Reaching Out — Why It Matters
Something that’s often forgotten when it comes to Twitch and YouTube is how to reach out and get in touch with people within the industry. Communicating with PR reps, game publishers and developers, are all part and parcel of working in this industry. And indeed, as content creators, we’re all a part of this wonderful little ecosystem in the gaming industry. So, reaching out and getting known is just as much a part of the job as clicking the button labeled “Start Streaming”.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Good thing it’s actually simpler than it sounds.
So let’s begin with the simplest stuff first: Your social media. If you’re going to have an audience, you’d better make use of social media where possible. The most commonly used one, by far, is Twitter. So, let’s focus on that.
As you’ve probably noticed, pretty much every game that’s out there has a twitter profile. Simply search for any game and you’ll likely find a profile. The same can be said for developers and publishers as well. The fastest and easiest way to connect with them is through mentions and hashtags.
I’m sure you probably tweet whenever you start up your stream (if not, you should!). So, start mentioning the developers or the game’s official twitter account in your tweet. An eye-catching tweet with a picture, funny GIF or something similar will help you get noticed. Good formatting and readability helps too but I’ll talk about that in another article.
Remember that you might not always get them to retweet you, but rest assured they definitely see your mentions.
Hashtags are basically the difference between Mass Effect: Andromeda and #MassEffectAndromeda. They might not seem as important but it’s worth noting that hashtags are easily searchable so they’re actually more effective at reaching people who are actively searching for related content. And, as a sidenote, hashtags work on Facebook and Instagram too!
This next part is often a bit out of the comfort zone for many people so let me begin by emphasising just how important it is and, hopefully, putting a few myths to rest.
Emailing developers, publishers and PR reps to request codes for games is common practice within the industries. Gaming websites, YouTube channels and many Twitch streamers already do this. It’s a way of getting access to a game at no cost to yourself and often you’ll be able to download and play (and even stream!) the game early.
The process itself is relatively simple. It’s just a matter of finding the right person to contact and getting in touch with them. Most developers and publishers have contact emails listed on their websites (with the exception of ‘AAA’ publishers such as EA, Activision and others, that list theirs on dedicated press services such as gamespress or PressXtra). PR firms such as EvolvePR sometimes have registration forms on their sites instead.
Now, you might be wondering, “Who am I to request such things?”. And the simple answer is: You are a content creator.
Let me explain.
First off, games are expensive. And with the ever-moving trends on Twitch and YouTube, the games you play for your viewers won’t be the hottest thing around forever. This means that you’ll end up buying games frequently. Those new games will start burning through your earnings pretty fast if you’re always buying them. So, from a practical standpoint, it’s going to make it even harder to make a living off of streaming or making videos.
But then, doesn’t all of this sound awfully entitled? After all, you do stand to benefit a lot from getting codes for free, right?
It goes both ways.
Every game you stream or make a video of is also advertising that game to your audience. Even if you’re not directly selling the game to your viewers, it’s still passive exposure that can lead to them deciding to buy the game. Like it or not, it’s a part of what you do. But, the point is that it’s passive promotion. With the exception of paid promotions and sponsorships, every piece of uploaded content is free advertising for the game.
Therefore, by virtue of being a content creator with any audience at all, developers, publishers and PR reps want you to play their game. The problem is that there are thousands upon thousands of content creators already out there. So, you can imagine how difficult it would be to find and contact individual channels that would be best suited to playing particular games. This is why it’s easier, and recommended, for you to reach out to them regarding games you’re interested in playing.
Some key things to remember when receiving game keys include:
Embargo dates. From time to time, games can be placed under an embargo. This means that they are restricted in some form until the date passes. Pay close attention to the specified dates and times to ensure that you don’t break the embargo in any way. Some embargoes can prohibit any form of livestream or video content before the specified date while others might limit you to certain sections of the game. If you’re unsure what the embargo for a particular game entails, remember to clarify with the representative that sent you the code. Failure to comply with embargo dates and times can result in penalties, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to check the dates.
Legal guidelines regarding disclosure. Official commissions such as the FTC in the US and the ASA/CAP in Europe & UK have specific legal guidelines regarding how to disclose sponsorships. So, if you have been paid to play a game or promote a product, you need to disclose that fact in a clear manner. However, if you have received a code for a game, often called press or review copies, it’s recommended that you disclose that even if you have not been sponsored in any way.
You are not obligated to play everything you receive. While it might seem obvious that you’d be likely to play a game that you specifically requested, you might sometimes be added to press mailing lists that send out mass emails with codes for games. If, for any reason, you are unable to stream or upload a video of a game, it’s fine. Just be sure not to distribute the keys without permission. Remember that they were given to you for your use only so they’re not intended to be used for giveaways or anything like that since they may unlock content or builds intended for press use only. (It should be obvious but it’s worth pointing out that selling the keys are definitely NOT ok either)
You’ve probably heard this one countless times now but it’s just as important as the other two on this list. However, I want to talk specifically about networking with other content creators. Whether you’re on Twitch, YouTube, Hitbox or Beam, it’s important to get to know other people doing what you do too. Knowing more people will give you more people to learn from and expand your overall network of contacts. Mixing with other communities can also give you an exposure to how other communities function (the sub-culture, if you will) and help you to shape your own community of viewers. It also goes without saying that (especially with community-centric streaming platforms such as Twitch) people are more likely to watch someone that they are familiar with. So, as a new streamer, you might find that your own initial group of viewers might actually be people you’ve met in the chat of other streams.
Don’t make the mistake of mixing with other communities for the sole purpose of personal gain, however, networking works best with it benefits both parties. So, if you’re merely trying to get to know a streamer in the hopes that they might host your stream one day, it’s probably not going to happen. After all, you’ve got to show a measure of good faith and maybe host or raid them first.
The good thing is that, at least for Twitch, networking is fairly easy. Simply open a stream and say hi in the chat to get started. There’s no real secret to any of this. It’s just something you should try to do as often as you can.
Learn. Adapt. Progress.
This is by no means an exhaustive guide and I highly recommend searching further to find out more, especially when it comes to legal stuff since I’m not a legal counsel or an expert on the subject. There’s also plenty more ways to grow and expand your contacts outside of what I’ve mentioned here. But hopefully some of this is useful and helps get you started.