February 9, 2008
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.
11 Replies to “GMPlanet Dilemma”
As per my comments earlier, for an example of adding interactivity to your feeds, check out gmnews’s latest entry on the http://gmplanet.uni.cc homepage. You can use feedburner to add things like that, they are called “feedflare” as I recall.
GameMaker.info is more of a “portal” than it is an “aggregator”. GMPlanet’s main advantage is the type of its format, which allows for MASS SUBSCRIOTIONS to the important Game Maker feeds.
GMPlanet has been completely created and managed by Robin, and I am unaware of his plants for it — but I personally do not think GMPlanet in its current form can replace GameMaker.info, but I don’t believe Robin wants it as a REPLACEMENT of GameMaker.info, but rather as an effective tool of Mass Subscriptions, or checking the entire sum of Game Maker news for those who are really interested.
I personally prefer GameMaker.info to GMPlanet, nothing to do with the creators of the website, but to do with the whole fact of how its set up.
I am happy for the GMTech Feed to be posted all over the place, as this allows announcements to be shown to more and more people, however the way its set out in GMPlanet means it wont work as well, GMPlanet.
If it was possible to set which feeds you want to display, like GameMaker.info then it will work out better for everyone, you get to see news from the websites you want to know about, and you don’t end up with news that are 1 line long.
I understand that work is still being worked on, and maybe it shouldn’t, we already have one good aggregator website, is there need for another one, that is so far not as good (I am sure with time it will be just as good).
Simon – I agree with Robin that one of the main problems with gamemaker.info is the default placement whereby old news articles are given prominent positions. Take for instance the top item in the central column – the GMC. None of the 3 links displayed are from this year and 1 is from June 2007.
“Imagine what happens if Game Maker.info was suddenly replaced by your GMPlanet. Game Maker Blog will lose a lot of traffic, so it also loses ad revenue. Instead GMPlanet takes all the money.”
That is my fear.
Eyas – GameMakerStream was different. It was providing content in a format it had not already been available in, months after it had been released. Not to mention the project has now been made almost irrelevant by GameMakerTech’s decision to place their content online. Planet, on the other hand, takes the news every 15 minutes and displays what was already available in a blog format in a blog format.
Robin – I just subscribed to the GMPlanet feed and it is certainly nice to see you are linking to the original articles rather than the equivalent on GMPlanet as I assumed you would.
Yes phil, it gmplanet surely does make it more accessible and therefore it is more of a ‘threat’ on readership than gamemakerstream — however, I don’t see this as a true threat in any way. Although, I would much appreciate if GMplanet linked more clearly to the original posting site.
For the record, MarkUp’s content is available in an online format in GMpedia, this was the case long before GMTech did so, the issue is.. its going slow as it isn’t a top priority.
Using the teaser strategy, Game Maker.info increases the ad revenue of the news sources.
“.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.”
Imagine what happens if Game Maker.info was suddenly replaced by your GMPlanet. Game Maker Blog will lose a lot of traffic, so it also loses ad revenue. Instead GMPlanet takes all the money.
“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.”
That’s indeed what’s going to happen.
Personally I would not cooperate with GMPlanet and I would choose the same strategy as GM Tutorials: taking back the ‘stolen’ content.
Game Maker.info is also a work in progress. New features will be added as well as new content in time. And yes, we also take suggestions. The site still hasn’t been officially announced at the GMC for instance.
Personally my choice for Game Maker.info was to promote sites and give each site more traffic. Just like GM Tutorials I only provide teasers for the content for that reason.
If people feel the presentation of GM.info is flawed then they are more then welcome to contact us with additional designs to incorporate. While we won’t make changes like displaying the full article we welcome custom themes.
My main gripe with GM Planet is that 99% of the news items they promote is terrible. I annoy a whole lot of website owners by not featuring them on default on the frontpage because the public at large is not interested. The vast majority of Game Maker sites have already contacted me that they like the site, like the traffic, but that they want to be on the frontpage with more items higher up. We have some very strict policies to determine which content is interesting enough to feature that place.
While I feel there’s nothing wrong with my personal blog I really don’t see why it is included on the frontpage on default on there website.
We do allow you to set your page up to 1 column with just the feed “All the news” which gives you a nearly identical site except with teasers and some stricter requirements on what is and isn’t news worthy.
I’m looking forward to see how this site develops though.
I see planet more as a way that Game Maker users can mass-subscribe (no ads are added, or will be added to the RSS feeds planet provides) to all the interesting content the Game Maker community provides. New users wouldn’t know which blogs to subscribe to at first, and gmplanet can provide a easy “one step stop” to gain access to either “popular” site feeds (which gets about 2 posts a day generally) or “all” gm sites (which is about the same until more sites are programmed in).
The way I see it, this will give the end user a chance to get access to many more blogs, quicker than they could before. Also, if the blogs content is good, the user would read the article on the original site to comment, or to view photos/videos or other “extras” not included in the feed.
Finally, game developers and other sites that produce content have an easy way to reach more users.
It’s a win-win.
When it comes to readership concerns… we had this conversation back when GameMakerStream was going to launch and we agreed it wouldn’t hurt.
Still, I’m not so thrilled about gmplanet, maybe this isn’t my thing.
Not that any blogger concentrating on getting money instead of readers should deserve it, anybody willing to maximize their traffic from the aggregators simply would need to cut off their RSS feed to provide a small summary, and a “read this post” link.
As simple as that. I personally believe that GMPlanet should add extensive advertising to the original blog (e.g. “Read more @ GMB.com”) the post is being fetched from.
You should note that GMPlanet is still a work in progress website: especially from seeing that it still uses a default Drupal theme (Robin is working on a custom one).
I’m sure he’s taking suggestions: so just post them on this post’s comments and if he doesn’t read them, I’ll route them to him.