How to write a Press Release

Alright! First things first, I consider this to be a kind of crowd-sourced effort. That means: if you disagree with me, or if you have anything to add, just leave a comment here and the site will be changed accordingly. This can only get better the more people participate, so I’m kinda counting on you guys here. Let’s go!

I get a lot of press releases, and while most of them get the job done, there are a few that fail at the most basic of things. If I have no idea which game you’re talking about after reading half of the email, you failed. If I don’t know how to contact you, you failed. If you fail to make any lasting impression… well, you know.

So here’s a list of things you should probably put into that press release of yours. Please note that this is just one way to do it. Furthermore, it serves the very specific purpose of telling press people about your already or soon-to-be released game. If you want to drum up some initial interest, announce a new project, or kindly ask for a preview, this should probably be put differently. Oh, and this goes without saying: this is not a template that you should just copy and paste. Modify it as much as you like. Make it personal, make it yours.

 Email Header: Something catchy here. Don’t forget to mention your game’s name. Do not just write “Check out my new indie game.”

Got a cool logo? You could put it at the start of the email, but don’t make it too big. Makes the whole thing look better than just a wall of text. Generally, pictures or animated gifs work pretty well, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Address: if possible, make it personal. Editors, writers, and website guys like to feel special – if you start your email with proof that you took the time to look up my name, we can be friends! Seriously: if your email starts with “dear sir/madam” or “hey editor”, that’s not a good start. Besides, I seem to reply a lot more often to emails with a personal address.

Introduction: hey, who are you, anyway? If you feel like I should know, tell me. Maybe you worked on some other games before? Maybe yours is an interesting story worth telling? Can also be moved to the end of your email, see comments below.

Elevator pitch: this is the main body of the email. What’s your game all about? Consider not using too many buzzwords here. Instead, try to highlight the features which make your game special and worth writing about. Also, keep it snappy. No need to write a whole novel. How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole by Tom Francis is essential reading!

Acclaim: only include acclaim from notable sources. If some unknown blogger dude has praised your game, that’s nice, but it’s the equivalent of your mum giving you a high five.

Materials: this should include links to a trailer, a demo version, screenshots, and your press kit. Some people prefer to include screenshots and press kit as an email attachment, I prefer links. Rami Ismail’s presskit() is an elegant and relatively simple way to put all necessary materials on one page. You should give it a try.

AvailabilityWhere can I buy your game? And for which platforms? Links to the main distributors are quite helpful.

Review CopyGiving a copy away with the press release? It certainly reduces the back-and-forth and gives the writers direct access to your game. This would be the place to put it! 

Invitation to follow up: “If you’re interested in doing an interview with me or want to do a giveaway of the game, just get in touch. Thanks!” …or something like that. Wrap it up.

Complete Contact Details: your name, website, email address, and Twitter handle (if available).

Thanks a ton to everyone who contributed!

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5 thoughts on “How to write a Press Release

  1. The info here is very useful, however I have a question: when writing this email should we not introduce ourselves? Something like “I’m developer X from studio Y”.

    I’m aware the reader might not be so interested in who the email is from and they’ll be focused on the subject, but isn’t it polite to say who you are?
    Most pieces of advice on contacting press skip this point, so I’d love to find out what to do about it 🙂
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I included your suggestion with some additional bits of explanation. It’s indeed overlooked that indie game devs, press and players are more integrated and close to each other.

    2. I found myself wondering the same thing this past week as I sent out some emails to game sites and YouTubers.

      Not sure if I hit the right balance but I ended up putting a quick couple of lines at the start introducing myself, saying I’m sending them a key and that there’s more info about me & my “studio” at the end “if they make it that far”, but that I first wanted to give them a short (?) elevator pitch, which I immediately launched into.

      It just felt weird to me as a one-man “team” to not introduce myself. I kept the initial introduction short: “Patrick from Peculiar Games here. I’m sending you a key for [game] in case you’d like to try it out. There’s more info about me & Peculiar Games toward the end of this email, but first I’d like to…”

      Luckily I checked all the boxes mentioned in the post, but only after getting some solid advice on the subject in /r/gamedev recently.

      Since I use Google sites for my main website, I don’t have access to the server and can’t use presskit(). So instead, I checked out some developers sites that do use it and tried to replicate the content by including all the info in a single Press Kit page on my site.

  2. Great question, thank you, Ana! I had a quick look at all the press releases in my inbox. Surprisingly, most devs do not introduce themselves, even though – now that you mention it – it sounds like a good idea. So I guess it’s not a necessity, but it’s a nice thing to do. Might be an especially good thing if your name is already associated with other games (“I did XY / I worked on XY / I worked on AAA games at XY / I used to write about games, now I make them…”).

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