How to Pick Launch Dates: TIMING

A quick overview of JUST TIMING factors we consider when trying to get game/trailer coverage (press, streamers, etc.)

Recently our captain Tanya X. Short wrote a Twitter thread on how she chooses our launch dates. We’ve helpfully piled the info here for your viewing pleasure — whether you’re interested in learning more about the game marketing/business side of things or just like reading our posts (aww hi!)

  1. Basics: Don’t launch the same day (or ideally week) that a giant title launches. Even if it’s a 100% different audience, AAA 80-hour games exhaust press and they need time to recover.
  2. Basics II: Double-check that your press-email date is ALSO not on a big AAA 80-hour game launch day. It will have trends or controversies to report on, probably, even if press are done reviewing it.
  3. Workdays: Emails are most likely to be read on Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday.
  4. Events: Avoid sending during or just before or after big press events (E3, PAXes, Gamescom)
  5. Embargo Buffer: Give 1–2 weeks warning if press needs to write/record something new (review, interview, etc), and 3–5 days if they can basically copy/paste a video link. There’s bureaucracy for many of these, with editors, approvals, etc.
  6. Why Embargo?: It’s not you being arrogant, it’s polite! Allows them to be timely in coverage without rushing to get it out ASAP. Be sure to include a time of day (I tend to use 10am EST, which is within both North American and European work times).
  7. Newsworthiness: Game release > Game announce/reveal > Crowdfund succeeds (a lot?) > New trailer > Crowdfund launches. If your crowdfund isn’t getting attention before launch, you probably gotta wait until you hit 100%+ and try again. People love success. :( Sorry. :(
  8. Timeliness: It’s harder to get coverage for something far in the future… the more immediate your game is, the more exciting it is to cover. So maybe don’t announce a date at all, if it’s forever away.
  9. Holidays: Don’t plan to email them or expect them to work on holidays! In the Western world that means over Christmas break (second half of December) and in the US, also the week of Thanksgiving (Nov 19–23 in 2018).
  10. Plan B: If SURPRISE! truly huge news item occurs (like Iwata dies) the morning you intend to email press, and it’s not E3 tomorrow, put off sending by a day. Take a breath.
  11. Competition: Maybe don’t launch the same month as a game that is in your genre/aesthetic/target audience but way better OR has tons more marketing. Even if it doesn’t get THAT much coverage, it’ll probably get more than yours during launch month.

Addendum

12. From @dhindes: Launching a game during a Steam sale is also bad!

OK that’s all we’ve got. (We did use ‘press’ to refer to all influencer types, sorry.) Feel free to chime in the comments with any additional timing tips or discussion points and follow us at @KitfoxGames!