© Alfred Buellesbach / Visum


“Many game developers underestimate the press work”

“When you have a new game, you have to shout it loud enough that everyone will hear. From game portals to lifestyle magazines, it does not hurt to target everyone in every country,” Mike Rose told futurezone. The Englishman has been a journalist for many years with a focus on computer games and writes for the respected industry platform Gamasutra and for PocketGamer. Such a broad offensive also has statistical reasons: “Often times, only ten percent of journalists will respond. So the more you contact, the better.” According to Rose, who is giving a talk at the Subotron Pro Games Series in Vienna on Thursday evening and who is offering a workshop on Friday, there are now so many good games that press work has become very expensive and complicated.

Standing out

“Journalists are flooded by e-mails and messages, so a lot gets lost,” said the Englishman, who is also on the jury of the Independent Games Festival. According to the journalist, many developers neglect or underestimate the press work, and are then surprised when no one is interested in their awesome game.

Amateur press releases

Rose said he sees examples of poor marketing every day. “I still get e-mails where my name is not spelled correctly. They go straight into the trash,” Rose said. Some people also feign interest in him to get his attention. “I live in Manchester. Game developers whom I have never heard from before often start off with football references, because they assume I must be a fan. They Googled a little about me, and then make assumptions based on what they found. I see through that pretty quickly,” Rose told.

Personal messages

According to the journalist, it takes some work to get noticed in the sea of games. When game designers write to journalists and platforms without having established prior contact, they have to find out exactly who is responsible for what subjects, and what the journalist wrote last. This can tell you the right person to write to, and how to write to them. A journalist who only writes about blockbusters will tend to ignore an independent game. And: Rose pays more attention to personal messages than to form letters.

Maintaining contacts

It is easier when developers can meet journalists in person. In Rose’s experience, fairs like the GDC Europe or similar industry events are ideal for this. You can establish relationships here and set up a line of communication. In addition to personal conversations and e-mail, the social media are of course also important. “Twitter, Facebook, Twitch and also Reddit. We follow everything, and see what people are talking about on the net. Developers can get attention here, or contact journalists,” the Englishman said.

Be true to yourself

Despite his long experience in the industry, Rose has no general advice or a recipe for success. But he advises that designers be who they really are and stay honest. You should focus on what makes you interesting and emphasize your personality, he said. A person who is genuine always makes a better impression than stale marketing speak and exaggerated praise. And it of course helps when you can offer journalists something special. “We are all constantly on the lookout for relevant, exclusive information. Everyone always wants to be the first and report about the next big thing,” said Rose, who was one of the first to report about Minecraft.

Borders are no barrier

Rose does not believe that developers from a small country like Austria have a harder time than a game developer from a country like the USA. “I look at where a game comes from last of all. It has to be good, that is the most important thing,” the journalist said. He also feels that language barriers can always be overcome. He mentioned Broken Rules from Vienna as an example, which is now known around the world.

Mike Rose’s presentation “Games Don’t Sell Themselves: How to Get the Press and Players Talking About Your Game“ starts on Thursday, October 17, at 7:00 pm at the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna. Admission to the event, which is sponsored by the Vienna Economic Chamber, is free.

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