It's All Your Fault
Daily Radar is just the latest of the gaming-oriented websites to bite the dust; game sites (and, in general content-oriented sites) have been suffering pretty badly for about a year now. What does this say about the future of gaming and role-playing websites? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. And they all have you to blame.
Whoever broke the Internet, raise their hand.
Got your hand up? You should. Because it's your fault. Well, sort of.
Person A goes down to the store to buy a magazine so he can read about the cool new MMORPG that's coming out. Money changes hands, and somewhere way back along the line the guys who print the magazine make some money. For the most part, they're making money from the advertisers who spent money to place their ads in that magazine. But they're also making money from person A, who threw down money for the mag.
Over time, the advertisers in that magazine start looking at their Return On Investment (ROI). If they notice that nobody is responding to their full color advertisement on page 15, they pull their ads and look for a different venue.
If this happens over and over again, eventually the magazine can't afford itself any more. They stop printing it. It makes sense. Simple capitalism at work. But two things cushion the blow. First of all, the guy who bought the magazine helped pay for it, and second, it's not that easy to figure out exactly who read the ad, and who didn't. Advertisers have to guess a lot, so they're not so quick to yank ads if they even suspect they're getting eyes on the ad.
This, by the way, is why we're still reading entertainment magazines, even though the medium is over a half-century old.
Now take a look at a gaming website. Person B surfs over to the website to check out the latest game review. Ignoring the banner ads at the top, he reads the reviews and takes off. Six months later, his favorite gaming website is gone. What gives?
Well, first of all Person B is not paying for the content, because he's been groomed to expect that in some cyberpunk fantasy world he lives in, all information should be free on the Internet. Secondly, he's not clicking on that banner ad. And unlike the world of magazines, the online advertisers know exactly how many people didn't click on their banner ads. No clicks, no ads. No ads, no money. Banner ads become less valuable. They generate less revenue. No money, no website. Websites make less money. Case closed.
And it's your fault for not clicking on that banner ad. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Of course, I jest; the problem isn't that you're not clicking, the problem is that they're depending on it. The model is broken. And the problem is also that it's only half of the problem.
The other half of the problem, as I see it, is that in the print world, the gaming companies all need help to market their products. They don't want to pay to print their own magazines, so they go to the established magazines and advertise in them. Not every gaming company owns a printing press.
But every gaming company has a website now.
Now, suddenly, there's no need to push content to gaming portals. Everyone can just bring people to their own websites. Who needs to pay for someone else's billboard when you've got your own in your backyard?
Who needs gaming portal websites?
And especially not you.