What are the big gaming sites in 2013 and what it might take to run one?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by FAST6191, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I usually do not bother with disclaimers but as some enjoy them I am not running such a site and have no intention of doing so (far too much work in a field that has no respect and far too risky for no real reward as far as I am concerned).

    Short version
    Games websites of note, what are the current ones and if you were to set about running one in 2013 then what would it require?

    Going longer
    Following discussions like http://gbatemp.net/threads/does-gbatemp-have-a-rival-forum.355250/ and seeing as people are saying things like discussion, along with general computing, is shifting to a more centralised things (be it facebook, reddit or possibly youtube/google plus) the idea for this thread popped into my head. Stuff like this has existed for ages, longer if you count usenet, but it is an increasingly popular concept. That a lot of it is built within walled gardens is (and the owners building higher walls and destroying bridges at an alarming rate) is of some passing concern to me but it is hardly likely to take everything with it.

    http://gbatemp.net/threads/the-nongaming-postgaming-gamer.350157/ is still roughly in effect and for the most part my games news consists of
    Anything posted here in the USN. It is actually my main source for things.
    Occasionally clicking on the wrong related video or related link on whatever site I am on (not common).
    Gamefaqs has a release dates list I check when looking up either street dates or dates for region dupes for the 360 releases I type up.
    If a general news source I follow has a game related story.
    http://gamasutra.com/ once a month or so if I fancy raising an eyebrow at some would be intellectuals (my cracked ivory description/comment from somewhere else still stands with regards to that site and most of academia when it comes to games).
    There are a few videos/text series I follow but they are less news and more discussions of things, and usually cursory ones at that as nobody will pay for someone to go deep.

    Obviously I am aware of things like ign, gamefaqs (more on them in a moment), gamespot, gametrailers, destructoid, kotaku and eurogamer. In my head Penny Arcade is a reasonably successful web comic and not something I pay attention to despite many probably being inclined to tell me that is not the case.
    However clicking on something like http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/video-game-websites there are sites I have not heard of and some of those sites I had not realised were as popular as they appear to be on that link.

    To make it clear as well I have the mindset of a cynical old man (quite literally in many cases I have asked why I need [some passingly popular technology] when I already have bookmarks, IM and email) but probably with enough technical skills/knowledge to be dangerous (to myself and others). That said I am a cynical bastard through and through and will analyse everything from a technical, business or legal sense long before I consider artistic merit (especially if it is to be overriding any of the former).

    Similarly youtube, despite ostensibly being a free video bandwidth and advertising system, has something resembling a culture and a few are making a run of it there with maybe a token site outside it or if they are part of a big network then they may still have a large part of their following there. I block youtube comments and have not got an account (I have an account on about three forums that I ever visit, this is the largest and the other two are related to what I do here) so I am looking in as an outsider there as well. Would steam forums fit into this? I lack steam and other than once watching this and occasionally hearing "steam forums" in various conversations I have no idea what they are about.

    On gamefaqs. Back in the PS2 era they were probably one of the central hubs for basically all games discussion, they housed some of the best text translations and general franchise knowledge libraries/factoids and were generally a good resource if you could get the noise filter going for you. Moderator wise their forums were legendarily awful and despite their "no overt piracy but we will tolerate quite a bit" attitude for a little bit it did allow for this (and the others mentioned in the rivals thread) to spring up. Today I am not sure what goes and mainly use it for PS2 era references for things. IGN have pretty much always been the "love to hate but still oh so popular" site but I am not sure what goes there right now.

    However as we already established I am very much unaware of what goes as far as games news websites so I am looking for a list of the ones that really matter.

    What running such a site would need today?

    Good journalism? If someone else had asked the question I would probably still be laughing when I awoke tomorrow. Though barely tarting up press releases and various newswires is hardly a games industry exclusive thing it does seem to happen without a trace of reservation.
    Reviews? Related to the things either side of this is what makes a good review? Terms like unbiased get thrown around despite it not even ever being a useful term in fantasy land let alone real life. Beyond something nebulous like "something has to change" and observing that there has been a push at least away from the status quo here I have no real answers.
    Opinion/education pieces? If you bashed scientology, maybe peta or hit upon an issue with a partially cohesive grouping around it (anti vaccination, some types of genetic engineering, ham radio types have been known to get it together, youtube subculture) you could expect your comments section to be flooded for a hot moment. However games.... well I believe there is a reason various more prominent members of the site have nice terms like butthurt over arseassblasted and we maintain a nice list of threads like that are either directly caused by those or are echoes of those that happened elsewhere. More clearly I would have to quite look hard to find a collective that was as whiny, as detached from reality and so inclined to ignore other areas (the amount of times various people have to repeatedly explain basic concepts of business/finance, IP law and technology/the underlying physics is ridiculous, most other areas seem to relish the chances to wind in some small bit of knowledge from those areas and frequently end up reaping massive rewards for it). Similarly most of the good investigative stuff seems to come from people that actually do the jobs and write an article as they are passing between them. However fanboyism has seemingly overridden reality on a few occasions so I can not blame people for sticking to their guns so much.
    Video segments? Could be the case. Most of the sites that seem to have risen up (escapist, gametrailers, much of the youtube types (obviously), screwattack's continued relevance, machinima, maybe some of the Blip set (again obviously)...) on the back of some reasonably strong video content. Much of it is reasonably well made for what it is (certainly I would be at least half worried if I was a TV executive charged with padding out airtime), most of general youtube videos could stand to watch this and learn... something, anything, for the love of my eyes and ears just anything about what you are trying to do. However a mindset that sees pyramid schemes continue to exist (I might get paid without having to do the work you know), whining your way into owning a device with a camera and an overinflated sense of self worth combined with basic zero technical barriers to entry means such a situation is bound to exist. Likewise the "old guard" (give or take gametrailers) can be seen to scramble to put together video content, rather amusingly to my eye it is almost all a mash up up said TV padding and a copy of "what works" too (though as they usually get given decent mics, proper cameras/lighting or at least have it considered, someone considers the idea of a script, some token editing happens and a set of proper capture hardware I am inclined to forgive them a lot).

    Build it and they will come is not a thing really in web world, make sure you have repeat customers is though. Similarly it is often held that everything in the web has been done as far as broad strokes go so you can either buy out or destroy your competitors with your money (you can break into things but it takes an awful lot of advertising money) or go a bit narrower (where several things have slipped in and excel to this day, more amusingly if any are going to defy my negativity it will usually be those). Slim exception if a chunk of a once popular company "defects" (arguably what happened with giantbomb).

    Naturally I expect some combination of the lot to use to do various things like ensure income, make yourself known.... to be in effect. Finances are possibly an issue and as print is dead, subscriptions are a running joke (though they have not died as fast as I first thought they would) and competitive gaming can not even sustain itself like other competitive games/sports then it is not likely to be good for the media that follows it you are mainly left with adverts. Youtube type things aside you then get to deal with advertisers and industry types directly and they are not known for playing fair*. A few seem to have parlayed it into running professional services, conventions and the like but that is hardly a huge growth area for it, especially as arcades have died.

    *most amusingly for me is where a lot of the sites mentioned missed the boat when it came to the likes of tablets and phones I have seen those that sprung up to feed it demanding payment to contemplate doing a review.

    Redeeming myself a bit
    Despite the rest of this possibly leading to calls of "give it up old man, it has passed you" I do have to say that even if I do not really play games any more I like the idea of games, the technology of games, the still nascent and largely ill/unformed academic discipline of games, the, for want of a better term, culture surrounding games and would not be happy to see it go away as a whole (though if it did implode it would probably make a fantastic case study). I will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future as well.

    Similarly does "require" in this case mean popular, acclaimed at the time, acclaimed if you are going to be looking back in 20 years, financially viable, financially successful or something else along any of those lines? May the reader interpret.