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What’s the Best Key Distribution Service for Game Publishers?

As a game developer, getting your game noticed in today's crowded market can be a challenging task. Tapping into tight, niche communities is often the biggest struggle, as these players are selective and rely on trusted recommendations.

One of the most effective ways to increase visibility and generate buzz is by distributing game keys to niche YouTube influencers, reviewers, and Twitch streamers. Leveraging the reach and influence of these content creators can significantly boost your game's profile.

Key distribution platforms can aid with this task, streamlining the process and ensuring your game reaches the right audience.

What Are Key Distribution Platforms, And How Do They Work?

What is this key distribution service? It's a third-party platform that helps game publishers and developers distribute their games to content creators by giving out keys. Key distribution platforms typically follow a similar process:

  1. Sign Up and Setup: Developers sign up for the service and set up their account. They provide information about their game and the number of keys they want to distribute.
  2. Create a Campaign: Developers create a campaign detailing the game’s features, target audience, and any specific criteria for influencers or reviewers. This can include preferred platforms (e.g., YouTube, Twitch), audience size, and content style.
  3. Upload Keys: Developers upload the digital game keys to the platform. These keys are then made available to influencers and reviewers who meet the campaign criteria.
  4. Key Requests and Distribution: Influencers and reviewers can browse available games and request keys for the ones they are interested in. The platform often automates the approval and distribution process, ensuring that only qualified individuals receive keys.
  5. Tracking and Analytics: The service provides tools for developers to track the performance of their campaigns. This includes metrics such as the number of keys distributed, content created by influencers, audience reach, engagement rates, and overall impact on game visibility and sales.

Advantages of Using Key Distribution Platforms

  • Expanded Reach: Key distribution platforms connect developers with a diverse range of influencers worldwide, from small niche content creators to mid-sized streamers
  • Quick & Automated Deployment: Keys can be quickly and efficiently distributed to a large number of influencers, speeding up the promotional process.
  • Boosted Discoverability: Games are more likely to be discovered by content creators actively seeking new titles to feature, improving organic reach.

Disadvantages of Using Key Distribution Platforms

  • Risk of Fake Requests: Some individuals may request keys with the intention of reselling them on gray markets such as G2A or Kinguin, leading to lost revenue and unauthorized distribution.Keys sold on gray markets are often priced much lower than on legitimate platforms like Steam, which not only reduces sales for developers but also contributes to the downward pricing trends in the gaming market.
  • Low-Quality Coverage: Even with reputable platforms, the quality of produced content can vary. Some influencers may not create high-quality or impactful content, reducing the effectiveness of the marketing efforts.
  • Limited Access to Top Influencers: The most influential and in-demand content creators often do not use these platforms. As a result, even the best key distribution platforms may not provide access to top gaming influencers who can have the most significant impact on a game’s success.

KeyMailer vs. Lurkit vs. Terminals vs. Woovit at a Glance

KeyMailer vs. Lurkit vs. Terminals vs. Woovit: What’s the Best Key Distribution Service for Game Publishers?

Several key distribution services are available to help developers, whether you're an indie studio or an AAA publisher. These include Woovit, KeyMailer, Terminals.io, and Lukrit, each with its unique features and benefits. This article will compare these services to help you determine which is the best fit for your game.

KeyMailer

Founded: 2015

Founded by: James Beaven & Mark Turpin

Based in: United Kingdom

# of content creators: 50,000 verified influencers and press worldwide

KeyMailer is one of the more well-known key distribution platforms that helps developers connect with a large network of influencers and reviewers. Launched as a personal project by James Beaven and Mark Turpin (CEO of The Yogscast), KeyMailer accredits influencers based on specific parameters, ensuring quality. However, since anyone can create an account and request keys, occasional scamming occurs. For games aiming to gain significant traction, KeyMailer is an excellent starting point for distributing keys.

Lurkit

Founded: 2015

Founded by: Sam Niskanen

Based in: Sweden

# of content creators: 50,000 creators

Lukrit is a newer entrant in the key distribution market, offering a platform designed to streamline the process of connecting developers with influencers and reviewers. Lurkit specializes in creating high-visibility campaigns for games, connecting developers with a curated list of content creators through key distribution or paid sponsorships.

Lurkit ranks engagement as a high priority when choosing the content creators they let into their platform, which can be helpful for publishers who are looking to form long-term partnerships with popular content creators. The platform continuously evaluates its roster of content creators to ensure the highest quality coverage of games.

Terminals.io

Founded: 2015

Founded by: Evolve PR

Based in: Canada

# of content creators: 20,000 verified media, streamers and YouTube content creators

Launched by Evolve PR, Terminals.io aims to bring a more comprehensive marketing and PR experience for games when connecting content creators to publishers. The platform prides itself on being a comprehensive suite for video game promotion, and it primarily caters to PR and marketing for video games, functioning as Evolve PR’s media and content creator platform.

As one of the premium key distribution platforms on the market, Terminals.io isn’t usually within the price range of most indie developers, but it can be a potential partner once its games reach a wider audience. With increased support for PR and advertising, it’s a great long-term partner both for established publishers and growing indie studios.

Woovit

Founded: 2017

Founded by: Quinn Wageman, Richard Kain

Based in: San Francisco, US

# of content creators: 40,000 creators

Woovit is a popular key distribution platform designed to be a one-stop shop for developers and content creators, connecting qualified game reviewers with game developers and publishers. Incubated by TriplePoint PR, the renowned video game agency that also successfully launched Roostr.tv, Woovit facilitates seamless collaboration in the gaming industry.

Game developers who work with Woovit can view the credentials, portfolio, and qualifications of the creators who request keys. Woovit maintains a high standard for the influencers, content creators, and reviewers it works with. Its long history of working with content creators and publishers alike has made it a favorite for video game developers, both with established studios and indie developers.

KeyMailer vs. Lurkit vs. Terminals vs. Woovit Features

Each of these key distribution platforms offers unique interactions with developers and content creators. While all of them can distribute keys, they also provide additional features that may make them more suitable for certain publishers and developers:

Keymailer Features

Keymailer focuses on its extensive content creator database, helping developers and reviewers find a common platform for newly published games.

Key features:

  • Automated Key Distribution Tracking: Keymailer automates performance reports for key distribution campaigns, providing better oversight of how keys are distributed to users.
  • User Profile Insights: Developers can view profiles of users requesting keys, including details about their video channels and channel performance.
  • Platform-Specific Tracking: Keymailer monitors campaign performance on YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch, allowing developers to see how their keys are used in streams and reviews.

Additional (premium) features:

  • Direct access to Keymailer’s Creator database: Developers can directly reach content creators affiliated with Keymailer via Outreach.
  • Game feature on Discovery page: Developers can also feature their games on Keymailer’s Discovery page for added visibility and advertising.
  • Social Posts: Developers can purchase social posts that reach over 35,000 press and influencers on X (Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook
  • Newsletters: A bi-monthly newsletter is sent to over 100,000 press, influencers, and creators, featuring major and trending titles, along with sponsors. Space in the newsletter can be purchased in the PROMOTION view. 
  • Higher limit for key distribution: Keymailer’s Subscriptions can also increase the number of monthly key requests developers can receive.

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Lurkit Features

Lurkit’s campaign management platform offers plenty of flexibility and control for publishers and developers with its key distribution. However, it also helps them better manage the content creators they partner with, especially in long-term relationships.

Key features:

  • Creator Programs: Developers can onboard content creators, run campaigns, and grow relationships with their community from a centralized hub, evolving with the lifecycle of their games.
  • Quests (Paid Sponsorships): Lurkit offers a solution that allows developers to manage paid sponsorships on a streamlined platform instead of a spreadsheet, avoiding excessive admin fees.
  • Access to Lurkit Insights: The platform also has a robust discovery and analytics system for content created around the games it features, allowing easy oversight of campaign results in real time.

One advantage of Lurkit is its exceptional support for indie developers, often by reducing prices on their features or giving them special spotlights on their platform. The Lurkit Indie program offers considerable discounts on Lurkit’s services for the first year, with a reduced discount on succeeding years.

Additional (premium) features:

  • Lukrit Success Agent feature provides 6 months of dedicated support to launch the entire marketing program, including key account management.
  • Launch x 2 offers dedicated campaign management, including yearly Key Account Management service. Minimum spend of €100k annually.
  • The Publicity Package offers a take-over of Lurkit.gg and social media, a community push with a dedicated newsletter to all Lurkit creators and an announcement in Discord, as well as top-of-the-page visibility for all creators with the Highlighted Game feature.

Terminals Features

Terminals.io leans heavily on the PR aspect of video game marketing, helping developers distribute their games beyond giving away keys. As a premium service, its features are far more comprehensive and include other benefits that most key distribution platforms don’t have.

Key features:

  • Newsletters to content creators: Terminals.io sends newsletters about new keys and games to its roster of influencers and content creators, giving developers direct and regular access to its creator database.
  • Key Distribution: Developers can avoid the hassle of sorting code requests and researching influencers. The Terminals.io team manages all requests, preventing key scams. 
  • Direct feature on Terminals.io website: Developers will also get their games featured directly on the Terminals.io homepage and social media channels, with an extensive writeup about their games and oversight into how many keys are still available to claim.
  • Performance Monitoring: Developers receive regular updates throughout their campaign, including insights into newsletter open and click rates, and key requests and distributions. 
  • Consultation with Terminals.io team: Terminals.io also offers one-on-one consultation services with its support team, giving developers better insight into improving their campaigns.

Additional (premium) features:

Higher premium plans increase the duration or the number of times these features can be claimed for each campaign. Higher tier plans also include additional features:

  • Automated follow-ups: Terminals.io ensures developers get the most out of their distributed keys by managing follow-ups. 
  • Full coverage tracking: Terminals.io's Full Coverage Tracking tracks all media and influencer mentions, scraping the web for every video, stream, and article.
  • Announcement pre-seeding: The Terminals.io team identifies key top-tier media targets and reaches out to them before major announcements for pre-launch coverage. 

For indie developers, the base features can be more than enough to get the necessary traction for their games to reach a wider audience.

Woovit Features

Woovit maintains a roster of trusted and validated content creators who must qualify for either YouTube Partner qualifications and/or have Twitch Affiliate/Partner status. Otherwise, a direct whitelist or contact from the developer works as well.

Key Features:

  • Setting qualifications for key requests: Developers can specify the qualifications a user must have before they get a key or whitelist specific content creators they trust.
  • Making reports on the performance of distributed keys: Woovit automates the performance of stored keys on the website, including the performance of ongoing campaigns on the platform.
  • Email alerts on campaign updates: Any progress or changes in ongoing campaigns on Woovit are automatically delivered to developers regularly for better oversight.

Additional (premium) features:

  • Direct outreach to creators: Developers can contact any content creator on Woovit’s platform directly for better long-term engagement and communication long-term.
  • Featuring on Woovit’s library of listed campaigns to drive creator discovery, helping developers connect with relevant influencers.
  • Coming Soon Campaigns: Woovit can create campaigns to generate interest and activity around a game even before it launches, ensuring that content creators are ready to play the game on the release day.
  • Multiple users per account: Developers can assign multiple users to their Woovit account, allowing more team members to monitor the performance of their campaigns on the platform.

KeyMailer vs. Lurkit vs. Terminals vs. Woovit Pricing

Both indie developers and established studios often need to manage their key distribution budgets carefully. Fortunately, most key distribution platforms operate on a freemium or pay-as-needed basis, providing flexible options that can help control both short- and long-term costs.

Keymailer Pricing

Keymailer also offers a free plan for indie developers, with its paid plans slowly increasing based on the type of support users want from the platform and its team. Indie developers with a single game can opt for the Indie Special plan at $24.99 per month or $149 per year, while more established publishers with multiple titles in their portfolio can choose the Studios plan at $99 per month or $999 per year

The Indie Special package gives three launch promotions for a single game, with influencer outreach credits that developers can use with its roster of content creators. This is particularly useful for indie developers who want to connect with a specific content creator already on the Keymailer platform.

Higher tier plans, such as the Studios Catalog, offer six launch promotions for multiple games, 3x influencer outreach, and include training.

Lurkit Pricing

Lurkit’s starting plan for indie developers is priced at $239 per month and includes all key features. Developers who qualify for the indie program can enjoy discounts of up to 70% on Indie plans in their first year, with smaller discounts in subsequent years. For higher-tier plans like Pro and Enterprise, Lurkit prefers to work directly with developers to determine pricing.

The Publicity Package available for higher-tier plans includes a weekly full take-over of Lurkit.gg and social media takeover for $10k per week, a community push with a dedicated newsletter to all Lurkit creators and an announcement in Discord for €5 per week, and top-of-the-page visibility for all creators with the Highlighted Game feature for €1k per week.

Terminals.io Pricing

As a premium key distribution platform, Terminals.io’s pricing is drastically more expensive than other options in this article. Its beginning plan starts at $2000 for the duration of a single campaign, which may be an issue for indie developers who are launching their first game. 

Terminals.io offers four different packages priced at $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, and $6000 per campaign. Higher-priced plans provide extended access to key features such as newsletter blasts, featuring on Terminals' website and social media, as well as additional benefits like full coverage tracking and announcement pre-seeding.

Woovit Pricing

Woovit offers a free plan for a single campaign for a game, which includes all the necessary features a developer may need to distribute keys and track their performance. Its paid plan starts at $199 monthly, providing developers with more support during their campaigns.

Most indie developers can use Woovit’s free plan for their first release. However, upgrading to the paid plan gives them unlimited campaigns for their game’s lifecycle, ensuring more consistent visibility. Long-term Woovit users can also consider their Agency plan pricing, including features such as creating a partner program and securing a team to speak with influencers. The pricing on Agency plans is flexible and can be discussed according to the developer’s needs.

KeyMailer vs. Lurkit vs. Terminals vs. Woovit Limitations

Game publishers will enjoy the benefits of easier key distribution with any of the four platforms discussed in this article. The primary difference with the limitations of each platform would mainly rely on the features included in the free or paid plans, as well as the duration of the campaigns that developers want to run on each platform.

Keymailer Limitations

Keymailer maintains an extensive database of content creators that regularly promote games; this can help creators and developers start the content creation process around a game. The qualifications for Keymailer are less strict than other key distribution platforms, which allows keys to reach a bigger audience.

The disadvantage of this more extensive database is that developers looking for quality content may not always get the coverage they want. The relaxed requirements to qualify for Keymailer can lead to lower-quality content being produced around a game and other risks associated with fake or low-quality key requests.

Lurkit Limitations

Despite Lukrit’s focus on engagement, developers notice a significant drop in content quality between manually contacted YouTubers and streamers and those found through Lukrit. Anecdotes online suggest that Lukrit’s process for rewarding creators leads to many streamers merely fulfilling a time quota without genuine interest in playing the game attentively.

At the same time, some creators have complained that Lukrit’s selection process is too exclusive in its attempt to achieve high engagement rates. For instance, “no commentary” videos are suspended without notice, making even prominent channels like mkiceandfire unsuitable. This stringent approach can jeopardize relationships with creators who do not meet Lukrit’s requirements.

Overall, it seems that while Lukrit's approach to rewarding creators for engagement has good intentions, it lacks in its “design”.

Terminals.io Limitations

Terminals.io offers unparalleled PR, advertising, and marketing services to any game that launches on its platform. However, the most significant barrier to entry for indie developers is undoubtedly high pricing. Terminals.io may not be the most financially suitable investment for developers launching their first game.

There’s also the risk that the extra features provided by Terminals.io may not align with a developer's needs. Depending on the lifecycle of their game and the kind of community they have, a developer might only need basic key distribution. Unfortunately, Terminals.io does not offer a standalone key distribution option.

Woovit Limitations

Woovit is a reliable option for publishers looking for a platform to automate key distribution to qualified content creators. However, the higher standards that Woovit sets for qualifying creators to join its platform translates to a smaller selection of content creators who can ask for keys on the platform.

Like other major distribution platforms, Woovit's database also faces limitations in selecting YouTube channels and accessing more popular creators. The bulk of their database is concentrated on Twitch, where most channels have between 1,000 to 5,000 followers. Here's an overview of their database distribution:

This can be an issue for publishers and developers who want the most traction possible or have directly connected with content creators who are not qualified for Woovit’s platform. This drastically reduces the likelihood that their keys will be claimed, which limits their game’s overall exposure.

Verdict

Given everything discussed earlier, which option works best for an indie developer?

Given the concerns around pricing, support, and general needs that an indie developer needs from a key distribution platform, Woovit and Keymailer are good choices. 

Terminals.io is usually far too expensive for indie developers, but it's more sophisticated approach can be an excellent solution for more established studios.

And while Lurkit’s approach to achieving high engagement can be a limitation for key distribution services, publishers of any size can benefit from Quests – Lurkit’s technology that enables self-serve paid sponsorships at scale.

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