When you’re first starting and growing your channel, or even when you are established, it can be difficult to find new and exciting games to create content with or stream. You could always buy games but AAA titles are expensive and the price of indie games can add up quickly.
But what if there were ways to find cheap or even free games to help you create wonderful content?
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Keymailer and Terminals
Both Keymailer and Terminals are sites where game journalists and content creators can interact with developers and request game keys. Think of both sites as a central hub connecting the strands of the gaming press, enthusiasts, and developers, together.
So how does it work?
Keymailer and Terminals connect YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and game journalists to the wider world of game developers. You are able to sign up for an account and request access keys for a large array of games on both console and PC. These keys can be for popular AAA titles, lesser-known indie games, and everything in between.
First, Keymailer. You can sign up, much like any website which allows you to create an account. It will then ask you to link your Steam account, Twitter account, YouTube account, and Mixer or Twitch profiles. You don’t have to link everything but it allows developers you request keys off to check out your profiles and previous work. Keymailer allows you to filter by genre, developer, publisher, and platform, or you can simply browse the Popular, Upcoming, and Live games tabs.
Terminals operate in a similar fashion, allowing you to select the type of creator you are, whether you’re a gaming enthusiast, media/press member, or a streamer/YouTube content creator. As you are setting up your Terminals profile you will be asked a series of questions that attempt to tailor your experience. Asking questions about what platforms you are interested in and what genres of games you’re looking for, allows Terminals to personalize what games are shown to you.
These two game-request services operate under a sort of quid-pro-quo. If a developer provides you with a key to their game, it’s good practice and standard operating procedure to create content around that game. Whether your creating preview videos, reviews, guides, or just streaming for fun, you are helping developers increase their reach.
Contact Developers Directly
While this may not be the optimum route to go when you are fairly new to content creation, you can always contact game companies and developers directly through official PR channels. Now, you may not get a response, particularly with larger studios but as long as you phrase your inquiry politely, respectfully, and concisely, you could end up with a game key.
When attempting to contact developers directly, there are a few things you should keep in mind;
- This particular developer, indie or AAA, may have received hundreds of emails and messages regarding receiving free or cheap game keys so you have to offer a unique or entertaining perspective.
- Developers are running a business and creating a product to earn money. You can’t just ask for a game key to enjoy in your private time, well you can but you may not get it. You have to ensure that the content you create is entertaining, informative, and high-quality. This can build trust between you and the game developers.
- Generally, game developers are quite busy creating amazing experiences you will (hopefully) enjoy. Keep your messages concise and to the point; why you’re contacting, what you do, and what you intend to do if you get a free or cheap game key.
Visit Conventions and Exhibitions
There is nothing better than good old-fashioned networking, speaking to, and engaging with developers as they show off what they’ve created. This will work optimally with indie titles or smaller games as it is more likely the developers will be present when compared to a larger AAA title. At many conventions, such as PAX, you will have an opportunity to go out and try the very best of upcoming games, from VR to platformers to RPGs. You can try out a large array of games, find ones you would love to try and from there, start a conversation with the developers or the game’s representatives.
They may not have an abundance of time to talk due to how busy conventions can get but you can initiate the conversation, express excitement over the game, and talk about your interest in making content around their game. Maybe they have business cards you can take and you can provide them with your socials and your content creation profiles.
PlayStation Plus and Games With Gold
This is mainly for the console players but each and every month there will be an assortment of games you can access just for having an active online subscription to either of these services. Each month, a couple of games will become available for players to download for free, if they have an active Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus membership. In this fashion, you can find cheap games to play that won’t cost you anything on top of your standard online membership.
Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass is a game streaming subscription service from Microsoft which allows you to access and play a massive selection of titles without having to pay for the game directly. This gaming repository is continually growing and allows you to explore a variety of genres, developers, and gaming styles while only paying a single subscription fee. For an annual subscription, Xbox Game Pass costs around $100, which can seem quite expensive when searching for ‘cheap’ games. But when you factor in the sheer volume of games, you’re getting a decent deal.
You can even try Xbox Game Pass for three months for just $1. And if you happen to find a game you fall in love with, you can buy it digitally up to 20% cheaper.
Finally, one specifically for the PC players. If you happen to have been living under several rocks at the bottom of the ocean, for almost 16 years, Steam is an online gaming marketplace and launcher for PC games. Steam will consistently participate in sales, both big and small, in which gamers can snag a bargain. If you’re constantly strapped for new games to play, it may be a good idea to pick up a few during the sales, even if you cannot get to play them right away.
After all, it’s better to have it and not need it. With Winter Sales, Black Friday Sales, Spring Sales, Summer Sales, Steam has your gaming needs covered all year round.
Keeping up a flow of high-quality content can be quite demanding, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spare. As with most things, you just have to be a bit more creative with your approach. Shop the sales, contact developers, find alternative methods to acquire game keys, and soon enough you will have so many content ideas you won’t know where to start.