Ian Morris, editor of inclusive family-friendly games website Everybody Plays, explains the importance of knowing the age suitability of kids’ titles – and why next-gen isn’t for everyone yet
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, all hands are on deck building up our coverage for Christmas.
As the busiest – and most confusing – time of year for families buying games, our coverage ramps up in the winter months, as we strive to provide far-reaching coverage for our two main audiences – parents and families, and the ‘mid-core’.
Whether it’s through parental reviews of Destiny, a light-hearted piece about the innuendo of Danganronpa, or taking a more in depth look at Super Smash Bros, we provide a different kind of coverage about the games our audience cares about.
In the run up to Christmas last year, we launched our Game Finder, a tool that makes use of our parental review ratings to help parents find the right games for their kids.
Our parental reviews are a bit different to normal age ratings, as they break the rating down into two parts, giving an age rating based on the content alone and a traffic light guide to the content. All parents have to do to use Game Finder is put in the age of their child, and a level of questionable content they’d be happy with, to find games that suit.
As Game Finder is such a great tool for the run up to Christmas, we’ll be pushing this as hard as we can amongst parenting sites, mom blogs and the like.
We’ve also been expanding our team with some great new talent. As well as attracting a majority female readership on the site, we also have a majority-female staff, with our most recent additions being Marti Bennett, who used to write for ONM, Scott Cruddas, a former community manager for GAME, and a mom blogger.
Have you seen any trends emerge among the Everybody Plays audience in the last few years?
It’s been interesting. The ‘death of handhelds’ that every corner of the industry predicted hasn’t really happened.
The 3DS, and even the Vita, are still going strong with our readers – as it turns out, contrary to popular belief, people still want handheld games with more depth than naff free-to-play apps.
The other trend is that the take-up of next-gen consoles has been a bit slower among our audience, while the Wii U’s done a bit better.
"The 3DS, and even the Vita, are still going strong with our readers – contrary to popular belief, people still want handheld games with more depth than naff free-to-play apps."
Ian Morris, Everybody Plays
The reason behind this mostly comes down to the selection of games. Up until fairly recently, next-gen’s been about buying the same games you already own – again – and that doesn’t really float our audience’s boat. They usually couldn’t care less about a game’s resolution.
Thankfully, things are starting to look brighter on the next-gen front, with some proper exclusives now coming out to join Octodad and Infamous on the ‘reasons to upgrade’ list.
When the JRPGs start moving across, I’m sure the market will follow – but our readers are waiting for games, rather than just a promise more are coming.
Everybody Plays offers its own parental recommendations (eg. Ages 6 and up). Given that games already feature age ratings, why offer your own parental reviews?
It’s always good to have several perspectives on a game’s suitability, and we aim to give parents everything they need to know.
Breaking our verdict down into two separate ratings was the biggest step we took, as it removes one of the biggest weaknesses with PEGI.
Under PEGI, a game can be a 3+ text-heavy turn-based strategy, or a 12+ cute and colourful game that happens to feature the word ‘God’ somewhere in its dialogue – which is enough to grant it an instant PEGI 12.
The easier it is for parents to know what games are right for the children, the more they’ll play, and so we do our best to cover each and every new release.
What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing?
I think the biggest challenge we have is spreading word of the site.
Hardcore games sites can make a name for themselves by breaking news first, or leeching the audience of bigger sites, but we’re sailing an uncharted path into a market of our own, and that makes things a bit trickier.
Still, we’ve had some impressive growth recently, and with new staff on board, an optimised website that’s performing in the Google search results and some clever viral campaigns in the works, everything’s coming up Milhouse.
Lead image: Everybody Plays editor Ian Morris (right) with co-editor Sarah Hadley (left)