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Getting noticed by the media

07-27-2011, 02:15 PM
#1
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 94
Getting noticed by the media

Obviously it's a hot topic for indie developers, and I wanted to share some of my (very limited!) knowledge about it and get a discussion going where we can share with one another and improve.

I've done a few game releases on not-iOS platforms now. Windows, Mac, and Blackberry PlayBook. I had the most success with Blackberry Playbook, at least in terms of getting a media response. It was a learning experience but I also think there was a luck and timing element here because my game launched on the platform, got featured, and the general Blackberry focused media was excited to write about quality games since there's not much in that area at the moment.

The biggest thing to remember is that games editors are busy, and they get bombarded with thousands of emails every day from developers like us. You need to find a way to stand out. I don't know a magic formula for this though.

1. Be short. I do know, that when you do get a response from someone, it's going to be fairly short, and that you want your messages to be short and to the point too. Not exactly related, but if you ever exchange email with a biz dev person or CEO, you'll see their correspondence sticks in the less than a paragraph range. It can be hard not to ramble on if you're excited about your game (and if you're not, who will be?) but it's worth finding a few sentences that will tell what makes it special and stick to that.

2. Don't be a pain. One editor did a review of my pc game awhile back, and I also got to meet with him at a conference not too long ago. Incidentally, meeting people in person when you can helps I think if you can make a good impression and be memorable/get a direct email. I'm very passionate about my new game, and I got a response about it from this same editor. Incidentally, I also broke the 'be short' rule and I think I sent him 3 emails in the interim with different attachments, which he asked me to please not do. So think before you send, don't waste people's time.

3. Don't always get a response. When I was promoting a game for PC, I got almost no responses to emails to editors, but a couple resulted in a review eventually. In these cases I didn't get any contact at all, even after the reviews went up, so you have to keep an eye on it yourself sometimes.

When I was promoting for my Blackberry game, I got a response from everyone i contacted but in most cases it took days. Like I said- editors are busy and there's a whole lot of games out there.

I think Hodapp has said before on this board that TA reads every email but can't respond to them all. So I think you need to resist the urge to pester people and stick with rule 1 and 2, and just hope that if your game is good enough to talk about than someone will.

4. Be able to talk about yourself. This is hard for me- I'm a geek and I'm kind of shy. But being indie means your'e the programmer, ceo, head of marketing and everything else, so get ready for it. If you do get a chance to chat with someone, be able to talk about what you do with pride, and succinctly explain what makes it special. I had an interview for a blog article recently on a games site, but it would've gone much better if I was more prepared to talk directly and to the point about my work.

That's all I have. I'm trying to start earlier and get some attention pre-release for my iOS game, so we'll see how it goes.

So what's worked and not worked for you guys? Do you make a zip of full media and screenshot resources with your introductory email? Do you attach an image? Do you attach nothing? How do you stand out when contacting media people for the first time?

Games delivered fresh.

See AMAZING MeatBot! or visit our Dev Blog
07-27-2011, 03:12 PM
#2
Well, we are still a couple months out from releasing RoboArena, but over the course of promoting it on Kickstarter and other places my current press packet consists of:
  • 6 commemorative pinback buttons
  • professionally produced OST with 12 all original tracks made for and inspired by RoboArena
  • professionally designed Print-and-Play board game (currently talking to publishers about getting it officially released)
  • and an adorable cubeecraft cubee of the main character the Blue Robo

Hopefully that in conjunction with a compelling info sheet, screen shots, and a well made trailer video will get somebody's attention!

07-27-2011, 03:29 PM
#3
Is it worth releasing on Playbook for the mas market?
07-27-2011, 03:34 PM
#4
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 94
it was for me. The audience is much smaller than iOS obviously, but it's been a nice supplement to my income and helped bootstrap my business.

Edited: didn't respond to the 'mass market' part. The audience seems to be a combination of tech enthusiasts and your standard blackberry using business type. You're better off with something with a kind of mass appeal here, we did very well with a puzzle game (very highly rated and top selling puzzle game on BBPB app world for quite awhile.)

Games delivered fresh.

See AMAZING MeatBot! or visit our Dev Blog

Last edited by milkmangames; 07-27-2011 at 03:36 PM. Reason: respond to 'mass market' part of question
07-27-2011, 03:49 PM
#5
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 94
Sounds like a great list bravadowaffle. I would guess that the kickstarter involvement helps sell it to people and is a talking point. What kind of luck have you had so far with contacting the press?

The 'info sheet' mention also reminds me of the page in Jesse Schell's art of Game Design about writing a sell - sheet. Will see if I can find and post here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BravadoWaffle View Post
Well, we are still a couple months out from releasing RoboArena, but over the course of promoting it on Kickstarter and other places my current press packet consists of:
  • 6 commemorative pinback buttons
  • professionally produced OST with 12 all original tracks made for and inspired by RoboArena
  • professionally designed Print-and-Play board game (currently talking to publishers about getting it officially released)
  • and an adorable cubeecraft cubee of the main character the Blue Robo

Hopefully that in conjunction with a compelling info sheet, screen shots, and a well made trailer video will get somebody's attention!

Games delivered fresh.

See AMAZING MeatBot! or visit our Dev Blog
07-27-2011, 03:54 PM
#6
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 94
From the IGDA, the Game Submission Guide: http://www.igda.org/sites/default/fi...on_Guide_0.pdf

This is focused on pitches to publishers, not reviewers, but has some good information on it.

Games delivered fresh.

See AMAZING MeatBot! or visit our Dev Blog
07-27-2011, 03:55 PM
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmangames View Post
Sounds like a great list bravadowaffle. I would guess that the kickstarter involvement helps sell it to people and is a talking point. What kind of luck have you had so far with contacting the press?
Yes it's a great talking point and hook. It's worked rather well actually, though it's hard to get people to cover a game when it's still months out from being developed. The trick was finding our story, since 2 out of 3 of my team is located in Chicago, I contacted a bunch of Chicago reporters and newspapers personally and pitched them our story of a local chicago based game development company turning to crowd funding to raise capital.

We got a mention in the Chicago Sun Tribune which was cool. I'm about to begin another major push for prerelease buzz since we are now only a couple months away from releasing the game.

I also personally contacted and got covered by a large number of board gaming blogs since our game appeals to that market. It's built up a nice amount of buzz and a nice sized fan base for a brand new game from an unheard of game studio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmangames View Post
The 'info sheet' mention also reminds me of the page in Jesse Schell's art of Game Design about writing a sell - sheet. Will see if I can find and post here.
That would be great! I'd love to read it!

edit: just saw you already posted it. Thanks so much!

Last edited by BravadoWaffle; 07-27-2011 at 03:59 PM.
07-27-2011, 04:03 PM
#8
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 94
bravadowaffle, congrats on your success getting noticed so far!

This blurb is from the pocketgamer submission guidelines, but seems relevant and useful as its written by an editor of a game blog about submission tips:

---
If you're looking for coverage, the most important thing is to make an interesting game. Assuming you've got that covered, you can improve your chances of being noticed by following the steps below.

- Make sure you include trailers, screenshots, and relevant information.
- If Pocket Gamer has already covered one of your games it's a good idea to remind us and include a link to the story.
- Don't be afraid to name drop and tell us about any significant industry experience. If your best friend and mentor is Shigeru Miyamoto or you worked on Big Console Game X, that could be what makes your email stand out from the dozens of others we get on a given day.
- Write an interesting email. It sounds obvious, but no matter how good your game is if you send us an email ignoring all of the above advice there's a very good chance we'll miss it.

Games delivered fresh.

See AMAZING MeatBot! or visit our Dev Blog
07-27-2011, 04:07 PM
#9
The chicken and egg thing is should you release the game first then do trailer?



Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmangames View Post
bravadowaffle, congrats on your success getting noticed so far!

This blurb is from the pocketgamer submission guidelines, but seems relevant and useful as its written by an editor of a game blog about submission tips:

---
If you're looking for coverage, the most important thing is to make an interesting game. Assuming you've got that covered, you can improve your chances of being noticed by following the steps below.

- Make sure you include trailers, screenshots, and relevant information.
- If Pocket Gamer has already covered one of your games it's a good idea to remind us and include a link to the story.
- Don't be afraid to name drop and tell us about any significant industry experience. If your best friend and mentor is Shigeru Miyamoto or you worked on Big Console Game X, that could be what makes your email stand out from the dozens of others we get on a given day.
- Write an interesting email. It sounds obvious, but no matter how good your game is if you send us an email ignoring all of the above advice there's a very good chance we'll miss it.
07-27-2011, 04:11 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmangames View Post
bravadowaffle, congrats on your success getting noticed so far!

This blurb is from the pocketgamer submission guidelines, but seems relevant and useful as its written by an editor of a game blog about submission tips:

---
If you're looking for coverage, the most important thing is to make an interesting game. Assuming you've got that covered, you can improve your chances of being noticed by following the steps below.

- Make sure you include trailers, screenshots, and relevant information.
- If Pocket Gamer has already covered one of your games it's a good idea to remind us and include a link to the story.
- Don't be afraid to name drop and tell us about any significant industry experience. If your best friend and mentor is Shigeru Miyamoto or you worked on Big Console Game X, that could be what makes your email stand out from the dozens of others we get on a given day.
- Write an interesting email. It sounds obvious, but no matter how good your game is if you send us an email ignoring all of the above advice there's a very good chance we'll miss it.
Good point about the name dropping. RoboArena was inspired by RoboRally and I actually have Richard Garfield beta testing the game for us. That's about the biggest name drop I've got at the moment.