First, what exactly is a press kit?
To answer this, let’s imagine for a moment that you are a member of the gaming press. An IndieWatch.net writer, for example. As a writer, there are certain raw facts we need right away to determine if your game is something we can write about.
To put this into context, let’s walk through a typical scenario:
- I’m browsing the hashtag #ScreenshotSaturday on Twitter and see something I like.
- I look at the poster’s Twitter profile and scroll down to find a history of quality screenshots and insightful commentary about the project.
- I visit the website prominently displayed on their profile.
- I am taken directly to their website where their game press kit has its own tab and is easily accessed.
- I now have access to all pertinent facts about the game, along with a few official banners and things I can post in any article I decide to write.
So in this scenario, the busy writer/editor/content manager stops browsing because they see something they like. You’ve got about two minutes to completely engage me. What I find when I visit your page and press kit will determine whether I scribble down the name of your game, or if I give up looking for the info I need and click away in frustration.
As a member of the press, I am naturally drawn to your press kit. That's my kit, after all. Your press kit is your elevator pitch. It says THIS is what I'm working on, THIS is how you can get it, THIS is what it looks like, THIS is why you should be interested.
Basically, your press kit is a collection of the most basic information a visitor will need to determine whether they are interested.
You want to capture visitors’ attention, but don’t get to fancy with your press kit. A little fancy is fine, but don’t let style or eye-catchingness overshadow the actual content.
So what makes a good indie game press kit?
There is a very short list of things I MUST see in your press kit. Like I mentioned, the press kit is the most basic information I need to decide if I want to know more. As I list these out, they may seem incredibly obvious, but you’d be surprised how often some of this is overlooked.
- The name of your game
- A VERY short (1 sentence) description to push your Unique Selling Proposition
- A big, beautiful banner image
- Bullet points or facts list including
- The platform the game will be available on (Steam, iOs, Switch, etc.)
- Projected release date
- Name of studio or developer
- Social media handles (Twitter, FB, Insta, YouTube)
- Your email
- Your credit card numbers with expiration date and 3-digit code
- A longer description of your game
- More images, including official game title banners, and whatever other beautiful amazing mind-blowing images you want to include.
Okay, just kidding about the credit cards.
Anyway, that’s the basics of what you need in your press kit. And this can be hard to grok, but in a press kit, simpler is often much better than complex. Remember, the press kit should be live on your website, but you should also be able to put all the material in a .zip file to send to influencers and—you know: the press.
How should my game's press kit look?
I’ve got a couple of developers I’ve been stalking keeping tabs on, and I think they do a good job keeping their press kits tight. So let’s look at a few examples.
This is a game that’s being created by a solo dev who happens to be a real tyrannosaurus rex. Hey, wait! Come back!
Relentless Rex press kit is a great example of how even a solo dev early in production can maintain an effective game press kit.
First, notice how easy it is to find. His website is his own, with his own custom URL that anybody could find: RelentlessRex.com. And once you arrive at the site, the press kit is, blam! Right there. Never make the press hunt for stuff. Our attention spans are often short and there are plenty of awesome games out there.
Rex has an eye-catching banner up top. Intriguing, right? My only criticism here is that it tells us nothing about the game. But it’s interesting-looking enough to justify the choice. Plus, he has an in-game image right below it. I assume it’s in-game anyway. And even though the big banner image tells me nothing about the gameplay, it hints at the whole big meta of this game. The fact that the developer is an actual dinosaur is very fun and part of the game's schtick.
Over on the right is an actual infographic with all the pertinent infos on his game: developer (Kevin Wynns is a typical dinosaur name), Kickstarter date, demo release, platforms. He doesn’t have social or email contacts here, but those are up on top of the actual webpage. He’s even included a list of fake awards his game has hilariously "won".
There are a couple of super-long descriptions under the banner image. Long descriptions are fine, but I would recommend putting a very short description up top, followed by a handful of good images showing the art and attitude of the game, and then have the longer descriptions. A handful of images is easier on the eye than a wall of text. This is a minor problem, though since down below these (rather humorous) writings, Rex includes a link to the Media page of his site (also available in the navigation tab) where you can find tons of images. He also has some cute GIFs listed here.
What strikes me about Relentless Rex is how the developer takes a simple concept like a dino-centric runner game and turns it into an entire experience. This developer is an actual tyrannosaurs, and he has tons of images to prove it. I've chuckled again and again at some of these everyday-tyrannosaur images. And overall, this is extremely clever stuff. Again, these have nothing at all to do with the game, but it brings a sort of meta-madness that really is engaging and enjoyable.
The site is still under construction, but the press kit is here. It’s done. Everything else can wait (but I would recommend getting it ready before Kickstarter launch). Also notable is Rex’s invitation to join his email list. An email list is a perfect way to keep your audience interested over time. Nice work, Rex! This is a great example of a solo dev that is relatively early in production. Now let's look at a more established developer.
The team at 6 Eyes Studio is a good example of a bigger (more than one person) dev team that has already successfully kick-started their game and are very deep into development and recently signed on with a publisher. They also have many years of experience in the gaming industry.
I’ve worked with these guys and can attest to their work ethic. And they (seem to) know exactly what they’re doing. Their development situation is totally different from Relentless Rex, but just look at how similar their game press kit is:
Just like Rex, Fell Seal has its own URL with a press kit tab prominent in the navigation bar.
Again, the press kit lays out the game's raw facts: Developer, release date (still TBD as of this writing, but the dev plans to update very soon.), platforms, website, points of contact, social, and as an added bonus—a separate link to download the press kit I’m currently viewing.
Scroll down for an official banner and a long description. I’d rather see pictures down here, but scrolling down rewards my patience with a wealth of videos, GIFs, character sprites, screenshots and more. This far exceeds what I typically expect from a press kit. Like, a lot! So don't feel bad if your press kit isn't this robust.
Fell Seal’s press kit is impressive. It is absolutely brimming with content. If you are a new developer working on a new project, you will certainly not have this amount of images and videos. You might not even have screenshots yet. That's okay!
6 Eyes Studio has chosen to supply the press with tons of options for posting about their game, but if you only have 5 or 6 different images in your kit, that's fine too. The important thing is that you choose the absolute best variety of the most stunning imagery your game offers. Fell Seal has been in development for a long time, so they've amassed lots of great art to show off. You can too, but don't worry if you can't do it right now.
Even if you’re just starting out, a press kit is still a good idea
For new projects, it’s fine to include concept art instead of completed sprites and screens. Your audience—and especially the press—understand that you aren’t going to start out with a finished project. It takes a long time to make a game. Your press kit is a living document that should be updated as new concepts and imagery emerges.
The purpose of your press kit is to help people get engaged with your game at EVERY point in the process. Even the very beginning. Once you start pitching your game to the press, this will be your main piece of marketing that every influencer will want to see. I'll tell you exactly how to approach influencers with your game in this article.