Ironically, the editorial could be about this website, and in some ways it is. Video Game Websites, specifically websites that deal in reviews and journalism, are slowly dying on the vine. It is not any one thing. Part of it is low ad rates and the drying up venture capital money. Sites need to drive the revenue any way they can. Even moreso, nobody cares about opinions of people who neither know anything about, nor really care about, gaming(read my Gone Home review where I rant about it). This is a shift to YouTube and other social media to get gaming news and reviews from gamers (think of guys like YongYea). Therefore, nobody reads these sites. Finally, part of it is AI making websites obsolete.so there is no reason to go at all.
But how this manifests is by clickbait on social with hot takes or just plain bad takes. To be fair, this stuff has always existed on the internet, but now it is worse than ever. After all, why would IGN post about Elder Scrolls not coming to Playstation endlessly?
Gaming Websites are dying, and they are manifesting this death with clickbait. Take one Kotaku. They are famous for bringing politics to gaming. Though as money has dried up, they’ve left that era behind. It seems to be strictly gaming now. A quick glance at their Twitter paints a dismal picture. 2.2 Million follows, can barely muster 25 likes on an article. Nobody cares. So how do they make people care? Bad or just plain stupid opinion pieces. Like, Is Detective Pikachu a Cop? While their twitter post on the subject only got 35 likes, the Sophia Narwitz post on this got 2281 likes(as of this writing). Mission successful, Kotaku got mentioned and people realize they exist.
IGN, mentioned above, is not much better off. 9.8 Million follows on Twitter, likes average in the 60s. They lean into the console war with their clickbait. They consistently post console-war articles, or even leaning in with the coverage. As I mentioned in last week’s console war editorial, they gave Starfield a 7, precisely for the backlash and clicks it would generate.
What about the Game Slush Pile?
And now we come to the why the clickbait is happening. It is not any one thing, as I listed above. But all of it posts a definite shift away from traditional websites .Game Journalism is dying and people are taking notice. So why am I running a traditional website? Because as I’ve said, this is a passion project. I review utter garbage as a service to the community. Who else is going to touch Jigsaw Ice Princess? Why Google scraping websites for its Google Bard is scary, I’m not worried about it taking my hobby just yet. I put in “review Jigsaw Ice Princess” and got:
Jigsaw Ice Princess is a well-made and enjoyable jigsaw puzzle game for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a great choice for players of all ages who are looking for a relaxing and challenging puzzle game to play.Bullshit
Somebody has to tell the world not to buy certain stuff, so I’ll do it! Still, even I have to deal with the shift, and do more clickbait, that’s why the editorials exist. They do way better than the average review. Likewise, large gaming websites are shifting to guides and tips, which still get the views. It used to be just Gamefaqs, now the guide sites are legion.
In the end, Gaming websites, be it huge like IGN, or minuscule like mine, are gradually being made obsolete. Excessive and annoying clickbait from everyone is a sign of that. We need the clicks by any means necessary. It’s not pretty, nor am I happy about it, but it must be done.