Media Special: Online

Ben Parfitt
Media Special: Online



CONTACT: 01273 746864
Rupert Loman – Founder
Rupert@eurogamer.net

EUROGAMER’S ABCe STATS
5,216,449 (November 2010)

2010 was a very good year for Eurogamer.

The company continued to grow its presence across both Europe and the UK – most notably with the launch of kids-centric games site Megaton and the expanded Eurogamer Expo, which attracted 20,000 visitors.

Crucially, the firm has been building its resources behind the scenes as well.

“We have invested further in the Eurogamer.net news team so that we now have full-time reporters in Europe and the US,” says founder Rupert Loman.

“We have also put more resources into our reviews and features, allowing us to publish more content than ever in Q4.”

This certainly paid off, with Eurogamer’s November 2010 ABCe showing the firm’s sites have reached record traffic levels, with 5.2 million monthly unique users.

The media company has also established stronger foundations in key markets across the continent, opting to provide locally-created rather than localised content wherever possible.

“Eurogamer Sweden launch in 2010, meaning our content is now available in eleven languages,” says Loman.

“We are happy with the size of the network for now but we wouldn’t rule out launching in additional territories if we can find the right partners. Our European network is a key differentiator for us and we’re delighted to be seeing such growth and success in so many territories.”

Meanwhile, industry gossip continues to suggest Eurogamer will target American gamers, and Loman reveals his team are close to laying those rumours to rest.

“Expanding in the US is the next logical step for our business, and we will be revealing more of our plans on this front soon,” he teases.

In the meantime, Eurogamer has plenty up its sleeves for 2011.

“We have quite a lot in store,” says Loman. “We want to build on  Eurogamer Expo’s momentum, and we’re moving to new offices soon to accommodate our growth. We also have a couple of new developments we can’t wait to share with people.”



CONTACT: contact@videogamer.com
Adam McCann – Operations Director
Adam.McCann@videogamer.com

The crowded online landscape makes it difficult for any site to stand out, but VideoGamer.com has successfully seized an admirable market share in recent years.

Its owner Pro-G Media will take this up a notch in 2011 with a brand new look for the site that will reinvigorate VideoGamer and its relationship with its audience.

“The re-vamped VideoGamer.com will be launched this year,” says operations director Adam McCann.

“Readers can look forward to a complete overhaul, a fresh design that has been modernised and improved in every aspect. Video content will even be viewable on all modern devices, including mobile.

“The site will also have better integration of social networks and our podcasts will get a dedicated streaming audio player so users can listen as they browse.

“And those features only scratch the surface of what’s new, but we’ll be revealing more later on in the year.”

A VideoGamer.com app will also be launched at the same time as the revamp, enabling access to iOS-optimised versions of the site’s content. McCann claims the interface will be highly accessible, promising “anyone who’s used the Facebook app for iPhone will instantly be familiar with it”.

Before this launch, however, Pro-G is taking steps to gain a greater understanding of its readership. Crucially, it will focus on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach VideoGamer’s more elusive readers.

“Our editorial direction has changed in 2010,” says McCann. “We’re taking a slightly more informal approach but we have also realigned our focus slightly to prioritise news content and we’re already seeing a traffic bump from this switch.

“We’re now completely dedicated to fostering and encouraging our community. We’ve learned that almost half of the site’s Facebook fans are female – we don’t have such an equal split on our forums, so we know we’re no longer overlooking those people. We try to make sure readers know that we listen and respond to comments. We’re not lurkers and we don’t bite.”



CONTACT: 020 7021 1000
Ben Howard – Publishing Director
Ben.Howard@cbsinteractive.com

GAMESPOT’S ABCe RESULTS
4,612,274 (December 2010)

No longer the London office of a US website, GameSpot UK has worked hard over the past few years to gain recognition as an online powerhouse in its own right.

The team’s editorial, as well as other media content such as the podcast and video show Start/Select, has earned the CBS-owned site regular visits from an audience of over 4.5 million consumers – a figure that rivals the global readership of some of its competitors.

According to publishing director Ben Howard, the key is its specialist focus and dedication to local users.

“GameSpot remains unique by being the largest site focused purely on gaming in the UK,” he says. “We’re a trusted source for informative, expert opinion, presented with passion by genuine video game fans.

“We also have a genuinely global editorial team. For example, nobody covers E3 with the size and depth of content that we do: last year we produced over 470 videos, more than 400 previews and over 20 hours of live streaming coverage – and this year will be even bigger.”

GameSpot has also forged bridges with the industry thanks to its GameSpot Trax system, which gives companies access to data on reader activity. This also forms the basis of the site’s latest initiative.

“Our biggest development has been the launch of our Lifecycle Marketing programme with a hugely successful campaign for Fallout: New Vegas,” Howard says.

“Lifecycle tracks buzz around games and allows publishers to positively build this interest with PR and marketing activity throughout the game’s entire lifecycle.”

Of course, the team hasn’t been neglecting its editorial. Howard assures us that GameSpot UK will continue to play to its strengths.

“The most important part of our business is to balance these strong advertising relationships with audience engagement and editorial integrity,” says Howard.

“Start/Select will be going weekly and we also hope to build on our partnership with Inside Xbox with several other exciting partnerships that will take GameSpot into some brand new areas.”



CONTACT
Adam Doree – Publisher
Adam@kikizo.com

VideoGamesDaily is a website that prides itself on quality editorial, something that lies at the heart of its growth plans.

Formerly known as Kikizo (which is still the name of its parent company), the revamped site turned eight years old this month and retains a strong readership of gamers that love VGD “for having balls and punching above its weight”. And in 2011, the company will make even more of an impact.

“This year, we’re thinking about strategies to take VGD to the next level, whether that’s new partnerships or maybe even looking towards a bigger publishing framework,” says the site’s publisher Adam Doree.

“We’re also launching a design agency to capitalise on our in-house  talent, but what I’m most excited about is a new broader entertainment site that will include games.

“My first passion has always been publishing, and I think this next project might be the sum of the many lessons I’ve learned in this exciting business.”

Kikizo is also no stranger to providing content for other online portals. The firm has been running AOL Games in the UK for six years, and signed a similar deal with digital retailer Green Man Gaming in 2010.

Now the company has forged a partnership with retailer Bee.com, a deal Doree declares will show what Kikizo does best: “Strategically building content as a B2B service to drive other people’s businesses, especially retailers and portals”.

It’s a strategy that depends on the strength of its team, and Kikizo is keen to build its workforce in the very near future, claiming it can be a valuable source of experience for any up and coming journalist.

“We will be looking for some new writers, as next month sees our editor of the last two years Edwin Evans Thirwell move to OXM,” explains Doree.

“He follows in the footsteps of writers like Andy Robinson and Ian Dransfield, who gained world-class games media experience with us, which opened doors for them at bigger magazine publishers. It’s a system that works well for the UK games media at large.”



CONTACT: 0845 116 2719
Richard Keith – Founder
rich@thegamestribe.com

There’s no doubt that now is the time for indie developers.

Structural changes in broadband, gaming platforms, software and hardware mean that independent studios can make, market and distribute games without having to sell them first to publishers.

I bring this up because, in my mind at least, there’s a simultaneous change in the way that games sites are maturing.

Like the indie developer scene, the indie games journalism sector has been with us forever: before broadband came along there were forums and news groups, and fanzines before that.

And, like the dev scene, there is massive growth because the tools are now there – and are mostly free – to enable anyone to take up a keyboard and start creating.

The barriers to entry are almost non-existent and social media has given sites an amazing opportunity to build audience and grow users.

Last year I left an old media giant, Future Publishing, to set up The Games Tribe: a company devoted
to enabling independent games sites to compete against the established ‘majors’.

This is a great time to start a gaming site: and it shows. By our count there are more than 2,000 English language independent games sites (that is, a website not owned by a multinational, with less than five people working full time) currently out there, creating some amazing content.

And there are great benefits to working with independent sites: they are run by committed passionate gamers, rather than suits and ad men. Done well, they can create engaged communities of gamers desperate to feel a part of something real.

TAKING ON THE GIANTS

There are two major challenges that indie sites need to overcome before we see a real change in the games media topography that’s dominated the post-magazine landscape.

First: indie sites have to stop trying to be GameSpot or IGN or any of the other ‘majors’. Those guys are too well staffed and funded for that to work. And there’s no fun in trying.

By concentrating on creating a strong identity and unique content, independent sites can build communities and really start to grow.

The second challenge is being able to communicate to the industry in a way that works for all sides. It’s impossible for PR and marketing teams to deal individually with over 2,000 news or reviews editors, never mind a thousand or so ‘CEOs’ – no matter how good their sites are. Even the community teams set up to do this job can’t deal with everyone.

One simple way indie sites can help themselves to overcome this problem is to agree some common measures that would make it easier for the industry to work with them.

This could be audience numbers – not just page views or unique users, but a way to show engagement.

It could be providing an insight into their audience, a series of set questions about each site’s users. Or a set of criteria for quality could be created to mark a site a ‘real’ indie site, rather than just another hobby blog.

At The Games Tribe, we’re working on all these things and hope to get some industry buy-in for the measures we propose. But however it’s done there is only one way forward: for indie sites to work together.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s informal collectives or a semi-formal structure like The Games Tribe, where we encourage our partner sites to look at their content, marketing and SEO plans as well as selling their advertising space for them. Only by working together can niche sites hope to compete and create the new dawn of indie games sites that I think is within our grasp.

I’d be fascinated to hear what other people – site owners, PR, marketers and the rest - think about this.

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