Tap Into YouTube: Launch Day Is Too Late For PR

As a reviewer if there’s one mistake I see in my inbox more often than any other, it’s developers reaching out to press on their game’s launch day. Sometimes, even up to a week after release.

I’m not entirely sure the general reason for this; whether it’s seen as not necessary to reach out first, or perhaps it’s some attempt at avoiding “embargo breakers”, but it’s probably the most easily corrected major mistake you can make in your game marketing.

Don’t break your game’s sales just because you didn’t want to send out some emails before launch.

Tap Into YouTube is a series on YouTube and Games PR, written from the perspective of a YouTube Content creator. That’s me!

It’s meant to help both devs and YouTubers serve their audience the best and work with each other productively.

What’s the big deal? Well…

Reviews Take Time

The biggest factor here is that if it takes me a week to write a review (not uncommon, especially for smaller shops or larger games), and you send me your game the day of release, you’re logically going to get reviews a week after release. And that’s at the earliest; you’re probably not at the top of my queue. Especially since you emailed me the day you launched your game!

“The amount of time it takes to review your game is significantly higher than the time it takes to play your game”

Gaming reviewers are infamously crunched for time and often forced to rush out reviews for games they haven’t finished, spend crazy hours to finish a game in time, or take other unfortunate steps that pretty universally result in both worse working conditions for the reviewer and a lower quality review.

To write a thorough review ideally the player will have to complete the game, or in some cases like Multiplayer or Roguelike titles, at least play far enough to feel a sense of reasonably complete understanding of the game. 

In addition to the game itself, budget in the time for writing, editing, replaying to verify certain details, checking out additional modes, and other features. After all that, the time it takes to review your game is significantly higher than the time it takes to play your game. Always keep this in mind.

If there’s one person you don’t want to rush, it’s your reviewer. When you’re rushed, every flaw is that much more grating. Every complexity is that much more unwelcome. Every high is that much more fleeting. By rushing reviewers it’s quite possible you’re harming your own review scores, let alone the number and timing of those reviews.

Scheduling Issues

Sort of a sub-point of point number one, but even if I can respond to your game in a snap as, say, a Livestreamer who plays through games blind for first-impressions streams, I still may be unable to play your game until a few days after launch. I might have previously announced plans, things I’ve been waiting months to do, I might be on vacation, heck, you might just happen to release on the day I’m not at work!

Your game is probably the only thing on your mind. It is not the only thing on the mind of everyone you’re emailing about your game. That’s one of the biggest things to realize when handling your PR and working with press; you know your game, we do not (yet). But meanwhile, we’re also juggling up to dozens of games, upcoming releases, sheduled content. The less time you give us, the less possibility there is for us to fit your game in with the rest. 

By giving reviewers a reasonable length of time they’ll not only be able to write a better review, but they’ll be able to work things into their schedule more easily. For example, I work a day job so if your game releases on Tuesday even if I have nothing to play but your game (this is never the case), the earliest you’re likely to see a video from me is the following weekend.

But Isn’t YouTube Different?

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Free Points: Drop Alive – Short Classic-Style Platformer

So far Free Points has largely focused on surreal, more conceptual and less gameplay-focused games. They’re a favorite of mine, but not all we’ll be covering here. So without further adieu, here is Drop Alive, a retro-style platformer (with a non-retro aesthetic)!

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

What Is Drop Alive?

Title: Drop Alive
Release Date: 2016-12-06
Price: Free!
Developer: Invi Games
Languages: English
Length: ~1 Hour
Platform: PC  (Steam)
Genre: Platformer
Themes: Hand-drawn, Cute, Challenging
Supplemental: You can watch me play about half the game on YouTube

Drop Alive is an adorable platformer featuring a water droplet that must escape seemingly mundane environments that become quite intimidating when you’re the size of a water droplet!

The majestic cookie sea.

With a lot of charm it’s easy to underestimate Drop Alive’s difficulty; the game won’t go easy on you, but it’s not an incredibly demanding game either, especially due to it’s length.

Why Play Drop Alive?

Drop Alive is a good ol’ platformer with a fair amount of challenge. It’s short length keeps it from being frustrating or getting old, since you’ll probably be done with it within an hour.

The water droplet isn’t purely for style either; properties of water are used for gameplay purposes as you change state and avoid being absorbed into other materials.

As a water drop you can change into a liquid, gaseous, or solid state with ease.

Drop Alive reminds me of many Flash platformers from the glory days of Newgrounds.com (who is still very much still around, by the by). It’s just long enough to be worth playing but not long enough that it wears out it’s welcome. The short-form game format is a favorite of mine, and it’s great to see games still get made.

There is a paid option for Drop Alive, but as it only contains cosmetic items and does not affect gameplay, I don’t consider it a disqualifier for Free Points. And, of course, if you think the game was worth the “asking” price of the DLC, make sure to support the developer! I’m a big fan of games that offer that sort of option.

Need More To Play?

Check out the Free Points archives or this YouTube Playlist also by SirTapTap for more worthwhile free games!

Free Points: Space Funeral – Surreal Comedy/Horror RPG

Space Funeral by thecatamites is a fairly vintage game in the set of surreal RPG maker games that have popped up over the years. As you might have noticed, this peculiar subgenre is a favorite of mine! Due to it’s short length, relative popularity, and good sense of humor, it’s hard not to recommend Space Funeral among other surreal RPG Maker games.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.
I get paid $10 every time I say BLOOD in all caps.

What Is Space Funeral?

Title: Space Funeral
Release Date: 2010-09-17
Price: Free!
Developer: thecatamites
Languages: English
Fan Translations: Russian
Length: ~1.5 hours
Platform: PC (Gamejolt, DRM Free)
Genre: RPG
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Mild horror/blood
Supplemental: I streamed a full playthrough of Space Funeral you can watch here

Space Funeral follows the story of Phillip who seeks the legendary City of Forms to restore the world, and his pal Leg Horse who is a Leg Horse. There will be BLOOD SWAMPS, BLOOD CAVERNS, and many other sources of BLOOD.

Explore a rather miserable world and beat up pretty much anyone who gets in your way, and don’t forget to say hi to Dracula. Cry at enemies until they die!

I think he’s some sort of crime man.

Why Play Space Funeral?

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Free Points: OFF by Mortis Ghost

OFF is actually the game that originally inspired me to have a “cool free games” sort of section on this site, so it’s no surprised I’m posting it early! This one’s a real treat for fans of more existential games like OneShot and Undertale, and just a really interesting gem of a free game.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

What Is OFF?

Title: OFF
Release Date: 2008
Price: Free!
Developer: Mortis Ghost
Languages: French
Fan Translations: English, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish
Length: ~5 Hours
Platform: PC (DRM free)
Genre: RPG
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Mild horror/blood, disturbing themes, existential crises
Supplemental: A YouTube Playlist of my playthrough of OFF, and an incomplete video walkthrough of mine

OFF is a mildly horror-themed RPG (tending more to the surreal and intellectual horror, rather than visceral gore and jumpscares) created by Mortis Ghost. It’s a game that makes a very strong and layered impression with its distinct and occasionally discordant visual and musical themes.

In the English-speaking world OFF first gained popularity through Starman.net, an Earthbound fan site due to its similarity to that series. The Batter’s choice of weapons and the game’s propensity toward getting Meta (and even letting the player name themselves) evokes some strong Earthbound vibes.

OFF gameplay clip
Combat in OFF

Why Play OFF?

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Free Points: Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is a game you’ve probably at least heard of, and quite possibly even played a game at least in part inspired by it. In fact I debated on whether this was “too mainstream” to kick off my series of free game recommendations, but it’s hard to talk free games without acknowledging Yume Nikki, so let’s start with one of the best.

Free Points is a series of weekly free game recommendations. The games may range from the most surreal of Alt Games to the most traditional of platformers; the only requirements for a Free Points game is that they’re free (real free, not free to play!) and very much worth your time.

What Is Yume Nikki?

Title: Yume Nikki
Release Date: June 26, 2004
Price: Free!
Developer: Kikiyama
Languages: Japanese, English
Length: ~6 Hours
Platform: PC (Steam, DRM free via Uboachan (sorry, it’s a .RAR))
Genre: Exploration
Themes: Horror, Pixel Art, Walking Sim, RPG Maker, Surreal
Content Warnings: Horror, pixel depictions of death & suicide
Supplemental: A YouTube Playlist of my explorations in Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is an RPG Maker game, but it’s certainly not an RPG. Rather, the engine was used (quite effectively) to make a series of dream worlds that the protagonist, Madotsuki (窓付き), will explore.  Worlds vary from the macabre to the beautiful, from the dingy to the stunningly surreal.

Kyukyu, rubbing the banister as always

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Free Points: Weekly Free Games Worth Playing

Free Points is a new weekly (ish) series of articles showcasing free games that are worth a play. They can be from any genre from surreal Alt Games to traditional Platformers, and distributed in any format from HTML5 to Flash, and from Homebrew to downloadable games to Steam. The only requirement is that they’re free and worth your time.

Free Points is intended to raise awareness of the treasure trove of gaming that can be experienced by anyone (platform permitting) with absolutely no budget restrictions. From Newgrounds to Itch.io, these games are extremely accessible and open in a way that just warms your heart.

Free Points games are really free: no F2P/Freemium. In rare cases, games with ads but no In App Purchases may be showcased if their ads are not obtrusive to gameplay; such games will be clearly labeled. In other cases a game will not have ads but the host’s site may (such as Newgrounds and other Flash game sites).

You can subscribe to keep up to date on Free Points, or leaf through the covered games below.

Format

Free Points is a condensed micro-review that’s mostly informational in nature. Posts are focused on why you should play it and how to do so rather than going into intricate detail to critique. (For critique, we’ve got Finer Points and Reviews).

Feel free to share your thoughts on the game in the Comments section after every post! Recommendations for future games to cover are also always welcome.

Free Points Archives

Yume Nikki

Nested

Free Games Showcased on YouTube

Free Points is a sort of offshoot of my YouTube channel, on which I frequently showcase free games. I’ve created a playlist of all the free games I’ve covered there. I cover a crazy amount of games on YouTube, so it’s got quite a few more games than the website does for now.

You can also see my Steam Curator list.

YouTube’s “Not suitable for most advertisers”: How To Appeal Demonetized Videos

Has Youtube marked your seemingly squeaky-clean video as “Not suitable for most advertisers“? What’s that even mean? Well, here’s how to appeal your Demonetized YouTube videos and how to best avoid getting them flagged in the first place.

If you’re here, you’re probably already aware, but YouTube recently started flagging certain videos as “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. This process is entirely automatic and is a process run on all YouTube videos automatically akin to Content ID. Here I’ll share the best information I’ve found on how this process works and how to work with it.

Note that YouTube’s process for this is highly variable and opaque; I meant to publish this weeks ago but only recently am I confident that the methods outlined here actually seem to work. Expect variation in your specific circumstances.

Tap Into YouTube is a series of articles from the perspective of a gaming YouTuber, covering both the use of YouTube and how to effectively work with YouTubers to promote your game.

What Does “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers” Mean?

When you get the yellow dollar sign symbol a video is “demonetized” or in youtube’s vernacular “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. Despite some conspiracy theories this does not mean YouTube is “skimming” your ad money; when demonetizing videos no ads are shown, meaning YouTube gets no ad money either. YouTube gets no inherent benefit from a demonetized video.

Despite the “limited or no” advertising, as far as I can tell no or effectively no advertisers actually put videos on “unsuitable” videos. You should consider a flagged video effectively demonetized entirely. It’s possible this will change in the future if advertisers choose to opt in to this class of video.

Find Demonetized Videos

If you had a backlog of videos before the “Not suitable for most advertisers” stuff started, you might have videos demonetized without knowing. There is a search filter you can use to find them immediately; this is where you’ll want to start your quest to re-monetize as many as you can. 

However, I’ve noticed that in some rare cases videos (unlisted ones in my case) did not show in that search filter, and recently re-monetized videos may still show in that view until monetization is turned off then back on for that video.

Demonetized Youtube Videos
The infamous Yellow Dollar Sign icon is the telltale sign you’ve been Demonetized

How To Get a Video Re-Monetized

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Finer Points: How To Make Loot Boxes and Gachapon Not Suck

Loot Boxes and Gachapon are all the rage these days; both the literal and figurative meanings of ‘rage’ in fact. While I frankly despise the practice and think they should absolutely never be in any game in almost any form, there’s a hell of a lot of ways they could be better and as a designer, it bugs me that even free Gachapons are usually done terribly.

How can we make such an inherently abusive and exploitative mechanic better? Here’s all the considerations.

Update 2018-02-19: Added “Speed It Up”, a section on how even a “good” gacha can waste your time.

Finer Points is a series of Game Design/Game UX articles by Sir TapTap focusing on very specific gameplay elements and the major impact on a player’s experience they can have.

It’s Gotta Be Free

Here’s the thing. Monetization influences game design. This is why Mobile games have a bad rap; most of them are F2P, and that heavily influences game design.

You simply cannot objectively and ethically design a gambling system when exploiting the player will earn you more money. Even if you did, you would be designing a game you couldn’t profit from. The only way to ethically include a luck-based system for earning items is if it has absolutely no tie-in to your monetization model. This is simply non-negotiable.

“But wait, I’m not one of those bad designers—” you sputter before I gently place my index finger on your lips with a gently “shush”. Granblue Fantasy’s designers no doubt thought they were “one of the good ones” as well.

The issue with bias is you’re not always aware you’re doing it.

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