Not everyone can hire a PR person, especially indie game devs often working as a one-person-team. That said, I often get a lot of…rough emails from devs. As an example, here’s a barely edited sample directly from my inbox:
The obvious issue here is…I know nothing about the game. Sure, I could click that link, but it’s just as easy to click the ‘archive message’ button, and with 50+ emails in my box, that’s probably my first reflex nine times out of ten if you don’t make an impression. I wish I could say this is rare, but I get a lot of these. A few very basic PR services even send out emails that are basically this with better formatting.
And I get it! Almost certainly you’re a gamedev first and a PR person second. Or third. Fifth. Sixteenth. That’s fine! But even solo or hobby game devs still need to do a little homemade PR too. Let’s take a look at creating a Minimum Viable Product for game PR that gets people to actually look at your game even if we can’t pay someone to just do it for us.
Game PR as a Minimum Viable Product
You’ve probably heard of Minimum Viable Products before; it’s all about making the simplest, easiest, cheapest thing that (you think) will actually solve your/your client’s problem. And hey, there’s something to be said about minimalism in general for PR—I’m no big YouTuber, and even I get 10+ emails a day most days. I’m sure major review sites are getting many, many times more than that. You’re going to need to assume anyone looking at your email is getting dozens of similar pitches.
Here’s what helps me the most, as a gaming YouTuber with far, far more emails than time:
- A GIF of the game
- A link to the Steam/itch.io/etc page
- A review key to actually play the game right now
That’s it. You can and probably should give me a little text snippet describing the game, but really, a good GIF can really sell that on it’s own. Show me just enough of the game to give me a sense of the gameplay, the setting, the mood. Something your target audience will see and think “yep, I want that!”.
You can use a YouTube video instead if you like, especially if music/sound is critical to your game; when I say “GIF” I mean something short, small, and punchy. Even if it’s a video, think Vine, not RedLetterMedia.
GIFs are Magic
What’s so great about a GIF? Let’s use an a (fake) copy example, pretending I’m pitching Assault Android Cactus.
Assault Android Cactus is a score-based Twin-Stick Shooter available on Steam featuring full controller support, multiple game modes, and 9 selectable characters with unique weapons.
If you got that in your email, would you be interested? Maybe you really like Twin Stick shooters, but there’s a lot of those. Let’s try a GIF that takes as about as long to watch as that took to read, this one from FutureBetaGamer: