Indie Game Developers – Beware of Paid Game Reviews & Features

Indie Game Developers – Beware of Paid Game Reviews & Features

Indie game developers struggle to get their games noticed in an industry that only seems to cater to the rich and popular studios. Let’s face it. Unless you have money to spend on a great marketing strategy that involves advertising to your targeted audience you are at the hands of shear luck. Everyday, tons of developers reach out to gaming sites to seek out coverage for their games. Some never hear anything back, VERY VERY few get an article, but most will get a copy & pasted response back from smaller gaming sites.

A copy & pasted response back is better than nothing… right? Not necessarily. Most of those responses back will include a ploy to get the developer to pay for a review, feature, advertisement, or shoutout on social media. We’ve all seen things like this in those emails:

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Sadly, a lot of developers fall for the ploy just because they are so eager to get any coverage they can for their game. Beware! You could be wasting your money! Always do your research. If a site is offering paid services you need to be certain that it’s to reach enough people for it to be worth it. A social media shoutout might sound like a great idea especially if they advertise that they have 10,000+ followers but you want to make sure (1.) that their followers are real – people buy followers all the time (2.) make sure their followers are very active with their account. For example, someone with 10,000+ followers on twitter should have at least 30-80 RT & Favs on all their game related tweets.

Paying for a review, feature, or advertisement may also sound like a great idea because they are promising coverage.. but Do Your Research! If the site is very well known and receives many unique visitors a day then you may actually get some new people to be interested in your game. This is usually not the case. Most well known gaming sites DO NOT CHARGE to review or feature your game.. they just do it if they’re interested. Smaller sites are the ones you usually have to worry about. Before you even consider paying for a service, research how many unique visitors the site gets on a daily basis. There are many tools out there that can help you look up these numbers.

Many small gaming sites only receive about 1,000 unique people a day and some receive even less. Keep in mind that these unique visitors are not all looking at the site’s front page (where your feature or review probably resides), but they’re usually coming to the site from another site or search engine and visiting only one particular page on the gaming site. So out of those 1,000 unique visitors… you would be lucky to have 100 people looking at the site’s homepage. If you think about it, with only 100 people having the opportunity to scroll past your feature the odds are against you. You have the same opportunity for 100 people to scroll past your tweet about your game. What I’m getting at is.. out of those few people that may actually land on the same page where your feature is.. very few are going to spot the article and actually read it.

Before you invest money in a review, feature, advertisement, or social media shoutout.. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Make sure you are going to actually get more than a couple of new users for your game. Make sure the gaming site actually has a solid active audience and that they bring in enough traffic on a daily basis.


  • eduardo
    Posted at 14:08h, 01 May Reply

    Good article, but What is a better alternative? I developed my first game Cleff for the play store and have gotten tempted to purchase reviews, but I’ve heard this same problem a lot. If it is next to impossible to get a real review, it would be nice to see in this article a list of altermatives. Btw, Cleff did get a real free pre-release review and tweeter shout out from The Indie Game Magazine, but the other 100+ mags I’ve contacted either don’t respond or they try to sell.

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