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General: Making Fansites More Awesome

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

In this week's column, Sanya Weathers hands out tips to potential fansite operators on how to get noticed within the industry.

I was talking with one of my favorite people the other day. She runs a pretty well known MMO site, with commentary, reviews, guides, maps, humor, and more. But it's not MMORPG.com, or Ten Ton Hammer, or IGN - sites that are big enough to count as "sort of media" as opposed to fan media. I say sort of media because even powerful websites with millions of readers still wind up holding a bag of wind if someone inside the dev studio gets attention from a - gasp - print magazine.

Lest you think I'm kidding, I briefly wrote for a print magazine that never even got half of its issues to the printer, let alone sold. Somehow, I got my emails and calls returned from every studio with same day service if I was reaching out on behalf of the magazine.

Writing for the web, I only get that kind of love from a very few PR teams. Does that matter when I'm reviewing a game? No. Does it matter when I'm choosing my words during news announcements? No. Am I going to do things like edit unflattering screenshots and offer interview blooper do-overs when I'm talking to the PR people who treat web writers with decency? Hell, yes.

Read Making Fansites More Awesome

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

Comments

  • kaheidtkaheidt syracuse, NYPosts: 52Member

    Bravo on an excellent article.  Thank you for a good read.

    [Insert reason to be considered a super nerd here]

  • todayisbluetodayisblue palatine, ILPosts: 60Member

    "Side note: No offense, average single male gamers between 18 and 34, but you people are easy lays as marketing efforts go. The stuff you do for mere t-shirts is embarrassing. And visually, you're cheap. If it's got boobs or guns on it, you'll give it a try. But you're fickle. You're not ready to settle down. And that's okay. You're just not long term relationship material yet. Call us when you have a job. And incidentally, you should vary your play style while you're still young. If you get too used to death grip style gaming, you really do become unable to fully appreciate more subtle variations. "

    i'm a 21 year old male and i don't fit this stereotype. besides, its relation to the article was tangential at best. if you want to go on a sexist rant, do it in another article. i enjoyed this one and it would have been way better without this cliché bullshit paragraph. that aside, good stuff.

     

  • SpugNationSpugNation St. Louis, MOPosts: 10Member
    Originally posted by todayisblue


    "Side note: No offense, average single male gamers between 18 and 34, but you people are easy lays as marketing efforts go. The stuff you do for mere t-shirts is embarrassing. And visually, you're cheap. If it's got boobs or guns on it, you'll give it a try. But you're fickle. You're not ready to settle down. And that's okay. You're just not long term relationship material yet. Call us when you have a job. And incidentally, you should vary your play style while you're still young. If you get too used to death grip style gaming, you really do become unable to fully appreciate more subtle variations. "
    i'm a 21 year old male and i don't fit this stereotype. besides, its relation to the article was tangential at best. if you want to go on a sexist rant, do it in another article. i enjoyed this one and it would have been way better without this cliché bullshit paragraph. that aside, good stuff.
     



     

    Marketing is all stereotypes, man.  You think this is only her opinion?  I thought it was funny and I fall within the demographic; although I would much rather prefer realistic boobs in games than torpedoes.

  • JYCowboyJYCowboy Northlake, TXPosts: 660Member

    That was very informitive and understandable.

    Thanks Sanya

  • WebbstreWebbstre OsakaPosts: 9Member

    This is a good article. The only group of developers I have ever seen really get in touch with their community is the team at Runic Games (formerly the Seattle team for Flagship Studios, who worked on Mythos). If you go by Runic Games Fansite and click the Forum Comments tag (or just click here) you can see the probably hundreds of times they have answered questions for the fans on various fansites and their own official forums, and that doesn't even include their playful banter that isn't related to their projects. They were answering questions even before Torchlight was announced, which I think shows a lot of dedication on both the parts of the devs and the fans.

    I hope they make it big with their games, so other companies can loosen up a little and follow their advantage.

  • Zyuu83Zyuu83 GothenburgPosts: 167Member

    I enjoyed reading this article quite a bit.  You have many many good points.  There's a couple of companies which are trying hard to communicate with fansites, and I'm noticing a trend where other companies are improving lately.

  • SghnDubhSghnDubh Oakland, CAPosts: 2Member

     

    Sanya, I enjoyed your article on making fansites more awesome, but I wonder when some game publishers will embrace the fansites that already *are* awesome? 

    You could count my fansite, BattleClinic, as being as close to "sort of media" as it gets. Our traffic and member count is as high as many of the 'mainstream' game media sites. We've been around for over 8 years building publisher-authorized tools and guides for fun sci-fi themed games that we enjoy. The stuff we build helps players improve their game, which extends subscription time and increases subscriptions through word-of-mouth. Both are good things for publishers.

    Yet it seems that many game publishers don't recognize that fansites can be run just as professionally and just as effectively as "real" media -- and are often better places to reach out to players. The quality of some fansites is extraordinary - look at the Titan Network or Jordan's Town for City of Heroes, or Grismar's Wiki for EVE Online. These sites rival the publisher's own in terms of utility and value to the player base.

    I recently met with a publisher. This MMO has been around awhile and has serious competition looming. I offered to partner with the studio and develop some proven strategies for driving new players to the game, but the marketing guy wasn't excited. Why not? Is it too hard to believe that some fansites can be professional? That they're a great additional channel to reach players? That players like them and use them? I'm not sure, but it seems obvious.

    Don't get me wrong, some publishers are visionary. I'll throw props out to CCP, who have created a robust API that feeds some pretty impressive fansite functionality. It's a good investment--we've seen first-hand how much longer players stay in (and enjoy) the game thanks to the tools that fansite operators have built.

    There are some oustanding fansites out there, run by truly talented people, that have earned the good will and trust of the player base. Those are hard things to get from an online community, and I think publishers should look again at what we fansite operators actually offer them. Embracing fansites is good for the game and good for the players!

     

    Chris "SghnDubh" Condon

    BattleClinic.com

     

     

     

     

  • StraddenStradden Managing Editor Halifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member
    Originally posted by todayisblue


    "Side note: No offense, average single male gamers between 18 and 34, but you people are easy lays as marketing efforts go. The stuff you do for mere t-shirts is embarrassing. And visually, you're cheap. If it's got boobs or guns on it, you'll give it a try. But you're fickle. You're not ready to settle down. And that's okay. You're just not long term relationship material yet. Call us when you have a job. And incidentally, you should vary your play style while you're still young. If you get too used to death grip style gaming, you really do become unable to fully appreciate more subtle variations. "
    i'm a 21 year old male and i don't fit this stereotype. besides, its relation to the article was tangential at best. if you want to go on a sexist rant, do it in another article. i enjoyed this one and it would have been way better without this cliché bullshit paragraph. that aside, good stuff.
     

    I think you might be getting a bit wrapped up over nothing. The article was talking about demographics, not individuals. She wasn't talking about YOU, she was talking about the majority of people in your particular demographic. In the article, she was referring to what research has shown, someone in your category is likely to do, or think, or whatever. That's not sexist, that's statistics.

    The insurance industry works in much the same way. Young, male drivers are statistically more likely to be in expensive accidents. Therefore, their insurance costs more. it's the demographics game, my friends. All businesses play it, including MMOs.

    Cheers,
    Jon Wood
    Managing Editor
    MMORPG.com

  • HokieHokie Vancouver Wa.Posts: 1,063Member Uncommon

    I always enjoy Sanya write ups. Hers are always on my must read list. I think mainly because she has a true inside vibe to game developers, coders,etc.

     

    And once again she touched on demographics (which is why Im posting in the thread). You know I was gonna say I wonder if she ran across my post in her other write up (the one that lead to a slight derailment, not my intent btw), and post here again what she thought about doing an article like that.

    But you know what maybe I should do like she suggests, If you want something, you have to ask (paraphrased of course).

    "I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member

    You can't complain about market targetting the major demographic in games. That single male range you mocked at is also by far the largest spender on games and therefore the target of marketing. If women of that age range spent near as much as the guys then the marketting would be equally pushed at them. It's like complaining that movies target teenagers and 20 somethings because those groups spend the most money on movies.

     

    I'm not sure exactly which game companies you're complaining about but several MMOs I've played pay close attention to the fan sites. I've seen many who even have fansite links on their official pages.

     

    Being someone who has played AC for years, they always interact with fan sites but they also interact with the players on the forums a significant amount to, even when those players are attacking. They have a standard of sending each of the major AC fan sites a personal teaser image for the upcoming patch each month, and each site gets a different one so in order to see them all you have to visit each fan site. They've also hosted dev chats for fan sites before.

     

    So I guess I'm most curious as to which game companies you're directly complaining about.

     

    And one last comment, she is improving. Less mindless rant and only one sexist outburst this time around. If she keeps this trend up she'll be making it to the level of quality writing and not relying on using the sterotypical rants to get cheers (odd that she complains about stereotypes but uses every over-used stereotypical rant known to man).

     

  • todayisbluetodayisblue palatine, ILPosts: 60Member
    Originally posted by Stradden

    Originally posted by todayisblue


    "Side note: No offense, average single male gamers between 18 and 34, but you people are easy lays as marketing efforts go. The stuff you do for mere t-shirts is embarrassing. And visually, you're cheap. If it's got boobs or guns on it, you'll give it a try. But you're fickle. You're not ready to settle down. And that's okay. You're just not long term relationship material yet. Call us when you have a job. And incidentally, you should vary your play style while you're still young. If you get too used to death grip style gaming, you really do become unable to fully appreciate more subtle variations. "
    i'm a 21 year old male and i don't fit this stereotype. besides, its relation to the article was tangential at best. if you want to go on a sexist rant, do it in another article. i enjoyed this one and it would have been way better without this cliché bullshit paragraph. that aside, good stuff.
     

    I think you might be getting a bit wrapped up over nothing. The article was talking about demographics, not individuals. She wasn't talking about YOU, she was talking about the majority of people in your particular demographic. In the article, she was referring to what research has shown, someone in your category is likely to do, or think, or whatever. That's not sexist, that's statistics.

    The insurance industry works in much the same way. Young, male drivers are statistically more likely to be in expensive accidents. Therefore, their insurance costs more. it's the demographics game, my friends. All businesses play it, including MMOs.

    She didn't cite any statistics. She didn't cite the practices of marketers in the game industry in relation to that demographic. The focus is obviously on how marketers treat print journalists vs. web writers. As for this stereotype, I've been playing games all my life and I know very well how that all works, i'm not saying that trend isn't out there. I'm also not saying that big boobs etc don't sell (although who can be sure anymore.) I'm taking issue with how it was presented. I wasn't really worked up over it, but it sounded very shallow amidst the rest of the article. Look at what is written, it's in second person (you this, you that.) Point is, it's not so much offensive as it is lame. I'm merely voicing a legitimate criticism of the article, so no need to take issue with me either. 

    /discussion.

     

  • HokieHokie Vancouver Wa.Posts: 1,063Member Uncommon

    I wonder if in her next article we'll get a small snipet of how the internet has emasculated the new male generation.

     

    I sort of fall into that "We're Easy" catagory, (and Im 37). But, its boobs and swords Shanya not guns, that catches my eye...sheesh.

    "I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."

  • LordDmasterLordDmaster Livingston, TXPosts: 130Member

    LOL

    "And one last comment, she is improving. Less mindless rant and only one sexist outburst this time around. If she keeps this trend up she'll be making it to the level of quality writing and not relying on using the sterotypical rants to get cheers (odd that she complains about stereotypes but uses every over-used stereotypical rant known to man)."

    If she keeps going that way..I'll stop reading. I have always liked her style of writing and look forward to her posts on friday as much as the day itself. I'm sorry you don't like her writing, her type of humor is not for everyone. You do have four other writers that post here that you can read.

    Thank you Sanya,

    As always a good mix of information and humor. I personly never did care for the school approach to learning.

    "NOW CLAAASSS", "SIT DOWN", "PENCILS OUT......."

    …..it’s a guideline, not a rule, as players we must remember: “It’s a Game”.

  • Paragus1Paragus1 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 1,739Member Uncommon

    I enjoyed the read and agree with much of it.

  • cyranacyrana MybusinessPosts: 180Member Uncommon

    Thanks, Sanya, I enjoyed the article. :)  The bit about 18-34 y/o males made me chuckle a bit and I sensed a small amount of sarcasm in it.

    Ningen wa ningen da.
    ----
    http://twitter.com/Ciovala

  • SanyaSanya Director of Community Undead Labs Fairfax, VAPosts: 44Member

    Sarcasm?! MOI????

    /ducks

    To the point that some studios are already doing this - yes. CCP is miles ahead of most, IMO, and there are definitely places that are doing good work. That's why I ended the article by mentioning that savvy players (industry wide, not just literal players) have caught on.

    Sorry that wasn't more clear - behind the scenes, I get made fun of when I go on too long. And these are supposed to be editorial/opinion pieces, not fair and balanced examples of reporting. So in trying to cut the word count, and to state strong opinions, sometimes absolute clarity is lost.

    And of course, sometimes I just screw up ;)

     

    Sanya M. Weathers
    Director of Community
    Undead Labs

  • Zyuu83Zyuu83 GothenburgPosts: 167Member

    Bah your article was clear enough.  Some people are just taking things a bit too serious :)

  • jcpillarsjcpillars Gainesville, FLPosts: 17Member

    Way to insult the intelligence of the core demographic of these games. I have a job, and get laid. Thank you.

  • SarrSarr WarsawPosts: 474Member Uncommon

    Great article. I'm creating first Polish D&D Online portal right now, so it's amazing timing from you...

    ddopl.com

    Thanks!

    image
    Polish D&D Online Portal http://www.ddopl.com
    Big Polish DDO Guild: http://my.ddo.com/guild-cannith-gildia_ddopl/
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/DDOpl
    Great DDO PodCast by Jerry & co. http://www.ddocast.com

  • foxmyztfoxmyzt Anaheim, CAPosts: 20Member

    @Sanya

    I try to read all the articles and columns posted on here; but I must say, I relate to and enjoy yours the most. You are very good at giving an in depth look at all aspects of the gaming industry.


    "So... judging by the direction this topic is going... The new patch is to implement quantum physics into the game by the use of a LHC. Right?"

  • AvericeAverice World of Warcraft Correspondent Atlanta, GAPosts: 1Member
    Originally posted by todayisblue


    i'm a 21 year old male and i don't fit this stereotype. besides, its relation to the article was tangential at best. if you want to go on a sexist rant, do it in another article. i enjoyed this one and it would have been way better without this cliché bullshit paragraph. that aside, good stuff.
     

     

    lol, that was my favorite part of the article. Not sure what she means by "death grip style gaming", but the aside is well written and made fun of an issue from two sides at once without being condescending. It also says average... average doesn't mean everyone. We're all unique snow flakes, don't go melting on us.

  • TacBoyTacBoy Minneapolis, MNPosts: 139Member Uncommon

    Having run a major gaming site in the past (28 million views a month) I can say the thing that helped me the most was actually getting to know the people at the game companies. Treat them like people, not Gods or resources. Pay your way to E3 and shake their hands. Once they know your name, and especially your face and actually like you a bit, things open up a whole lot more.

    And then live up to that and the trust they give you. If one of the devs drop something in conversation you don't ask for a quote... you note it and follow it up in official channels.

    Basically treat them with the respect you want and remember that there are tons of aspiring web sites and fans that want information... don't be surprised when they don't single you out. You have to single them out.

  • SarrSarr WarsawPosts: 474Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by TacBoy


    Having run a major gaming site in the past (28 million views a month) I can say the thing that helped me the most was actually getting to know the people at the game companies. Treat them like people, not Gods or resources. Pay your way to E3 and shake their hands. Once they know your name, and especially your face and actually like you a bit, things open up a whole lot more.
    And then live up to that and the trust they give you. If one of the devs drop something in conversation you don't ask for a quote... you note it and follow it up in official channels.
    Basically treat them with the respect you want and remember that there are tons of aspiring web sites and fans that want information... don't be surprised when they don't single you out. You have to single them out.

     

    That's how it works with every busy, well-known person. Also famous musicians, especially national. I've already, as a guitarist, made contacts with my "idols". I'm just letting them live, don't invade their privacy and ask only when I have something important to say (for me!).

    That's absolutely the same. You really need to show you are discreet, can be trusted, won't exploit such relationships. And divide your knowlegde into your personal, and what you can say officially. It's worth knowing something you can't talk about in public, as you can make use of it without spoiling the secret. And that's perfectly right to do so, just mind your manners all the time.

    image
    Polish D&D Online Portal http://www.ddopl.com
    Big Polish DDO Guild: http://my.ddo.com/guild-cannith-gildia_ddopl/
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/DDOpl
    Great DDO PodCast by Jerry & co. http://www.ddocast.com

  • tupodawg999tupodawg999 LondonPosts: 724Member Uncommon

    socialiser vs achiever pew vee pew free on teh interwebz

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