The State Of Games Journalism
ByDate: 01-05-2013 Views:
Last year saw some big changes in game journalism. Most of the remaining print magazines shuffled off this mortal coil, though the seemingly invincible Game Informer continued to post strong circulation numbers. Game journalism on the internet saw many changes, as sites conducted minor or major overhauls, merged with other sites, or experimented with new ways of presenting game information to consumers. The debut of Polygon.com heralded a well-funded attempt to capture a large audience of consumers, which so far seems to be going well.
All indications are that 2013 will continue to see upheavals in games journalism. New consoles are expected to arrive at some point during the year, smartphones and tablets continue to grow explosively, millions of new game players around the globe are spending significant money and time on games, and games are now being played by all sorts of people who would never before have thought of themselves as gamers. The potential audience is growing, and the existing audience is changing in the way they play and what they play. How will game journalism respond?
GamesIndustry International asked some of the most experienced game journalists about these changes, and their thoughts on game journalism and where it's headed. Today we speak with Peer Schneider from IGN and John Davison, formerly of CBS Interactive. In Part Two coming we talk with Adam Sessler, longtime host of G4TV and Dan Hsu, current editor-in-chief at GamesBeat and formerly editorial director at Ziff Davis Media.
Peer Schneider, executive VP, publisher and co-founder at IGN Entertainment, spoke from his perspective heading up IGN.com, one of the largest gaming sites in the world. Schneider is responsible for content strategy, editorial coverage, and marketing and product development for all of IGN's sites. John Davison, formerly executive vice president of content for GamePro, was VP of programming for CBS Interactive before moving on to become Director/GM of content and publishing for Red Robot Labs last year. At CBS Interactive, Davison was responsible for GameSpot and Metacritic, and engineered the acquisition of Giant Bomb.
Q: Has games journalism adapted fast enough to the changes in the game industry or is it still behind the times?
Peer Schneider: I think there's still a lot of work left to be done. For example, how to properly 'cover' mobile gaming or the free-to-play markets; not for the industry or super-users who follow business trends, but for the consumers that actually play them. Also, the reduction in overall title breadth in the console space in favor of even bigger AAA game player audiences has necessitated a shift in how we at IGN cover games. We've always dedicated time to create post-release content - but we've put more resources and emphasis on developing this part of our network in the last year than in the previous 10 years combined. Players keep on playing these big games and consume media around them for months if not years, something that used to be reserved to MMOs like World of Warcraft. It's not just limited to multiplayer games. Skyrim continues to be huge for us.
John Davison: The changes in the industry aren't as important as the changes in the audience. Things have evolved dramatically in the past few years, and a lot of media--not just games media, all media--has not been equipped to adapt to that quickly.
Tastes are specific, demands are great, and readers/viewers are consumers of the whole internet - not necessarily specific media brands. Social media alerts them to the existence of information, and they seek it out through referrals or through search. They grab the videos they need from YouTube and Twitch - they don't care what the original source is. The importance is that they get the content they want, and that it's validated as authentic by their peers.