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Eurogamer starts subscription, asks community for financial support - not going too great


alex3d
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How hard is it to verify a source that wants to providee proof? Even if yo u know nothing about law surely you'd instinctively know that truth is a defence against libel. Othewise no-one would ever be able to print anything other than fluff pieces.

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1 hour ago, Myshkin said:

How hard is it to verify a source that wants to providee proof? Even if yo u know nothing about law surely you'd instinctively know that truth is a defence against libel. Othewise no-one would ever be able to print anything other than fluff pieces.


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18 hours ago, Majora said:

I've never fully understood guide writing, perhaps someone here can help me understand. How can you guarantee that the guide writer will always be able to find everything in a game?

 

For example, Alan Wake tasks you with finding 100 thermos flasks hidden throughout the whole game, nearly all of which are missable if you trigger a certain cutscene and with no real indication of where the ones you haven't collected yet are located. Is a guide writer expected to play through the levels over and over again until they find them all or what? How on earth does writing a guide for something like that work?

 

I got asked to write a walkthrough for C&C: Red Alert for PC Zone back in the day. My tactic was just to play through the game and write up whatever I did to beat each map, whether it was the best way or not. Hey, it was guaranteed to get you past. I hope it helped at least one person, although I'm glad they never asked me to do a guide for the multiplayer!

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21 hours ago, McCoy said:

 

You have to admit, it is a bit of a strange stance. 

 

You were happily reading EG and consuming ads. EG say they are financially struggling and introduce a new method of reading which may help them and you take this as your cue to try to prevent any money flowing to them at all. 

 

EG - 'We're financially struggling, please subscribe or continue to view ads' 

You - 'Well, I was happy to view ads when I thought the site was very profitable, now I know its struggling I'll go out of my way to make their financial situation even worse by trying not to view the ads at all'. 

 

The Eurogamer business plan is a bit if a strange one really isn't it?

 

They have a website chock full of adverts to sustain them. Now they are not getting enough traffic or making enough money from this method.

 

Stepping through this as any kind of business:

 

> You give your content away 'for free' so anyone can view it

> This isn't working anymore, you aren't getting enough money

> Your user base is not visiting enough

> Why is this? Your product/content isn't enough to keep them coming back even for FREE

> At this point you want to make these dwindling numbers PAY for a service that already isn't very appealing

 

Imagine an ad supported MMO that launches as a free game. If starts well then after a few years it's numbers behind to drops away.

Without any new features, outstanding content, or changing things, the MMO now wants everyone to pay.

What do we think is going to happen?

 

The whole idea seems, on paper, like a really ham fisted business decision.

You upset your loyal fans by closing their community and then ask for more money?

"Hey, we are still doing the same old reviews and that, and we've closed the community, how about you help us out so we can keep this failing service alive?.

 

If a business is floating away down the river you need to pivot and try something new. You do not suddenly ask for more money, especially when you've upset your more frequent users of your business.

 

"My ice cream is melting and no one is buying it because it's November, time to put up the price! I'M GONNA BE RICH "

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He's right though with regard to the steps he outlined. Subscriber benefits are questionable (Merch discounts?!?) and the first few Premium articles are too ("Why all the high review scores?" Or the painting one).

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27 minutes ago, alex3d said:

He's right though with regard to the steps he outlined. Subscriber benefits are questionable (Merch discounts?!?) and the first few Premium articles are too ("Why all the high review scores?" Or the painting one).

 

Premium articles? So it's the same thing as before. Now you pay for it. That will work out splendidly!

 

Where is the innovation? A record label is mental and would never work, and at the same time it's an innovative idea.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Myshkin said:

How hard is it to verify a source that wants to providee proof? Even if yo u know nothing about law surely you'd instinctively know that truth is a defence against libel. Othewise no-one would ever be able to print anything other than fluff pieces.


lt doesn’t matter if truth is a defence against libel, if you can’t afford to go to court, and it’s single sourced anyway from randoms posting on the internet. The only way you’d ever go further is having something unambiguously from inside Sony.

 

Their “defence” is “we’re just reporting some stuff we saw on a forum”. It’s a weak defence, but it’s more of a defence than “we’ve seen documents”, because Sony aren’t going to shout at them too much for the first and might shout a lot for the second.

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1 hour ago, Hamus said:

 

The Eurogamer business plan is a bit if a strange one really isn't it?

 

They have a website chock full of adverts to sustain them. Now they are not getting enough traffic or making enough money from this method.

 

Stepping through this as any kind of business:

 

> You give your content away 'for free' so anyone can view it

> This isn't working anymore, you aren't getting enough money

> Your user base is not visiting enough

> Why is this? Your product/content isn't enough to keep them coming back even for FREE

> At this point you want to make these dwindling numbers PAY for a service that already isn't very appealing

 

Imagine an ad supported MMO that launches as a free game. If starts well then after a few years it's numbers behind to drops away.

Without any new features, outstanding content, or changing things, the MMO now wants everyone to pay.

What do we think is going to happen?

 

The whole idea seems, on paper, like a really ham fisted business decision.

You upset your loyal fans by closing their community and then ask for more money?

"Hey, we are still doing the same old reviews and that, and we've closed the community, how about you help us out so we can keep this failing service alive?.

 

If a business is floating away down the river you need to pivot and try something new. You do not suddenly ask for more money, especially when you've upset your more frequent users of your business.

 

"My ice cream is melting and no one is buying it because it's November, time to put up the price! I'M GONNA BE RICH "

 

I think what you're describing here is an approach - but its a populist one based on large readership all providing fractions of pennies in ad revenue.

 

An alternative approach is to eschew the numbers and just target the whales who are willing to pay - how many hundreds of thousands of page impressions do you need to generate the income of one paid sub ? Is it easier to attract that one paid sub than getting thousands of people interested.

 

There are many profitable companies that don't target the mass market, but rather go after the more affluent selective punters who are willing to pay - from the advent of the internet most journalism has been in a race to the bottom based on throwing out it's content for free, utterly devaluing it and in most peoples eyes now making it something not worth paying for.

 

A few places are realising the madness of this with some papers now well established behind paywalls and the likes of the Athletic providing a quality paid for service for sport.

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25 minutes ago, SMD said:

The Athletic is dogshit and they're losing so much money they're looking for a buyer.

 

I'd disagree strongly on the content front, you may not like the business model (the usual internet lose a shit ton and hope to get bought out before you run out of cash) but the actual writing is excellent I find, consistently way beyond most other outlets.

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I'm a Liverpool fan and the number of articles worth reading are so low, if I supported a smaller team there'd be almost nothing for me. So much of their content is either really long winded hagiography or cobbling together some Twitter and reddit rumours into an article.

 

I really don't like it and judging by their financial performance I'm not the only one.

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1 hour ago, Gotters said:

A few places are realising the madness of this with some papers now well established behind paywalls and the likes of the Athletic providing a quality paid for service for sport.

 

That's the crux.

The Athletic is very professional.

The Guardian are also pretty good.

Eurogamer?

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I think this move to a subscription makes a lot of sense, as most of the criticisms of the site in this thread can be pretty directly attributed to Eurogamer relying on ads to continue existing. The transition period will be dicey, though, as for the foreseeable all of the bad stuff will need to stick around to keep the lights on whilst there's no extensive back catalogue of exclusive content people might want access to.

 

Personally I won't be subscribing as I don't even visit the site much these days, much less have any kind of connection to the staff or their output. However, I happily pay for Waypoint+ as the benefits to both me and their wider audience were clear, so I don't see why the same couldn't also be true for Eurogamer. Granted Waypoint's audience is almost certainly a lot more engaged than Eurogamer's, but the latter's reach is also much broader so they'll only need a fraction of their readership to open their wallets for it to be a worthwhile venture.

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28 minutes ago, Hamus said:

 

That's the crux.

The Athletic is very professional.

The Guardian are also pretty good.

Eurogamer?

But the Athletic is following a pretty typical digital-first media track:

 

i) convince VCs to give them a shit tonne of money based on idea that they’re more innovative and digital savvy than existing organisations

 

ii) Go out and spend huge piles of cash poaching high end talent with big social followings, spend more on digital marketing and super discounted initial subscription rates

 

iii) announce huge subscriber numbers

 

iii) be anointed as the savour of media

 

iv) as investors demand more returns on their money, panic because many of your subscribers stand no chance of extending subscription at ‘proper rate’ and you can’t afford to burn through marketing spend at the same rate

 

v) try to get bought by NYT or other established media co

 

vi) when they turn their nose up after a look at the numbers, realise that the spell is broken and you’re probably fucked

 

The depressing thing is that at least they have invested in proper journalism and journalists, and even then it’s hard to make it pay.

 

Paywalls are attractive and can work if you have really unique content (and in FT’s case lots of company subscriptions) but you also run the risk of killing the top of the funnel and seeing a dwindling subscriber base. The media business landscape is an absolute bloodbath and anything succeeding in it or even keeping afloat is miraculous.

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37 minutes ago, SMD said:

I'm a Liverpool fan and the number of articles worth reading are so low, if I supported a smaller team there'd be almost nothing for me. So much of their content is either really long winded hagiography or cobbling together some Twitter and reddit rumours into an article.

 

I really don't like it and judging by their financial performance I'm not the only one.

This is a really important point. The Athletic’s promise to a lot of the writers they recruited was that the audience would want to read really long, deep stuff and that’s partly what would differentiate them from the rest. But actually that’s a shortcut to a lot of indulgent and boring writing. A lot of the athletic stuff is good. But writers really, really need editors and need a sense of the value of concision. Long reads can be great but their value is obscured when everything is long.

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I think the value proposition of The Athletic is much stronger in the US than over here. Their initial plan IIRC was to effectively give a home to all the local sports journalists, covering local teams, that had lost their jobs when the regional newspaper market collapsed / consolidated. When it came to expanding overseas they basically chucked a load of money at national newspaper talent because that's the only land there really was to grab. 

 

I agree a lot of it is overwritten and far too long — and the football stuff I've read over there is no better than you can get for free elsewhere (though the basketball stuff is great) — but I do like that it exists. 

 

I think a videogame version could potentially be a lot more successful, if only because it seems to me that games media is wayyyy more SEO driven than sports coverage (outside of the transfer rumour stuff anyway) and so there's a lot more to be gained from a quality-of-content POV by removing search algorithms, ad revenue and ecommerce from the equation. Convincing people to pay is another matter, of course, but is there a media audience on the planet more accustomed to and accepting of subscriptions and micropayments than people who like videogames? 

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49 minutes ago, Hewson said:

Paywalls are attractive and can work if you have really unique content (and in FT’s case lots of company subscriptions) but you also run the risk of killing the top of the funnel and seeing a dwindling subscriber base. The media business landscape is an absolute bloodbath and anything succeeding in it or even keeping afloat is miraculous.

 

And it's worked in other sports too, the motorsport Athletic is probably "motorsport.com" and they now essentially a monopoly in motorsport media (They own Autosport, several real life series, a lot of eSports, Duke who make all the seasons reviews you watched as a kid, several game developers including the Nascar licence holders....)

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43 minutes ago, Hewson said:

The depressing thing is that at least they have invested in proper journalism and journalists, and even then it’s hard to make it pay.

 

Eurogamer then?

 

3 minutes ago, Nate Dogg III said:

Convincing people to pay is another matter, of course, but is there a media audience on the planet more accustomed to and accepting of subscriptions and micropayments than people who like videogames? 

 

There is not, but then you have to look at how they consume that content and how it triggers purchases.

Subscriptions and micropayments are wildly different, even if the crossover is becoming blurred.

 

A 'Season pass' is a subscription type model, but it's being triggered by a variety of factors.

Product familiarity (free), desire (better stuff), and social (everyone else is getting it). Its already tied to rewards, you are already participating, so upgrade a bit to get even more desirable stuff.

 

Microtransactions are often based around a 1. product familiarity (free + length of service) and 2. an offer appearing at the right time.

With 2. - this can be demographic, time, or investment based.

Most commonly, surfacing a microtransaction to a player when they are in a joyous state.

See Clash Royale. You level up, yay! Get new things unlocked, yay! Sparkly graphics, yay!

Now - there's an offer in the shop for £5! Yay! 

Dopamine hit targeting is an easy thing to do if your product is great.

 

Eurogamer does not appear to be doing any of this. It is likely they haven't conducted enough user research, and didn't define a plan to succeed.

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1 minute ago, Hamus said:

.

 

Eurogamer does not appear to be doing any of this. It is likely they haven't conducted enough user research, and didn't define a plan to succeed.

 

That's what I think too.

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The problem with long-form stuff is that if I dip out then the prospect of dipping back in starts to fill me with dread. I used to read an architecture-focused digital zine called Heterotopias, and while I loved the idea and the fact that the focus of the mag seemed to chime really well with what I like - Wipeout, Dishonored, Mirror's Edge - the length and the seriousness of the pieces made me reluctant to start and a bit guilty about not reading it. Media can start to feel like a job when you've got a load of podcasts backed up, a watchlist of stuff to get through on streaming platforms, and a load of games to complete, and I really don't need anything more to stick onto that pile.

 

A mag / website that was funny and had a good mix of short, punchy pieces and the occasional longer article would be great. I like Eurogamer, but it would also be nice to see something that wasn't so in thrall to the 90s-mag template of news, previews, reviews and tips, which was more about joining the dots between different things than giving each dot a rating out of ten, or saying how many pixels were in the dot.

 

Interestingly, I've seen a few companies trying to chase that 90s web dream of being able to easily and quickly make very small payments, i.e. the original definition of microtransactions. I can't see it working in that instance, personally - these sites would work better with regular, reliable subscription income I would think rather than a flood of payments for one article that hits the algorithmic jackpot. But anything that makes it easier for people to dip in would help.

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38 minutes ago, Nate Dogg III said:

I think a videogame version could potentially be a lot more successful, if only because it seems to me that games media is wayyyy more SEO driven than sports coverage (outside of the transfer rumour stuff anyway) and so there's a lot more to be gained from a quality-of-content POV by removing search algorithms, ad revenue and ecommerce from the equation. Convincing people to pay is another matter, of course, but is there a media audience on the planet more accustomed to and accepting of subscriptions and micropayments than people who like videogames? 

 

Agreed - the first company to really go for it could end up making a killing. It probably requires an entirely new venture, though, rather than piggybacking onto something that already exists. Eurogamer is one of the few existing sites it could have worked for, I guess - it has brand recognition and an audience, it could likely hire many prominent videogame journos given the right pitch - but I don't think Reed Pop would ever make the necessary investment. Reed doesn't seem like that kind of benevolent overlord to me, and Eurogamer's stumble into subscriptions so far is rather less than bold.

 

It would require a benefactor willing to endure losses for a while if the Athletic-esque subscription site was properly ambitious in terms of its offering, but I can certainly see such a thing being successful. The idea of no more clickbait and more long form investigative videogames journalism is a welcome one, but it definitely needs subscription money to become a reality. I think that Waypoint launched with these ideals, hoping to achieve them as a free site, but even bearing in mind the overly preachy tone which likely put some readers off, it eventually fell prey to the same SEO gymnastic requirements as other places. There was an interesting interview recently with Austin Walker on Chris Bratt's 'The Games Press' podcast that went into some of Waypoint's issues. Definitely worth a listen.

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Wouldn't this be like a Substack subscription that lets you read all authors (say within a certain category such as video games) per month instead of just one author/sub?

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The closest analogue is more like Defector. The Athletic was very corporate from the start, raised a lot of funding and invested heavily in tech and so on, and as such is built on that VC model of focusing on growth and not worrying about profits until much much later, if at all. Defector was just a bunch of people who used to write for a website people liked (Deadspin) who started their own thing behind a paywall, and have made $3.2 million in their first year. They wrote about it here and it's really quite inspiring. Shows that you don't just end up with better content, but a better company: 

 

Quote

Two winters ago, we were all just a bunch of glum, unemployed bloggers commiserating with each other in a Slack channel in an attempt to distract ourselves from the compounding stresses of unemployment. Now we have a functioning website and business, and we designed both ourselves from the ground up. In addition to writing blogs this year, we spent a lot of time creating company bylaws, writing an employee handbook, establishing a restorative justice framework for solving potential conflicts, collaborating with the National Writers Union to create humane freelancer policies, forming and participating on various committees that determine the direction of the business, and more or less creating the exact company for which we always imagined we wanted to work. We really went and manifested the whole shit!

 

And honestly it's not like there aren't analogues for this stuff in games media already. It's all those video bods that went off to do Patreons, but with words. 

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1 hour ago, Nate Dogg III said:

I think the value proposition of The Athletic is much stronger in the US than over here. Their initial plan IIRC was to effectively give a home to all the local sports journalists, covering local teams, that had lost their jobs when the regional newspaper market collapsed / consolidated. When it came to expanding overseas they basically chucked a load of money at national newspaper talent because that's the only land there really was to grab. 

 

I agree a lot of it is overwritten and far too long — and the football stuff I've read over there is no better than you can get for free elsewhere (though the basketball stuff is great) — but I do like that it exists. 

 

I think a videogame version could potentially be a lot more successful, if only because it seems to me that games media is wayyyy more SEO driven than sports coverage (outside of the transfer rumour stuff anyway) and so there's a lot more to be gained from a quality-of-content POV by removing search algorithms, ad revenue and ecommerce from the equation. Convincing people to pay is another matter, of course, but is there a media audience on the planet more accustomed to and accepting of subscriptions and micropayments than people who like videogames? 

Yeah - they also quite sensibly picked up the biggest regional correspondents like James Pearce for their access and following. The problem is they lured them with incredibly high salaries and also found that the new regional correspondents also had deep access and quickly built social followings too.

 

I'm also glad it exists but it's frustrating that the basic business model was "the existing media is shit at this and we'll do it better" only to find that actually the problem is incredibly challenging and they weren't really bringing much more to the party.

 

Interesting thing about the videogame equivalent is that I'd argue Edge is it - a genuinely niche product with consistently characterful, expert and distinct writing. The big question is whether that could work digitally and whether it needs to. I think the big mistake of the Athletic and the investors was the expectation that this kind of business could be huge.

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5 hours ago, Hamus said:

Stepping through this as any kind of business:

 

> You give your content away 'for free' so anyone can view it

> This isn't working anymore, you aren't getting enough money

> Your user base is not visiting enough

> Why is this? Your product/content isn't enough to keep them coming back even for FREE

> At this point you want to make these dwindling numbers PAY for a service that already isn't very appealing

 

It is not an unfair assessment although I imagine part of the problem is that even with healthy usage numbers, internet ads just don't create much revenue in the grand scheme. I could be wrong but it seems a lot of news sites are turning to pay walls as a solution which slightly implies that advertising alone isn't creating very much revenue. Why would any site pivot to pay wall if internet advertising was paying gazillions of pounds per year.

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