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Games Entertainment

Gamespot Goes to Subscription Model 223

Posted by michael
from the ask-not-for-whom-the-paypal-tolls dept.
-PS-Sangloth writes "Gamespot, arguably the best video gaming website will expand in July to a pay service(Gamespot Complete). It seems that while review scores will be free, the actual reviews for new PC games will cease to be available to non-payers 7 days after the review was written. This is a real pity, I suspect many PC Gamers, like me, don't have credit cards(or cash), and Gamespot has good, hard, objective reviews. Read what they said at Gamespot Complete."
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Gamespot Goes to Subscription Model

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  • Um (Score:5, Insightful)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:01AM (#3420391) Homepage Journal
    If you can't afford a couple bucks a month, how can you afford spending $40/50 a month on new PC games?
    • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 56ker (566853) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:27AM (#3420447) Homepage Journal
      Yes but people are reluctant to part with any money at all for content on the web that can be found elsewhere for free. After all you can find other reviews for nothing - but you can't get the games for nothing. However what's to stop people just viewing the google cached page to get around this?
      • Somehow I doubt google will have a login and password to the members only area to cache the pagesm, so that isn't a problem.
        • by Surak (18578)
          The reviews will be available for 7 days for free. Google's cache lasts longer than that.
          • sorry my mistake, thought it was working the other way around - only available to members for 7 days then available to the public.
          • Re:Um (Score:2, Informative)

            by plone (140417)
            Gamespot can easily prevent google from caching their pages. All they have to do is follow these instructions [google.com]
          • by ErikZ (55491)
            Robots.txt can be used to block out Google. Or the can just block Google's range of IPs.

            The survival of Gamespy depends on bringing in some cash. I think they're going to put a little effort into it.
            • by Surak (18578)
              Either of those methods will cause Gamespot's entire Website to not be listed in a Google search at all...that has both positive and negative effects for Gamespot.

              Without being indexed by a search engine, they will certainly have less new visitors. This may actually be what they want, but it may actually NOT be what they want.

              • ever used robots.txt? apparently not, you can block parts of the site. Enough said....
                • If I were you, I'd read this page [google.com]. There are methods of blocking parts of a site, yes, but robots.txt isn't one of them, at least as far as Google is concerned.

                  • Either of those methods will cause Gamespot's entire Website to not be listed in a Google search at all [...] There are methods of blocking parts of a site, yes, but robots.txt isn't one of them, at least as far as Google is concerned.

                    Wow. Did you actually read the document [google.com] to which you pointed another so snootily? You, sir, have no idea what you're talking about. I quote:

                    If you wish to exclude your entire website or a specific section (directory) of your server from Google's index, you can place a file at the root of your server called
                    robots.txt.

                    Emphasis theirs. But I'd like to repeat their use of the phrase "or a specific section" one more time: "or a specific section". Although the example on the referenced page is a blanket exclude, Google does partial excludes just fine, thank you -- through meta elements embedded in HTML or as the result of robots.txt rules.

                    Anyway, the real issue for Gamespot would be the yanking of snippets and cached pages from Google -- which is readily accomplished by following the instructions Google itself presents on that page. I've done it myself; it's *no big deal*.

                    I curse you for forcing my use of the +1 bonus to point out the wrongheadedness of your posting -- which seems to be stuck at +1 for each and every post, too. :p

                  • Or maybe you would care to read it from robotstxt.org [robotstxt.org]

                    Yes you can block robots using a robots.txt file from certain areas. MOST robots I've encountered do follow it also. (This is my job, I should know...) You will also want to specify the meta tags, but from my experience some robots don't care what you have in the meta tags due to abuse.

      • Re:Um (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by byran lei (517143)
        >Yes but people are reluctant to part with any money at all for content
        >on the web that can be found elsewhere for free. After all you can
        >
        Do you blame them? The "content" on sites like Gamespot *IS* pretty much worthless. Would *YOU* buy a game recomended by the very people who run around saying XBox and it's crap games was/are going to rule the console gaming market? If you would, I've got a nice lake in the middle of the SaHell I'ld like to sell you. The only really useful feature of a site like Gamespot is the message bases when people who actually buy and play these games comment on them. If they start charging to acess those bases they can kiss their site bye-bye.
        • by LafinJack (9054)
          I read Gamespot for the reader reviews; the average of all those scores generally settles on the true value of a game, much like the IMDb ratings.

          Then there's also all the extra information contained in the gamespace page for each game, very handy stuff.
    • by or_smth (473159)
      Hmm... I see a flaw in your logic. People read gamespot in order to figure out what games are worth spending their money on.

      When you have to pay to figure out what you are going to pay for it feels kind of stupid. Not to mention the fact that people *still* don't trust online transactions.
    • That is may not be the issue.

      If you do not have a method of paying for the service, then you will lose access.

      Salgons like: "We take PayPal!", make my not want to user that vendor or site. Also forcing only one method of payment, make it so people can not join.

      Example: I am 14. I do not have a Credit Card. I am legally not allowed to enter into a contract. Can not signup for service. But I can still buy a game CD from allounce.

      Example: I do not have a credit card. I have lost the ability to download mail from yahoo because I have to no credit card to place in Yahoo! Wallet. Yahoo! Wallet is the only form of payment Yahoo! will accept.

      Example: I had a credit card stolen via NETCOM many years ago. NETCOM keep access to credit card database accessable via the Internet. I today do not trust ANY internet based payment systems that allow for ANY kind of display or passing of Credit Card after the fact. Yahoo! Wallet, MS Passport.

    • by PD (9577)
      When I play a good game, I play it for years. I'm still hooked on Age of Empires and X-Plane. In a few years when I get tired of those, I'll buy new games.

      So, I wonder - do you just get bored with games, or do you buy them for some other reason?
  • What a shame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by skrew (111096)
    Gamespot has been one of the best gaming sites for a long time. It seems to an inevitable switch, since the (deserved) decline of advertising based websites. Isn't there any non ad based revenue that can work without subscription fees? I for one don't have money to waste just to read a website.
    • Re:What a shame (Score:2, Insightful)

      Hey people don't even pay for services they use, forget about paying for reading content on a website.
      Tell me how many people actually paid Yahoo! to keep POP and SMTP access of their mail, the figure is less than 1.5%. infact figures show many people shifted to other free mail services such as hotmail which can be downloaded using Outlook Express.
      We will have to look for some other revenue model. Paying to get content will not work. Internet is here for providing information not sheilding information unless you pay. We are going away from the basic idea behind the internet: freely available information.
      • >Tell me how many people actually paid Yahoo! to keep POP and SMTP
        >access of their mail, the figure is less than 1.5%. infact figures
        >show many people shifted to other free mail services such as hotmail
        >which can be downloaded using Outlook Express.
        >
        >
        Who in the right mind would pay Yahoo *ONE DAMN CENT* after they had given their "partners" your contact information after *YOU HAD TOLD THEM NOT TO*?!? You sir, are a major fool.
      • Re:What a shame (Score:4, Interesting)

        by The Cat (19816) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:03AM (#3420618)
        The Internet is not free. There has always been a cost to get access to the Internet, and there has always been a cost to run a server on the Internet. These costs can only be donated up to a point (and usually are, and then some).

        If people won't click and then buy from ads, then the sites go subscription. That's the way it is. It *cannot* work any other way, because the site operators and ISPs can't afford it.

        It's amazing. All of these free sites have been giving away millions of dollars worth of bandwidth and information for years, and nobody ever said "hey, thanks." Now that they want to pay their own bills, it's "WE'LL NEVER PAY!! NYAAAAHHH!!!!"

        sigh...

    • Re:What a shame (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Surak (18578) <surak@mailblCOLAocks.com minus caffeine> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:04AM (#3420621) Homepage Journal
      The way I see it, there are only 3 viable Internet business models. They are:

      1. Advertising. Advertising works only if there are enough advertisers paying you to advertise on your site vs. what your costs are in bandwidth, colocs, etc. With a decline in advertising spending across the board for ALL media, Internet advertising has taken a hit, especially with the dot.com bust.

      2. Subscriptions. Obviously, charge your users for the use of the bandwidth and server storage. You have to charge enough to cover your costs plus profit, but not too much that the market won't bear it. A year or two ago, the answer to what the market would bear would have been close to zero. It's starting to change now... people are realizing that yes, you have to pay for certain kinds of content, or it simply won't be available at all...

      3. Sell stuff on your site. You basically use the info on your site as a means to entice your users to buy your products. For a site like Gamespot or Slashdot, it would be very hard to maintain objectivity and credibility in their journalism, since they'd basically be representing a product.

      And really...that's it... in the end, I'd rather PAY for a service rather than have the site sell a product and hurt the integrity of their information.

      • Re:What a shame (Score:5, Interesting)

        by edp (171151) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:31AM (#3420670) Homepage

        I think there is a fourth viable business model. I click on a page with content, and a dialog box comes up: "The charge for this page is $.10. Choose an option: Pay via PayPal. Pay via Amazon. Add a new payment service. Do not view this page."

        The third option connects to some (possible user selectable) directory of payment services, where the user can communicate with various services and register, thus adding the service to the dialog box in the future. That's how the first two options would have gotten there, or they would have been installed by the PC or system seller.

        Clicking on the dialog box is all that is necessary to authorize payment. All other details have been dealt with previously in registration with the payment service, so web surfing is still fast.

        Small payments would be economical once the infrastructure is there. Software should give the user additional control and convenience. For example, the user could authorize payment of the next 100 charges of $.10 or less at GameSpot, so their software wouldn't bother them with a dialog box for a while, but spending wouldn't get out of control without them being reminded.

        Content providers would need to give the user some indication of what they would be receiving, to entice users to pay. E.g., GameSpot could show the first few paragraphs of a review, with a for-fee link to the whole review.

        • Sure...this is basically a form of subscriptions, except that it would allow users who wanted to view one page of a site without having to shell out money for a whole month, or whatever... kinda like Slashdot's model, but not really.

          Unfortunately, the infrastructure you speak of doesn't exist yet...I was referring to what is viable TODAY. :)

        • Blockquoth edp:
          I think there is a fourth viable business model. I click on a page with content, and a dialog box comes up: "The charge for this page is $.10. Choose an option: Pay via PayPal. Pay via Amazon. Add a new payment service. Do not view this page."
          Unfortunately, at this time micropayments via PayPal are not viable.

          PayPal charges a business or PayPal Pro payee either 2.2% or 2.9% + 30 cents for each payment that is received. So, if you sent a business such as Gamespot a 10 cent payment via PayPal, you'd cause them to have to pay 33 cents to PayPal if they wanted to accept it, leaving them 23 cents in the hole!

          (I don't know about Amazon or any of the other e-pay services, but I wouldn't be surprised if their fees were similar.)

          It will take the formation of micropayment services that are able to accept fractional/flat rate fees on transactions (such as a flat 10%, at least on transactions of under a dollar) for micropayments to become viable. And it will take a lot of people being willing to use micropayments for that to become economical. So, micropayments present one of those "chicken or the egg" problems so common to new advances. Not insurmountable, perhaps, but tricky to get started without a boost from someone.
      • As to selling stuff on their site, I think it depends on what they're selling and how it's done. Logically, Gamespot should sell games, and I imagine for most games there are good bulk vendor prices available even if there's no affiliate program from that publisher. In fact it would make sense to offer a "buy it now" link from any given review. Don't push it in my face (and definitely DON'T make it a popup) but make it easy to find for people who actually read the reviews (such as a link at the end of each article), and therefore demonstrably give a flip about Gamespot's content.

        The downside, as you imply, is that reviews could become contaminated by "make it sell better" tactics, but user forums are generally a better indication of how good a game is anyway, and if they skew things too unfairly, they'll get trashed in their own forums. So that can counterbalance itself well enough, so long as they don't censor forums.

        [disclaimer: I don't use Gamespot and couldn't care less what they do, but am just throwing out ideas as generated by other posts. Feel free to throw them back.]

      • Actually, Gamespot does sell stuff on their site. You can order printed copies of any of their hint/strategy guides; I'm sure they make at least a small profit (at least compared to what it costs to print the hint guides) out of that.
  • Can't they just go to the /. subscription model? Many of the sites I've used for years because they were free are now charging: BrainBench [brainbench.com], Mind-It [mind-it.com], and others. At least I know /. won't stoop that low.
  • by forged (206127)
    • GameSpot Complete, our no-compromise, no-holds-barred gaming service, will feature:
      • 1. Complete access to all of our content
        2. Unlimited high-speed downloads
        3. Unlimited streaming video
        4. A version of the site with no invasive ads--no banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, superstitials, prestitials, or interstitials

    Hey, these are nifty features.

    Let's hope they will offer more than just PayPal [slashdot.org] as their subscription service :->

    • Let's hope they will offer more than just PayPal [slashdot.org] as their subscription service

      And if you look at your own link, you would see that /. takes credit cards directly now. They have for the past week or so. It's bad enough that people don't follow the links to the articles, now they are posting links in messages that they don't read. Shesh.
    • 4. A version of the site with no invasive ads--no banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, superstitials, prestitials, or interstitials

      Nice of them to admit that their ads are invasive.

      • Nice of them to admit that their ads are invasive.

        And why wouldn't they? I'm sure the guys who run the site like ads as much as the next person, but they need them to keep the site running. Do you have any alternatives? The GameSpot people sure do, which is what this story is about.

  • I can understand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taffyd (316451)
    ...why they had to do this, as a business trying to stay alive in the "new economy".

    I don't read GameSpot often, but I've enjoyed many of the reviews and walkthroughs that they've offered in the past.

    The subscription costs ($4.95 a month) aren't unreasonable. I pay that without blinking various computing and gaming magazines whenever I'm in the newsagency browsing for some literature on the train.

    I hope that they can offer enough subscription only services to make it worthwhile for subscribers, or they surely fade away.

    Taffyd.
    • .. and I stopped buying said magazines because of their cost vs their content (I couldn't justify it).

      Yes, I agree that they are 'staying alive' .. but more importantly: Perhaps they are collecting this cash to remain objective in their game reviews (AKA the recent magazine article about how game reviewers spend most of their time at one 'conference' or another (APC or PC User)).

      The mazagine article made a good points about bribery, the influence reviews have on consumers and how much pressure game developers have on them (hence that game developers will do anything to get a good review) and Gamespot seems to be addressing that here.

    • >hope that they can offer enough subscription only services to make it worthwhile for subscribers

      But will they? From the article:
      GameSpot Basic, our free service, will offer critical content for free for every one of the thousands of games on our site, including screenshots, hints, pricing info, GameSpot review scores, reader reviews, and more.

      So old content is still as accessible as before.
      we will continue to offer free access to our
      new content for seven days after its publication

      Dunno.. if the content is good enough, those seven days are enough for that content to be duplicated across Gnutella/Freenet. The best articles almost *will* be copied, if by no one else then by /. article-pasters :).

      The issue here is when a website goes pay, it becomes an electronic magazine. Sure, magazines are cheap, but how many of them could you subscribe to? And when one actually pays for each sub, my guess is one won't like to lightly skim over it the way one surf websites today.
  • I suspect that this will be a complete failure. Many news sites attempted to do this when they realized that it was impossible to be profitable from banner ads alone. The San Jose Mercury News, for instance, offered free access to articles for 7 days, then required a per-article payment of around $2.00 for viewing material from the archives.

    But, there will always be sites like the New York Times that provide unlimited free access to all the material. As long as this happens, sites that offer limited material will have a tough time. In order to stay competitive, the SJ Mercury has extended the free viewing period to 30 days, which is a much more reasonable amount of time. If Gamespy wants any chance of remaining in the picture, they should either charge a minimal rate for subscriptions, like Slashdot, or extend the length articles are freely available to at least 30 days.

    • "Gamespy" should be "gamespot"
    • Ahem, GameSpot, not GameSpy. AFAIK, GameSpy is still remaining free (and remains my choice).

      *idles for a minute so that this ridiculous two-minute delay thing passes*
    • That's why I'm glad you guys did what you did with the subscription model. You (hopefully) will make a profit, and you won't restrict access of people who don't pay.
    • The New York Times also has a HUGE physical subscriber/advertisor base, or have you forgotten?

      All the money they make from that makes it easy for them to provide the extra service of all their content being free on the web. Also, a pay-per-article system like the San Jose Mercury seems ridiculous to me, as opposed to a flat fee model.
  • Just as Napster, Delphi, KaZaA, and the rest of these so-called "desperate" companies have shown, when it comes time to pay up, it's always easier on the consumer to just switch to another provider.

    <a href="http://www.gamespy.com">GameSpy</a> anyone?
  • Broadband? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark4ST (249650) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:08AM (#3420408) Homepage
    It seems that everything on the internet is becoming a pay service. I miss the days when a simple banner ads could cover the bills.

    If this progresses, I can see broadband sales suffer. The only reason I got broadband in the first place was because of bandwidth intesive sites (like Gamespot's streaming video, massive MP3 downloads). If all the big-bandwidth things go "pay" then there'll be little reason to pay thru the nose for a breadband connection.

    I'm already paying enough for broadband service; I can't justify the expense of paying for content.

    • On the flip side, everytime a good service commits suicide by requiring their users to pay up, there's either other clone services already in existence or someone will create a new one to "further the cause", essentially. As long as users remain informed of the free alternatives, broadband sales won't be hard hit.
    • "I miss the days when a simple banner ads could cover the bills."

      They couldn't. That's why all the dot-coms went out of business.

      Most banner ads pay 5 cents per click (or at least they did then). On average, 1 out of every 100 people visiting your site clicks on the banner. You do the math.
  • by Beowulf_Boy (239340) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:08AM (#3420411)
    Alot of gamers are in college or below, and have no money. I make 6$ an hour, there is no way I would even spend 2$ a month on this subscription service. And I am sure that 99.99% of others agree with me on that. Is that .01% of people who actually pay going to make them more money than the 100% of people that would otherwise just deal with the ads?
    If gamespot charges, now I will just go somewhere else. Until it is a proprietary service, and gamespot only offers it, will I pay. And I still probably won't pay either! This is just like fileplanet. Either pay 50$ a year, or wait in line for an hour. I just run an internet search on the file and get it elsewhere, its not like they are the only ones with it.
    • I don't mind waiting for an hour to get stuff from fileplanet. Hey if it saves money for them and lets them stay mostly banner-oriented, I say go for it. I just wish more web-companies would try to cut down on their costs more and try to up there profits less. I don't have the money to pay 5 bucks a month to every website I like. Cut a few workers if you have to, but in times like these thats what you have to do. A company must remain flexible in tough times so that its still there when times get better and they can then rehire the people they want. Too many execs just look at the bottom line and ask "How can we increase revenues?" when they should be asking themselves "How can we cut bloat?".
    • I make 6$ an hour, there is no way I would even spend 2$ a month on this subscription service

      That's $24 a year you are not willing to spend on the subscription. That's less than the price of one computer game and if you aren't willing to part with a fraction of a game's worth then IMO you don't buy enough games to make the valuable gamespot worthwhile to yourself. You may as well get the information elsewhere.

      But if you are willing to pay a fraction of a game's worth a year to get a valuable service then that is what Gamespot is looking for.
      • And the best part is it isn't even $24 a year, it's $19.95.

        Less than $2 a month. Better than a one year subscription to a lot of paper game magazines, and with more downloads.

      • I make 6$ an hour, there is no way I would even spend 2$ a month on this subscription service

        That's $24 a year you are not willing to spend on the subscription. That's less than the price of one computer game and if you aren't willing to part with a fraction of a game's worth then IMO you don't buy enough games to make the valuable gamespot worthwhile to yourself. You may as well get the information elsewhere.

        But if you are willing to pay a fraction of a game's worth a year to get a valuable service then that is what Gamespot is looking for.


        It's just not the cost that should be factored, but the annoyance factor - another account that's billed, another account that eventually needs to be turned off, another point of potential fraud, another irksome form requiring the disclosure of volumes of personal information.

        And what do you receive in return? The same stuff you could scour off of the web from sites like http://www.gamefaqs.com or just game fan sites in general ...

    • I make 6$ an hour, there is no way I would even spend 2$ a month on this subscription service. And I am sure that 99.99% of others agree with me on that.

      how do you pay for your games?
    • by xigxag (167441) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:40AM (#3420685)
      I make 6$ an hour, there is no way I would even spend 2$ a month on this subscription service. And I am sure that 99.99% of others agree with me on that.

      The thing you have to realize is that, for people like you, Gamespot wants you to go away. Right now every time you log onto their site, you are costing them money. So they will be happy to see the back of you. However, they are willing to let you stick around and look at their crippled site, provided you will submit to those ultra-intrusive popups which will actually make money for them. Because despite what people may want to believe, content might be free -- sometimes -- but bandwidth sure as hell ain't.
  • Atleast we know.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by galaga79 (307346)
    The fact that they are losing money atleast means one good thing and is they aren't accepting money from publishers for good reviews.

    The pricing and what you get for it looks pretty decent in my opinion. Lets face it $4.95 a month is how much a computer magazine would cost at a newstands, except this magazine is online and updated daily instead of montly. Sure you don't get something you can hold in your hands and read while comuting, but you do get something ad-free and that's something printed magazines can't boast. Plus let's not forget ads often bias publications to write good things about their products to keep that advertiser. So in all I can see Gamespots model as a good thing, now I just hope it works in a medium where people expect things for free.
    • by aszurom (248421)
      "The fact that they are losing money atleast means one good thing and is they aren't accepting money from publishers for good reviews."

      Let me educate you about something...

      I'm a game reviewer. While I haven't written for Gamespot, I know Greg Kasavin moderately well and know many of the people who write for him. Personally, I have experience with one magazine and two other websites. So, let me clue everybody in on how this works:

      The subject of gaming publications getting funny money for knocking review scores up just isn't true. It's pure speculatory myth. Game magazines make money by selling space for those big glossy advertisements in their magazine... that's it. Also, most reputable ones don't even allow game companies to fly their writers out to the office to see game previews... usually this is done at the magazine's expense - to avoid looking like they're accepting favors and obliged to give preferential treatment.

      So, they sell advertising space. In my personal experience, the one time that a company was very displeased with what I had to say in a review they did try to threaten the magazine about it - because they claimed that my accusations of the unfinished state of the game were unjust. However, my editor told them essientially "No, he's correct and we're running it as it stands." Their only means of sabre rattling was to threaten to pull advertising money out and not run their ads... well, who does that hurt worse? Them. Ok, so at that point the argument is over, the ads stayed and the review kept its score.

      Occasionally there *is* a situation where an editor will adjust the score you turn in with your review. That is usually going to happen when they've read your submitted text and feel that it doesn't jive with the rating you attach to it. It's like saying "This game sucked... I give it 5 stars!" You're going to get a phone call asking what you're smoking and to please reconsider the score. If it's real close to publication date, the editor may have to make the adjustment himself. The only time I've ever seen a review score adjusted in what I call an "unjust" manner was when a certain editor (who I won't mention because I've never written for him) changed a score because he thought it was WAY out of line with what OTHER magazines were giving the game... a 2 when everyone else gave the game a 4.5 or better. Well, the writer got quite pissed and told him he couldn't change it, and the story was published INTACT at another site - with the 2 rating.

      So, there's everybody's clue about what's "real" in the freelance game review writing arena.

      Now, if you want to actually hang out in a forum with the majority of the magazine editors and the game writers, I'd suggest a trip over to http://www.quartertothree.com and head straight to the forums. You'll find everybody from the industry there.

  • ...if they manage to do something so ugly with ads that I can't make junkbuster filter it out. No reading old reviews? Sorry, but I can't say that bothers me. Many review sites suck bigtime. But read 3-4 reviews and the scores from the rest (well worth for the cash the game costs) and you'll have a good idea about what's good, what's bad, and if it's a game for you (not to mention who got the better lunch invitation). Now ads... I'm glad I'm a geek and block them out, surfing nekkid is hell, I do that at times at the university and things keep popping up and down and dance around the pages and whatnot. Not to mention the [BLINK]blinking ads[/BLINK]. How strange that it's disabled here ;)

    Kjella
  • Is it me or did I hear about this like 2 days ago?

    Fine mod me down as off-topic :(
  • Solution... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shadow99_1 (86250) <theshadow99@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:51AM (#3420470)
    Easy start going to gamespy & their affiliates. The reviews are normally a little more in depth even, it's doubtful they'll ever want to charge you for reviews, & their is more than reviews you can access.

    So why use gamespot if they want to charge you?

    Anymore I just use Gamepsy & Gamefaqs for all my gaming needs...
  • Bah, who cares. It was obvious that they were eventually going to charge for that crap the shovel to us.

    Game Spot is far from objective. I find that GS is ONE of many review sites that can't be trusted to give a non corporate influenced reveiw.

    How many of you were tired of them trying to shove they're stupid GameSpy Arcade down our throats?

    Follower of Set

    • Um Gamespot is & has been owned by the same people that own several retail chains for console & PC games. So they've been biased for awhile...

      But Game Spot doesn't have anything to do with Gamespy's Arcade. Gamespy (which is a site & it's afffiliates itself) deals in the Gamespy arcade.
  • FWIW I preferred Gamecenter. The thing I hate most about Gamespot (after the annoying CPU hogging flash ads) is the large fonts and beige-on-black colour scheme. How bout a stripped down version or configurable display options via a dynamic stylesheet driven by user prefs.

    Anyway - what are some good alternatives for gamespot? I mostly use gamespot to check for news on the latest games for PS2 and to read reviews of older games that I'm looking to buy. What other sites are frequently updated and provide similar depth of content?
    • Here's to that: I used to read gamecenter (which ended up owned by the same people when CNET/ZDNet merged). I was shocked when they shut down the clean, easy to read site, and kept open the ugly, hard to use, generally crappy site. As I'm still bitter about that, I certainly wouldn't ever pay them any money.

      Also, most of the stuff they want payment for I couldn't care less about -- downloads, movies etc. The only thing I use gamespot as is an archive of reviews, and it's a shame they're going to disable (free) access to this one useful feature in order to make money to pay for the bandwidth to host an ftp site with a bunch of pointless game demos and movies that you can get elsewhere.

      You might check out ign.com. I used to use it to keep track of dreamcast games. Don't know how it is for PS2.
  • This is a real pity, I suspect many PC Gamers, like me, don't have credit cards(or cash),
    Unlike poor slashdot reader like me, aren't keen gamers are supposed to have some cash to spare?

    You can read the latest slashdot news in a snail speed 386... Probably, you can't play the latest game with my Celeron...

  • I'm sure many of the people complaining about the price are already buying real, printed on dead trees, game magazines.

    And as someone already pointed out if you can't afford $5 a month for a game magazine (either online or print) you're unlikely to be able to buy games.

    I also would like to point out that gamespot is providing real content unlike Slashdot which is made by its users. ;P
  • Come on guys... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tranvisor (250175) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @08:10AM (#3420501) Homepage
    Use all have to recognise the difference between buying a subscription and a tangible product. With the subscription you have fun for that year or whatever and then thats it, games over. Buying a game for $40 gives you the pleasure of playing that game ... forever. And don't give me crap about once you beat the game the fun's over, if you are selective the fun never stops. Good examples of old games still very playable would be Starcraft, Baldur's Gate, Diablo2, and others.

    Heck, Diablo 1 is still a great game to pop on a zip disc to play on a Uni computer when all you have is a spare second, just install it on the zip, crack it and truck it around :). As a final point I just reinstalled X-Wing after like a year of not playing it. (This time I will beat it!)

    Paying $40-$50 on a great game is not a problem when you know you will be enjoying it for years to come. Paying $24 to read reviews that you can read elsewhere? Unless you have a great income, and personally love Gamespot, I would say the answer is a hearty NO.
    • Well.. You COULD say you buy X number of reviews which all happen to come out in the same year. Once you've read them they can't take that knowledge back.

      In fact, you're allowed to loan that knowledge to a friend (interpreted in your own words) much as you could loan the game you bought.

      And, like you said, if you're picky about the games then you'll enjoy them longer. Well guess who is helping you be picky?

      The money saved from buying crap games is well worth the subscription price. Especially when you consider they're one of the few impartial reviewers left, print, TV or internet.
  • Well, at least they don't cram a worthless cdrom down your throat and charge $9.00 instead of the normal $3.95 cover price. Every now and then I get the urge to pick up a magazine that I'm not subscribed to. That means searching the newstand for a non-cd edition of that magazine so I don't have to feel like I almost could have bought a game for the price of 30 minutes worth of reading. However, as time has passed it has become increasingly impossible to find a gaming magazine that doesn't try to justify doubling their marked cover price by giving me a cdrom full of stuff I could have downloaded for free if I'd had any interest in it.

    I look at it this way... if I do want to download something at least the only people competing for bandwidth with me on gamespot are other paying subscribers. And, I'm not getting stiffed $4 for a cd I don't want :-)
  • The subject of gaming publications getting funny money for knocking review scores up just isn't true. It's pure speculatory myth.

    You are clearly very lucky, having only ever been involved with honest people in the industry. It is a fact, at least in the UK, that magazines grant high review scores to games in return for "exclusive" coverage.

    The real question is who cares what happens to Gamespot? They give any old crap an 8 or above. Look hard and you can find some good reviews online: at joystick101 [joystick101.org], gamecritics [gamecritics.com], or eurogamer [eurogamer.net]. And they're all free.

  • Almost there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @08:50AM (#3420588)
    sigh... It's almost to the point where the comments can be written with only the headline.

    Myths:

    1. Nobody will pay for content
    2. People don't trust on-line transactions
    3. "I'll never pay for anything on-line"
    4. I don't have a credit card therefore I can't buy anything on-line

    Colloquialisms for "pay" that ALWAYS replace the word "pay" when describing an actual transaction of less than $100:

    1. Plunk down
    2. Shell out
    3. Fork over

    Example: "Before I [colloquialism] [$amount] I want [impossible amount of value]"

    The reality is that the economy of the Internet will include many billions of dollars of purchases, and that these purchases not only will happen but are happening already. If people want to have any influence on this, then they HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS ECONOMY. "Vote with your dollars" appears in almost every group of comments. Fine. Everyone should not abstain when it comes to electronic commerce.

    The Internet costs money. It always has, and it always will. It was never, is not and will never be free as in soda. :)

    These articles are almost always on the same page with "Quake|Everquest|Neverwinter LXVII Almost Here!" and "Will E-books work?" articles, both of which routinely contain at least 200 comments with something along the lines of "Ooooh GIMME! GIMME! GIMME!" and the electronic equivalent of waving a handful of cash in the air.

    The truth:

    1. Free on-line content is only free if your time is worth nothing.

    2. Even on the Internet, you get what you pay for.

    • Soda is not free, not only do you have to pay $0.75 for a can of coke, but the source code for CocaCola is locked up in a safe somewhere. I think there should be GNUCola (pronounced "guh nuke ola").
  • by skunkeh (410004) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:17AM (#3420643)
    Having read through the information on their site, I think that's probably the best subscription model I've seen launched so far. The balance between "what you'll get for free" and "what you'll have to pay for" seems pretty much spot on, and by keeping ALL of their new content (with the exception of downloads and video streams) free to view for seven days there will still be plenty of reasons to visit their site without a subscription (and for new subscribers to see why they should sign up).

    The price is right too - $25 a year or $5 a month allows dedicated fans to make a big saving but still lets new users try things out for a month or two before making a bigger commitment.

    Provided they get their payment model right (there need to be alternatives to paying my credit card) I reckon they could be on to a winner. That said, I probably won't be signing up but that's because I hardly ever visit gamespot as it is. Hopefully GameSpot fans will react differently.
  • This type of model won't work. I have my own thoughts on the process. So lets say that we have decided to pay for GameSpot. Then we find that CNet has gone to subscriptions. Then New York Times. and on and on...

    How many subscriptions are we going to pay for? It may only be a few here and there, but in the future (when more sites go the subscription route) its going to be tough to figure out which sites are worthy of subscribing to.

    Thank God that MaximumPC is only a buck a month!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Gamespot's reviews are crap. They always give top scores to games from their sponsors, no matter how bad they are. Try to find an Electronic Arts game that's under 60% - you can't. In fact, there are almost no games under 50% (which should be the _average_ score). The only good reviews (and honest scores) are the ones written by the readers.

    If Gamesdomain had a section for reader reviews I wouldn't bother to read Gamespot at all.

  • "We have the technology, knowledge, and will to create the ultimate gaming service--we just can't afford to give it away for free to the millions of people who visit GameSpot each month."


    Sure. I'd pay the same for an equivalently good gaming magazine, why not pay for GameSpot? GameSpot is even cool enough to give away their content for 7 days. I don't expect them to run their business as a public service; I don't run mine that way. Vince Broady's [GameSpot co-founder] announcement is well phrased and perfectly reasonable. And, unlike a game magazine I buy or cable TV I pay for, it won't be 50% ads... they're removing ads from the pay site.


    I look forward to the new GameSpot.


    -m

  • I read through comments on subscription stories and laugh. People bitch and moan about paying and give alternate places to go for the information. Worse yet, some people make comments to sound cool like "Man, another site I have to adjust Junkbuster for" or whatever. Those are the most irritating.

    What I find is funny that I am annoyed by people who block ads or complain about having to pay. The irony of it is, I have a TiVo and I skip through commericals like mad. Makes me wonder if I should stop paying for online content too. (BTW, $20/yr is far cheaper than my subscription to Playstatioin Magazine. AND the information on Gamespot is far more up to date than what's on paper.)
  • GameFAQs reviews (Score:2, Informative)

    by DdJ (10790)
    I never look at their reviews anyway -- I go to http://www.gamefaqs.com/ instead. Those are user-provided reviews. For each game, they give you a table of reviews, reviewers, and scores. The scores are from 1-10. Before buying a game, I generally read the review with the lowest ranking score, the review with the highest ranking score, and a few reviews around the average. Folks there aren't afraid to say "this game sucks!".
  • Great, so we get to see all the 8.5 scores for games, even though the tone of the reviews usually indicate the game should have been like a 6. Ever notice how even a horrible game never goes below 6 or 7 something?
  • by artemis67 (93453) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @11:27AM (#3420931)
    My experience with GameSpot has been that a) reader review scores of a game have been more accurate than the score given by a professional game reviewer, since most of us aren't as hung up on minor details if a game plays well, and b) most all of the salient points of the official reviews are repeated many times in the reader reviews.

    I know that *I* won't now or ever be sending any money GameSpot's way. As others have said, the content is available free on a bazillion other sites, so why pay?

    Not to mention that this is turning into a general trend on the internet, paying for content that was previously free. Just yesterday it was announced that a game I've been playing for free over the internet for the past couple of years is going back to a subscription model. I won't be paying, because there's just too many other good games out there that are free (and, frankly, more important things I really should be doing with my time, like finishing up my master's degree, not spending untold hours on a game).

    Plus, they say the GameSpot cost is only $4.95/month. Slashdot is roughly $5/month. Salon premium, $6/month. On and on. When they say "it's only $5," that doesn't account for every other site that you visit wanting your $5, too. It adds up. I won't be paying for any content, because I believe in the essential "free-ness" of the internet (which I'm already paying $25/month to access). There's too many folks out there who would like to be competition for these sites that are willing to do it at no charge.
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @11:56AM (#3421015)
    I usually buy 1-2 games a month. I'm really stretched for time, there are games that I've bought in the past few months that I haven't played.

    With IGN, I don't buy Gamecube games that suck. I avoided Spy Hunter because of their review. I later played it at a friend's place, I'm glad I didn't buy the game.

    If you avoid 1 bad game purchase every 2-3 years from a subscription to a online gaming mag, it's paid for itself.

    Alex
    • That's an excellent point, one good accurate review can justify a whole year's subscription. In fact, this just happened to me last week with GameSpot. I was thinking of getting Burnout, but after watching their video review, I decided that I'd get as annoyed by the repeating crashes as they did. Now I'll probably just rent it instead.

      Ironically, I was just thinking a few days ago that with IGN going to subscription model, I was surprised GameSpot hasn't done it yet, as their reviews are generally better. Plus the video reviews really allow you to see specifically what the reviewer is talking about, and I think makes their site look at lot more professional. I'm not sure if I'm going to subscribe yet, but I'm definitely thinking about it.
  • by Jish (80046)
    It has been shown over and over again that most sites can not survive on purely advertising revenue alone. It just doesn't work.

    So I would assume that Gamespot has been losing money and they decide that they need a way to remedy this. They create a very fair model that does not take away all features from non-pay users and is basically just asking the high end users to pay a nominal amount (compared to the costs of games and magazines).

    Of course people here think it is outrageous but they aren't telling you to pay. If you don't use gamespot much, like me, don't pay... and you still will get something useful from them. If you use it a lot you can still decide to not pay but I would be interested to see your comments when the slashdot story reads:

    "Gamespot closes down due to lack of subscription revenues"
  • Subscription Model (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Varuna (178200) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:22PM (#3421075)
    The problem with subscription based sites lies in the fact that there would be to many for me to afford if all the sites I went to choose that business model. Lets look at a scenario. I pay $44.00 a month for broadband access. I have 5 favorite sites that I would hate to do without and at least 10 more I do like to visit occasionally. If each one went to a subscription model like Gamespot; I would have to pay $118.00 a month just to get my "basic Internet channels" that I like to visit. This doesn't even take into consideration sites that I may visit once every couple months or so for information. Take britannica.com for instance; I used to visit there very occasionally for information; but now you have to subscribe to see more that a couple sentences of an article. I can't afford this and I don't think there are enough people who can to make this a viable business model for web sites. I don't know what would work but I hope they find something cheaper than this.
  • by image (13487) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:12PM (#3421213) Homepage
    An argument has been made that people who subscribe to a tradition paper publication for ~$5/mo are candidates for an ongoing subscription to online content.

    However, there is a greater risk associated with online content. Hundreds of online ventures have failed [fuckedcompany.com] over the past few years. When those companies go out of business, there is almost no chance of getting a refund on your pre-paid subscription cost, and no way to retrieve content that you have already paid for. Whereas in a traditional media, the magazine's cover price includes a permanent archiveable version.

    While Gamespot has the right idea (give away the current issue, pay for archives), their subscription prices are way too high, considering that they are on par with a physical permanent copy (which has tangible value).

    For online subscription models to succeed, they need to recognize that they are inherently less valuable then physical content. Thus Salon, Gamespot, etc., should charge radically less for online subscriptions than their paper equivalents.

    Fortunately, this is economically viable as the cost of reproduction is asymptotically approaching zero (as bandwidth costs decrease over time).

    Suggestion to Gamespot -- try $0.50/mo subscription rates. I assure you that you will get more than 10 times the number of subscribers. And if you make it $5/yr, I'll sign up myself.
  • See!! they're doing it too! they're going subscription, so why wont you bastards accept a subscription base slashdot?!? - Taco.
  • My biggest gripe about Gamespot (other then large flash ads that make browsing a bit slow) is their screenshots. They have by far the largest screenshot collection but NOT THE BEST. Their screenshots are virually worthless, because they are compressed to the point where they just look horrible. If I'm paying for reviews I want crisp and high-rez screenshots (read: FiringSquad style).
  • I've been a loyal Gamespot reader for many years. One thing that bugs me about the current subscription service is that much of their bandwidth costs seems to be for all the fancy-schmancy graphics they have on their site. All those fancy-schmacy graphics were added so that they could attract advertising dollars in the first place. They wanted a web site that looked "professional". It's a vicious cycle that drives up their costs.

    Now they got streaming downloads and video reviews. Huh? Guys you're gamer geeks. You sound awful giving a video presentation, plus the sound editing is always way too low. And they have WAY too many screen shots posted. This can't be good for bandwidth costs, and plus it isn't anything I really want.

    What I really want is just the info. Text pages of game reviews. The rest of what is on most web sites is unecessary.

  • "This is a real pity, I suspect many PC Gamers, like me, don't have credit cards(or cash)..."

    Condolences Mr. Lebowski, your revolution is over.

    The bums lost!

    I suggest you do what your parents did. . . Get a job sir!

    I think this definately applies to all you to poor to pay for a website that you love. :-P

    I think it's more a matter that you just don't want to pay, which I can understand, but come on man don't delude yourself if that's the case.
  • Why should I pay? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stalyn (662)
    Someone justify to me why I should pay for no new content? I mean if the articles would read themselves to me maybe I would pay. Also it's only video game oriented information they provide. While maybe to some this information might be crucial to one's survival, to me its trivial and not worth really anything.

    If you can't support yourself with ad based revenue then cut costs. I'm sure the person who reviews only fighting games can start reviewing some racing games. Fire some aritists and cut down on graphics, which in turn reduces bandwidth.

    I can't find a reason why subscription based services will suceed when no new content is being provided. Why don't they instead decrease content, cut costs and stabilize themselves. Then provide new content to those who want to pay for it? Sell me something worth buying, not something that you first provided for free and now you deam worth my money since you can no longer afford to provide it.
  • Didn't we just have a jillion articles about how crooked reviewers are? Didn't we agree that you'd have to be insanely gullible to buy a new game based on hype and a paid-for review of an early beta? That the best idea was to wait a couple of months, and purchase the (fully patched) proven best, based on reviews by (slighly more impatient) friends and family. What's the darned fire hurry to gamble on a premium priced pig in a poke?

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