Polygon is looking for new, diverse voices to contribute to our Reviews section.
What kinds of games are we looking to freelance?
Everyone wants to write reviews of bigger games, which tends to include Polygon editorial staff. We don't need to look for someone to review the next Uncharted or Halo — we've probably got that covered.
Freelance reviews are designed to supplement Polygon's reviews coverage. We want to fill more and more gaps in our collective interests and experience. Currently, we're often interested in assigning slightly more obscure or less mainstream titles on platforms like PC, though we will also have some console assignments available. But if you're pitching us or hoping to be assigned reviews by Polygon editors, your chances will be higher if you're chasing assignments that we are unlikely to have time or interest in (because we’re all human and are interested in different things).
What do we pay?
Our rates for game reviews are determined on a case by case basis. Compensation starts at $300 and scales upward depending on the assignment in question. There may also be requirements to contribute pre-review impressions for publication for titles depending on review timing — if we get a game around or on its release date and a pre-release or launch-day review is impossible, for example. In these situations, additional compensation of half our starting rate will typically apply, and will be clearly stipulated in the assignment contract.
Polygon's reviews process leans heavily on multiple edit passes, and deadlines tend to be days in advance of a review embargo when applicable. Put more simply, our reviews require a lot of work and time, and our compensation rates reflect that.
Additional information about compensation, obligations and kill fees is contained in Polygon's Reviews Freelance contract. If you are offered freelance assignments with Polygon it is strongly advised that you read the entirety of this contract, as well as assignment-specific term sheets that will also need to be signed on a per-review basis.
I repeat: Read the contracts before you sign them.
What is Polygon's review voice/style?
It is strongly advised that you read game reviews published on Polygon before submitting samples and links to any previously published work.
Polygon reviews tend to present and support a holistic critique of a game — that is to say, the whole game, and how effective the reviewer found it. That may seem vague, but there is a degree of latitude allowed because a review is the writer's opinion. Some factual observations are required, as our reviews are written without an expectation that the audience will know exactly what a game is, or what you do in it. But our emphasis is on well-supported arguments leading to an overall statement about the game. A review's main body typically moves toward that primary thesis, though we allow for asides that don't cleanly fit in that central argument via sidebars.
Introductions generally provide a good "in" for the reader, something to catch their attention in a way that isn’t crass but is interesting. The introduction is a good place to provide context for the game — who’s developing it, where the game fits in the history of its franchise, or the history of the developer. The introduction should also suggest where your review is going. Conclusions wrap up your arguments, and cement the overall tone of a review, which tends to factor heavily into score discussions for your text.
Polygon game reviews use numerical scores, which are determined by senior editorial staff based on the review text. Freelancers will not score their own reviews, and you should not write with a score in mind.
What should you send?
You should provide the following in an email addressed to email@example.com. Note: Candidates in consideration will be contacted for follow-up by Polygon staff. Recurring inquiries are not necessary.
Note: At this time, we are accepting applicants from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. This will expand over time.
- Your name and place of residence — a city/state/country will do. Freelance contracts will require your legal name, home address and tax information. We’ll also need your social media handle, if any. You should also be prepared to provide at least one professional reference, a personal reference, and, if selected for potential freelance assignments, we’ll want to be able to speak with you via Skype or by phone for at least a few minutes.
- Your editorial experience, if any.
- Any publisher or developer experience you’ve had, whether paid or volunteer. Working in development is not an immediate disqualification, but Polygon will not assign a review to a writer with a past/present relationship with the developer(s) of the game being reviewed.
- The platforms you have access to for review assignments. A reminder: We will have the most assignments available for Windows/PC titles.
- At least two samples of your writing, preferably reviews. Unedited drafts should accompany published versions. If you have not had reviews published online, at least one review sample and other published pieces as you have available are fine. If you’ve never had any work published anywhere, then we will need two sample reviews, ideally written per the above guidance regarding Polygon’s review voice.
There is no final deadline for freelance submissions. We will continue to evaluate freelance applications as they are received. Inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Freelance Inquiry."