Press key request websites give content creators the opportunity to preview, review, and show off games from many different developers/publishers. Since many of us create content online as a hobby, we may not always have the money to purchase every new game that comes out. The two websites I am about to share with you may help you get access to some games to record, stream, and write about.
Today we will be looking at Keymailer (Beta) and Terminals by Evolve. There are more out there but these are the two I personally have used over time and have experience with. Let me know in the comments below if you know of any more press key request websites!
I will be discussing them in three different areas:
Design/Layout – How well the website is designed which is important when navigating a new website. Messy layouts or information can lead to not getting the most out of things.
Game/Product Variety – The amount/variety of game choice someone can expect when looking to request keys.
Success Rate – How often I received the keys I requested. As a test, I chose 5 games that could be found on both websites and requested keys from them. There was a variety from indie games to AAA titles and also a middle ground. The games were Space Hulk: Deathwing, Maize, The Dwarves, Book of Demons, and Darksiders: Warmastered Edition. Again, I am a small time streamer (~1200 followers on Twitch and ~850 subs on YouTube) so your mileage may vary from mine depending on the size of your channel.
Evolve is a PR agency dedicated to bringing influencers, developers/publishers, and communities together. Terminals is their product and it is being developed to help content creators build meaningful relationships with developers and publishers by giving access to their games. You can create an account through your Twitter or stand alone and does not cost anything to sign up.
The home page of Terminals will greet you with a large banner that flips between newer games they are currently advertising. Scrolling down you will see News posts about their most recent additions and other game related news. You can also switch the news section to list their different products in list or grid form with filters such as games currently taking code requests, upcoming releases, new releases, as well as platform and genre.
At the top you can head to the different areas of the website:
The profile page will let you connect all your social media accounts as well as your YouTube or Twitch channel. Terminals currently supports Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as their social media outlets. You can further customize by selecting what platforms you play on, your audience (region), and interests (ie. shooters, 2D games, strategy, etc.). This is important as publishers/developers will want to know how well you fit with their product. There is also a section to place your contact info. They mention opportunities may pop up which will require them to physically mail you products or merchandise.
The game pages or “Terminals” are well designed with all the information you need right at the top. You can find things such as the release date, whether or not codes are available, or the contact info for the proper PR representative. Upon requesting keys you’ll be presented with helpful information such as specific region requests and also any embargo’s that may be present. You will also be able to see your approved keys with more helpful information on using the key properly.
With the filters available, you can get specific in the types of games you are looking to cover. That being said from a general perspective there are not a large number of games to choose from. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as Evolve seems to do well using a quality over quantity approach. The upcoming games they cover with news and the games available to request keys tend to be all well known titles. This doesn’t mean all the titles are AAA budget but rather all the titles have good potential for viewership. The titles available tend to lean more on the indie side but they are usually ones that are fairly hyped.
Keys are limited in most cases but Evolve does a good job in keeping their users up to date. The game page will let you know whether or not there are keys available. This can also limit your game choice but it gives a good indicator of the people using Terminals.
All five titles I requested keys for I received. Some of them I got quite soon after I requested them (2-3 days) and others I got later (2-3 weeks). Maize for example I requested a key for but did not get it till after the release date (after I already purchased the game due to wanting to stream it on release). I am unsure whether or not requesting keys earlier improves the time that you receive them but considering the PR reps have to approve your request, I’d imagine the earlier you get your request in the faster you’ll receive it. Even as a small streamer, I received keys for “larger” games like Space Hulk: Deathwing and Darksiders: Warmastered Edition.
Keymailer is currently in beta and is developed by an independent digital group to provide influencers a way to request keys from developers/publishers. You create a stand alone account and it does not cost anything to sign up.
The home page of Keymailer is nice and neat. While it does contain quite a bit of things to click on, there is not much trouble in figuring out where to go. You’ll be presented with filters, a small news feed, popular games, and an upcoming/new releases list to start browsing from.
At the top of the page you’ll find the different areas of the website:
Searching for games is easy with many ways to filter out games. Each game page will present you with pictures and descriptions of the game as well as any important info regarding your content. This means things like proper tags to use so you can get proper accreditation as well as any embargo dates. Requesting keys is as easy as clicking the “Request Key” button and you’re good to go.
The Profile page is very organized and lists all the numbers of your social media and content creation outlets. Just like Terminals, it will show what content you have submitted. While you can submit coverage manually, Keymailer does things in a more automated way. It utilizes YouTube tags, Twitter Hashtags, and Twitch game category titles to make sure you’ve been creating content. Your Profile page will show this as a “Content Stream”, listing off all your appropriately tagged content. What is interesting about Keymailer is you are actually assigned a rank which is nice in encouraging you to create proper content. Your Influence Rank is not solely based off your numbers. It’s based off how much influence you have in a certain area. For example, Flight Simulators may not get lots of viewership in general but someone who mainly does content in that area might have a high Influence Rank. This helps developers/publishers know if you’re a proper fit for their product depending your content.
There is definitely a higher regard for quantity over quality with the amount of games available. It looks similar to the Steam store page when browsing new releases. Even the images used when browsing are the ones used in the Steam client. Not only are there games you can also request keys for DLC for games; just like purchasing DLC from Steam.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, you may have to do a bit more searching before you find those diamonds in the rough but it also means you have more choice. There are many indie games that become unexpected hits and being able to start create content sooner than others can be very important in exposure. This is also good for content creators with a more indie focus. The majority of the games on Keymailer are from small developers. This presents some good opportunities to build relationships with those small teams/developers as they might value you more than a larger company.
If you are looking at creating content about “larger” games don’t worry. Keymailer still provides opportunities to request keys for those big AAA titles. You just might have to keep a closer eye out for them.
Out of the five games I request, I only received keys for one of them. It seems to be much tougher to get keys using Keymailer but again, that just might be due to my channel size and Influence Rank. This should not dissuade you from using Keymailer as it is one of those things where everyone’s experience will be different.
That being said, unlike Terminals, Keymailer had opportunities actively presented to me. While I did not request them, there have been multiple keys offered to me by developers/publishers through Keymailer. Some of them I enjoyed quite a bit and plan to create content for them in the future. The option is presented for you to reject offers as well. This is important to do so keys can be put back into the circuit for others to use.
Both Keymailer and Terminals offer great things. While they attempt to do something similar, my experience with them was differed. Terminals has a high success rate and while the overall game choice was limited, Evolve only adds certain games to their website. Not everything is let through the gate. On the other side, Keymailer has publishers/developers sending me keys instead of just requesting them and also offers more games to choose from. While it may take more work to find, Keymailer does have some hidden gems.
From a design perspective, I prefer Keymailer over Terminals. Terminals is very visual with lots of large pictures but when I first used the website I found the home page to be a bit cluttered for my taste. The large pictures combined with many different coloured banners is a lot to take in. There is also some irrelevancy with the Browse section being there since it is just an exact copy of the Home page minus the big banner and the News section. I also like how Keymailer does most of the accreditation for you and game-ifies things a bit by giving you an Influence Rank.
In the end, I think content creators will find success in both. Key request websites are a great way for Influencers to gain more viewership and start building proper relationships with people in the game industry.
I should stress that these are tools and should be used in a professional matter. These are not “give me free games to play just because” type of websites. Please only use them if you are willing to create content about the games. You do need to be approved for keys and if a PR representative notices on your profile you take keys but don’t make any content for them, that will hurt your chances in the future. This also doesn’t put you in a good light for future publishers to see. Also never give away keys unless you have been explicitly allowed to do so and always pay attention to any embargo/NDA rules.