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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    Unfortunately don't have time to read all the posts, I had to scan many, but the major points still confuse me.

    I can see rewording...and hopefully will have time to work on that this week as mentioned earlier...

    On everything else I keep coming back to these points which I think answer most of the posts I've seen:
    1-the reviewers don't know if they are getting a game that was a paid review or not so how could it affect the score?
    2-this is no different than the site has been for the last year and a half, but people seem to think it is a change (the only change is the price)

    So on the many other comments...I really think points one and two answer most of them

    ...and thanks Anthony for pointing out what I hope to be how most regard me...as most know I haven't pocketed a dollar on the site, the money has all been reinvested to make things easier and better (for example, I started paying for all reviews, this was b/c other than GB, nearly everyone quit b/c it wasn't any fun to review games, we went through 35+ reviewers, most quit before finishing their first review...now, since I am paying for the reviews, we have a group of 5 people who are reviewing, which means more reviews, more information, and more time for me to do other things, I see those all as positives)

    With many here I've contacted you to do a review of your game at no price at all, that's not changing, we might contact less people, but as we have more people offering to write for the site, we may just end up doing more reviews than the 2 a week we have been doing of late (vs 3 during the month of May last year)

    I have to admit I'm surprised at the backlash, if there are thoughts on how to make things better I appreciate them and will consider them. To those points where people think that it needs to be done completely differently, I really would like to see 2 or 3 sites like Game Tunnel out there, give it a try, it can only help indie games to get that many opinions.
     
  2. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    You can't stop a review site from reviewing your game! Whether you've paid for an ad or not, specifying "no review" is just the kind of corruption we want to avoid!

    Similarly with pulling bad reviews, with a penalty fee or not. That would be editorial corruption.

    We pay (not much) for reviews because it keeps GT running. We live with bad reviews because anything else would be wrong. On the other hand, paid review or not, I do expect a decent quality, professional review.

    If the reviewer misses a crucial feature, then that's bad, because it's the reviewer's job to pick up on this sort of thing. However, if the reviewer missed it, the end user will probably miss it, too. And perhaps the developer should accept that they should have:

    a: tutorialed the game better
    b: mentioned any important features to the reviewer beforehand, as well as supplying cheat codes etc. if required.

    I also notice that many of the games covered in the monthly round up appear to be based on demo versions, judging by the reviewers' comments. What the hell is up with that? Where are the free copies for reviewers, people?
     
  3. papillon

    Indie Author

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    ... well, since the roundup should ideally be covering people who didn't know about the site to intentionally submit, if they weren't *asked* to provide a full version.... :)
     
  4. Hamumu

    Indie Author

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    Yep, we review demos... not always, you'll note that whoever made that one really cool RPG, Kid Mystic or something, he provided full versions (as did Breakquest and I of the Enemy) - good move to do so, I think, since it gets me free games! Although it might make me feel more obligated to spend more time on the game, which is a very bad thing considering the sheer number of games I have to check out. So I guess I'd get over that feeling.
     
  5. Anthony Flack

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    Do you make an effort to contact the developers, generally? I know the round-up is only a once-over-lightly, so it's not such a big deal. But still, I think that reviewers should always let the author know that a review is going to happen.

    Not only is it simple courtesy, but that way we can make sure you get the full version, as well as the aforementioned cheat codes and additional information as necessary. It all goes towards making the reviews more fair and accurate, which is something we all should want.

    That goes for all reviews!

    Of course, if developers don't want to do their part, then that's their problem.
     
  6. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Short answer is no...

    Reason for that is that as it is I barely get the monthly round-up done, getting the list of the games together and putting together the article knock out two weekends every month. I don't have time to contact everyone.

    Long answer is sorta...

    At least half, and often more than half of the games included in the round-up come from our 'submit game' link. When a game is submitted it asks for a full-version copy of the game for review. Rarely is that space used...often when it is I'll end up reviewing that game just b/c it is easy. BreakQuest used the opportunity to get us a review copy for each member of the round-up. I of the Enemy contacted me...obviously in a perfect world I would contact all the developers, but this is a best effort...and I think it is great for what it is...though I would love to see more full version games coming through...it is a time issue...just look at TIGsource.
     
  7. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Cyrus_zuo, why don't you get developers to pay for previews, or interviews? You could get some really nice previews going, where there's no real pressure to say if you like a game or not. You simply provide people with some time in the spotlight to talk about their game, perhaps in whatever format they like. Then, ditch the big reviews and stick to the excellent monthly roundups. Even after a game is released, you could still get developers to pay for an interview, so they could explain away a bad review they might have received ;)

    I'm with adhominem on paid reviews. It's a plain bad idea. The above is a good solution, since reviews aren't the be-all and end-all of a developer/game's time in the spotlight.
     
  8. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    As excellent as the monthly round-up is, I don't think it's a substitute for in-depth reviews.
     
  9. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Sure they are, mainly because the "in-depth reviews" aren't in-depth at all. I learnt more about the games with the two-three tiny reviews, than one official one.
     
  10. GBGames

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    Exactly. When I previewed OMF:B I actually talked to the developer on the phone and he described why movement was the way it was. The preview beta had the bots moving much more slowly, and this was to encourage side-stepping. Apparently this frustrated people more than anything since it isn't obvious what you are expected to do, and the obvious thing, simply move forward and spin around, isn't correct. They increased the speed of the bots in the final version.

    For other games I get cheat codes (which I almost never use on principle, but sometimes they let me advance past difficult levels so I can see the whole game) or strategies and tips. It might be hard when you've worked on the game for months on end and have it in front of your face all this time, but you need to find out if something obvious to you isn't going to come off so obvious to others. I could imagine dismissing Dark Archon, one of my favorite games that I have reviewed, if I didn't realize that the frantic pace was the best part of the game. It really was awesome to play at the frantic pace, but it just wasn't newbie friendly. The latest version did a lot to fix that issue, so that's good.
     
  11. Andy

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    I can't get this. Where do you spend all that money?

    1. Following by this page: http://www.gametunnel.com/html/modules.php?name=GT_write you are paying 10$ for review and charge by 40$ the developers for it.

    30$ income from evey single paid review

    2. Following by statement at your site the webhosting is provided by Retro64 now and was pretty cheap before - because that problems with traffic you probably paid not more than 8$ per month.

    0$ - no looses on hosting

    3. Following by your mentioning in these thread: http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=1721
    You get not less than 400 affiliate sales (per month?)

    400*20*0.3=2400$

    So, I'm just wondering where "the money has all been reinvested to make things easier and better" ?
     
  12. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    As much as I support GT and what it does for us, I do think there is room for improvement in the quality of the full-length reviews, and I would hope that this is something that can be built up to. But for $10 a review, I doubt that any of the pro journalists I know would be too interested. So... let's just say that hopefully GT continues to grow, and that this is one area where there is growth potential.

    I think Andy's question is fair enough to ask, though. Since I consider paying for reviews at GT to be a partly charitable exercise. In other words, to me it's more than a cynical question of "will I see a return on this investment", like, say, submitting to download.com. I believe that GT and the other indie sites are performing a valuable and necessary function, and I want to support that. But the flipside of this is, I don't think it's too presumptuous to enquire as to where this money goes.
     
  13. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Good points Anthony... and I look forward to hearing cyrus_zuo's responce to Andy, if it is posted on this forum. I find it interesting though Anthony that you see paying for a review a charitable exercise. As good as it is helping the indie community, I'm not sure a great deal of developers will share your vision.
     
  14. Anthony Flack

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    Ah, then perhaps I'd better elaborate, as paying for a review isn't something I'd ordinarily go for.

    We've often talked here about the need to collectively promote independent gaming, as a way of countering the demise of download.com and subsequent realarcadeization of the industry. But it's never more than idle talk; nobody ever does anything about it.

    But Gametunnel is doing something about it, and what's more, they're starting to see real results. I think this is an incredibly positive thing, and well worth supporting. If paid reviews are the chosen method of patronage, then so be it. The service it performs for the independent scene (movement?) is more than worth it.

    I've pointed several people at Gametunnel, and had them go, "wow, look at all these great games! I honestly had no idea! This is the future of gaming!". The potential market for indie games is huge - but most people still know nothing about us. That is the #1 problem. Do you really want Realarcade to be the one to break the news to them?
     
    #74 Anthony Flack, Feb 1, 2005
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2005
  15. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Well, I'm happy for a portal to show people that indie games do in fact exist (I'm not an anti-portal kinda guy), but... no, I don't want it coming from the evil empire of Real Arcade ;)

    I like your ideals, but that's the problem right there. For those starting (no affiliate) developers who don't have $70 available for a review, they don't appear like anything worthy of note for the indie community, even if their game is winning awards left, right, and centre. No review- not really taken seriously.

    You support Gametunnel = Exposure for indie community.
    Not all games reviewed = Good chunk of indie community missing.
    Question: Is Gametunnel worth supporting then?

    Income needs to come from elsewhere (imo), so as much of the indie community as possible can be covered. Only then will people outside of the indie community actually sit up and take notice.... when they can head to *one* site and read reviews of the best and worst that is available, and not just a few slim pickings, as it is now, and as I believe it still will be if people must pay for a review.
     
  16. Anthony Flack

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    Do you really consider $70 to be a high barrier for entry? If you can't afford $70, you aren't going to get very far marketing your game. You'd definitely want to take the affiliation offer in that case, since they might be the only sales you get.

    If your game is winning awards left and right, then I expect GT will probably want to review it anyway - since they still review games for free, but at their own discretion. But heck, if your game is winning awards left and right, you'd expect to be making a few sales, in which case you can afford the $70...

    It doesn't have to be a complete picture of the independent scene to be worth supporting - that's an unattainable goal, anyway. And you're free to take it or leave it, but there's no need to feel excluded, because for $70, you can always be a part of it. I don't think we should be so idealistic as to expect that a great game will be successful without the developer spending any money at all.

    Besides, the monthly round-up is more comprehensive than anything else I know of.

    Certainly finding other revenue streams would be a good thing. I hope they do. But I don't consider $70 to be that much to ask of developers. I mean, I know we do things on the cheap... but how cheap are we talking here? Homeless people sneaking into libraries to write their games on the catalogue computers?
     
  17. Yossarian

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    I'll have to second the opinion that paid previews would be a much better way to go with this, as it will really save all future potenial conflicts of interest.

    Just charge a larger amount for a preview, say $200, and the developer gets to basically put up a nice promotional article with lots of screenshots, and gets some preferred advertising (starting then, or in correlation with their launch date).

    Then you add a row of "Previews" just below your row of reviews. Have them highlighted all nice with the thumbnails. And bam! You get the flow of money, developers get some positive pre release press, and your reviews of full released games then has zero to do with your income stream.

    IMO, $200 isn't even much to get that much front page exposure on gametunnel, and is a pittance with a decent amount of advertising thrown in. Plus, upping the bar a little means you'll attracting the more "serious" developer.

    Also, it might be a good idea if Russ only did the previews, and the reviews were done by the others whose livelyhood does not depend on the developers. This may seem overly paranoid, but it would go a long ways to really building up the public's and developer's trust in the quality of the reviews.
     
  18. terin

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    hmm

    I gave up reading this entire thread... so here's my comment.

    Just about everywhere, you pay for reviews. Its nothing new. For once someone is just pointing it out and actually charging for it rather than overcharging for advertising.

    The indie community as a whole is very blind to the actual workings of business, mostly because they don't want to see it. It's a corrupt system, deal with it. If I pay 10 grand for a print ad you had better believe that they are paying their reviewer 1% of that to write my damn review. SOME publishing companies may even skew reviews based on how much money they make, others will have integrity and won't. The final result IS that you pay for ads and get reviews.

    Hence why so many of you out there have so much trouble getting major editorial coverage.

    Ok, so.. good work russel, good luck :). Today's lesson is: Lie to the people, they like it a lot more :)

    -Joe
     
  19. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    I thought about the preview and interview idea when it was raised earlier, but I wonder... are they really that much of a benefit to developers? To readers? To Gametunnel?

    In the case of previews, they become redundant once the game is released, so they don't really help build up GT's archives. And I think the independent scene is blessedly low on pre-release hype in general. We don't have the blockbuster mentality; we don't have to try and ship 50,000 units in the first week. And from a reader's point of view, are there really that many indie games you give enough of a damn about to want to know all about while they're still half-finished?

    And as far as interviews go - chances are, they'd be pretty boring except to other developers. When people find out I make games, they usually say something like, "oh, that sounds interesting!". Perhaps, but I guarantee you don't want me to start talking about it.

    I'm not knocking these ideas... all good suggestions, but I do think that for developers, readers, and Game Tunnel alike, that reviews are far more valuable than either of these things.
     
  20. Anthony Flack

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    Joseph - but being indie is all about building a better world, isn't it?

    There are plenty of journalists who have "gone indie" (or "gone unemployed") out of disgust at the corrupt system that places no value on integrity.

    But I second your point, that on a journalistic corruption scale of 1 to 10, Game Tunnel scores a zero.
     

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