Change to paid review policy at Game Tunnel

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by cyrus_zuo, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Hey all...figure I'll get some flak for this, but something that needs to be done as we move forward...

    Game Tunnel is changing how we charge for game reviews. In the past (up until today) all reviews have cost $49.99 and included 10,000 impressions of a skyscraper ad.

    Moving forward, reviews will cost $34.99, $44.99 or $69.99.

    The different prices are based on whether or not you have an affiliate program that we can be part of.

    Those who use Plimus and hook us up as an affiliate can purchase reviews at $34.99. Those who use anything else can purchase a review for $44.99.

    If you don't have an affiliate program or don't want to use Game Tunnel as an affiliate, the cost for a review is $69.99.

    This move is in part due to the changes that I'm working on with the website (expected revision is November-ish still). Just FYI, I do pay the reviewers for every game that we review. However, I haven't, myself, pocketed any money from running the site (it's all been reinvested into the site and helped to pay for my trips to the IGF)

    If you have any thoughts/questions please let me know. If you hate me, just drop me a PM, I'll file it ;)
     
  2. z3lda

    Original Member

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    Does all 3 prices include 10,000 impressions?
     
  3. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    yeah, no change there
     
  4. Andy

    Original Member

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    Wow! See guys? He've shot two words on TV and now he starts to get his piece of pie back. :D

    Really I was going to write you on issue exactly by day ago Russ.
    REM: Is it just my dumbness or you really have no any contact info on site?

    Hopefully ( ;) :D ) all that noice about TV goes down and I'm going to order another review Russel. And... I explain in private why.

    And the public question is: Do you have the option to order the review from some specific reviewer? - such as I'd need the review from the same author who was reviewing this specific game: http://www.gametunnel.com/html/reviews-117.html
    Plea-a-a-a-se! As exclusion! ;)

    I'm at PM for the rest.
     
  5. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Can you request: Yes, I've met every request so far...but there is a caveat. I'm moving away from doing reviews myself, so that I can focus on the other aspects of the site, such as interviews and special stories (goty, igf, mid-terms, etc.)
     
  6. Ryan Clark

    Indie Author

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    A question... you say "affiliate program" but you do not specify any percentage, or dollar figure. Authors can offer their affiliates any percentage they wish, so I would assume you'd want to specify a minimum.

    Also, some games sell for as little as $5... 25% of that is obviously less desirable than 25% of a game selling for $19.95.
     
  7. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    That is a good point...something I ought to look at, it hadn't occured to me b/c we've never been offered less than 30% on any affiliate program. The price of the game doesn't bother me at all. I'll have to update the page to say that we want to be in the affiliate program and have a 25% commission for the games we help to sell.
     
  8. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    I'm sure everone will be fine with this. Supporting Game Tunnel is clearly in everyone's best interests so I think it would be extremely short-sighted to begrudge you your much-needed revenue.

    I'm also quite pleased to hear you'll be concentrating less on doing reviews, and I'm trying to put that to you in a nice way... ahem. Not to suggest your reviews are bad, but there are better writers and reviewers out there. You're clearly doing an excellent job running and promoting the site, so if you are in a position to focus more on this while outsourcing the reviews then I can see Game Tunnel going from strength to strength.

    So, er, best of luck, congratulations, thanks, and of course I will be happy to buy a review when the time comes.

    (hey, since you pay your reviewers, will it be cheaper if we write the review ourselves? Ahahahaha)
     
  9. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Wouldn't a developer be better off paying the $70 so that they don't lose 30% from the affiliate sales. It's only about 8 sales for it to be worthwhile paying the extra money.

    Or is that what you're banking on? (pun intended :) )
     
  10. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    Well, my point is that the developer is probably better off supporting GT in the long run. So playing $70 AND offering an affiliate sale might actually be the best option...!
     
  11. Gmicek

    Original Member

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    I don't mean to sound like a jerk or anything, and certainly don't wish this to come across as an attack on Russell, but... With the growing success of GameTunnel is no one else concerned with the idea of paying for a review? I realize developers are not paying for the content of the review (although requesting certain reviewers is a step in that direction), but when you break it down to it's most basic Slashdot-esque headline it really does work out to "Developers Pay GameTunnel For Reviews."
     
  12. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    From the past I believe that more people will do the cheaper option, though I actually have one concern...just being honest...is that the barrier of entry won't be high enough and we'll have to review games that aren't quite up to snuff...which is a double negative, b/c no-one wants to read the review, and we have to be the bearer of bad news, that the game just isn't that great...and everyone believes their game is the best (which is healthy in my mind...to a certain extent)
     
  13. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Absolutely an issue...how to deal with it?

    While it is possible that affiliate work alone can pay for the site, paid reviews helps quite a bit...and since I farm out the reviews, the reviewers don't know currently if they are getting game that Game Tunnel was paid to review...or one that I choose to do as I felt we could make the money back on the affiliate program.

    Of course that is lost on the reader...though it isn't any different really than how gamespot and gamespy operate (except they only review a very small percentage of the games...only the ones everyone wants to know about)
     
  14. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I was thinking about this earlier.

    There seems something unethical about paying for reviews. Like, if I hand you money over I'd expect a decent review otherwise I've just paid money for bad press.

    On the other hand - paying to be listed and then a policy of all listed games get a review seems ok. Yet it's exactly the same thing!! It's just a different wording.

    Don't quite get it myself.
     
  15. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think ideally the review and advertising processes are kept completely separate in order to maintain editorial integrity. However with a small site like this just starting out, I think it's acceptable to bend the rules and find ways to fund the site and ramp it up to a point where you can split stuff up. Paid reviews aren't great, but what's the alternative? No site? We'd all be poorer for that.
     
  16. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    You pay for the ad and get a review thrown in for free. Simple.
     
  17. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Maybe we should just change the wording?

    Game Tunnel started charging for reviews back in October of 03...so it has been something the public has had a lot of chances to get angry at, but haven't so far...

    ...still stating it costs $xx to be listed on the site seems reasonable. We could then in small print write "listing on the site includes having your game on the website with all pertinent information, including a review, download links, system requirements, advertising links & banners, publisher, price, etc."

    Don't know if that solves the issue though? And it may cut into people's interest in purchasing a review if they don't know for sure that they are getting one.
     
  18. Ricardo C

    Original Member

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    I don't see a problem with this wording. The public seems to understand that buying a review does not mean that the review will necessarily be a positive one, and devs know that they're buying exposure, but not necessarily positive exposure. "Ya pays yer money..." and all that.
     
  19. Chris Evans

    Moderator Original Member

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    I also don't really like the concept of paid reviews. Especially the way it's stated so blatantly. ;) As GameTunnel gets more exposure this could definitely be a source of negative publicity. Also, what happens if an editor appears a little too forgiving with a game he's reviewing? If the majority of the GT readers don't agree with the review, they may cry fowl and point to the "paid reviews" to question the site's integrity.

    It is funny though how if you just change it to "paid listing", then it doesn't seem so bad. :) Also I personally wouldn't feel so bad if wasn't directly paying for a review that trashes my game.

    I recommend doing it Download.com style. You pay dl.com to get listed, but not for the review. The review is considered a bonus. So for GT, why not just have a Advertising/Download Listing package? Developers pay for banner Ad impressions and a listing on a download page (get rid of the Reflexive-only download page and make it open for all developers who pay a listing fee).

    Then you can choose to review games from the pool of developers who pay for a listing. A review isn't guaranteed, but it IS a review site so it's in your best interest to review as many of them as possible. :)

    I think this will help alleviate some concerns. Developers are paying for Ad space only. Also the money an editor receives is not coming directly from the review title's developer.

    I realize all we're really doing is changing the perception, but that's probably what's needed. :)
     
  20. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    I like some of the direction of that, but having a download page that I run myself instead of the reflexive page, a) takes a lot more work b) probably won't earn me as much money...

    With the website backend rewrite I'm planning/working on that shouldn't be as much as a problem and something that we can easily do...the only other issue...and it is a big one...is the affiliate piece.

    Downloaded games are a better source of income, but regnow and most affiliate programs do not offer a download link for the affiliate as standard. That is one of my big reasons that I'm pushing towards Plimus...it helps capture the impact we are having much better than the typical link to the developer page (and you can't really have a download page that doesn't have downloads, but instead links to a developer page to download things)

    I do like the paid listing idea with advertising packages...though requiring affiliate is still key, so far this year 95% of the income of the site is through affiliate sales. Making the page wording better is definitely something I'll try to work on this week, and I'll keep considering these ideas and how to implement them as we move forward.
     

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