The state of games journalism at the moment–Credit and Traffic

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In this last episode of The State of Games Journalism, for now, I am going to touch on two of the more frustrating parts about being in the games industry.

The first one is getting credited properly, earlier this week Nick posted an international scoop about how DC Universe Online was locked to your account which meant you cannot ever trade it after you start playing.

It’s a great feeling when you research and break an international story, especially from down here in South Africa where it is much harder to get scoops compared to the larger American or EU sites.

You see generally we need to find our news from other sites or forums and then add our own spin onto it, this isn’t a secret from our perspective and it’s exactly what all sites do. But what is important is that you always credit the original source to give them the link love and respect they deserve.

So when we break international news we also check on who is reporting on the same news and ensuring we are getting the credit, the amount of plagiarism by dodgy gaming sites on the Internet is insane and generally it’s impossible to even follow up on those sites but what I didn’t expect to see this week was the number of big sites that incorrectly credited us with the story.

The list includes VG247, The Escapist, MCVUK and MaxConsole. Thankfully the first 3 quickly changed the source after I emailed them which is great as making mistakes is understandable and as long as a company is willing to rectify it then all is good.

Unfortunately MaxConsole didn’t change their link, which is pointing to The Escapist, but they are a smaller site so we can just ignore that.

However the most disappointing site of all is the massive Eurogamer, who not only link to the wrong site but their article is also entirely wrong as they quote

a Sony rep told QuickJump.

Making a mistake is fine but refusing to fix, acknowledge or respond to it is massively disappointing and I always rated Eurogamer as one of the better gaming sites out there.

The problem comes down to there only being a limited amount of news on a daily basis and we all need to fill our schedules so a lot of the same information gets regurgitated via a complex network of sites and everyone wants to break these stories themselves so they’ll often not credit the source to try and imply that they broke the story themselves.

I can’t think of a single large site that hasn’t strangely posted the same story as us, hours after us without crediting back. It’s infuriating and yet there is nothing we can actually do about it. It’s not like it’s blatant plagiarism like the reviewer at The Examiner performed on Eurogamers review. (If you have time you should check out that link)

The second part of my daily rant is Traffic Sourcing, have you ever wondered how sites originally start getting traffic?

Well there are two groups of ways, you can either legitimately market your site using forums, social media, email signatures, joining directories and writing original stories to be published on N4G, Digg, Reddit etc..

Or you have the second option which includes more nefarious ways of getting traffic. These include link baiting, paid links, traffic exchanges, and spam.

The problem with the second option is that the traffic you receive generally doesn’t want to be on your site and won’t stick around to chat. Yes your traffic stats may be moderately impressive but it’s a thin veil and is impossible to keep up unless you continue the baiting.

For example I can go to Google now and pay $200 for some awesome text ads on Googles search, I will get my thousands of hits while the ads are showing but the amount of these new visitors who stay would be virtually nothing, same for traffic exchanges.

Oh and what’s link baiting? Basically it’s dropping links to your site where people will click on them thinking they are seeing something interesting, new or different but it simply takes them to your site saying the same thing they already know. Or tricking people into clicking links by pretending it’s something else.

The fact that we do none of this is why I am so proud of our awesome community, when I meet with distributors my biggest selling point is always our community and how people interact with our site, hits are one thing (one thing we are good at mind you) but in my mind they are not as important as community and ensuring you don’t just become yet another blog.

So thanks to all of you who pop around here on a daily basis to read what we write or insult our mothers, we appreciate each and every one of you.

Oh you may be wondering why I am even posting this, well the credit part is a nice way to call out Eurogamer and thank VG247, The Escapist and MCVUK in one go. The traffic sourcing part is because I find it incredibly annoying and this is therapeutic.

Last Updated: February 18, 2011

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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