of the time the response is fair enough. You know like, we’re here. If you want to pick it up again down the line, maybe now isn’t the right time or maybe, um, the person that you want to write this thing just isn’t free and that’s absolutely fine, as long as the pitch is reasonable.


And I think, like most fear, game prs are, like, typically there is an understanding that games journalists only have so much time and, um, there are so many other games out there that, uh, if you have to pass up on a particular thing, then it’s not the end of the world and because you know, hopefully, good games prs, just like good games journalists, are in it for the long haul. You know you couldn’t. Someone can be like, oh, I’m really disappointed, you didn’t cover that game, but two months down the line they’re probably going to have another one that they need to pr as well, so that I think you know an interesting perspective there from the prs because from perhaps a game developer who maybe they know this is their one project, they might feel more open.

Jack 40:31

If they’re pring it themselves to almost spamming a journalist with follow-ups, follow-ups can be a risky topic. What do you consider the acceptable window, if perhaps you haven’t responded to that email because again you’ve got so many and someone’s just following up to check, versus somebody spamming you with with? Are you going to cover this?

Eurogamer Tom 40:54

um, I don’t mind people following up. Uh, sometimes I need it because, unfortunately, I have to deal with my emails through microsoft outlook and outlook is just terrible sometimes at even showing me the emails that I’d want to. Sometimes I need it because, unfortunately, I have to deal with my emails through Microsoft Outlook and Outlook is just terrible sometimes at even showing me the emails that I’d want to see. So, yeah, please send follow-ups, and we’re all humans. I might have just accidentally deleted or looked over it, or it’s been marked as spam by Outlook and I’ve not been able to see it.


Follow-ups is absolutely fine if you’ve not had a response. Obviously, if you had a response and the answer is I’m really sorry, we just don’t have time right now, then it’s you’re. You’re unlikely to get a different answer if you follow up and say are you sure? Because, yeah, like pretty much yes, we are sure. Circumstances probably haven’t changed in the three days since you last asked. But yeah, if you want to follow up, absolutely Give it a few days, though you know there’s no need to follow up that afternoon if you’ve not had a response to your email at 9am in the morning. Give us a few days and then give us a poke, and it’s probably gone to junk, junk for which I’m very sorry.

James 42:05

What’s the single most annoying thing anyone can do?

Eurogamer Tom 42:10

Yeah, phone your mobile about something that’s in your inbox and hasn’t been, you know, just hasn’t been responded to in an hour.

James 42:22

You’ve seen it.

Eurogamer Tom 42:23

Read it whatever that one yeah, I um like. This is the dilemma with games journalists. A lot of them put their contact details in their in their email signatures because they’re games journalists and I grew up writing video game news and I always want to be contactable if someone really needs to get in contact about a breaking story or a correction or whatever. So my mobile number is unfortunately in a lot of PR’s address books. Now I think there are a couple of people that do sort of push it by phoning and that’s a big personal no-no for me.

Jack 43:07

And do you feel the same about people sliding into DMs for pitching Again? If you don’t have that personal relationship, then that’s a no.

Eurogamer Tom 43:18

Yeah, I think email is the appropriate response for a cold pitch. I don’t think that it’s Twitter or xdms. We may follow each other on Twitter and you know I might like your posts, but if you want to interact with me as a journalist, then you know my email address. If you’re signing into my dms on twitter, it should only be about like something I posted about a marvel movie or something like that, like Pikmin or Pikmin always dm me about pikmin. That’s absolutely fine. But like I mostly read twitter, um, like in the evenings or like out of work hours, I’ve got like a tweet deck feed up, but that’s just basically an rss feed. Um, I don’t sit and post during work hours because, again, there is just not enough time in the world, um, to sit on twitter all day, uh. So, yeah, I I sort of see twitter as outside, an outsider work thing for dm usage and, yeah, send us an email instead well, I think that’s a good spot to wrap up on.

Jack 44:26

Really, you talk about work hours there, just as you did it towards the start. Can we get an update on the email count, just for people’s context of what we’re about? 40 minutes in we.

Eurogamer Tom 44:42

I mean, they’re not all pitches, but it’s 25-ish, I would say, in the last 45 minutes.


We really appreciate you coming on and sharing this insight with us. You know we do the survey and it’s great to get a human, human face attached to it and hear a real story.

Eurogamer Tom45:13

Thank you for thank you for having me. Um, it’s great to talk about this stuff. And, um, yeah, I work for Eurogamer. I hope we tell some fun stories about video games. Um, check it out if you want. Just don’t DM me about it; send me an email with awesome, excellent, excellent stuff.

Jack 45:34

Thank you, Tom. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Games PR podcast. As ever, give it a good review on your preferred podcast platform. Share it with somebody if you found it useful and you think they will find it useful too. We’ve talked extensively about the 2024 games journalist survey. You can find that survey and download it for free from the big games machine website, that is, biggamesmachine.com, where you can download the survey and see our findings from over 150 journalists sharing their thoughts on the state of game journalism in 2024. You can find a link in the description to make that much easier and hopefully, you will find that useful.


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