If there’s one thing almost every PR professional will tell you it’s that getting covered in the gaming press, especially for indie games, is not easy these days. In between the triple-A million dollar budget yearly marketing cycles and the sheer plethora of games being released, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd. Media folks really do have their hands full and their inboxes bursting with games scrambling for more exposure.
I’m sure games journalists wish they could take more time to check out each title that lands in their inbox and evaluate it individually, but that’s not the case. They need to make quick snap judgements about a game in the 3-4 seconds they have to look at your press release. With the briefest of glimpses, they need to decide if it’s worth further investigation and maybe even coverage.
It’s not all a roll of the dice, though: there are some attributes that can give your game the edge that media are looking for in potential coverage opportunities. If you happen to tick any of these boxes and know how to angle your communications right, you might just cut through the noise and secure some high-quality coverage.
Here are a handful of the secret criteria games journalists are judging your game by.
1. It’s made by previously employed developers of a notable studio
One thing that journalists or content creators will look out for is a connection between the game in their inbox and a notable studio associated with a popular game or series. Used to work for Bungie and now you’re developing a sci-fi first-person shooter that looks good? That is an easy news story to write.
This sticks out to journalists who are looking for connections that make a story more interesting and more relevant every day. The wider the appeal, the more traffic your story will get. If you happen to be in this fortunate position, don’t hesitate to forefront it in your media communications.
2. It has a big name in the industry somehow involved
A news story with the name of a notable industry figure attached to it undoubtedly gets more traction than one without. Did Peter Molyneux write a line in your game? Is Greg Miller in your trailer? Then this is something the media will instantly pick up on.
Although these examples may be hyperbolic the benefit is clear. If there’s any kind of connection with your game and an industry figure then, of course, it’s worth shouting about. You could even consider PR strategies that are aimed at this goal, especially if you feel you really need something to enhance your games newsworthiness.
3. It’s straight SEO gold
This is one many people don’t consider as, you know, SEO is somewhat of a hidden force in the online world often just referred to in board meetings as important. A force it is though, and a big one. Journalists will be paying particular attention to a game’s SEO potential including its linkability to popular titles and studios.
If your game happens to have a bit in common with say Fortnite, whether that be in its title, descriptive copy or design then that’s an easy win for media. Covering your game allows them to boost their SEO for the big titles bringing in the traffic with internal links.
If your game also has the name of a popular genre in it then, again, that can also be a quick SEO win for media looking for things to cover. Obviously, it’s always better if this happens naturally as Battle Royal Party Game: Fortnite Edition isn’t exactly the most catchy name out there.
4. Streamers are playing it in droves
One thing journalists always have their eye on is what games are gaining popularity on Twitch and YouTube. If your game is being picked up by streamers and content creators then you may have a very strong angle to reach out to press with.
Reaching out to influencers early on can help your game get picked up by content creators giving you a better chance of this happening. In fact, we went over some great ways to structure an influencer campaign in a previous blog. There is a certain amount of luck with this one, but there are things you can practically do to increase your chances of coverage on streaming platforms.
Either way, if your game gets picked up by streamers or content creators in a big way press are going to take notice.
5. It looks phenomenal
This is by far the most important of these secret metrics as it’s the most controllable of the bunch. How your game looks can be crucial to how it is received and covered in the press. That’s something you should be thinking about from conception onwards. Choosing the way in which you present the marketing materials is key and can be an absolute game-changer in terms of coverage.
For press, it’s pretty simple. If your game looks really good when it lands in their inbox then they know it will attract clicks and attention. It isn’t all about numbers either. Writers and editors know their readers want to be informed about great looking games. So, if your game falls into that category it has a much better chance of coverage.
Overall, it’s about analysing your game and where you see its strength before approaching the press. That gives you time to forefront your USPs when you want to start looking for coverage opportunities to support an announcement or launch. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, there are many more ways in which press select games for coverage.
It’s very rare for a game to have all five of these obvious selling points but if you can highlight one and go after it, you might just get the edge you need.