It’s the start of the convention season for 2015. We’ve had the GDC as well as Pax East a week ago and so far I’ve been rather surprised with them and the utter lack of interesting news coming out. Usually these events become a smorgasbord of reveals and games showing off their latest and greatest. There were a few new indie games showing off, and the Morpheus Virtual Reality system looked like it was coming ahead but other that it seemed to just be games showing their newest update during development.
It makes me wonder just how much the industry has changed in regards to the place of the media and how it’s being used now. It seems with the greater connectivity we have, the less meaningful these media sites have become. They are still obviously being used and those who have grown their audience for their particular niche will do well but they have all no longer become the only, or even main source of gaming news.
Companies are increasingly using a lot more tools for spreading information on their games. I see a lot more blogs happening now for many companies, and not just indie groups anymore. Many of these companies are using YouTube more effectively to spread the latest and greatest news, trailers and gameplay. Twitch for showcasing games in a more personal light as well as giving them the time to do a more in-depth discussion on it. And then there is just the explosion amongst social media and forums like reddit which are increasing the ways they connect to gamers, and the ways information is spread.
Developers, publishers and game makers no longer need the media to spread this information, especially the larger ones as it seems we are already getting our news from the source, or at least far less separated from that source. Even when it’s not direct it still far more connected to the base message as most sites give links. They can tailor the specific message as well without the media sites rewording it, removing parts or voicing opinions throughout. They now have an incredible amount of control, and it’s scary. It makes me wonder just how badly the balance have power has swung and the impact it will have from here on.
I’ve always though the balance of power within the industry rested well on the developers and publishers. They are the ones setting the rules, relaying the information and giving out review games when, at the drop of a pin they could easily change that situation. It is a tenuous balance a lot of these media sites have had to tread for a long while now yet, with how things are progressing this balance seems to be getting further upset.
They most definitely still have a place. Indie games always need greater attention, I have always loved reading critical opinions on games as well and they’ve always served as a decent aggregate but they just don’t have the impact anymore that they once did. Expose’s like that done by Rock paper shotgun and Peter Molyneux are a rarity, if not almost extinct and I see that as a shame. Sometimes you want these groups to have to answer to someone, anyone about their actions but the consequences from doing this are often quite harsh.
It has gone so far now that some developers believe that these sites are nothing more than their personal messenger. A place where they should be allowed, entitled to post whatever the want. To post their opinions. To post their exact press statement. Then attacking them for imagined slights and with the current fear campaign and witch hunt against certain groups and media sites they can easily drum up an eager lynch mob.
(using this tweet because I found it funny that someone fighting for freedom of conversation has me blocked from their twitter. oh, and that letmarkspeak hashtag was rather hilarious).
The press as it is now is in a very hard place. The overlords have increased control over their little minions below and are getting restless with their puppets lack of obedience. Pinocchio wants to grow up but then where does that leave it when it’s only use for the general population seems to be how well they regurgitate whatever its told.
I personally don’t believe the gaming media valued its place as much as they should. Many other journalistic fields are earning far more, have better job security and are treated with far more respect. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet the media around it is so woefully underpaid and valued. It doesn’t make sense to me. It is definitely a hard industry to work within as you rely on many of these game companies and tech groups for advertisement to survive but I think it was this deep sense of devaluing their own work that put them in the position they are now. They value it so little that they’ve never bothered to fight for better industry standards, to push these companies that are already paying hundreds of millions in advertising to maybe pay some better rates. To be more accountable.
It is interesting then, when taking that into account just how many news sites and groups of writers have been able to break out on their own and be funded quite easily by their readers and supporters. It is amazing how much people do actually value there work when they don’t. Honestly, I think this is where the eventual balance will be coming from in the industry. Slowly more and more groups and sites are becoming their own master, funded by their readers and thus are no longer accountable to the game makers which no doubt allows greater freedom in their opinions and critiques.
I really have no idea where this will all go in the future though or where this little ramble is going. The industry is, and has been in flux for a long time now and where the balance will end is any bodies guess.