When I was using Game Maker in the 4.3 era few people had domain names for their Game Maker ‘team’ or resources sites. Now at the GMC it seems that almost every other gamemaker site has invested in a top level domain. There is still the high number of freewebs sites, and of course those people who insist on using ad-heavy hosts such as bravenet, and then we have the old .tk domains and other subdomains still bouncing about.
I do know quite a bit about domains, as I have around 20 in total and use them for various purposes, but the most important thing to remember is that a domain does not make a site. There are good sites without their own domain name, and equally there are crap sites that do have a domain.
Am I a hypocrite, since after-all this site is gamemakerblog.com? I don’t believe so. Back when I was actively using 4.3, and the super-cool shiny new version 5 I had a subdomain provided by vze.com (ShortURL).
Sure, domains may make it easier for people to remember your site’s name, but if you think honestly about the facts you probably won’t be getting much type-in traffic at all. Most of your traffic will probably come from links on the GMC or gamemaker clone forums or from your affiliates (incidentally check out the BETA of gamemakerblog’s Game Maker Affilaiation Service), a very small proportion of your visitors will actually type your URL in their browser address bar, and after they have done it a few times it will come up automatically anyway.
One good thing about a domain is that you can keep the same address for your site if and when you decide to move hosts. This will also cause fewer problems with incoming affiliate links etc. if your site has an established presence when it moves. Does a domain make your site look more professional? Well before someone has clicked on the link yes, but certainly not if you over-do things by mentioning that you have finally got around to purchasing a domain, – it’s not a big deal really, trust me. Of course once the site loads you can make your own decision on the professionalism portrayed by examining the design (or often lack of it) and content (or lack of it) available on the site.
Take for example FullForceGames infamous to me because of their PM spam, their website has a domain, but besides that what else is their on offer? Their use of courier new and ‘Coming Soon‘ message shadows what is, in reality, an empty site. Quite why FullForceGames decided to invest in a domain I don’t know, but it is a shame they didn’t spend the same amount of time in improving the quality and content available on their site which has remained the same for several weeks. Hey, they could have even spent the time they used sending unsolicited mass PMs to work on the site.
In stark contrast take a look at Swede Carl Gustafsson’s, author of the popular Beginners Guide to Gamemaker Programming tutorial, site. Carl has only recently moved the site away from its old location in free webspace provided by his ISP but his new URL of http://birchdale.net/gm/ is quite sufficient, and can be quickly located by a search. Yes, the design isn’t up to scratch and the site isn’t perfect, but this is besides the point. Content is King. A domain certainly isn’t.
This post is not sponsored by the Domain Registry of America, who incidentally are scum.