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Getting Review Copies of Games: How's it Done?

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
So I've been running my own game blog for the past 2.5 years, focusing mainly on my backlog, but reviewing every game I finish. I feel that I'm a fairly good writer and offer entertaining content for my readers.

I've now started to think about the possibility of acquiring review copies of games from the publishers and wondered if any gaffers have had any experience doing this and had any tips on the "magic words" for the request emails. Or maybe some experience with specific publishers that could be helpful.

Thanks.
 

Nibel

Member
Post a pic of you diving in a pool full of Mountain Dew

Review copies. VIP Access. Women.

 
D

Deleted member 47027

Unconfirmed Member
Is your traffic worth sending copies to? Or not? Give us traffic numbers and we'll be able to visualize if your site is worth furnishing review copy for.
 
Locate a PR department/person, send them an email, provide unique visitors, request review code.

Thats how it goes down. It's not harder then that, but it all comes down to visitors for the most part. It's all a return on investment situation for the PR people. They have to judge whether giving you a copy of a game is worht it in terms of generating more revenue for the product.
 

dave is ok

aztek is ok
I just sent Square Enix some Tomb Raider fanart I made and called myself a 'blogger' and they sent me a free PS3 and a bunch of games to review.
 

bumpkin

Member
I don't know if they've gotten less stringent in recent years, but back in my day, it took me running a full website with a brand and a presence for years before I got any love from game publishers in terms of freebies. Back then, they wouldn't have given a second glance to a blog... But times could be different now.
 
How many visitors does your blog get? Judging from the lack of comments, probably not a lot. Visitors are all that matters. You could be running that blog and reviewing every game in existence for 10 years and publishers still wouldn't give a shit if no one read it.
 

Joni

Member
You ask to get put on a press list. Once you get mails about the review copies they're sending out, you ask if they can spare one for you.
 
Locate a PR department/person, send them an email, provide unique visitors, request review code.

Thats how it goes down. It's not harder then that, but it all comes down to visitors for the most part. It's all a return on investment situation for the PR people. They have to judge whether giving you a copy of a game is worht it in terms of generating more revenue for the product.
That's it?

Guys I've put a lot of thought into this and I'm starting a game review blog. Check it out.
 
I don't know if they've gotten less stringent in recent years, but back in my day, it took me running a full website with a brand and a presence for years before I got any love from game publishers in terms of freebies. Back then, they wouldn't have given a second glance to a blog... But times could be different now.

In my experience it differs from person to person. Some companies ship me stuff without asking for a link to the coverage, metrics or even what type of outlet I am (resulting in debug code coming fucking constantly from one publisher).

Others demand specific categories of what outlet I am and unique views for each article regarding their product (not the site overall unique visitors, but the article focusing on their product specifically).

But overall, blogs and social media personalities are going to become more and more powerful as time goes on in terms of who will get what, and when.

That's it?

Guys I've put a lot of thought into this and I'm starting a game review blog. Check it out.

Thats what I do. Send an email saying "hey, this site, this many visitors, where the content will be displayed" and thats it. At least thats how I've been doing it for the last decade, and it's seemed to work out nicely for the six places I've written for over the years.
 

luffeN

Member
It is probably easier to wait till a new console arrives and focus solely on that console. Doing too many consoles at once can a bit too much for one guy. There are no magic words I would say. Do you have good traffic? Do you have anything that sets you apart from the norm? Back in 2005, when the 360 launched, it was easier to get review copies because gaming blogs were not that common IIRC. You also need your own domain in my opinion.

When you write an email to any of the publishers, present your blog in a professional way, show them what you have reviewed so far and ask for one game. Review it timely and if they like it you should have their support.

And something for later and quite obvious but I was still stupid enough to do it: If you go multiplatform, don't completely change the name of the domain . Publishers think that it's a new page and will take the wait and see approach before sending more copies.
 
So I've been running my own game blog for the past 2.5 years, focusing mainly on my backlog, but reviewing every game I finish. I feel that I'm a fairly good writer and offer entertaining content for my readers.

I've now started to think about the possibility of acquiring review copies of games from the publishers and wondered if any gaffers have had any experience doing this and had any tips on the "magic words" for the request emails. Or maybe some experience with specific publishers that could be helpful.

Thanks.

I see watermarks on some of those pictures. That's a big no-no.

Secondly, you don't have a real domain. Unless you are a widely known writer, that's not acceptable.

Thirdly, I assume your traffic is on the low side. I get about 1000 per day at the lowest. You gotta pull in high numbers for high profile copies.

Fourthly (why am I using these words), asking the companies through their PR department is how it's usually done.

Unless you get lucky and get a few copies sent to you just because.
 
Start small and get an account for Gamespress.com. Email publishers and ask for reviewcodes for downloadable (XBLA/PSN/eShop) games.

Then grow, get more readers and ask the bigger publishers. Stop by at their office to have a face to face chat. Get to know them at events like E3 of Gamescom. Once that's done, they will send copies without you having to ask for it!
 

Sullichin

Member
Several years ago I had a fan site that got a few thousand hits a day, which was enough to get review copies from Activision and Ubisoft. I'm sure the space is quite different now, but those are the companies I had luck with. Having a domain and putting scores on your reviews might help.
 

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
Traffic is sporadic and probably around 500 visits per month. Pretty low. But I agree about giving out scores. I'll probably go back in and retroactively give a score to everything.

I've sent out a couple emails, I'll see if I get lucky.
 
Traffic is sporadic and probably around 500 visits per month. Pretty low. But I agree about giving out scores. I'll probably go back in and retroactively give a score to everything.

I've sent out a couple emails, I'll see if I get lucky.

I get 35.000 unique a month, and I can't get two places to play ball with me, so have that in mind.

But my advice would be to talk to all of the indie developers. They are smaller, more agile and would (in my experience) be pretty happy about getting featured and help you with review codes.

And try to make direct contact with them.
 
Traffic is sporadic and probably around 500 visits per month. Pretty low. But I agree about giving out scores. I'll probably go back in and retroactively give a score to everything.

I've sent out a couple emails, I'll see if I get lucky.

Don't waste your time. Go amass some writers to help, pay for a domain, and start with indie developers.
 
I'd suggest sorting out the website and making it more presentable (new domain, new host or at least something that doesn't have frames and a better template), and getting more visits/readers before pursuing review copies.
 

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
I see watermarks on some of those pictures. That's a big no-no.

Secondly, you don't have a real domain. Unless you are a widely known writer, that's not acceptable.

Thirdly, I assume your traffic is on the low side. I get about 1000 per day at the lowest. You gotta pull in high numbers for high profile copies.

Fourthly (why am I using these words), asking the companies through their PR department is how it's usually done.

Unless you get lucky and get a few copies sent to you just because.

Great suggestions. Thanks. Seems like I have to take this from a personal thing to a more professional thing.
 

JeffGrubb

Member
Here's some quick pointers:
  • Just start reviewing anything.
  • Ask indie developers for review copies. They're more likely to help and want the exposure.
  • Start building up a portfolio of reviews
  • After about 20 reviews, contact Metacritic about getting your blog listed.
  • About a week or two before a big game's release, track down the PR people and ask them for a review copy.
  • Don't get discouraged
 

Goldrusher

Member
Your blog is worthless to publishers. 500 views a month is nothing. You simply don't deserve review copies.

Also know that many of the bigger publishers put their review copies on simple recordable discs, which require a debug console.
So even if they wanted to, they couldn't send you a copy anyway.

Having said that, if you really like reviewing games, get in touch with a (much) bigger site or even a magazine.
 
I'm the Editor in Chief of a website on my country, but I'm not the guy on charge of the site. He got us some nice 'deal' with Take 2, so we get every 2K/Rockstar game released. I would love to know how he did it, because getting some other companies on board would be really, really nice
for my wallet
 

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
Your blog is worthless to publishers. 500 views a month is nothing. You simply don't deserve review copies.

Also know that many of the bigger publishers put their review copies on simple recordable discs, which require a debug console.
So even if they wanted to, they couldn't send you a copy anyway.

Having said that, if you really like reviewing games, get in touch with a (much) bigger site or even a magazine.

A rude awakening, but appreciate the honesty.
 

Jeff-DSA

Member
I'm hit and miss with mine. I used to do better in regards to getting copies, but I don't sweat it too much. Right now I'm providing 90% of the content on my site, so I have a hard time doing the volume necessary to keep traffic numbers high.

If you are struggling to get traffic, you have to find ways to generate it beyond just publishing "good writing." It's awful, but it's really like that. The top story on my site right now is a link bait story, pure and simple. I posted it, and spread it out on Twitter/Facebook and it has already brought in over a hundred people in less than an hour. The article isn't trash, but it's hardly world changing.

To get to the levels of traffic to where you can start getting review freebies, you'll need to hit a 1,000-2,000 daily unique visitors at minimum. Some publishers will show you some love just for asking, but the big publishers will claim that they don't have copies to spare until you're a big enough site.

So yeah, try some lame top ten lists, try some thoughtful editorials that people will pass around. Reviews are great, but they never go viral. Get those visitors in and prove to publishers that if they give you a game to review that you'll put a few thousand unique sets of eyes on the review post.

Here's today's link bait attempt from me. Give it a try: http://gamertheory.com/story.aspx/364/Stupid+tropes+in+games+that+make+no+sense+and+need+to+go/
 
Your blog is worthless to publishers. 500 views a month is nothing. You simply don't deserve review copies.

Also know that many of the bigger publishers put their review copies on simple recordable discs, which require a debug console.
So even if they wanted to, they couldn't send you a copy anyway.

Having said that, if you really like reviewing games, get in touch with a (much) bigger site or even a magazine.





Ouch!
 
Can I start a thread about our video game websites and discuss tips and such? I want to talk about how we need to start consolidating gaming websites and stuff like that.
 

Kade

Member
Tell the GameStop manager you're IGN's freelance reviewer for the game you want and give them IGN HQ's number. Tell them to refer to Jane at extension 2110 and let her know that the freelance has come in to pick up the game. The guy here is really lazy and won't even bother with the call and just give you a copy of the game in a small plastic black bag so no one in the stores sees it. I'm assuming most GameStop managers are like that.
 
It's really just about networking. Send out emails, be active on twitter, just sorta be everywhere. I ran a vita blog (which i guess still exists but my real life has gotten in the way of me updating it much) and had success getting review copies from companies in which I had made a contact where it was a mutual friendship. Not in terms of "give me games and I'll give you 5 stars" but in terms of if this person didn't work at this place I would still want to be their friend and I think they felt the same way. I know this sounds corny, but making actual connections with people, being liked, being trusted, is the best way to get your foot in the door.


Most others just go the route of emails, emails, emails, emails. Im sure that works as well. But it creates a different type of relationship. I have had friends tell me about PSO2 being a vita exclusive weeks before it was announced because, well, we were friends. They aren't giving that info to dudes on mailing lists. I couldn't print it, of course, but it's fun to know. The amount of unsolicited info you get when friendly with people is pretty large because it's people's natural instinct to want to share big news and they do that with people they think they can trust. I know its easier said than done, but be that person.


There are some companies though that just don't want to deal with you unless you are huge. You will figure out who they are early and just let them go. It's not worth your time.
 

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
I'm hit and miss with mine. I used to do better in regards to getting copies, but I don't sweat it too much. Right now I'm providing 90% of the content on my site, so I have a hard time doing the volume necessary to keep traffic numbers high.

If you are struggling to get traffic, you have to find ways to generate it beyond just publishing "good writing." It's awful, but it's really like that. The top story on my site right now is a link bait story, pure and simple. I posted it, and spread it out on Twitter/Facebook and it has already brought in over a hundred people in less than an hour. The article isn't trash, but it's hardly world changing.

To get to the levels of traffic to where you can start getting review freebies, you'll need to hit a 1,000-2,000 daily unique visitors at minimum. Some publishers will show you some love just for asking, but the big publishers will claim that they don't have copies to spare until you're a big enough site.

So yeah, try some lame top ten lists, try some thoughtful editorials that people will pass around. Reviews are great, but they never go viral. Get those visitors in and prove to publishers that if they give you a game to review that you'll put a few thousand unique sets of eyes on the review post.

Here's today's link bait attempt from me. Give it a try: http://gamertheory.com/story.aspx/364/Stupid+tropes+in+games+that+make+no+sense+and+need+to+go/

Love your site, man. It's given me some good ideas.
 

Jeff-DSA

Member
Can I start a thread about our video game websites and discuss tips and such? I want to talk about how we need to start consolidating gaming websites and stuff like that.

We have a similar thread in the Off-Topic Discussion. It's where people share their personal blogs and posts. I don't see why that would be a terrible thing to have here as long as we were respectful to what everybody shared and gave everyone a shot. I'd be happy to share what's worked well for me and what's been a waste of time.
 

uncleslappy

nethack is my favorite dark souls clone
Tell the GameStop manager you're IGN's freelance reviewer for the game you want and give them IGN HQ's number. Tell them to refer to Jane at extension 2110 and let her know that the freelance has come in to pick up the game. The guy here is really lazy and won't even bother with the call and just give you a copy of the game in a small plastic black bag so no one in the stores sees it. I'm assuming most GameStop managers are like that.

Isn't that technically stealing? And fraud?
 
Isn't that technically stealing? And fraud?

He is making a joke, there is no way in hell you should ever ever do that.

What does this mean? How do your provide unique visitors?
unique visitors = international visitors?

I might be mixing up local language translation of the word with the correct english word of it. But it's the actual amount of people visiting your site and not just total page views (as in returning visitors or me checking the site eight times a day). It's a metric that is really important for most of the PR people I speak to.
 

shuri

Banned
Don't forget to visit hardcore collecting forums to resell the review copies once you are done! The promo material goes to ebay.
 

luffeN

Member
What does this mean? How do your provide unique visitors?
unique visitors = international visitors?

10 unique visitors are 10 different people. Sometimes you have let's say 100 visits but that doesn't necessarily mean that they come from 100 different people.

Edit: beaten
 
As a person that reviews games for youtube on my own personal channel with a small fan base, I can tell you it is possible. I have made quite a few cool contacts in the last few months. Again, be social, talk to the PR people, advertise or premote their stuff via previews/reviews/etc. You can easily get a few to want probably send you things. I mostly get downloadable stuff. Though there has been a few companies that send me items (Activision for example, though with my latest review for 007 Legends, I question if I'll get anything further from them. Time will tell.)

Just don't go emailing saying HEY I WANT A GAME TO REVIEW. I tend to notice people like that don't get a response and they don't like it either. Also yes some companies just don't want to work with you unless your HUGE! So yeah good luck man.
 
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