Good Night, Good Luck

Good Night, Good Luck
Selling Your Soul for Page Views

Ryan Shwayder | 17 Jul 2007 04:32
Good Night, Good Luck - RSS 2.0

People know me. I say what I mean, even if it hurts a feeling or two. I'm sure I've driven a few people from my blog, Nerfbat, with my rants. In fact, I know I have, even though I keep most of my articles pretty tame. Lucky for me, I don't make any money off people who visit Nerfbat. Losing viewers just means I'm talking about something people are passionate about. One fewer visitor doesn't cost me anything.

That's not true for everyone. In the case of most gaming sites, whether or not the owners can make rent hinges upon how many people visit their site and click ads. And in a world where anyone can scoop everyone, even the big guys can get desperate. They need to do anything they can to get more viewers, and unfortunately that doesn't always involve being honest.

And it's not their fault! People want their opinions regurgitated back to them, which means a lot of sites focus on saying what's popular rather than what's true. If the website isn't on the bandwagon, they're closing the door on the larger potential readership.

And so, people cater to the herd. You don't want to piss players off when you know, in general, how to avoid pissing the majority off, do you? It's something just about everyone who has ever worked on a game site has had to deal with. Say what the people want to hear, and they will love you for it. Say what the people don't want to hear, and they'll do worse than hate you, they'll stop reading.

Now, assuming you understand what gamers want, you have the developers and publishers to consider. If you write a negative piece about them, many will cut writers off completely. Without exclusive content or interview opportunities, why would anyone visit your site instead of all the others? Write something bad about a game made by one of the big guns out there, and you better hope your site is too big for them to shun.

But big, general gaming sites aren't the only media out there. When you start talking about the smaller-scale sites, like fansites, the risks of saying something negative shoot through the roof. The success of a fansite rests thoroughly on the shoulders of both the dedication of those who run the site and at the whim of the developers.

Imagine you run a fansite for the upcoming MMOG developed by my company, 38 Studios. I post on your forums regularly, we have a link to your site on the official game site, we send you exclusive screenshots to post, we do interviews, we release information for you to post, we even talk to you on AIM.

What a wonderful life. Your site is the favorite of many who are looking forward to my game. And then, you piss me off. An admin says something stupid to me on the forums, you post information before I asked you to, you stop sending me pie or maybe you just start neglecting the site. I am an arrogant prick, so I cut you off. No more information, no more media, no more talking to me, nothing. Goodbye, fansite.

Comments on