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.
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!
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.
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.