Friday, October 10, 2014

Growth of the Kotaku

Kotaku wants to make changes to the way they review games. This month marks 10 years of the website (a part of me is surprised that it's only been 10 and the other part is feeling much older) and it's impact on the gaming and geek world at large. Editor in Chief Stephen Totilo announced yesterday to the world how Kotaku is shifting to be more more 'present.'

In an e-mail he issued to staff members back in June, he writes: "For too long gaming coverage has focused on the vague future, the preview mindset of possibilities and maybes. And when it's involved the present it has been drenched in the dreary falseness of empty interviews, bland producer-speak and executive-hype. It's neither been real enough nor true enough to what is actually happening now."

By that he means most gaming sites focus on the pre-hype of the product, review it a week before or at release, and that's it. There are no follow-ups unless it's a big-name title that has a publicized DLC being released. Otherwise, the writers no longer stay involved in the game and move on.

Over the past few months Kotaku has slowly been changing this model to imbed their writers into the game over a longer period of time: not a few days and out with a review but potentially weeks and months. The Mario Kart 8 review and follow-up stories with another writer best show this example by covering little changes in the game that most sites reviewers wouldn't have paid attention to. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, "oh hey, they're going to talk about the games after they release," but by comparison to other gaming web pages, it is. 

There is also a call to action on part of the readers for their feedback and help. As Totilo remarks, they're not that great with sports games and usually have to outsource the reviews from an independent writer. They want to change that and have readers and Kotaku staff more involved to cover a broader range of gaming topics. He's opened an e-mail for suggestions. Go forth and conquer young ones!

Best of luck Kotaku. In this weird, haggard time after the #GamerGate explosion, I, for one, am glad to see this new direction the site is steering.

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