As we (Flowerpot Games) gets closer to the release of “Pancakes!!!”, we find ourselves more and more involved in Marketing. The problem, as always, is getting the word out. You can send emails to every game review and blogging site on the web but unless you provide a Media Kit you stand little chance of getting attention, especially if you are an unknown indie peddling unproven titles.
What is a Media Kit?
A generalized Media Kit contains all the things a media organization needs to quickly see who, what, when, where, and why. It also provides artwork that the media can use for their website and print publications. A Media Kit will typically contain the following items:
- Company Bio
- Press Release
- Banner Art
Let’s look at each of those items in turn.
Your company bio should have a short company intro and clearly show who are the principals of the company with an introductory paragraph for each. Make it easy and fun to read. Most journalists are exceptionally fast readers but you can make it easy to skim by using bold font to highlight keywords. Also, make your bio personal, a writer can use that information to write a more compelling story.
The bio should show a list of the games your company has made. If this is your first game, then state that, don’t try to hide it, keep it real. Journalists are exceptionally smart people, and if they detect deception you can kiss your review or blog write-up good bye (and they have very good and very long memories).
Your contact information (Email, street address, and phone number) needs to be conspicuously placed in your company bio, at the top and the bottom. Don’t make the journalist dig around to find your contact information, make it easy for them to contact you in case they have questions or need more information.
Pro Tip: If you are contacted, respond at the speed of light. Make yourself easily available.
There are numerous sources on the web that will help you write a compelling press release. Some links are provided below. Read them carefully, this is not something you want to skim because if you get it wrong your press release will be ignored. Andrew Huff, Founder and Chief editor at DroidGamers recommends adding “some humor or fun to the press release. It gives off the feeling that you are excited about your release, that the people developing the release are human and it just makes it more enjoyable for the person you’re sending your media kit to. [DroidGamers gets] a ton of media kits/press releases and half of them are dry reading at best.”
Company and game logos come in different sizes, shapes, and colors so there really is no standard. But you need to be certain that your logo works on both a black and white background. This may mean that you need two versions of the logo. Make them available in both 72dpi (for computer screen) and 300dpi (for print) resolutions.
IAB media standards. Don’t expect a journalist to open Photoshop and construct banners from your art, because it won’t happen.
Your Media Kit should provide the journalist a wide variety of banners. At a minimum you need to provide the following sizes:
- 300 X 250 pixel – Medium Rectangle
- 180 X 150 pixel – Rectangle
- 728 X 90 – Leaderboard
- 160 X 600 – Wide Skyscraper
To play it safe, you should provide banners in all the standard sizes. Wikipedia has a comprehensive listing of Standard Banner Sizes.
Pro Tip: Authoring packages like Word Press allow a journalist much freedom to scale your art. But beware, scaling can turn an awesome banner into a fuzzy or pixelated blob. Don’t chance it, stick to the standards.
Screen shots have the power to generate interest in your indie game. Make your screen shots compelling, fun, and interesting to look at. Action games should show action. Casual games should show fun. Puzzle games should show puzzles. You get the idea.
Since all games are rendered at different resolutions there really are no standard sizes for screen shots. Provide individual screens at full size and half size. Be creative and construct 4-up and 4 X 1 panels that fit a space of 1280 pixels wide and additionally at 720 pixels wide.
“Don’t make your screenshots massive.” Mr. Huff points out. “While having nice hi-res screenshots is always nice, they end up getting resized anyways to fit the site. Of course they can be enlarged but you also have to take into account mobile technology and having a screenshot that is 2000×1500 isn’t going to be enjoyable for the readers on a PC let alone a mobile device.”
Pro Tip: Nobody cares about screen shots of your Main Menu and your Options Menu.
Pro Tip: Keep it real. Provide *real* screen shots, not Maya renderings.
Videos are your chance to show off gameplay to the media. Don’t assume a journalist will take the time to download your executable package, install the game and play it. It’s much simpler and much faster for a journalist to click a link that goes straight to a YouTube video. Keep it short, no longer than 5 minutes. Set a target for 2-4 minutes. Make sure that music and sound effects can be clearly heard in the video. Make sure the volume is adequate but not so loud that a viewer will be clamoring for the volume controls. Be sure that your video is clean, clear and viewable, not blurry or fraught with glare and encoding artifacts. You spent months putting the polish on your game, take an extra few hours to polish your video.
Also provide a link to the raw video file. Mr. Huff says that, “a lot of us don’t mind embedding YouTube but we often prefer to upload the video to our servers and YouTube channel as well.” A problem with embedding, of course, is if you innocently remove your video from YouTube to replace it with a shiny new video then the links from the journalists website will be broken. Broken links look bad for both you and the journalist.
Pro Tip: Nobody cares about video of your Menu Screens! Go ahead and show them, but focus on gameplay, show the exciting stuff.