There's nothing particularly complicated to tell you about video game press kits—they provide all of the information anyone needs to know about the game you're developing in one easily-accessible place.
Although simple by definition, video game press kits fulfill an absolutely vital function: they improve the odds of your game getting coverage.
More coverage = more players, and more players = happy gamedevs.
Competition for attention is fiercer than ever, as video game journalists and influencers are busy people, and indie devs and studios don't have the luxury of big budgets for massive advertising campaigns to compete.
Press kits are your way of making life easier for the people who can expose you to a wider audience. They can earn your game press coverage and save you advertising spend along the way.
If you force publications and influencers to stitch together an article from a Frankenstein's monster of sources across the internet, chances are most will give up before it's time to electrify the article and give it life.
A good press kit will not only allow you to tell other people what's great about your game, what makes it special, and why it's worth playing—it will allow them to tell even more people those same things.
Industry press and influencers are inundated with requests for coverage every day, so it's not just enough to have a press kit—you need to have a damn good one.
Luckily, that's exactly what we're here to teach you!
Consider once again the purpose of the press kit, which is to make it easier for others to get a quick-and-dirty overview of your game.
Press kits should take into account anything that generally gets mentioned when a game is covered, as well as the information they need to further follow the game.
Think of it as a cheat sheet to help complete strangers quickly get to know your game, your studio, and even yourself.
So what should go into a press kit? It's always important to mind your Ps and Qs, but when it comes to making a press kit, remember your Ws, too:
This should include all of the pertinent information concerning the game itself—the kind of stuff that should lead all coverage so people immediately know what your game is and what it's about.
The best way to do this is by beginning your video game press kit with branding visuals, like your logo set against game art or a screenshot.
Standard "what" content includes:
The "who" includes information about the studio and developers behind the game. This can be a standard factual boilerplate, or you can take the opportunity to add a dash of personal flavor and tell your project's story in your own words.
Information to make sure you include here includes:
This info lets people know where they can follow your game, learn more about it, and ideally download/purchase it.
Make sure you include:
Here is where you can hone in on specific information directly related to release schedules.
Also consider when to send your press kit out, as this may effect the content you can feature. For instance, if you're ready to release and angling for reviews, you could include a "request review copy" button for journalists to click. If you're sending the press kit out early to build a community, you may only have concept art to include.
Do you have a release date or timeframe in mind? It's essential to communicate this info, along with anything important on your release roadmap prior to launch.
Is there a public Alpha or Beta that you want testers for? A Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign to drive people toward? The more people that know about it, the better.
Whatever stage you're at, make sure to keep your press kit updated throughout your development journey.
Now's your chance to do deeper storytelling about your game, and what exactly makes it worth playing (and therefore worth covering).
Tell people why they should care about your game:
By providing information to answer any questions people might ask, you provide all that is needed to comfortably, concisely, and comprehensively cover your creation—along the lines that you choose to display it.
Usually, coverage occurs in a visual medium, so it's important for journalists or influencers to easily insert or refer to visual resources that build an image of your game for an unfamiliar audience.
That's why we recommend including carefully curated graphics packages resplendent with character design and animated GIFs.
The more (quality) visuals they have to use, the better coverage is going to look, but be selective with the content you include. Quality > Quantity.
There's a few options you have in terms of the exact formatting and ordering of the press kit contents, which pretty much come down to personal preference.
Here are a few structures to consider alongside our what-who-where-when-why outline:
The main, non-variable aspect across formats is that you should lead with a striking header image and game description so journalists and influencers immediately know what exactly they're looking at.
When it comes to writing style, write as much of your press kit as possible in the third person—not because you want to emulate The Rock, but because it makes it easier for any writers to quote directly from your press kit. Another point of friction removed!
Include a permissions disclaimer on your press kit, assuring journalists that they're allowed to reproduce the contents for commercial use. After all, you send out press kits because you want the selected information to proliferate.
Feature your press kit prominently on your website, preferably with its own menu tab to make it easy to find.
Remember: the role of the press kit is to take as much effort as possible out of looking for info. Anyone who arrives at your homepage shouldn't have to hunt to find it, so don't hide it away.
You can include your press kit on Google Docs or Dropbox as a downloadable PDF with graphics in a ZIP file, but having it readily accessible online is essential, so this should be a backup rather than primary access mechanism.
We humans are a superficial bunch, and typos don't reflect well on a project—especially when you're sending them to professional writers, so be sure to proofread.
Proofread more than once—more than twice, even.
Then, get a second set of eyes from a friend, just to make sure.
You've done all the hard work of creating your very own video game press kit. Now it's time to sit back, relax, and watch coverage magically materialize!
....well, not exactly.
Video game press coverage doesn't come from thin air. In order for a press kit to work, you need to actually approach the press with it.
Some few things to keep in mind when approaching journalists or influencers:
To see what press kits can look like out in the wild, take a look at the efforts (and platforms) of these indie successes: Shovel Knight, Opus Magnum, Hollow Knight, Celeste, and Furi.
If you looked at the fine print, you'll see that some of these press kits were created (or auto-generated) using presskit() aka "do presskit" by indie developer Rami Ismail of Vlambeer.
It's a good (and free!) tool for getting all the required info in, and allows for integration with Promoter or Google Analytics to track performance—but it does have a bit of a learning curve for non-web designers. You'll need to know all about FTP clients, XML syntax highlighting, and basic image editing in order for presskit() to function properly.
Additional tools that can be used for creating and publishing press kits include
Taking time to craft an appealing video game press kit can really pay off in the long run.
Not only does it make it easier for journalists and influencers to find out everything they need to know quickly, it acts as a recruitment tool for future coverage, and helps publicize your game socially through people you've never even approached.
Get your press kit right, and any hours you put into it will be repaid many times over with all the new attention the resulting media coverage can bring.