The other day I was talking to some of my friends that also run smaller gaming sites and were talking about what makes people pick one site over the other as far as where they go to get their gaming news and stuff. The toughest thing about being a smaller site I suppose is first of all to get your content in front of people and then the second part is to get them to come back on a regular basis. I am going to say this and I know that some people won’t agree but the majority of the really good gaming content is not on any of those big sites. They do have everyone beat as far as access to the companies and developers and they get a lot of info that we just can’t get but as far as quality of content well let’s just say I know a lot of sites with absolutely excellent content and stories.
What sites do you trust?
So there are big sites like IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku, and all those big sites and we all get that the sheer volume of content makes them a great source for information, not always the best information but information none the less. But as I tell people all the time those sites are actually reason I started my own site because what I read and then what I got when I bought the game didn’t always mesh. I wanted to tell people what was up and if a game sucks, at ZKG we will tell you. I decided not to cover every console like those sites but just focus on one that I like the best and one that I play and thus ZoKnowsGaming was born.
Now back on topic what makes you like a video game site? What makes you pick one over the other, do you just go to a site because it comes up first in the search engine? I mean I never knew how many good gaming sites there were till I started running one, so if you do just click the first one you see I don’t blame you at all. Understand though that by being that way it makes it harder for sites like mine and others to reach you, to grab your attention and to keep it. Now N4G is a great way to drive traffic, but and this is just my personal journalistic opinion and I am not knocking sites that do this but I refuse to write blatantly “flame bait” topics just to get hits. To me it just lowers the entire image of the site. If you come to ZKG, I want you to come because you are like those guys tell it like it is all the time, they write interesting articles and that time when I emailed one of them they actually emailed me back. If we write something that you don’t agree with, send us an email and if you have good points we will acknowledge that. We understand that there are a million different views out there and no matter how negative they get some times as professionals we respect them all. Lots of readers don’t understand that it takes a lot to run a gaming site and keep it relevant, most of us smaller sites don’t have corporate sponsors or big advertising deals, no we do it because we love it, we do it because we love gaming and we want to share our views with the rest of you so that you have good information before you make a buying decision because the last thing you want to do is buy a game for $60 and find out that its not like that site said it was because money is something nobody I know can afford to just throw away these days, can I get an amen?
This brings me to what we call the N4G effect, for all of you that don’t know what that is its when one of your stories gets submitted to N4G and gets really hot and you got lots of traffic for a few days and then it kind of dies off. The bump in traffic is nice but most site owners will tell you that most of those people don’t turn into return readers. The thing that makes N4G, IGN, and all the bigger sites so engaging is because of the communities that are associated with them and that is what every good gaming site seeks to achieve, a community that drives itself and that generates conversations that you can then use to drive what kind of new content you generate. What does it take make you a return reader, to say this site has content that I wanna come back for? Or on another note is that not how it works anymore, that people that use N4G don’t TRUST any one site and they prefer to have an aggregation of sources to get their gaming news?
In any case, do you associate a site appearing higher in a search engine as making it authoritative and if so does that also make you think it has the best content? I am not knocking the big sites but one thing you can count on is that a lot of those sites, its hard to really influence the kind of stuff they publish, but I promise if you email someone at ZoKnowsGaming or some of these smaller sites you ALWAYS get a response and to me that is important. We always need sites that do everything but I am the kind of person that believes that you can’t be everything to everyone and thus I don’t try to be. The PS3 is behind in this gen of console wars but still has an install base of 22.5 million and growing and if you can get even 5-10% of that install base to become regular readers then you have really done what you started out to do.
In any case I can tell you this about ZKG at least, if you come our site and interact with us we WILL interact back with you. If you send us a question, we WILL answer you back. Unlike a lot of the big sites who by their own sheer size can’t do it, we can be interactive, you can know us by name and all that. Like I said I am not knocking IGN or Gamespot or sites like that but if you ask anyone that runs those sites, the executives that really run those sites they don’t care about 1 reader, but I can tell you this as the Editor-In-Chief of ZoKnowsGaming I care about EVERY reader, I read EVERY comment and no matter whether we have 1 reader or a million we will ALWAYS be the same way. The way we see it, whether its the top PR person at our favorite developer or a 14 year old kid from Alaska we will give them the same courtesy. I know that most of you will read this and maybe never come back and that’s cool but for those of you that demand more from your gaming sites, that absolutely hold them to a higher level then please register for the site, join the forums, and become part of the community that we are trying to build here because we understand that without YOU, the readers, there would be no reason for us to exist. At ZKG, we always put gamers FIRST!!
So the question is what makes you trust one gaming site over the other?