Game Journalism Business Basics

How to Get Free Game Keys and Review Copies as a Game Journalist

As a game journalist, content creator, or influencer, acquiring free game keys and review copies is an essential part of the job. But with so many platforms and methods available, it can be challenging to know where to start. This guide will help you navigate the process and provide you with the necessary information to request free game keys and review copies.

1. Understanding the Benefits of Free Game Keys

Saving Money

One of the most significant advantages of obtaining free game keys is the financial savings. As a game journalist, you're likely to cover multiple games per month, and purchasing them all can quickly become expensive. Acquiring review copies allows you to save money and allocate your budget to other essential resources.

Early Access

Another benefit of receiving free game keys is the potential for early access to upcoming releases. Developers and publishers often provide review copies ahead of the official release date, allowing journalists to prepare their content in advance. This can be especially beneficial for content creators looking to capitalize on the initial hype surrounding a new game.

Building Relationships

Requesting free game keys and review copies also helps you establish relationships with game developers, publishers, and PR agencies. By consistently producing high-quality content and providing valuable coverage, you can become a trusted source for game reviews and news, leading to more opportunities within the gaming industry.

2. Identifying Your Target Audience

Knowing Your Niche

Before requesting free game keys, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your target audience and niche. This will help you identify which games are most likely to resonate with your readers or viewers, ensuring that your content is relevant and engaging.

Demonstrating Your Expertise

Developers and publishers are more likely to provide free game keys to journalists who can demonstrate their expertise in a particular genre or platform. By showcasing your knowledge and passion for specific types of games, you'll increase your chances of receiving review copies and ultimately bolster your reputation within the industry.

3. Building Your Online Presence

Creating a Professional Website

Having a professional website is essential for any game journalist seeking free game keys. Your website should include a portfolio of your work, details about your audience demographics, and contact information, making it easy for developers and publishers to assess your suitability for review copies.

Growing Your Social Media Following

A strong social media presence can significantly improve your chances of obtaining free game keys. By actively engaging with your audience and sharing your content on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you'll demonstrate your influence within the gaming community and increase your appeal to developers and publishers.

4. Contacting Developers, Publishers, and PR Agencies

Crafting a Professional Email

When requesting free game keys, it's essential to craft a professional and persuasive email. Be sure to introduce yourself, provide information about your platform, and explain your intentions for covering the game. Additionally, include relevant statistics about your audience, such as subscriber counts or average views, to demonstrate your potential impact on a game's visibility and sales.

Networking at Events

Attending gaming industry events, such as conferences, expos, and conventions, can be an excellent opportunity to network with developers, publishers, and PR representatives. By establishing personal connections, you'll increase your chances of receiving free game keys and review copies in the future.

5. Utilizing Code Distribution Services


Woovit is a code distribution service aimed primarily at YouTube and Twitch content creators. Users must meet specific criteria, such as follower counts and content history, to qualify for instant access to game keys. Woovit also allows users to apply for game keys that may be granted at the discretion of publishers and developers.


Keymailer is another popular platform that allows content creators to request free game keys from a wide range of developers and publishers. While the service is primarily geared toward YouTube and Twitch creators, it also supports websites and blogs, making it a versatile option for game journalists.


PressEngine is a newer service designed for both press and content creators. The platform offers a simple sign-up process and a user-friendly interface, making it an attractive option for game journalists seeking free game keys.

6. Joining Steam Curator Program

Creating a Steam Curator Page

Establishing a Steam Curator page can be an effective way to receive unsolicited game keys from developers and publishers. By consistently posting mini-reviews and engaging with your followers, you'll demonstrate your value to potential partners and increase your chances of receiving free game keys.

Building Your Steam Curator Following

Growing your Steam Curator following can be challenging, so it's essential to promote your page across your various online platforms. By encouraging your readers or viewers to follow your curator page, you'll expand your reach within the Steam community and attract more opportunities for free game keys.

7. Participating in Game Giveaways

Following Developers and Publishers on Social Media

Many developers and publishers host game key giveaways on their social media accounts. By following these accounts and participating in their giveaways, you'll increase your chances of obtaining free game keys for your content.

Joining Gaming Communities and Forums

Participating in gaming communities and forums can also lead to game key giveaways. By engaging with fellow gamers and sharing your expertise, you'll establish yourself as a valuable member of the community and potentially gain access to free game keys.

8. Reviewing Indie Games

Focusing on Smaller Developers

Focusing on indie games can be a fantastic way to acquire free game keys and build your reputation within the gaming industry. Smaller developers are often more willing to provide review copies to journalists and content creators, as they rely heavily on grassroots marketing to generate buzz for their games.

Establishing Relationships with Indie Developers

Building relationships with indie developers can lead to exclusive opportunities for early access and free game keys. By providing thoughtful feedback and promoting their games, you'll become a trusted partner and be more likely to receive review copies in the future.

9. Maintaining Ethical Standards

Avoiding Bias and Conflicts of Interest

As a game journalist, it's essential to maintain ethical standards when obtaining and reviewing free game keys. Always disclose any potential conflicts of interest and strive to provide unbiased, objective coverage of the games you review.

Respecting Embargoes and NDAs

When receiving free game keys, you may be subject to embargoes or non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Be sure to respect these restrictions and uphold your professional integrity by adhering to the terms outlined by developers and publishers.

10. Tracking Your Success and Adjusting Your Strategy

Monitoring Your Coverage and Impact

To maximize your success in obtaining free game keys, regularly monitor your coverage and its impact on your audience. Analyze your most successful content and adjust your strategy accordingly to increase your chances of receiving review copies in the future.

Learning from Rejections

It's essential to learn from any rejections you receive when requesting free game keys. Use these experiences to improve your approach and better tailor your requests to the specific needs and preferences of developers and publishers.

By following these tips and strategies, you'll be well on your way to obtaining free game keys and review copies as a game journalist. Remember to remain persistent, professional, and ethical in your endeavors, and you'll be sure to succeed in the competitive world of gaming journalism.