The 5 Rules of Pitching Your Game to Press
Follow these helpful tips in your next game pitch to industry press.
If you’re considering what it takes to get your game reviewed by press, then it means you have a game that is finished (or very close to it)! Congratulations. You’ve found a publisher, gone through several rounds of QA testing, have developed a PR and marketing plan, and you are at the stage where media recognition is your top concern. Below are some of my top tips to pitching your game to press. Buckle up!
First Impressions Are Real
You might be champing at the bit to get your work out there, but remember: there is no way to take back a first impression. Whether demoing your game to members of the press at an industry tradeshow, seeking out previews mid-campaign, or sending out review codes at launch, make sure to have your best product ready. It is extremely difficult to change a person’s mind once it’s been made. Take the time to polish your game before parading it to the public. Do your due diligence and don’t rush it; patience will pay dividends.
Call Out Issues Up Front
It’s important to put your best foot forward but anyone in game development knows that there are bound to be bugs here and there, especially if you are pitching your game to press before it is fully finished. If there are bugs in the levels you are showing, missing textures, absent UI, or any other matter in need of addressing, let it be known. The more you can call out potential concerns ahead of press getting their hands on your game, the better. This is where preview guides come in handy. A written document highlighting key features, as well as current (and fixable) issues, will go a long way towards gaining forgiveness from the media for any known bugs and will reinforce the areas that you do want focused on.
Know Your Audience
Are you pitching a JRPG to a journalist known for covering sports titles? If yes, why? Doing a little research will help you in better securing the reception you desire and deserve. Pitching your game to press should be always be deliberate, meaningful, and purposeful. It’s called a pitch for a reason. Put some thought and savvy behind it. Send your game to people who have traditionally appreciated and reported on games in your genre. Be strategic. Hit every angle, as long as those angles lead back to the fulcrum: the heart of your game.
There Are No Shortcuts
Until – and sometimes even when – you have established relationships with press, always respect the chain of command. Many outlets, particularly larger sites and print publications, have managing editors that don’t appreciate being circumvented. There is a natural order to how journalism works, just as any other professional operation. There are priorities and deadlines to take into account, and it’s important to respect the way an outlet does business, and to value it over the way that you want to do business.
Be Cool. Don’t Be All, Like…Uncool.
You may feel inclined to come on strong in order to make your voice heard, but less is more when it comes to pitching your game to press. Succinct, to-the-point emails are gold. Rambling, verbose emails are not. If you remember only one thing from this article, let it be this: do not incorporate multiple fonts, random bolding and underlining, or highlighted text in your communications to press. Speak (or write) to them how you’d like to be spoken to. If you push too hard, you’ll find yourself facing an empty inbox.
Pitching your game to press isn’t always easy. It’s sometimes awkward. It feels vulnerable at times. And yet, it’s a necessary part of the process in spreading your work to the masses and achieving success. Good luck!
Joscelyn Willett is the Senior PR Manager at Modus Games. When she is not doing all things gaming, she enjoys camping and watching reality TV, but not watching reality TV while camping. That would just be wrong.