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On downloadable press kits and info the press needs

I tweeted yesterday that if I get a game pitch with a press kit that needs to be downloading, I can be almost certain that the info I need isn't in it. That doesn't mean load the email down with tons of info. Here's an elaboration.

"Anytime I see a press kit that requires downloading, I can be 99% sure the info I want isn't in it."

I tweeted that last night. It was a bit of frustration being vented. Ironically, right after posting that tweet I downloaded the press kit that prompted it anyway and found that the information I needed was in there. I moved on with my life, but this morning I had a game pitch in my email that referenced that tweet and then unloaded so much detail that I had trouble finding the exact same sort of information that's usually missing from downloadable press kits.

*facepalm*

I don't like press kits that have to be downloaded. I much prefer web-based press kits and I recommend presskit() to indie developers every chance I get. I'm sure it seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to just download and check out a zip file, but it becomes a big deal if I have to do it 50 times in one day. Especially if I'm on my Mac, which doesn't give me the option of just browsing the contents; it has to unzip the file, doubling the number of things to be deleted.

But even aside from that, there are certain pieces of information that I as a writer about games need that just don't seem to make it into these download-only press kits. What platorms/operating systems is the game for? How much is the game gonna cost readers? When is it coming out or estimated to come out? If you don't have exact answers, you should still acknowledge the questions. Projected release date is mid 2016. Price will be announced at a later date. Currently only in development for Windows, but we're exploring Mac, Linux, and PS Vita for the future.

Think about a poster advertising an event. There's certain information the poster must have: who can come, what it is, where it will be held, when it's scheduled for, and how to get there. There may or may not be information about why the event is being held. A concert doesn't need much explanation. There's live music, and if you want to go see it, you can. A charity benefit, though, or a special town meeting might need a bit more explanation.

The who/what/where/when/how questions are a bit different for information about a video game, but you can still cover the basic information the press needs by thinking in those terms.

Who might want to play the game? Is it for people who miss the days when graphics were pixelated and game difficulty could be brutal? Is it for people who want to face new co-op challenges together? Is it for people who want their brains to be stretched and twisted until it's shaped more like a moebius strip?

What genre (narrative or mechanical or both) does the game fall into? Is it a first-person puzzle game? An endless runner? A festival of bullets, with players and monsters dancing at an endless concert of carnage?

Where can players get the game? Is it for PlayStation? 3DS? PC? If PC, Windows, Linux, Mac, or something else? (Because PC stands for personal computer. Always be specific!) Where can they download it if it's free... or pay you for it if it isn't? Do you have a humble widget? A Steam store page? A snail mail address that exchanges money for a CD in a box?

When can players get the game? Now? Tomorrow? Next year? If now, when did it come out?

How can I find out more about the game and the studio? How can players find out more about the game?

These are the details you need to give us up front. Be clear and succinct. Anything more than that should probably go on a web page that you would link us to. It's usually in hunting for this information about a really cool-looking game that I open those download-only press kits, only to be disappointed when they contain nothing but screenshots, or maybe a PDF containing the exact same information presented in the email.

That's the real reason I don't like download-only press kits. Experience has taught me that if I come to the point of having to download one, chances are high that chasing down information about the game is going to be difficult and make my job harder.

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