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.
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 Or publishing hitherto unknown historical content, like early betas, technical demos, or elements cut from the games for the gamer interested in how games are made.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.
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.
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.