Asking for Reviews

Congratulations on publishing your new gaming product! Your next challenge is to find someone who cares enough to share their opinion about it.

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Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Does Anyone Care?​

When I run my brand training workshops I'm fond of pointing out that the biggest challenge on social media isn't saying the wrong thing, it's that nobody cares. When you decide to engage with the social media community, they don't know who you are, so you have to work hard to make your voice heard. Or to put it another way, the most deadly threat to a product is that nobody cares enough to even comment on it.

Tabletop gaming products are no different. So how do you convince people to do it?

Friends and Family​

This one's easy enough: ask friends and family to review your product. As we've mentioned previously, it's important for that person to disclose their affiliation with you for many good reasons, but it's still better than having a product with no reviews whatsoever. With rating systems that don't always show text reviews, the score you get might be all that most potential customers see.

You'd be surprised how hard it can be to get family or friends to do this. Not everyone is a writer, or is on the platform where you published your game, or has the time and energy to write a review. In my forty years of gaming, only one player (a friend of my brother's) from my original D&D group ever wrote a review of any of my books. Some never even read them.

Fans​

There's a good reason friends and family may not review your game, although it's hard to hear: they're just not a fan. This isn't to say they don't have other attachments to you (at least, I hope they do!), but it's not in the same way as a fan of your work. Fan-engagement matters tremendously in motivating someone to write a review. If you have a Patreon, Discord, or some other list of fans following you, asking them to write a review is a great way to encourage them to show their love of your work.

Fans come and go of course, but reviews last. Convincing a fan who may only support your Patreon for a few months but is willing to write a review that will last for years can actually be more valuable. Fans can also be your harshest critics though, so be ready for whatever review you get.

Professional Reviewers​

Different platforms have different review incentive programs, usually a free product in exchange for a review. These reviewers are in high demand and they have significant constraints on their time, so how you ask for a review matters.

Do your research beforehand. To start, spell their name right and address them using the appropriate pronouns. I'm astonished by the number of folks who took time to contact me on LinkedIn but spell my name wrong ("Micheal"). Additionally, I'm sometimes solicited for reviews for products I have no interest in. It's important to know the difference between a role-playing game reviewer of video games and a role-playing game reviewer of tabletop games. And finally, be very clear about what you're asking: the title of the game, a short description, a link with further details, and a means of contacting you if interested. I get several vague "let's work together" emails or "hi" chats that require more work on my part to figure out what the publisher wants. These often are ignored in favor of succinct requests that explain who they are and what they're asking.

Open Calls​

There are press and reviewer lists out there which companies purchase access to. As a reviewer, you might be on one. All the advice above applies with one caveat: since you are essentially engaging an audience blindly, you have to follow through on your commitment to deliver the product for review. Or to put it another way, sending a mass email to a community of reviewers means you give up your right to decide if the reviewer isn't a good fit for your product when they volunteer to review it.

On more than one occasion, I've been contacted by companies blindly and when I responded, they ghosted me because I didn't have a large enough social media following. Want to turn an indifferent reviewer into someone who will never bolster your product ever again? This is the way to do it (I still remember every company who has done this to me).

Creating a game isn't easy and getting it reviewed isn't either, but the payoff can be considerable. But there's an art to asking for a review without being overbearing or worse, turning the reviewer off from your product entirely.

Your Turn: How do you convince reviewers to review your game?
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
I originally wrote the dndcombat.com simulator to learn 5e, then it morphed into a personal challenge to implement all of the 5e rules, then it became what it is, pretty big. At some point, maybe 9-12 months ago, I figured I would promote it with dnd youtubers.

What floored me, as a professional in business who replies to every email, that literally half the youtubers I contact didn't even bother to return my email when I asked them how much $$$ would it be for them to advertise. Well the other half did ads and so I promoted their channels in return.

Shout out to the nicest youtuber, who restored my faith in humanity, Colby of D&D Deep Dive. https://www.youtube.com/c/DDDeepDive
I added a feature to the d&d simulator where you can pick his channels "highly optimized" characters to do the fights.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The struggle is real. No matter how good your product is, it's super hard to get the attention of reviewers unless that product is already a hit. We got lucky, and our Zakhara campaign guide unexpectedly took off like a rocket, at which point we had lots of reviews and attention. And I sure can't complain about that!

But we have other books, some of which I think are better or more fun, or which just mean more to me personally, that just flop around in the shadows. I honestly don't even reach out to reviewers anymore, after being almost completely ignored the first couple of times I tried.

If there's a moral to the story, I don't know what it is.
 
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dragoner

solisrpg.com
I've done various stuff, though most of the reviews have come from friends/players. I got a good review off reddit after giving away some community copies through itch. However, being engaged with the community is most important.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I originally wrote the dndcombat.com simulator to learn 5e, then it morphed into a personal challenge to implement all of the 5e rules, then it became what it is, pretty big. At some point, maybe 9-12 months ago, I figured I would promote it with dnd youtubers.

What floored me, as a professional in business who replies to every email, that literally half the youtubers I contact didn't even bother to return my email when I asked them how much $$$ would it be for them to advertise. Well the other half did ads and so I promoted their channels in return.

Shout out to the nicest youtuber, who restored my faith in humanity, Colby of D&D Deep Dive. https://www.youtube.com/c/DDDeepDive
I added a feature to the d&d simulator where you can pick his channels "highly optimized" characters to do the fights.
That's not dissimilar to the stony silence we as a small publisher are usually met with when we contact outlets (big and small). It's hard getting word out.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
reddit seems to be hit or miss tbh. Most things to get downvoted, unless it is a funny meme, great art, or unique story.
Mostly it is about being engaged with the community, r/rpg is fickle for promotions if one is not there just for that, if you are posting, giving awards, etc.; then it is ok. Still it is a tough audience, you are right.
 

Friends and Family​

This one's easy enough: ask friends and family to review your product. As we've mentioned previously, it's important for that person to disclose their affiliation with you for many good reasons, but it's still better than having a product with no reviews whatsoever. With rating systems that don't always show text reviews, the score you get might be all that most potential customers see.

You'd be surprised how hard it can be to get family or friends to do this. Not everyone is a writer, or is on the platform where you published your game, or has the time and energy to write a review. In my forty years of gaming, only one player (a friend of my brother's) from my original D&D group ever wrote a review of any of my books. Some never even read them.


Things may have changed but when I was self-publishing fiction several years ago, Amazon kyboshed reviews from my friends and family. For family, Amazon said it was because their mailing addresses were in my account.

So I'd say if you want family to review your products on Amazon, don't ever mail them holiday or birthday gifts.

How they blocked my friends, I have no idea.
 

Endroren

Adventurer
Publisher
That's not dissimilar to the stony silence we as a small publisher are usually met with when we contact outlets (big and small). It's hard getting word out.
I'm sorry to hear that and I'm happy to hear you say it, because sometimes you start to think "Is it just me?" In the end people who SEE our stuff like it - we just struggle to get them to see it!
 

Have you seen the number of new settings crowdfunded in Kickstarter? Someones are really good ideas, but after the the crowdfunding they fall in the oblivion, and you have no news about that. Not even they can be found in DMGuild, or if they appear in Open Gaming Store aren't too easy to be found.

And do you know what is funny? If someones of those new IPs created by 3PPs were acquired by some Hollywood producer or videogame studio, they could become cash-cows as multimedia franchises. For example Disney or Warner could buy some IPs. For example "the battled of the bards" becoming a musical movie by Disney, or Warner buying IPs of gothic horror to produce action-live movies.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm pretty bad about going out of my way to give reviews. I am much more likely to give reviews on Amazon, because it is so easy. I've given a number of reviews on DTRPG. I rarely give or read reviews on publisher websites. I am the worst with podcasts. If I have to go to another site or app, I never bother. I'm more likely to back a Patreon than go out of my way to write a review. I'm guessing a lot of people are this way which is why the Apple App store and Amazon are borderline aggressive about prompting for reviews. As I was typing this I had to google how to rate a podcast using Apple podcast app, because I don't ever remember seeing a way to do that. The feature is there, but easy to overlook. Now that I use Pocket Cast, and don't even have the Apple podcast app installed, I just never review podcasts.

The ability to get reviews, I assume, is heavily dependent on the platform you use to sell/distribute the product.
 

II ARROWS

Explorer
I was interested in the article "Asking for reviews" but it looks like the answer is not in it.
In fact it explicitly asks the reader to answer the question by its own.
It's more "Not asking for reviews".
 

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