We’re sure every content creator has had the same story: you spot an indie game that’s perfect for your channel and are not sure what to do next. Is your channel big enough to get a copy in advance? Are they even giving creators early copies? Who do you ask, and how do you ask them? After deliberating for a while, you scroll on and lose the indie to the recesses of your Twitter feed.

We want to start this how-to guide for requesting keys from indie game PR people with a reassurance – if you’re polite, patient and straightforward, you won’t be a bother to whoever you’re emailing, even if the answer is no. With that being said, here’s a short guide on how to effectively request a copy of an indie game, by an indie game PR & marketer that receives requests daily.

Channel “qualifiers”

Let’s get the most common preconception out of the way – there’s no one qualifier PR and marketers use to vet key requests. Speaking specifically about the indie game community, the quality, tone and content of your email, as well as the topics covered on your channel, can heavily make or break your request more than your follower or subscriber count can. 

When applying through services such as Keymailer, PR may look specifically for accredited accounts only, specifically to combat the overarching hurdle often found in key request emails – that you’re a real person genuinely interested in playing this game and considering it for your channel. If you can demonstrate that in your email, you’re already way ahead of the form-filled key scammers that make up the majority of most marketers inboxes.

Of course, each PR/marketer is going to have different things they look for in a creator – but on the whole, as long as you appear to seriously be interested in sharing this game with your audience, and you’ve demonstrated on your channel that you’ve covered other indies, or similar games before, you’ll be in with a considerable chance. If your channel is 90% Fortnite videos and you ask for a text-based point-and-click adventure indie, your request won’t hold much weight in the eyes of a sceptical PR person who is frequently sent spam.  

Email tone & contents

So, what do you put in your email to show you’re a real person, genuinely interested in checking out this game and considering it for your channel? Keep it honest, friendly and short. 

Say you’re a streamer asking for a copy of ‘Magic Capybara: Legend of the Rodent Wizards’, an indie adventure platformer that I just made up now and wish was real. 

“Hi there, [PR/marketer’s name if you know it]. 

I wanted to get in touch today to see if you’re distributing copies of Magic Capybara: Legend of the Rodent Wizards for review? If so, I’d love to give it a go on my stream [LINK]. I’ve covered similar indies in the past for my audience, such as Fantasy Wombat Platformer 3 [LINK], and I really like the look of Magic Capybara’s art style and the interesting jumping mechanic featured in the trailer. (Also, capybaras are very underrated.) 

If you’d like to verify my email address, you can do so via my stream bio here, or my Twitter bio here [LINK AS APPROPRIATE]. Let me know if you prefer another method of double-checking key requests. 

Happy to abide by any coverage embargoes, or answer any questions you might have about me or my channel.

Thanks in advance!” 

Here we can see that the streamer has:

  • Shared their channel promptly and clearly
  • Demonstrated that their channel is a good fit
  • Shown that they’ve handpicked this game for three specific reasons
  • Allowed the marketer to respond with questions/guidelines on coverage, and shown they’re understanding of any processes that may come next (e.g. embargoes, verifying your email address)

Tips:

  • Use Youtube’s business email feature and only email from that address! We get daily emails from scammers spoofing email addresses of content creators and actively look to back up your email – even if your channel is small. 
    • This may include a PR/marketer reaching back out to have you tweet/DM them to prove you are who you say you are. However, this is another step a busy marketer might not have the time to do. Display your email clearly to get a step up.
  • Please, please spell check your email, and don’t do any weird formatting. You just look like a spammer at first glance. 

Who and when

Cool, you have this great email that proves you’re a real person with a real interest in the game – and you’re friendly too! You’re currently a PR/marketer’s dream. But who do you send this email to, and when along their development schedule?

Most indies, when announced, will announce with a press kit. These can usually be found via their website, or at the bottom of any press releases they’ve shared – that’s the contact email you want. 

Some may have PR@xxx.com, in which case, you won’t get a name to address your email to. But, if you’re stumped, just ask! Find their Twitter and send a simple tweet asking for their press kit to take a further look, or enquire the best way to get in touch with their marketing team. 

When to send your professionally crafted email? Sometimes, unfortunately, creators that get in touch too soon along a game’s development timeline can be lost to the winding tunnels of a marketer’s inbox. As a rule of thumb – although again this is not the case in every situation, two weeks before a game’s launch date is a good time to start having those conversations. If you’re unsure of the game’s specific launch date, give their marketing team a bit of breathing space after the game’s announcement, and reach out. If keys aren’t available, ask nicely when it is best to reach back out, and if that would be alright with them. For most busy marketers, a follow-up email isn’t pestering – it’s actually incredibly helpful. 

Mutual relationship

If you enjoyed their game, had a pleasant conversation with their marketing and made some great content because of their help – don’t just drop them and move on, actively request to be put on their PR list. PR and marketers are always looking for creators to have good mutually beneficial relationships with! If they enjoyed your coverage and know they can keep you updated with the game, you can build on your partnership together – and be first in line for any fun opportunities down the line. 

Overall,  remember that PR & marketers are people, and very rarely judge you on your numbers alone. If you’re not sure where to start, just give it a go – find an indie game coming soon that really speaks to you, and let their marketer know. Even if codes aren’t available, or you don’t quite fit their bill, you will have made their day and opened that dialogue for the future. 

Good luck and be nice!