How to get review copies of games and become a reviewer

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It’s amazing how may people ask the simple question: “how do I get review copies of games?”

Well as you may have guessed from the name-sake, you need to be a reviewer to get these fabled games.

“Ok, so how do I become a reviewer?”

Yeesh, nothing but questions.
Well as you may have guessed you need to get reviewing! Of course you can call yourself a reviewer after just one review if it makes you feel good.
So, you need to find a game. Any old game will do, whether it’s old or new and get writing about it.
I’m not going to give you writing tips here, I’ll write a seperate article about that. This is just about getting started and getting those games.

So, somewhere like WordPress.com – Which I use myself – is a free to use Blog system that lets you get writing with zero hassle and effort.
For starting out this is the best option, you don’t have to worry about hosting, security or anything else.
With a little bit of tweaking you can also give your blog a more normal site look as well.
Many people go straight out and build a website with Forums etc and don’t consider that they don’t really need that at such an early stage.

Ok, so you’ve got yourself writing. The important this is: patience.
Don’t expect large amounts of hits to your blog for at least a year and the same applies to the free games. Don’t expect much for a while.
Too many people go into it thinking they’ll be competing with IGN within the year and be showered in free games. Well, you won’t be.
It’s the harsh truth. Patience is your best friend as it can take a long time to get the games. Even longer to build your name and be able to apply to a large site and start earning money.

Ok, so now you’ve been writing for a while and should have a decent amount of reviews behind your name.
It’s time to contact publishers and see if you can get a game to review.
Signing up for a site like Gamespress.com is your first step, this site gathers together all the Press Releases from games companies into one place for you to read and also provide the contact details for the PR reps.
The important thing to remember is that you’re contacting the games publisher, not the Developers.
The Devs just make the game, it’s the Publishers that actually distribute the game and it’s their PR reps that you need to contact.

Now you need to write a very nice Email politely asking for your free game. Remember to include your website link, country and the platform that you want the game on.
Don’t be surprised if you recieve a no, or even no reply at all and it can often take up to a week to get a reply.

The publishers need to focus on the big names like IGN and Gamespot first.
You may be thinking “well surely they can spare a copy. They must have loads!”
Well that’s not true, they only get a finite amount of promotional copies to give out and the must prioritise the larger sites first as they’re there to sell games and a bigge site can reach more people.

This also brings us to the biggest point:
Relationships with Publishers.

This is the single most important thing. keeping a good relationship with them increases your chance of free games and getting requests granted.
First, if they turn down your request for a game, send back an Email thanking them for their time and point out that you will buy a retail copy of the game upon release and review it.
This shows them that your dedicated to your reviewing job and builds confidence in the publishers about you.

Once you’ve reviewed the game, whether retail or review copy, send them the link to the review.
Once again this helps keep them happy, even if they never read the review they still like to have the link.

Also ask to be put on their mailing list to recieve press releases. This lets you get the latest new sent straight to your inbox. This is mostly if you write news as well but it will also let you know about new games etc

Setting up a good relationship paves the way for future games and competitions etc.

Hopefully this lets you understand how to get review copies of games and become a reviewer.
The real deal isn’t this simple, it never is. But this is the general outline of what will happen.
If you really want to do it, just keep writing and asking those publishers for the games. After all the worst they can say is no.
or bugger off you evil little midget. But I’m sure they wouldn’t say that. Um. Maybe.

If you have any questions feel free to use the contact tab and ask away.
And don’t forget to use the Tweet button below!

24 replies »

  1. Useful article, thanks for the heads up. I have some contacts in the games PR circles and I generally end up getting the offer of Wii games to review by smaller publishers.

    It’s the big shots I want to work with, but then, don’t we all?

  2. Great article sir.

    I followed it less than 2 weeks ago and now i/my site is on Square Enix’s press lists, same for Bethesda and review lists for Skyrim, MW3 and NFS: The Run with full access to Bethsda’s press vaults to boot.

    I’ve been in touch with a few companies and all bar one have answered me quickly and in a far more encouraging manner than i expected.

    Thank You for the excellent advice.

  3. This is a great article! I’ve just started my own gaming blog and can’t wait to get a little bigger, but first things first, I’m still fuddling around with the design and first posts.

  4. I was thinking as well as doing a written review I could do a video review as well then show off my Youtube channel as well. I need to buy equipment to record footage first. Is this a good idea to start with?

  5. I wanted to let you know that this blog helped me get more advanced in my video games coverage. These were great tips to get, because while I’ve yet to get a game to review, I’ve made great connections with companies especially EA and Ubisoft, so thanks again for the information, it proved to be a great resource.

  6. patient is def no joke i had been on maybe list for 2 years with 2kgames i finally got into pr execs main list for wwe 15 and nba. best thing i can say is try smaller companys first then expand

  7. Thanks for this info, it was exactly what I was looking for, having started an entertainment site > enterdig.com with my partner. Although we only have 1 pure game review so far, the plan is to build on this immensely and as you said it’s probably good to start building relationships and networking now.

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