You’re desperate to see your game in a Twitch stream, to watch it spread and be celebrated in all its greatness… But it isn’t happening.
“Play my game, damn you alllll”, you lament with a fist shaking at the skies. And low and behold, you hear that enchanting boop as an email notification sings to you from your phone – it’s a key request from an influencer!
But don’t lower that fist just yet. A huge chunk – 90% in fact (well, not in fact, I just completely made it up) – of key requests are from fraudsters. Lowly scammers trying to make a few bucks off of selling your game on dodgy reselling sites. But is it perhaps worth losing a few keys to scammers, in order to be sure to always reach the genuine ones? Maybe. But for some of us it can put a dent in our earnings. And some of us… well… some of us are stubborn bastards that don’t like getting scammed.
Let’s take a look at how to prevent key reselling as much as possible.
Typical fraudsters will usually:
- Send emails in batches perhaps a couple of hours apart from each other. They might all have the exact same title like ‘Cd-key request’ or ‘Co-operation’, or they might be formatted and worded eerily similarly.
- Mention your game like they’re Dr.Evil-style sky quoting it, e.g. “I’m emailing about your game ‘Shooty McGame’ it looks really good can I play it plz”.
- Ask for more than 1 key, typically mentioning playing with a friend or running a giveaway to spread the word. Which leads me to…
- Mention promoting your game for you and benefiting you by playing your game.
- Use a gmail address they’ve easily made up such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Or a gmail address with a very slight typo like ‘email@example.com’ instead of the real ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
- Put up a completely fake site and copy articles from other sites to make it look live. To tell if sites are actually active you can check their social media channels. On that note, we come to…
- Have very low engagement rates on their social media. It’s easy to bulk buy followers and subscribers, so if you see someone with 10,000 Twitter followers and 0-2 likes on each of their posts, you know something’s fishy.
- Have god awful spelling. Or at least their email will have god awful spelling compared to their completely normal and fluent About page blurb.
- Be plain unprofessional. For example, blunt one-sentence long emails without any kind of polite formalities or information whatsoever, and constant re-forwarding their email to you if you don’t respond to them within 24 hours. Or cheekily worded emails about angry pandas and ‘bad things happening to if you don’t give me a key lol just kidding’.
- Seem too good to be true. Look at the games they usually play and ask yourself if they’d really be interested in covering your game. For example, if they have 200,000 subscribers and stream strictly Fortnite videos and nothing else, why would they suddenly be asking for a key to your romance sim?
Guys… If I may say so, I quite dislike scammers.
Bear in mind that some of the points mentioned above should not be taken as gospel. For example some genuine influencers will buy followers as part of their marketing strategy, or their spelling might be bad because English isn’t their first language, or they might seem unprofessional because they’re actually a teenager.
How to weed out the scammers:
- Check their About page on Youtube or Twitch, or their contact page on their website for a publicly displayed email address. Next, copy paste it into your reply. I say to do this because sometimes the cheeky little scamps will use an email address that is a tiny wee variant of the original address and it can be very easy to miss, especially with long or foreign addresses etc.
- If their email address is in fact different to the officially displayed one, you can contact their real address to confirm with them. Many influencers will actually appreciate this (imagine if somebody was pretending to be you to scab free stuff) and in my experience, will sometimes even want to play your game still. Win, win. You could say something like: ‘Sorry if this wasn’t you but just thought I’d check, if you’re still interested here’s a press key for you’. 19/20 times they turn out to be fake, but the impersonated YouTubers who do respond are always super nice and grateful for our diligence.
- If you can’t find an email address to verify, send a reply explaining that they need to either tweet you or facebook message you from their official social media channels, or link you to a displayed contact address. Even better, you can tweet them yourself and send a follow up email to get them to check their notifications. It’s a little messy and not ideal, but if you really don’t want to risk losing potential coverage, it’s a solution.
- Set up some email auto-responders to make this all a lot less time consuming. If their message shows evidence of fraud, don’t waste any more time and just send the auto response requesting verification. One click. Easy.
- Keep a log of all the keys you give out – who and when – so you can check up and see if they’ve actually covered your game.
Have I mentioned I don’t much like scammers?
Is it worth the time checking out each influencer that requests a key? For me, not so far. Yet I still do it… because, FOMO. But in actual fact, I’ve found the influencers that actually produce the best content and make the most impact never actually ask us for keys. They usually just get the game themselves, because we’re forgetting one thing: They’re gamers and they should want to play the games they stream. Journalists are another story but, at the same time, journalists are usually not a problem to verify.
^^ UPDATE: I recently gave a key to a very popular YouTuber despite being a little suspicious of his email. I took the risk because he was a big ‘un despite wasting keys on plenty of big fat phonies before. But our sales have since spiked like crazy after he released his review. HE WAS REAL, GUYS. Even if half of the 80 keys I gave out in the last month turned out to be for scammers, it was worth losing them for this. I totally take back what I said above, yes I’m a fickle marketeer like that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. So was there really any point in this article since I just talked in circles to totally contradict myself? Just as well nobody reads my blog lols
Had trouble with key requests yourself? Let me know your own experiences! Even with the above checks, it’s hard to weed out the wrong ‘uns.