A few days ago saw the launch of GMPlanet a, unusually commercial, GMKing project. The basic premise of the site is of an aggregator. In effect the site brings together game maker news from lots of sites and displays it all in one place making it easy for users of the software to see what is going on.
This isn’t the first time that a site has tried to do this for GameMaker. There is already gamemaker.info, a site which Robin from GMKing describes as “flawed in it’s presentation”. Personally I find Simon Donker’s GameMaker.info a useful place to catch up with the latest news from GameMaker sites – for a start it is much easier to use it than go to the slow loading YoYo Games glogs – and it is also easy to modify.
I also use iGoogle as my homepage. A customised version of the Google search engine which also displays RSS feeds and widgets, although I use this more for keeping tab on news, sport and weather and my personal sites (vain I know) than GameMaker related matters. I do have a handful of other blogs on there, but it’s nice to have all the GameMaker stuff in one place – up to now this has been GameMaker.info. ((STOP PLUGGING THAT SITE!!))
The main difference between GMinfo and GMPlanet is that whilst .info displays only post titles, a description and link to external posts GMPlanet displays entire news articles on a single page – it is basically a blog which takes its posts from several sites. It’s basically a blog that takes the place of several sites.
Planet is a middle-man. It doesn’t create content it displays it. Kind of like YoYo Games and YouTube I suppose in the way they benefit from the work of others (this is not an anti-YYG post). The difference between these user generated content sites and GMPlanet is that often material found on YYG and YT cannot be found anywhere else – a member of the public has chosen to upload and showcase their Mario clone or happy slapping incident – whereas all the content on GMPlanet can be found elsewhere. On the sites from which it was taken.
.info sends a fair amount of traffic our way, it is the third biggest referrer to Game Maker Blog and we are also their most popular site. The biggest difference between the concept of the two sites is that .info results in a user clicking onto your site to find out the full story, whereas Planet shows the surfer the full story from the comfort of their own webpage.
Whilst it is too early to see the true effect that planet could have on GMB and other sites this isn’t a doomsday scenario, despite what I said yesterday. Individual sites will survive with traffic from existing users, links ins and from search engines. Unless of course the aggregator sites start achieving higher search rankings taking away surfers who would have otherwise found the original gmnews or gmtech website.
Why am I concerned about a possible decline in traffic? Firstly traffic is one of the few ways we can judge whether or not people like what we are doing and changes in traffic levels can help us decide if we are going down the right road. We also get feedback through comments, planet includes the textual content of our articles and not the comments form, and votes and sinks – again which can only be done on the direct site http://gamemakerblog.com. Obviously it is also better for us financially if someone views an article direct on our site because of the possibility of increased ad revenue. I will unashamedly admit that the income from GameMakerBlog alone covers all my hosting costs, however only just.
Obviously some sites saw the possibility of sites like planet coming, the GMTutorials.com posts for example only show the first few sentences of article content before trailing off because, says Robin, they have “set their rss feed to be ‘teasers'” before explaining that it is a technique used by publishers “to sucker users into their sites”. Fair enough in my opinion, but I actually think GM Tutorials are doing themselves a disfavour by providing so little of the article as a teaser.
It’s an interesting issue. One that I will certainly monitor in the future.
Interesting too is that whilst I was drafting this post at 11:30 pm on Friday night (don’t I know how to have fun!), a couple of people commented on the whole gamemaker.info/gmplanet issue. Firstly Blijbol as a response to the first mention of GMPlanet asking what was wrong with GameMaker.info and secondly Dan Eggers from GMTV who wanted to know more about the GMPlanet site and why I said GameMakerBlog was ‘doomed’.
Hopefully this post will have explained those questions.