Who do I contact for free video game codes?

So you have a YouTube channel, website or following and you are interested in getting free games to review. The great news is that it’s super easy to do.

Publishers and PR agencies are always on the lookout for channels and influencers who they can connect with to expand their client’s reach. The issue is knowing who to contact.

A lot of people fall into the trap of trying to get in contact directly with the studio who has developed the game. But as you find out, this is very rarly the person you will need to talk.

Before we start talking about the relationships that exist in the video game industry, and how they will determine who you contact, let’s start with some basic definitions.

Definitions

Developer:

A studio, small team or indirivudal who that specializes in video game development.

Publishing (Self Publishing & Publishers)

Develping a game is one only half of the equation. Once a game is developed it then needs to promoted, manfucatored, licensed on platforms, distributed and finally sold. Developers and studios have one of two choices, they can either do this themselves, or hire a spcialied publishing company to do it for them. Often before a game is even developed a studio will pitch an idea to a publisher, who might then fund the project, and own the IP at the end of the process. It is also no uncommon for large publishers to own a number of studios. An example of this would be Ubisoft, or Sony World Wide Studios.

PR [Public Relations] (Internal & External)

Sometimes a studio, developer or publisher will hire the services of a PR agency to handle the communication element of the publishing. It is also not uncomon for larger publishers like Ubisoft to have internal PR deparments and not outsource this work. When it comes to requesting games typically it’s the PR representative (either internal or exertnal) that you want to speak to.

It’s not a one size fits all scenario

As you can tell from the definitions things get very grey very quickly when it comes to who the best contact for a specific game is. But that’s ok, there is a method to the madness. Once you understand how these relationships fit together it will be easy for you to know who to contact.

To help you visualize the different combinations of businesses, and how they work together we’ve created the graphic below.

note the highlighted contact at the bottom of each variation is who you should contact for each group.

Developer, self published, developer internal pr

The first group, and most unlikely combination of the four, represents the ‘do it yourself’ studio who wants to manage the entire process from game development all the way through to publishing and marketing.

Studios who do this are generally small and operate on a tight budget. Because of these budget restraints, they are most likely not to distribute physical games into the market, but op to sell their games via online market places like Steam, PSN, Xbox Store or the Nintendo eshop.

Because they are self-publishing and handing their own communications and PR you’ve got a great chance at getting a free game to review from them.

When you contact a business like this it’s more then likely you are either going to speak to a pr manager, community manager, or marketing manager from within the studio.

Developer, self published, external pr

This combination reflects the studio who still wants to keep the rights and IP of their game that they are self-publishing, but are happy to outsource the communication and marketing to another company. This is one of the most common approaches for indie studios. Typically a PR Agency would work with hundreds of small studios like this, promoting their games to all the influencers on their books. Stride PR, Evolve PR or Power Up PR are a few examples of large PR Agencies who do this.

If you are looking to connect with a large number of studios and review a lot of indie games it’s worth emailing a bunch of these PR Agencies and asking to be put on their mailing lists. Then press releases will come straight to your inbox, and you can respond directly to them requesting video game codes for review.

When speaking to PR agencies representing studio’s you want to speak to the account manager / account executive who is responsible for that studio / brand.

Developer, publisher, external pr

This next configuration is is fairly common and is generally the result of a studio who have signed on with a large publisher to help get their project off the group. In this situation the publisher to paying for all of the studios expenses, (or maybe a fixed licensing fee), the studio makes the game, and the publisher  take the sales and other revenue generated by the game. This same configuration also works when the studio is owned by the publisher. An example of this could be with Sony World Wide Studios (the publisher) and Naughty Dog (the studio).

In this situation it’s no uncommon for the publisher to promote the game and handle communications through a external PR agency, mostly likely one they have been working with for a while for all of there releases. This is probably the most common configuration.

Just like in the last configuration, when speaking to PR agencies representing publishers you want to speak to the account manager / account executive who is responsible for that publisher / studio / brand.

Developer, publisher, publisher internal pr

This final example is probably the most uncommon, yet it does exist. Sometimes a publisher get’s so big it owns a bunch of studios and has an internal team who manages it’s PR. One such example is Ubisoft. Ubisoft as a publisher owns lot’s of studios. From our last count Ubisoft employs over 14,000 people through over 40 studios. Ubisoft is so big they actually manage their own PR too, they have an internal team who does this.

When you are dealing with a game that is developed by a studio, owned by a publisher, with communications managed by their internal team, you will want to speak to a marketing account manager.