One of the more unfortunate realities of trying to cater to the tech savvy crowd is that you’re catering to a tech savvy crowd. I think that people who know their way around technology want to be catered to very specially, and are quick to react if they think they are being cheated. It creates a bit of a delicate balance between the consumer and the developer. The ire of gamers is something to be weary of.
With over 1250 comments on a Destructoid.com plea for help, one of the latest controversies in the world of gaming is the fight between gaming news sites and it’s
customers consumers. It’s a long article to read, so in summary the problem is essentially this: Whether it’s a print or electronic edition there are real costs associated with the existence of a source of news. Now when you have staff members and want to start having regular stories, and insightful stories, and visually stimulating content… well then we move beyond the cost of simply existing and then into the world of trying to pay staff salaries. The press has always earned its income in a rather simple way; either readers pay for a subscription, or the paper is paid for by advertising. Or often, as is the case in the print world, readers pay for a subscription at a very low cost and the paper is subsidized by advertising.
As we’ve seen, over the years however… it’s difficult for the gaming press to maintain enough subscriptions to stay alive. “Sure, but that’s print media… it’s obsolete” you may say. Maybe you’re right. As I said, we’re catering to a tech savvy crowd. It makes sense that the old format would die out first with these customers. But the paradigm of ad supported electronic media is failing too. When people use ad blockers to prevent their favourite content creators from getting a paycheque (let’s be honest here… they’re preventing ugly crap from distracting them from the content they want to read… not trying to put someone out of a job) it makes it impossible for these niche media sources from being able to continue to knock it out of the park for us.
And that’s a problem.
While it is indeed possible for places like The New York Times to embrace the gaming world and include the work of people like Stephen Totilo in their publications, the reality is a lot of publications such as The Star do not give stories the attention they deserve. And as is expected they put spin on it to try and hook the non-gaming audiences. Trying to do any story justice is a lot of work… and trying to sell a paper is a lot of work… so it’s hard to fault mainstream media for their practices… after all, they’re the ones making money. There’s talk in the Destructoid comments about how no one will miss gaming sites as there’s a glut of hobbiest bloggers willing to fill any void for free. But while it’s great to let people to do it as a hobby, I feel that we need in depth stories to be told that just aren’t going to be told in the evening after a blogger’s worked a full day at their “real” job.
Is there a solution to the dying gaming press? People hate ads, and people hate paying for subscriptions. It’s a conundrum. But I hope someone solves it, and not just because I need someone to spread the news about what we’re doing, but because having good information at my fingertips (on my eyeballs?) makes my life happier.