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OPINION MEDIA


FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF PCGAMESN


JAMES BINNS


On its second birthday, PCGamesN’s MD shares some lessons he has learned since starting the website


W 1


Network N Ltd is a shit name The N in Network N stands for Network. Yes, we actually named our business Network Network. We thought it was funny. It wasn’t. Then we told our sales director we wanted to call our audience extension the Network N Network, he was appalled. Lesson learned: don’t try to be funny.


2. Content is really expensive When we started PCGamesN, we thought we could rely on a custom news aggregator to save on writing. But they don’t grow audiences fast enough. We realised that we had to invest heavily in content and ended up spending more than double our original budget. But the size of the team means we can talk to anyone and even fly a journalist into Kiev to meet developers caught up in the crisis. As we did.


3. Community takes ages For our first year we were miserable about the volume of comments we were getting. It just takes a long time to get a community used to commenting. We’re now up to over 20,000


June 6th 2014


commenting accounts. Adding Steam sign-in rapidly increased the volume of comments and we finally feel like a community.


4. Geography doesn’t matter to audiences From the start we decided to make one website for a global audience. That means one voice and no geo-targeted content. Local editions might be easier for companies with separate PR and marketing teams, but communities for brands like Steam, League of Legends and Minecraft are global.


5. 30 channels wasn’t enough We started out with channels around the biggest brands in PC gaming. That was limiting. Now we’ve tagged over 2,500 PC games with genre, theme and business model. Now when you’re reading about a sci-fi, fantasy subscription MMO we can show you other relevant content. And if you were marketing a sci-fi, fantasy MMO we can target relevant games. Nobody else is doing this. We’ll be back in a year to update on our progress. With a bigger cake.


22 PLATFORMS


THE END OF THE END OF THE CONSOLE


JOOST VAN DREUNEN Leading games industry analyst and SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen on the return of the console and the spike in digital sales across Xbox and PlayStation


hen it comes to gaming, I’m an equal opportunity offender.


I don’t distinguish between platforms or get locked into owning one over another. As if you could only know the true experiential richness that games offer through the lens of a single platform. Nonsense. As I’m setting up my schedule for E3, I’m reminded that a year ago analysts were competing to stake the claim: the Death of the Console. Which, as it turns out, was greatly exaggerated. Already the Xbox One and PS4 have sold 12m units combined. It may yet be a bit too early to call bullshit on all the analysts, but in February the Xbox One broke records selling over 60 per cent more units than the 360 did at the same point in its lifecycle. But then again, this console


cycle isn’t like any other before. For years, the console business has tried to integrate digital distribution into its offering. I remember plugging in my brand new Dreamcast, holding my breath as it connected to the Interwebs. Of course, nothing much happened, largely because publishers weren’t really ready to develop and facilitate online gameplay. Today, that’s a different


story. The success of brands like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto Online tell us that publishers have made digital key to their strategies. Already we’re seeing the market for DLC on consoles grow. In April total spending on digital


www.mcvuk.com


console reached £27m in the US, up from £19m a year ago, and £5m in the United Kingdom, up from £3.7m. Free-to-play on console. Oh, the humanity. Yes, free-to-play is evil. Adding in-game item shops to premium console titles is publishers double-dipping, right? Well, frankly, it’s not. Free- to-play is a pricing strategy that allows playing a game for a while to try it out. On the open web and on mobile, it’s a practice that so far has gone ungoverned. Apple has been working to protect children from being duped into spending their parent’s money, but that’s the most of it. On closed platforms like consoles, manufacturers and publishers are keen to ensure their audience is happy. Remember, the combined install base for the PS4 and Xbox One totals 12m units. Unlike the massive audiences for mobile and social network-based games, the console market will be careful to not suck the life out of their audiences. In the walled garden of the console, you can expect to be treated like royalty.


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