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The best - and worst - ways to pitch media for game discovery?

A great conversation with Kate Gray, as part of GameDiscoverCo's new podcast.

[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & company founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

Welcome to the midweek, keen GameDiscoverCo readers. There’s much going on this week - and as you’ll see below, we have a new media format to enjoy our analysis in. It’s called ‘audio’ - I’m wondering if any of you have heard of it?

Introducing the Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast!


We’ve had many people asking for some kind of audio companion for our newsletters, and - well - that’s happening, starting right now.

We’re delighted to announce the ‘Tales From GameDiscoveryLand’ podcast, available via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Pocket Casts. (If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed.)

Presented by myself, this limited series podcast - available every 2 weeks - features conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played. We’ll be running highlights of each podcast in the newsletter.

In the first episode, I talk to Kate Gray - a veteran writer for sites like NintendoLife, Kotaku, and RockPaperShotgun - about what the media expects from game creators, how to attract media attention, and most importantly, the things NOT to do when approaching the press.

We’re not sure how long we’re running Season 1 for. But we have at least four episodes recorded with some super-interesting guests, and are planning more. So stay tuned..

How you should - and shouldn’t - pitch your game to media?

We’re also doing full written podcast transcripts for Tales From GameDiscoveryLand. But we won’t be emailing them directly to you - we’ve heard we already put enough words in your inbox every week, haha. (The first transcript is available here.)

So, let’s go through some of Kate’s ‘please do this’ tips, when you’re emailing the media/press or giving them assets:

  • Be catchy and to-the-point: “What you have to bear in mind is that press gets a lot of emails every day, and you are going to have to grab their attention very quickly and very efficiently… please, short subject lines. I don't have a lot of time for reading, and you will do both of us a favor if you keep it short.”
  • Have an informal - but not too informal - tone: “Presumably, if you're a game dev, you also like games. We already have something in common! So just approach the press as if you're trying to tell somebody about your really cool thing that you're making. Don't be overly, like “Oh my God, check out my sick game, here's a bunch of swear words, we’re friends” - because that's really off-putting.”
  • You could use simple/easy comparisons as a touchpoint for your game: “So personally, I think if somebody comes to me with a pitch that is ‘this game is X meets Y’, I am happy to take that and write about that. Because that is a better way of understanding what a game is like than just calling it… a narrative adventure. That's a ‘nothing’ description, that tells you it's got a story and a story, useless.”
  • Provide key art - ideally layered - and with an option to remove the logo: “If you give me the key art and you include the logo, what is going to happen is that I will crop it. I don't have enough time to Photoshop out a logo, and it probably wouldn't be that easy. So I'm then cropping, you know, a good, maybe, half of what's in that key art… And why would you want someone to do that to your beautiful key art?”

And now let’s move on to Kate’s views of some of the, uhh, less great things you can do when emailing the press, when trying to expand discovery for your game:

  • Don’t fit too much in the email subject line: “My number one thing that you should not do… is a really boring subject line. You would not believe how many people send out emails with a 30-word subject line so I can't even see the whole thing - I'd have to have a super wide monitor, I can't read that.”
  • Don’t pretend to love the writer’s output if you don’t: “You can address a journalist as a fan. You can say “hey, I really love your work!”, as long as it's true. People keep [pitching me with] “I really love your work, I read…” and then it's the name of literally the last thing I wrote. That's not even subtle, you've just Googled me. We're not stupid, We can tell if you're not actually a fan.”
  • Don’t send out non-newsworthy announces which clutter inboxes: “Sometimes people will say ‘our game is on Kickstarter.’ And that used to be a good hook when Kickstarter was new. It's not anymore - same with ‘our game is on sale’. Unless it's like a ludicrous sale, like, it's gone down to one cent, I'm not going to write about it.”
  • Please spellcheck and sanity check your emails: “We're all writers in the press, we're all very anal about spelling and grammar… [but] I've gotten so many press emails where they misspelled the name of the game. [I think] “Oh, no, okay?” - because it just shows that you didn't care enough. Like, this is your big project, this is your moment - and you didn't care enough to check that it was spelled right?”

As Kate says, in this age of mass emailing, it’s important to think of the media you’re contacting as, well, real humans: “I think it boils down to being respectful of people's time. The press - it is our job to open emails and write about them all day. But that doesn't mean that you can just send me emails that are basically filler. I'm not a robot, I don't just turn press releases into news.”

There’s a lot more detail in the full podcast/transcript - including views on phone and in-person press briefings, whether ‘human stories’ are a good pitching angle, discussion of Kate’s work in community management & game narrative, and lots more.

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