Let’s be honest here for a second when you started your YouTube or Twitch channel you thought that free games and Steam keys will fly directly into your email box. Developers will go out of their way to give you their games to try, review and play on video and stream. It turned out to be so much different. No one is writing to you, you still have to buy all the games you use for your content and, let’s face it, it’s not ideal.
Getting free games as a content creator is a bit tricky at first, but once you know the basics it’s a piece of cake. You just need to get your foot in the door. Let us help you with that super quick.
First of all, you need to make sure that your channel is attractive enough for the developers and marketing people to invest their time in. And yes, giving you game keys is, in fact, investing in you. It’s recognizing you as a content creator that is influential and that can help out with promotion and marketing.
You are ready to apply for free keys and games when your channel has at least 500 followers/subscribers. Normally, 1k or more followers would be what companies are really looking for, but some studios will be happy to work with smaller influencers as well. In addition to that, you will need to stream or post videos on a regular basis. Not many companies will want to support a ‘dead’ channel if there’s a lot of other active creators that they could focus on.
There are many ways to apply for and get your free game keys. Some of them are fairly straightforward. You just sign up for a website and developers send the games directly to influencers they like. You can also use a more direct approach and contact the devs yourself. The choice is yours.
Keymailer is one of the websites that allows you to connect your YouTube, Twitch or Mixer channel and apply for keys. When you first make an account, you will have to be verified. They check your numbers of followers/subscribers and approve your account manually — it usually takes 1 to 2 weeks. After your account is in the green, you can search for games that you’d like and request the keys. They go straight to your inbox right after they are granted. Talk about ease of use.
One problematic thing about Keymailer is that you don’t know which games are actively monitored for any incoming requests. You may be lucky and get all the games you wanted, or you may get nothing because no one checks the game account anymore. On the plus side, you can also get unsolicited game keys from companies that are giving out large amounts of them blind, to any active creator.
Woovit works in a very similar way to Keymailer. The main difference is, that after you connect your channel you can see clearly which games they have available at the moment. Some of them you can grab from the website straight away. They match your number of viewers and followers with the active offers they have and allow you to get the keys you’d like with a few clicks of a mouse. Other games you have to apply for and wait for the approval. The vast majority is self-serve though — you like it, you get it.
There’s a catch though, you can only get 3 keys at any given time. To get more you have to publish a video on YouTube or do a live stream of the game, which is fair enough considering you just got it for free. After you create a review, let’s play or a stream and it goes live your key slot will reset and you can do it all over again.
At the moment Woovit mostly deals in indie titles, but there are more and bigger companies using it. It is also updated with new games on a daily basis, so it’s worth checking out.
The next one on the list is Terminals.io. The idea here is very similar to the previous two-game key platforms but it also allows you to get news, marketing materials and similar content about new and upcoming games. You can get freebies and insider knowledge at the same time!
The registration and approval process is similar to Keymailer’s and it may take a few days. Also, with the game availability, it’s just like Woovit, you can clearly see which games take key requests at the moment. There’s a good mix of well-known companies and indie ones here, so you can try your luck with popular titles.
Become a Steam Curator
Steam isn’t exactly the most obvious go-to place when you think about free game keys, but if you are a curator with a decent following, some companies will make an effort to send their games to you. Because steam curator reviews are visible on the front page, it’s a great way to promote for them and a chance to get free titles for you.
You can read more about how to become a curator here. It’s very easy to set this up, but making it work requires time. You will have to rate games and write reviews on a regular basis, so only go for it if you know you have time and grit to see it through. This will also not bring any keys your way until you have a big following, but it’s something to think about.
Email developers directly
What is the easiest and fastest way to get free keys to the games that you love? Emailing the devs directly and requesting it yourself.
This may be a bit stressful at first, but don’t worry — it gets easier the more you do it. Just make sure to prepare a good email, paste the links to your channel, so they can have a look at it and be specific in what you’re requesting. If you can, try and find the name of the dev or a marketing person that works for the studio you’re emailing.
Just to help you out a bit, try this email template:
Hi <the name of the dev or marketer if you managed to find it>,
I’m <your name> from <channel name> and I have a <Twitch/YouTube/Mixer> gaming channel, that you can check out here: <link to your channel>. I <stream/ create game reviews/let’s play content> on a <weekly/bi-weekly/daily> basis for the last <how old is your channel>. My channel is actively growing and recently I’ve recently hit <number of followers/ subscribers>.
I noticed that you just released <name of the game> and I’d love to have a chance to <review/stream/make a video about it>. It would be great if I could request a review copy of it.
I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.
<your name/channel name>
<link you your channel>
There are a few things to remember if you are emailing the developers directly. You have to make sure that you read all the information that they send to you. Sometimes there are details in there that are not meant for the public and shouldn’t be discussed in your content. If there’s an embargo for the game — be 100% sure to respect that and double and triple check the date and time when the game can be streamed or featured in your videos. Also, don’t request more than 1 key at a time, unless you have a really good relationship with the studio.
Profile & business email
This is the last thing on the list, but it’s the easiest one for you to set up. Also, it’s arguably the most important thing you can do to get marketers and developers to contact you. Create a business email and put it in a visible place in your profile section. Easy as that.
One of the biggest challenges for marketers out there is finding contact details for content creators. People often forget that to get any offers, keys, and games you need to be easy to contact. Even if your channel is big, but you don’t have any obvious way to reach you, you won’t get any opportunities coming your way.
So get out there, create a brand new email for your channel (if you don’t have one already) and pop it in a visible place in your profile. Make it obvious and clickable if possible. The worst thing you can do is to have it as a part of an image, so whoever finds it can’t copy and paste it straight away and has to retype the whole thing. That’s how you get typos in your contact details, not free keys in your inbox.
Remember that the email address you put in your profile will visible to everyone, so make sure it looks professional and check if it matches your channel name/branding to avoid any confusion. Your community will be able to see the email as well, so expect fan mail from your viewers, unless you make it super clear that this is only for business purposes.
Now that you know where to look for free game copies & keys and how to contact developers get out there and give it a go. Maybe next time you will be playing something new you will be able to say that you got the game straight from the studio that made it. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say.
If you manage to get something great using our tips let us know in the comments! Fingers crossed, it will work like a charm for you.
This article was written for adshot, a platform where streamers and YouTubers with gaming channels can find exclusive sponsorships.