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Forums > Announcements & Site Feedback > The State of the Site - 15 Years and Counting...

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 25, 2013 (08:00 PM)
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HonestGamers is rapidly approaching its unofficial 15th anniversary, on November 1st. The site is probably already 15, from conception to current state, but I don't have a way to recollect the exact date I started work on it so November 1 has been the compromise for quite some time.

Because we're reaching that milestone, I thought it would be wise to give you an update on the site's progress and, unfortunately, its lack of progress in some areas.

First, some bad news...

Traffic to the site has been dropping steadily since Google began focusing more extensively on video content. Google owns YouTube and will often rank videos from that site ahead of relevant written content in search results, which leads to our content being shuffled. A lot of searchers will then click a YouTube video rather than reading a review. This is hurting us big time, but there are people who still prefer written content. Those people are the audience for this site.

We're also no longer listed on GameRankings, which doesn't affect everyone here directly, but it means less casual traffic to the site and that can mean fewer people who might easily click through to read other reviews on the site after they come here to read a staff or freelance review. The site is now more effectively designed so that people who do show up tend to stay longer and check out more pages before leaving, but it has never been harder to rank well in search engines with game content than it is right now.

Our community also is less active than normal, or it had been until just recently, when both Joe's Halloween reviewing project (thank you, Joe!) and some other actions I have been taking on social media produced a welcome bump. A less active community inevitably leads to less visitors and less interaction, which makes it less tempting to produce more content and keeps a vicious cycle going that can be the death of any site.

What is being done about it...

I am recruiting for readers and writers on Twitter, which is where most of our potential audience hangs out these days. I am finding additional talent for the freelance team, and I'm also seeking out additional people who just want to be involved as readers.

So far, I've found several talented folks to join the freelance team, and I hope that numerous individuals who were already on the team will be able to start writing again soon, as well. There was some trouble paying them, because people were having trouble paying me, but that appears to be almost resolved. I am optimistic that you'll see a significant increase in staff/freelance content going live on the site starting in early to mid-November. The volume of content should be about what it was when we were enjoying a busy schedule around May or June, and you should be seeing content from a number of new faces. I'm also encouraging freelancers and staff to post regularly in the community, because HonestGamers is ultimately a site about collaboration. I want to avoid just dropping content in front of you and running. I want the interaction that has always been the site's highlight, and I'll be doing everything I can to encourage that.

Part of this effort involves reviewing more games that will matter to a wide audience. My editorial intent is to push for as close to 40 new staff/freelance reviews per month as we can manage. I envision us covering at least 20 new-ish games each month (meaning stuff that has hit within the last 2 or 3 weeks), and around 10 games for popular semi-recent systems such as the PlayStation 2 or older stuff for current hardware, and another 10 or so for old retro stuff (particularly the NES, SNES and Genesis). That will likely include a lot of downloadable and niche releases, part of an effort to produce enough new content that GameRankings will re-add the site. There's no promise there, but we can try.

The future...

This is a big push, a push that is needed for the site's well-being in the months and years to come. HonestGamers has never stopped having potential, but its community has shrunk. We have a few loyal contributors right now--probably almost anyone actually reading this message within a few days of me posting it--and I am grateful for each and every one of you. I think we can all agree, though, that the site needs to build a larger audience if it is going to truly offer the experience we know it can, the sort of experience we remember it once offering during its prime.

I'll continue working toward making that experience a reality, and I hope that you all will continue to enjoy reading the site, contributing content, and just discussing games and reviews with one another. I want to do what I can to make this a site that you look forward to visiting daily, and I want to ensure that the site reaches something closer to its full potential.

The goal here isn't to become the next IGN or GameSpot. The goal is to provide a more active and more rewarding version of the community we've always had here. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have ideas how I can do more to facilitate that evolution. Thank you all for your hard work and for having fun using this site with me and one another. As we head into Year 16, let's do what we can to make it the best one yet!


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: True
Posted: October 27, 2013 (12:55 AM)
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Bring the blogs back.


If I Offended You, You Needed It.

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Author: bwv_639
Posted: December 16, 2016 (05:31 PM)
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"The site is now more effectively designed so that people who do show up tend to stay longer and check out more pages before leaving"

I wish the clickable "+" that you find besides Press Releases & Game Updates in the home page were besides Staff & Reader Blogs as well.

And after clicking that "+", I wish content up to some-year old were easily reachable.

At least the last 50 blog posts should be easy to reach.

"I think we can all agree, though, that the site needs to build a larger audience if it is going to truly offer the experience we know it can, the sort of experience we remember it once offering during its prime."

I don't agree, merely out of personal needs and inclination.
All I am interested in is a nice blog-like experience (see e.g.: http://www.wurb.com/stack/; http://gameshelf.jmac.org/; or the amazing http://planet-if.com/).

Seriously, neither I or you need even read reviews around to know what games are for us and what aren't.
The very idea of "review" in the old-style fashion is of itself a little, well, aged.
With videos, pictures, developer sites available, a lot that needed to be put in words (reviews) before doesn't need any more.
What written material regarding video games is needed for, and more than ever, is, well, culturally meaningful reflection and elaboration, and content that the major media platforms have no room or interest for because its commercial worth is null.

I think it would be great if you found a way to make some people like (http://planet-if.com/) write for this site.

I also have to say I already like what's on this site, and although it's still called "reviews" it's so (positively) different than what it's "reviews" outside of here that I tend to see them as blog posts.

So, you see, I find the idea of writing about 30-40 or any amoung of newish games per month of no interest... because mature reflection happens more easily on non-newish games, and time adds perspective, and if there have to be 40 of it any month it's going to be more similar to what is easily found everywhere else.
The most easy-to-notice feature of blogs/sites like the above-linked is they are updated at a very slow pace.
2-3 new reviews a week, 10 per month, would be perfect for me. They'd be longer and more thought-of. If the same people spends the same time to do 10 of something instead of 40...

This is the full potential of HonestGamers, a non-commercial site, at least in my opinion.
Which means getting fewer hits, going further down on Google's results, but, as the welcome letter says, "contributing to the intelligent discussion of games" as, and maybe more, than ever.

To solve financial troubles, it could be turned into a blog.

These are just my interests and hopes as a user. I believe there is no right and wrong path, but inclinations varying from person to person.
I think you can attract more people by lowering quality, and by that alone.

What was it that 1UP paid, if not its, let me say, stubborn quality and passion?
See at the most successful players in the VGMedia arena and draw your conclusions.

The number of people interested in discussion and analysis of a given quality doesn't rise or fall, it's fixed. You go up in quality, readers get fewer, and vice versa. Want more popularity? Steer towards the lower common denominator, start giving games 9s and 10s, using loud headers, and all what I and you know it takes.

None of the blogs I linked to would ever show up at Gamerankings, and they don't have to.

The same or more quality and (inevitably) the same or fewer readers is my hope for this site, then.



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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: December 16, 2016 (08:21 PM)
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Thank you for taking the time to read that post, and for sharing your thoughts on the site. I'll certainly keep your comments in mind as I continue to tweak things.

The post you read is actually a little over three years old now, and my thoughts on the site and its place on the Internet have evolved over time. So has the site itself, and so have competing sites. It's probably time for a new post that sums up my current thoughts on the site, so look for something along those lines to happen (probably) very soon.

In the meantime, I'll say in brief that I don't plan to turn the site into a dedicated blog, both because that wouldn't really serve our huge backlog of great content, and because that's what most other sites are already doing these days. We don't have the resources to compete by copying what the industry leaders--and plenty of growing niche sites--already do reasonably well.

The Internet has reached the point where an old-fashioned site like HonestGamers feels refreshingly different (at least to me), just because virtually every other site has moved on to other approaches. So I'm mostly interested in doubling down and focusing on producing more quality content and considering how to get the word out to potential "old school" readers that we exist and are doing fun things. I feel like the real problem isn't our content, which I love, but how few other people know about it. I'm confident there are many people who would appreciate what we're doing at HonestGamers and who would happily get involved in a meaningful way, but simply don't realize that we exist. I want to help those people find the site and inspire them to get involved. Everything else that we might want for the site, I believe, will naturally follow from there.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: hastypixels
Posted: December 28, 2016 (11:49 PM)
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When I discovered HonestGamers it was the breath of fresh air I'd been seeking for years. I like playing new games, but I'm not a "reasonable consumer", either. I'd call us "discerning", above all, and I agree that our mature perspective is a stand alone complex that needs to exist.

I think of the reviews I write as impressions, not critiques. We don't have to be industry veterans for our perspectives to be of value; that happens on its own. I have some training in GUI design, web design and the graphic arts, but I'm no grizzled professional.

My most valuable asset is experience and my preferences. How do I feel about a game, and why do I feel that way? That's what I try to express when I write. The market doesn't push us around, and it's so important that not change.

I've considered some layout adjustments, but what comes to mind most is accessibility. I like the layout of the site; it's clutter and suggestion free, and encourages you to read. Ads are unobtrusive. How to link the author a little more deeply might be worth addressing, but that's about it...


The word you're looking for is "sensible".

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: December 29, 2016 (02:48 AM)
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Thanks for your compliments on the site's uncluttered design. That's definitely no accident. I wanted the site to be as free from clutter as possible while still giving viewers a decent idea of the site's actual depth. A lot of web design amounts to restraint: what to show, what to link to, what to cut, what to expand.

The site has had considerably more cluttered designs in the past, but the current look (for several years now) is my attempt at minimalism and also works great on a smartphone. So I'm not sure that the site will ever see a major overhaul from here, unless it generates enough revenue that a professional redesign makes sense.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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