The rise and fall of Indie developers: Proper introductions and press mails

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Last time we discussed some items that cause certain developers to fall from grace, due to neglecting the importance of sending out proper press releases, ranting about minor things they don’t like in reviews, clingy behavior and other small items that often individually are no disaster, but combined can become a very big nuisance for those who are willing to write about your game and even promote it in the long run. Of course, we don’t mean it to degrade people who place a lot of effort in creating their own game or other project, but we’d rather contribute to making something great, than something that falls into an abyss of nothingness. Thus, as promised, here’s our second part where we discuss how to properly send out press releases.


There are a few basic principles to maintain when trying to forge a relation with the press or someone who is able to promote your game. These principles are actually straightforward but are often overlooked, namely, keep it simple, structured and keep in touch with those who post about your project but don’t get overly pushy. As sites such as ours get tons of mails from different companies, it’s often hard to make a selection of who gets featured and who has to wait his/her turn. We tend to feature most smaller titles on our site, but we often get mails we can’t even process properly, due to unclear information, lack of assets or because they get filtered because there are simply one phrase, a link and presto.

When we say to keep it simple, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to send out mails that only contain a link to your game and that’s it. We also mean that you don’t have to give a 700 word introduction of your company,  before plowing into the specifics of your game. Make the mail about your game, rather than your ‘adventure’ instead. Simple also means to keep it simple for the people who have to process your mails, as the person who opens your initial mail often forwards press releases to his news-team, who will try their best to make an article for the site you’ve contacted. Make sure you add a small description of the game, which can be repeated in all your future mails, but also a link to the store page and other useful links. Nonetheless, adding links is great, but be sure to add screenshots to the mail itself with one handy download link or as attachments. Adding a download link for an official trailer is always appreciated as it can be used to be uploaded on the site’s official YouTube page. Whilst some developers rather have more views on their own channels, keep in mind that if sites spread your trailer on their channels as well, it will end up giving you more search results.

Be sure to keep everything structured, instead of a chaotic mess of text, links and disclaimers rather than, you’ve guessed it, about the project itself. Give a proper subject to your mail, rather than ‘Hey, new game release’ or ‘feature me on your site plzzzz’ (you have no idea of how many of these mails we get). Be sure to at least name the game in the subject and a few words that state what the press release is all about. Same can be said about your text, choose a to the point message or opt for an amusing piece of text that suits the theme of your project. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to make mails that are considered boring or strict, as you can make your correspondence stand out by adding pictures after set intervals in your text, make a good looking header and so on. While a few spelling errors aren’t annoying, it’s best to ask coworkers, friends or even family to proofread your work, before you actually mail it out.

After having found a mail that gets some response, be sure to save a template of it, so you don’t have to start over from scratch for every new contact that asks you for information, or contacts you wish to approach yourself. Truth be told, you should always have a template ready, even if you haven’t sent out a single mail yet.

Perhaps one of the most important things you’ll have to keep in mind, which was also discussed in the previous column, is to keep track of contacts that show genuine interest and write about your game. Again this doesn’t mean you’ll have to bother your contacts with every little update that has no news value whatsoever, but it’s fun to keep them in the loop of the progress you make, a fixed release date, new modes and functions etc. There is nothing as insulting as to forget a site that has made several posts about your game and never let them know the game has been released, making them miss out on the chance to do a timely review, especially when you’re publically handing out keys in promotion groups to total strangers.

To some, these things might actually be perfectly normal, but we notice that many are struggling with what a mail should actually look like or what should be implemented in your press releases. To make some things a tad more clear, we’ll illustrate with a few good mails below, without handing out sensitive information about those companies of course, but first:

  • Keep it simple, but not too simple
  • Add structure to your mails ranging from the subject to the actual body of the mail
  • Make sure your mails stand out and aren’t too bland, thus add some flair to the mail itself
  • Add useful data, without having to let the writers go through ten different links
  • Keep in touch but don’t stalk your contacts, make your mails useful

We hope these simple tips help you promote your project better, even if you only started your project or haven’t even thought about PR yourself. Again, if keeping your ‘press’ database up-to-date proves to be too difficult, there are many PR firms that have special formulas for indie developers, thus they won’t charge big sums of money or even consider revenue shares. Feel free to contact me at if you have any further questions or other topics you wish to see in future pieces.

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