Your game is finally done, those long hard hours have finally paid of and it's time for your game to see the light of day. Now most of us devs don't have a lot of money for advertising so let me tell you about the most mutually beneficial relationship you will encounter: YouTubers and game devs. 

You see we both need each other, one group really needs content for their many viewers. While we just need people to know about our game. You will learn how to find YouTubers who are looking for games ready to play in their channel, and how to properly structure an email that will inspire them to pick up your game.

Before starting, I strongly recommend listening to “How to win friends and influence people”. It teaches some of the essential foundations for talking with people and will come in handy when talking to YouTubers.

Anything can Succeed with the Right Press

If a game gets the right coverage at the right time it will be a hit, probably even a commercial success. There are countless examples of such events: Flappy Bird, Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds. All simple games, but with the right marketing at the right time, they were run-away hits!

 

My team published a game titled Duck Jam and spent a lot of hard work making sure that as many outlets as possible were aware of it. Almost two months later we still have people publishing Let’s Plays and articles about it. We even just had a channel with 1.7 million subscribers feature it! However we didn’t start out being featured on such large channels. Getting to the point where bigger names have started noticing us was the result of many emails sent to outlets and specific writing practices when addressing them.

Gaining Traction

You don’t get fame and fortune overnight unless you’re a penny novel protagonist. It takes dedication and more importantly these days, friendships. A strategy for who, how, and when to contact people is important. Here’s some of the strategy that we used while marketing Duck Jam to YouTubers.

 

Step 1: Find YouTubers you like (A list will be provided of YouTubers who are looking for games, and their specific tastes).

 

Step 2: Watch their most viewed videos. Get a feel for their likes, dislikes, and the personality of their channel. Are you making a real time strategy game and they only play Kirby’s Epic Yarn? Then perhaps you’ll want someone else.

 

Step 3: Make a list of all the things that are important to them in a game. Take notice of what kind of commentary they say, for example I know Jacksepticeye loves to rant on for 5 minutes about his love for fourth wall paradigm shifting scenes in a game and how he loves games that push the medium forward by challenging stereotypes of the medium. That might sound very specific but it’s the point, you want to pinpoint exactly what they love in games, and when contacting them highlight those areas about your product.

 

Step 4: Don’t be shy! Contact them via twitter or their business email. Use the business inquiries to find the preferred method of contact:

Markiplier's channel

Examples

When writing to someone, you want to catch them with a hook right away. Most people ignore something if the first sentence doesn’t capture them right away. The CEO of Chartbeat has stated that "a stunning 55% [of site visitors] spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page"! Writing an interesting an informative contact message is key for getting the attention of your audience.

 

Bad example:

Hello I’m BOON McImportantPerson I am the proud co-owner of Plucky Duck Productions.

Our large and important sounding company has released an incredibly fun, action-packed game that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Our game is considered to be the best game by fellow youtubers such as yourself.

 

If you are interested in finding out more information about our game please reply promptly within 72 business hours to receive YOUR FREE copy of the game.

 

-Yours Truly

BOON McGoingOutOfBuisness

 

Imagine how the youtuber feels:

 

I’m interested in growing my channel as big as possible. I have a deadline and a schedule to keep in order to make sure that my channel keeps growing and stays relevant. I get bombarded by 20 emails every single day and today I am contacted by this random person. He tells me about his achievements and his game, well yeah that’s cool but doesn’t he realize that when he talks down to me like this it makes me feel small and insignificant. I don’t care about you or your company, all I want is a short explanation of your game, a trailer, and a download link. He doesn’t tell me much about the game and it doesn’t sound like he’s ever even heard of me. In fact he uses nothing but filler buzzwords that I’ve heard every single day. Honestly, he makes it sound like he just mass emailed 200 other people including me. And what does he mean when he says reply back within 72 hours? Oh whatever I’ll skip to the other 19 emails I have.

 

It’s important to think about the narrative as you write your email. Make sure the other person is treated like a person and not a cog. This is your greatest asset as an indie developer, be intimate! Having a tone of appreciation and making the reader feel important will greatly improve your visibility.

 

Alright, now for a good real world example, here’s the email I sent to GameCubeDude200. I’m choosing this email as an example because it was the first one I ever sent (explanations in brackets):

 

 

Hey GameCubeDude200 I am a game dev with a game.

[TITLE: Here I make sure to include their name. I make it a goal to use the name as much as possible without sounding annoying.]

 

Hello GameCubeDude200 I am BOON, Pleasure to meet you dude!

[Body: I use the word “dude” here because after watching GameCubeDude200’s videos I noticed that he used the term frequently. So in the same way you might copy the accent of a foreigner in order to have that person feel more comfortable, I repeat his words back to him.  If a YouTuber is constantly talking about how a game makes them feel, then talk about the experiences they will soon undergo when giving your game a shot. When someone talks about how the game looks, start the email with screenshots and a trailer as soon as possible. Understand what senses the person prefers to experience the world and abide immediately to their senses]

Duck Jam is a bunch of these 5 second micro games, with ducks. It has an emphasis on humor and randomness. In the same way how your viewers love seeing you on Reaction Monday, Duck Jam's humor and fast paced nature is made to create the best reactions shots out of you for your viewers to enjoy watching.

[Explain your game in as few words as possible, identify your strongest hooks. That is the goal of the first two sentences. Next I studied the YouTuber and found out that his most successful videos were reaction videos he made to other YouTube videos. I started studying them to see what his niche was. I saw that people loved seeing his reactions, and usually the stronger the reaction the better the view total. This lead me to believe that if I talk to him about my game as a method of getting good reactions to his audience just like his “Reaction Monday” videos, he’d be more inclined to try out Duck Jam].

 

Download

https://booon.itch.io/duck-jam

[Make sure to include a download link or key.]

 

I know you are very busy, thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter. Have a fantastic day GameCubeDude200 and thank you very much for making such great content.

[For me personally I find that I attract a lot more flies with honey than vinegar, so here I’m always looking for things to be thankful for. I find that the more I do this, the more it makes the other person feel appreciated and will want to reciprocate that exact same appreciation to me. Don’t ever expect them to reciprocate though. Honestly I do it because it makes me feel good knowing that the other person’s is going to have a better day just by reading this small email.]

 

With thanks,

-BOON

 

P.S. Undertale was my inspiration for getting into making games. Thanks for making sure the game stays relevant :D!

[I honestly am a large Undertale fan and it brought me great joy knowing that his most popular videos were in fact Undertale related. So I throw it out there as an afterthought. I am always looking for things to give a feeling of appreciation for whenever I talk to people, this is the best way to communicate as when doing it enough times, you will often find yourselves in positions where people will go above and beyond to repay that kindness back, just don’t expect it when it comes].

 

This seems like a lot of effort for writing an email, right? But….Did it work?

 

See for yourself here! Don't continue until you've seen the first minute.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZTOYmmf9uM

You get back what you put out.

When you have a clear understanding of what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes, you will be surprised by how much the other will go above and beyond to repay any generosity. I would have been satisfied with GameCubeDude200 just playing the game, but my email got such a positive reaction out of him that he created an intro to the video specifically about the email I wrote to him.

Now here is my final piece of advice: be on social media! Our primary media choice has been Twitter, and it’s also been the primary medium we used to contact most YouTubers.

Just remember you need to contact people to have any success. If you don't get an immediate response, don’t worry! Send another email in a week telling them that they have the coolest game ever just waiting in their inbox.

Resources

The Big List of YouTubers - The Big List of YouTubers that are ready to play your game. You can filter by what genres each person likes or what languages they speak.

DoDistribute - A useful tool for distributing game copies to the press.

Everything You Need To Know About YouTubers But Were Afraid To Ask - I learned a lot from watching this GDC talk about communicating with YouTubers.

How to Win Friends and Influence People PDF

What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong - Attention statistics

More About Duck Jam

During this article I frequently referenced our project Duck Jam. We will be launching a Kickstarter for it in the upcoming week! To learn more and stay in touch, join our mailing list!