I’m Contributing Editor to Tap! magazine, Future Publishing’s spiffy and chunky iOS magazine. I look after the games section, and I therefore get quite regular emails from developers and PRs, asking how they can get games reviewed in the mag.
Ultimately, there’s no way to guarantee a slot in Tap!, bar releasing a totally amazing game (i.e. along similar quality lines as World of Goo HD and Strategery), but there are a number of ways you can at least boost your chances. None of these things are rocket surgery, but it’s amazing how many devs utterly ignore them.
- Let me know about your game. Email me or get in touch on Twitter. If I know about your game, there’s obviously more chance of it getting coverage.
- Send me a promo code. Bizarrely, this surprises many devs, but, yes, send me a promo code and your game is more likely to make the cut, simply because something that’s good and had a quick test beats something that might be good but that I’ve not tried.
- Be responsive. If I email you and ask something, get back to me in good time. I’m not suggesting you need to be at my beck and call, but when I’ve a question about some stupid bug or issue, it’s in your interest to say “actually, we’re releasing an update tomorrow that fixes things” (whereupon I’ll rereview the product) than nothing.
Devs also do themselves a massive disservice in general regarding their App Store pages, wrecking discoverability. I have an RSS feed that pipes in every new iOS game release and I check every entry, to make a shortlist for Tap! Some games are overlooked or discarded because they don’t immediately make it clear what the game’s about. So, some handy tips:
- Your first App Store grab should show gameplay. It should be an in-game shot that shows your game at its best. If you’re showing a title screen, or, God forbid, some kind of options screen or social-networking bollocks, you just scuppered your chances of coverage by at least 50 per cent. (And if you’re dumb enough to not include any gameplay shots at all, I don’t even want to look at you.)
- Your description should start off with an extremely succinct overview of what your game’s about. Don’t get clever and don’t start by boasting how Game Blog No-one’s Ever Heard Of (dot com) gave you 4/5 and thought your game was “the dog’s doo-dahs”. Practically every game gets a good review from somewhere, but I don’t care about that—I want to know what your game’s about. (By all means include snippets of reviews, by the way—just don’t lead with them.) Note that this and the previous tip will also benefit you regarding snaring customers—make them excited right away, and don’t make them scroll.
- You should make it amazingly obvious how to get in touch. You have company and support links on your App Store page, so bloody well use them. And don’t link them to nothing. If I’m reviewing 30 games for a single issue of Tap!, I’m not going to waste an hour tracking down each developer. Link to your Twitter or an email address, or if you link to your website, make damn sure there’s a very obvious means of getting in touch with you. Also, ensure you check your incoming pr@ (or whatever) address more than once in a blue moon.
All these tips may seem obvious, but when I constantly hear how developers are pissed off at a lack of mainstream coverage of their games (or how unfair the App Store is, because big companies get more coverage), it’s amazing how many make almost no effort to fix things in their favour. The second set of above tips would maybe take you a half-hour to implement, but they could be the difference between your game being ignored entirely and it getting a two-page spread in a magazine.