How to Ask For Press Keys

A new week is coming, but the floods of e-mail we get from people requesting free keys for Secrets of Grindea show no signs of stopping anytime soon! It's super flattering, really - lots of people wanting to play our game! A year ago I'd never believe something like this would happen :)

Of course, a lot of the mails we get are quite obviously from scammers pretending to have YT-channels they don't even link to, as well as those who claim to be famous streamers they quite clearly aren't... But there are also people who only come across of one of the two, as they simply forget to link to their channel, or didn't see the use of having their e-mail mentioned in their channel description.

So, in comes this post. I don't know if anyone that needs to read it actually will, but hey - here's to hoping.

Let me begin this post by answering an important question:

Why don't you just give keys to everyone asking?

In the perfect world, where food & shelter is free and you don't need money to survive, I'd love to give keys to everyone who asked. It would be a true joy to bring happiness to those who may not have enough money to spend $15 on a game! Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world, and we also need money to survive - otherwise we wouldn't be able to work on this game at all!

And so, we prefer to give keys to people who would like to do something with the game - maybe a let's play, or an article or preview... That sort of thing, that gives us a bit of coverage and them something to write/make videos about.

Nowadays we're actually quite wary even of those kinds of people, as we've been scammed a few times by YouTubers who ended up selling the keys we gave them. Honestly, if you see anyone doing this - please call them out on it! They're really making it harder for legit people asking for press copies by causing devs to become increasingly suspicious of accounts that look right.

So, who DO you give keys to?

Basically, we give keys to people who want to cover our game in some way and fulfill three criteria:

1) You have an active account (and you actually link it!)
Whether it's a YouTube account, Twitch account, newspage, whatever. If there has been no content posted in the recent month(s), or you don't provide us with a link at all, we tend to be skeptical of whether you'll actually cover the game, or if you're just fishing for free keys for you and your friends.

2) People actually view your stuff
Let's face it - anyone can create a blog or YouTube account and refresh their videos a few times until it looks like they have 10 hardcore viewers who follow anything they post. While we totally appreciate how hard it can be to start out and build an audience, if we were to provide free keys to everyone with a YouTube account, we'd have to give 'em to everyone on the internet.

3) We can verify who you are
Please, please, please write your mail out in the description of your YouTube channel (they even have that cool "for business inquiries - view e-mail address" button nowadays), under some 'about' tab on your blog/website, or wherever. Even better if you, in your e-mail, point us towards the place where we can verify that this address belongs to who you say you are (of course, this doesn't apply to sites who use the mail belonging to their own domain).

Honestly, this is the #1 reason why we sometimes don't send out keys - too many people pretend to be someone they aren't. You'd be surprised how many e-mails we get from people claiming to be someone, only for us to find out, 2 clicks later, that the owner of the linked account has a completely different mail. So I'm sure you can understand why we don't send out keys to those we can't 100% confirm are who they say they are - we really don't want to encourage people stealing others identities just to get free game keys..

Back in the days we'd spend a lot of time investigating these things, googling & messaging back and forth. However, this ended up taking way too much time for a small studio of 3 people. We'd really prefer to actually be working on the game, and to be honest, we're quite happy with the crowd we have already - at least until the game is closer to finished.

So basically, we're less likely to spend additional time investigating & sending keys to anyone who doesn't provide us with enough information on their own. Therefore, if you're looking for a press copy - make sure you've read the above before sending your mail. It'll save us both a lot of time and hassle. :)
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  1. I've never understood the idea behind giving out free keys to youtubers/twitch streamers who ask for them, since 99% of them don't treat it as a 'Review Copy' and more a 'Let's Play' copy. This isn't a SoG-centric thing, but across games in general.

    You want to do a Let's Play of a game, get followers and/or adviews off of it?

    $15 isn't a terrible investment for something you're clearly interested in and will benefit from, otherwise you wouldn't be typing up an email for a key to begin with.

    I reckon anyone who would actually write an email for a key would buy the game within a week of not getting a response, or being turned down. =P

    I can understand developers taking the initiative and seeking out big youtubers/twitch streamers to sweet talk into playing their game with free keys, but not them contacting developers and saying "Give me keys so I can LP your game."

    I doubly don't get the people who ask "Give me a key, and also could I get some to give away to my audience." They're getting it for free and also want to treat their fans at no expense? =/ Compare that to DarkShadowJ on Twitch who has bought the $5 hat for a ton of his viewers just to support the game and his fans.

    How many copies do you guys think you've given away to LPers/streamers, and how many for them to give away to their audiences? If that's not confidential, I mean. =P

    1. I have to admit that it does feel great when Let's Players etc find and buy the game themselves, meaning they thought it would be worth the $15 investment without sitting down to write us a mail first :)

      But a lot of people with smaller channels probably can't afford to buy every game they'd like to play, at least not until they get enough revenue (which is another reason why we sometimes actually are more wary of bigger YouTubers asking for keys - they've also been to ones to sell them, ironically - they should probably have enough money to buy it anyway). So yeah, we'd like to help out when we can :)

      In total we've probably sent out hundreds of keys, but that also includes those we contacted first (press etc, most of which never even got back to us - guess we suck at PR). I keep a document detailing which people have received keys after contacting us, but I don't have it available right now, so I'm afraid I can't give you the exact number - but if I were to guess, I'd say maybe we've given away 50-70 keys to people who contact us. Most get ignored or sent a standard "sorry we only give away keys under special circumstances" when they don't fulfill the above criteria or we're suspicious because of some other reason.

      As for giveaway keys (keys they can offer their audience), I believe we've sent out exactly 0. We simply tell people asking for them that we're not interested in doing giveaways before the game is done! As long as the game is in Early Access we highly prefer to only have fans play it, as they are more likely to know what they get into after (hopefully) reading the EA page and know it isn't done etc. (And yeah, there's something a bit off about getting cred for giving away keys, when they just got them from us. I mean, in that case we could simply do our own giveaways, right? :P)