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Blast From the Past: Purge Newsletter - 7 May 2003

Charles Rector's Weblog; Sep. 6, 2013; By Charles Rector
Type: Review
Purge Online

Purge Newsletter - 7 May 2003

Well Well...
Well its sure been a while since the last Purge newsletter, but now that Purge has been released and Hap has a little more time to contribute to the newsletter it should turn into some sort of bi-weekly newsletter to keep you informed to the happenings of the great game Purge. This week it is just going to be a short newsletter to basically introduce Hap's new Soapbox articles.

Soapbox #1
Long time no see. Since Purge has finally shipped, I am discontinuing the "By Design" newsletter articles, and replacing them with Soapbox articles.

Purge should be in the stores by now. Should. Most stores still don't have Purge or any other new TSI published game for that matter. EB seems to be the only chain reliably carrying Purge. GameStop has shelf signs advertising TSI products, including Purge, but there is no Purge (or Bandits or Knight Rider) stocked. I had hoped to send out the Soapbox article after Purge reached mass distribution. But Nick has been bugging me for a new newsletter for a while now.

[How to run a gaming site]

Purge has been getting game reviews of varying quality. It is important that people read these reviews with a grain of salt. We've been reading reviews that are blatantly wrong. Where the reviewers just didn't read the manual and doubtfully even played Purge any longer than to take screenshots. I've read how a reviewer claimed the Android was too powerful because he could make unlimited Ion Barriers. Simply untrue. The Android can make 4. It is clearly stated in the manual. He also did not know that a Nuke/Angelfire could destroy multiple Ion Barriers/Wards nice and easy. I've read all kinds of nonsense in reviews that untrue, like the player runs too slow. They didn't know Agility could control the run speed. And then I've read conflicting reviews where one review would complain since XP is saved, people get too powerful and another review where they wish XP could be saved. These writers didn't spend the time read the manual where it explain clearly XP saving (called Persistence) is purely server optional. It this kind of half-assed game review and make you wonder what kind of reviewers they are hiring.

Well I have an idea. How? We used to run content websites. We wrote hardware and software reviews and guides. This was back when dot-coms were still hot stuff and web advertising was reasonable. We started during the very peak of the dot-com boom... I think you can figure out the story there. We just came in a little too late.

Fortunes, or lack thereof, aside, what it taught me was how gaming content websites are run. And how you can run your own gaming site too.

During the height of the dot-com, a common phrase heard was "content is king". The higher quality your writers, the better your articles, the more visitors you got. And the more visitors you got, the more page impressions (known ambiguously as "hits") you would get. The more impressions you got, the more money you made off ads. Remember the huge Thresh Quake Bible? We were no strangers to good writing either. For example, Adam wrote System Shock 2 guide, which generated a large number of new visitors.

That was the past. When web-advertising prices started falling so did quality. Now many gaming websites have unpaid writers. They take free labour as often and as possible. One Purge review on a "major" website was written by a high-sophomore. That means a 14-15 year old wrote a Purge review and this site just played it off as if a professional writer did it. And how much did he get paid for the writing the review. Zippo. Nothing. I don't think anyone can make the argument a free article by a 14 year old is going to be a quality.

Another "major" US-based website got free German writer to review Purge. The writer demanded we cater a good game at 3 AM (yes our time) or he would give us a bad review. I told him that he was crazy, and his response "not my problem".

So this is it pretty much how gaming websites are run now. You've probably noticed that websites lack the quality strategy guides that you saw 2-3 years ago. Those that still write strategy typically are unfinished or worse; require you to subscribe to their service. This is because writing guides are expensive for the gaming website. You can't get free labour for an un-aged kid to churn out guides. They person would actually have to play the game and want to spend days writing 20+ page articles. That means... dun dun dun... full time, paid writers.

It just isn't profitable when web ad rates are floating around $1-2 CPM (cost per mille or thousand impressions). (Consider when we first started running websites, ad rates were $10-15 CPM with some big sites getting up to $25 CPM.) Now some ads only pay per unique user.

The current content situation is churned out crap as fast as possible. I know all the dirty tricks to do that. I was in the business. Some people don't even write reviews. They don't review games. What they do is read the reviews from two other sites and summarize them into their own review. So they don't ever actually play the game. There are few Purge reviews that the quite suspect of being an amalgam of other reviews. I have an eye for this; I've dealt with writers who have been accused of this.

Bottom line, is gaming websites are not run like CNN or Fox News. There is not professional journalism. The number 1 goal is manufacture as much crap as possible as cheaply as possible. Many high profiles, seeming big gaming sites are run with one head guy and bunch of freelance, unpaid writers that submit articles over the Internet. That wouldn't be a big problem, if maybe the site paid the workers to do it full time. But mostly, you just find anyone who will work for free and "some" command of the English language. No Journalism or Communication college degree needed. All these writers get in return a free copy of some game. (This is easy to get once you have a few PR contacts.)

Now you know how to run a gaming website. 
Domain Name: $30. Web hosting: $30. Games: free. Writers: free.

Latest News
Well there really hasn't been that much news, however one thing that Hap forgot to mention in the Soapbox is that if you think there is a feature that would go well in Purge that you could in-fact request it at the request a new feature thread in the forums.

Latest Files
If you have not tried out Purge and would like to you can download the Purge demo, which is now version 1.4.4d.

If you've bought the full version of Purge the current version is 1.4.4. If you do not have that version you can get it here.

Fan site of the week
Surprisingly enough there are currently no fan sites that cover purge to our knowledge. If you would like to start one up however we've put together some great images to be used that you can check out by downloading the Purge Fan Kit.

Copyright 2003 Freeform Interactive LLC. Contact us.

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