This article is part of my ongoing YouTube Articles and Guides series.
If you are running a gaming focused YouTube channel and want to cover newer games, you will have to shell out quite a few dollars. Especially in the beginning, when you won’t see anything remotely close to a mentionable income, buying a game to cover on your channel, might just not be feasible.
Yes, there are plenty of free games released every day, and they can generate a lot of views as well. Finding free games can be tricky and often they are hit and miss, sometimes they create a lot of interest due to them being available for free (see Happy Wheels), but in many cases, a lot of anticipated titles are released on Steam (or other platforms) and you’ll have to buy them. Since new releases don’t have a lot of reviews and can sometimes be misleading, buying them as they release is not only expensive over time, but also risky. The game might be too buggy to cover or just not interesting enough for you.
This is where receiving review copies comes in. Requesting review copies or keys is common practice and the best way to discover and cover a broad range of games; especially smaller indie developers are very thankful if you play or review their title since it provides them with exposure, which is getting harder and harder to get. So how do you get in touch with these developers? You write them a mail, usually to their designated press mail address. They are available on their websites, which is often linked on the Steam store page. If the developer doesn’t have a website or a way to contact them, you should see if they have a publisher and contact them. Getting in touch with a publisher and building a relationship with them will open up more opportunities in the future.
What does such a mail look like? If you follow these rules for a request mail, you should be okay:
- Make sure to proof-read it. Typos and bad grammar look highly unprofessional. Use a spell-checker and let a friend proof-read it if you have trouble with that.
- Tell them who you are and what you can offer them. How many subscribers do you have? How many views do you generate? Be honest, just because you only get a handful of views, doesn’t mean you will get ignored. False claims can be easily verified and don’t help anyone.
- Telling them where you saw their game is optional, but knowing how you learned about their game, is relevant to them.
- Be polite. Don’t demand anything or ask for multiple keys unless you have a very good reason.
- Offer the person receiving your request, to verify your mail. A lot of individuals pretending to be someone else ask for games, to then sell them later on marketplaces. Make sure your business mail in your about section is the same you use to send your request.
- Add relevant links to your channel, website and social media profiles. If you don’t already have a signature for your channel, it is a good time to make one.
- Personalize the email for each request.
- Don’t send multiple requests to different developers with the same mail.
Here is an actual example (don’t be lazy, modify it when you want to use this template):
my name is YOUR NAME / NICKNAME and I run a gaming-focused YouTube channel called ‘CHANNEL_NAME‘ (YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/YOUR_CHANNEL) where I do Let’s Play and First Impression of video games. I have been actively working on releasing gaming related content for the past year.
I found your game in the upcoming release section of Steam, where it caught my interest. If you would be interested sending me a review copy, I could cover your game GAME_TITLE on my channel by doing a Let’s Play. My YouTube subscriber count is currently at 200 subscribers.
Thank you for your time, I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.
P.S.: To verify to validity of my request, you can check the mail address in my about section on my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/YOUR_CHANNEL/about
Gaming Dude Channel
Steam Username: Gamingdude
Spend some time to create a proper template that you can modify for different games and purposes.
One more thing to keep in mind: Look out for embargos and respect them! You can burn a lot of bridges and screw over their whole marketing plan if you ignore them.
Did I forget something? Do you have questions? Leave them in the comments below!