It's great and all getting the games media to pay attention to your indie title, enough so they'll dedicate a couple of kilobytes of database data to pass the news to their readers, but I feel that's only part of the journey. Someone's writing about your game, that's awesome, but what if the readers don't engage with that news? Is it the writer's fault? Is there something the developer could have done better to improve their chances with the outlets they've targeted?
Update: I've changed the title of this article to better reflect its content — I ended up making a different (but better) point by the time I'd finished writing it.
"Hell, yes!" is the answer to that question and I could actually write quite a bit on targeting media for indie developers, but that's not what interests me at the moment. I want to know what makes you excited about an unreleased game after reading an article or watching a video about it.
There I go, making assumptions. You might find out about a game in a different way altogether. Take the Day Z mod that's doing the rounds and has seen a noticeable spike in sales for Bohemia's ArmA 2, a game that came out three years ago. You may never have heard of ArmA, then you see this mod and bang! A new customer for Bohemia.
That's what I call a long tail.
We have favoured genres we check up on and developers who we watch with keen eyes, sure. The triple-A releases always go out with a teaser trailer or screenshots posed and Photoshopped up the wazoo. I get the function of these tried-and-true marketing methods, but for me, I get really excited when I read a story where the writer has become so engaged with the game, it fundamentally changes the way they write about that game. It busts the usual clichés all news writers rely on and inspires them to quaff scrumptious word juice from their dusty mind-canteens.
Take example one: A dispassionate preview from a barely-interested journo who's been lead by the hand by a producer / PR person thought a specially-crafted build, usually at the publisher's base of operations (this happens a lot).
Or... an engaging, bubbly yet objective chunk of prose clearly written by someone who can barely contain themselves. And I'm not talking the perfunctory platitudes of every game preview ever written — the person is obviously truly excited about what they've experienced. An enlightening play-through or a meaty interview with a designer has opened their eyes and the words you read have an honesty about them.
I've always been of the mind that if a game is even mildly interesting, the specialist press is going to write about it. The quality of what they write is the defining factor. Take Rock, Paper, Shotgun's "Surviving in Day Z" series. How can you not be interesting in checking the mod out?
If they're taking the time to chronicle their experiences completely independent of a publisher's coercion, then it's probably worth your time too.
Because so much gaming news is written on auto-pilot these days, this quality of writing stands up above the rest. It makes me take notice and I'd like to know if it's the same for you. If not, what gets you excited about a game, beyond the typical press releases and videos manufactured by publisher departments dedicated to transmuting the unexciting into something mildly eyebrow-raising?