How-to: Request a Game Review Copy as a Gaming Channel / Outlet

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.

You can find a link to the developers homepage on the Steam store page.

You can find a link to the developers homepage on the Steam store page.

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):

Hello,

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

Kind regards
Dude
Gaming Dude Channel

Steam Username: Gamingdude
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/YOUR_CHANNEL
Twitter: https://twitter.com/YOUR_TWITTER

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!

23 comments

    1. Reaching out to developers, especially smaller ones is a good way to get more serious about covering gaming titles. It’s difficult for small studios to get coverage, so they will probably quite excited if even a small channel covers their game!

  1. Hi Weasel,

    Great post! As an indie game developer, I’d be delighted to get an email like that from a YouTuber. As it stands, I’m the one sending out emails to small channels instead ^_^.

    There isn’t a lot of current information pertaining to how indie game developers ought to approach let’s players. Most of what I’ve read suggests just sending an email with a game key – is this a good approach?

    Thank you! 🙂

    1. I’m a little late to this post, but we are just getting started. There’s a group of us, most of whom stream and then upload their videos to our channel. I review mostly VR stuff, but do other games too. I would be more than willing to get the word out about your games as we try to grow out channel.

      Thanks!

    2. Hello, I would be greatly interested in doing a review or let’s play on YouTube of your game/software. I have a strong passion in video games and love writing and I am only 13, so you can see what your game is like in the perspective of a 13 year old. My YouTube channel is laserlew.
      Yours sincerely Lewis

    3. Hi I’m interested in reviewing games on a gaming Instagram I started. I wanted to share my passion with friends, strangers, and possibly potential friends. I’ve been thinking I might be able to tap into a different market of something that might appeal to gamers with less time on their hands or that are interested in gaming but never got around to learning more and a way for me to interact more closely with my followers than doing YouTube would allow. I say all of this because I was curious if you would ever be interested in getting some publicity or coverage from something like an Instagram and be willing to send review copies or if you know other developers who have expressed interest in coverage through social media like Instagram

      1. Hi Tyson,

        Thanks for your interest.

        I’m no longer providing game keys – of the half dozen or so that I’ve granted to those on this comment section, none ever managed to make a review. While it’s possible that you might be the exception, I really wouldn’t be interested as I can’t concede that Instagram is a viable game review platform at this time.

    1. Hi Carnage,

      I appreciate your interest, but was unable to find any reference to your gaming blog, all I found was your Steam account page…

      Of those above who actually claimed to have YouTube channels, all of them received keys yet none of them actually got around to making a let’s play video of the game. Not surprising, of the 100+ keys I’ve emailed, only 24 people have viewed their key, and of those, only 14 claimed it, and of those, only 3 actually made videos…

      While I don’t mind taking a chance, the odds seem to suggest that my chances of getting an honest YouTuber who is serious about connecting with devs is pretty abysmal as it is.

      I think it’s fair to say that since you have neither a website (unless I’m missing something here) or a YouTube channel that there’s a zero percent chance of ever seeing a review or video from you.

      There are dozens of free to play games out on Game Jolt and Itch.io, you could practice creating reviews with those first, and THEN approach game developers. At that point, I’d be more than happy to send you a copy.

      Until then, I’d have to pass.

      Thanks for your understanding!

      1. i have YouTube channel the name is static talk… it was in the past named review and tech but i had to change it… its a general channel uptil now but i am switching it to gaming so if you are interested ill be happy to review your game.. i have 46 subscriber.. waiting for your reply 🙂

        1. Hi Cheeky,

          I assume this is your channel:
          https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3DGV8ivwJnpPo6oRh79W9w/featured

          At least you have a YouTube channel, so that’s a start!

          While I’m not concerned about the size of your channel, you aren’t particularly active either (i.e. you haven’t posted a video in 3 months).

          As I pointed out to Tyson above, none of the other YouTubers who asked for keys actually went on to make videos. I’m all about hookin’ a brotha up, but I there to be reciprocity so here’s what I am willing to do:

          Show me that you’re serious by going out to indie game hosting sites such as GameJolt.com and Itch.io – pick any 5 you like, make and upload 5 short videos to your channel.

          There are literally *THOUSANDS* of FREE games on there to choose from, this costs you nothing but time, which is what you’re offering me anyway.

          Doing this will not only help the devs who created this game, but will give you practice making game review/let’s play videos.

          If you can do that for me, I’d be happy to send you a free game not only for my published work, but any subsequent projects (I have one I’ll release later this week and two more in the works) to review.

          Thanks!

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