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Video games are one
of the fastest developing market sectors, showing tremendous growth in the last
20 years. From being a pastime for geeks, they have become a mainstream
activity, drawing in thousands of gamers, casual and hardcore alike. With the
ever-lower barrier for entry, gaming websites spring up by the dozen.
Unfortunately, many of them fall off the face of the Internet as well. The
attrition rate is the result of a number of factors, most importantly the lack
of a concrete content plan, resulting in a haphazard, amateurish
implementation. Obviously, the best idea is to actually have one.
Decide on a Focus
The easiest way to
waste all your effort is to try and create a general gaming website. Without a
specific focus, you can’t decide on a target audience, can’t optimize the site
for keywords, and you’ll ultimately disappear into oblivion. Ask yourself what
you like to do, what games you love, and what you’d like to see in a website.
The best sites meet a specific need, like catering to the hardcore cRPG fans
with up-to-date coverage of old and new games in the classic RPG style. Or
publishing hitherto unknown historical content, like early betas, technical
demos, or elements cut from the games for the gamer interested in how games are
made. A specific focus will help you tailor the content and select its forms.
Working on Content
This is the most
important step. Since the emergence of easily deployed content management
systems and ready-made video game website templates, creating a site is incredibly easy.
Filling the site in is the crucial point, and where the most mistakes are made.
The types of content depend on the focus. A website focused on gaming reviews
and previews will likely benefit from including richly illustrated blog posts
as well as review videos and comment threads. A site focused on building online
communities, on the other hand, will likely work best with forums and a robust
user networking system, especially if its built to connect to the particular
game or game series you are covering.
Of course, the site
needs a community to survive. Building it is perhaps the hardest part.
Obviously, expanding into the various social networking options is a
recommended step. An audience developed organically on sites such as Facebook
or Twitter translates into users and traffic. It’s also a good idea to remain
an active member on the various official and unofficial forums associated with
the game, building the site’s reputation through consistent, high-quality
posting and avoiding direct advertising. It goes without saying that engaging
the audience and keeping them interested is one of the most important elements
of developing a site and its content.
Things to Look Out
Building content is best done in a team, to
avoid burning out. However, exercise caution and screen potential team members.
Aside from obvious considerations, like their skills and talents, you need to
make sure they are trustworthy. While hard to prove, loyalty is quite hard to
come by and may result in a disgruntled team member sabotaging your efforts.
Losing several years of effort due to a rogue admin demolishing your Facebook
fan page or permanently deleting content from your server is not something
anyone should experience.