USgamer made its debut almost a year ago, on the first day of E3 2013. In my opinion, the site has been fantastic so far... but, as we move into our second year of existence, we're undertaking some pretty significant changes with the aim of making USgamer even better.
This sort of change is simply the nature of the publishing beast, I think. The first year always turns out to be a sort of warm-up exercise. Our friends at Gamer Network and Eurogamer spent ages planning USgamer, carefully considering the site's focus and purpose, yet the venture went in unexpected directions right from the start. We've spent the past year exploring what works, what doesn't, what you (our readers) want, and more. Now that we've made it through the learning phase, you can expect to see some pretty major changes happening over the coming weeks.
Our first step? We've brought on more great writers. Over the past few weeks, we've recruited long-time freelance contributors Bob Mackey and Kat Bailey to be full-time employees. You probably know Bob and Kat (or as the Hollywood gossip mill refers to them, BobKat) from their previous work here as well as at sites like 1UP.com, Something Awful, GamePro, IGN, Retronauts, and more. They've been around, is what I'm saying, and their experience and skills will be a huge part of USgamer's refined direction in the coming weeks (and beyond). Bob has assumed the mantle of senior writer, while Kat has signed on as senior editor.
Which is to say, Kat's the new me. Meanwhile, I'm moving from the senior editor role to that of editor-in-chief, while Jaz Rignall is shifting from the grueling task of editorial director to an editor-at-large role, which will allow him to bring his decades of experience (seriously, decades! He has his own huge Wikipedia entry!) to bear on writing great stuff, something he hasn't been able to do nearly enough of here at USgamer. And Mike Williams will be... actually, he'll be doing more or less the same thing he's been doing for the past year. Stability!
The point behind all of this reshuffling is to redefine USgamer's overall approach. We've been working as a fairly standard general games media site so far, with the requisite news, previews, reviews, guides, and features sections; but with a small staff spread across both U.S. coasts, the generalist approach really doesn't make sense. Plus, several sites in our own network — including Games Industry and sister site Eurogamer — already do that sort of thing quite nicely. What's the point in redundancy?
Rather than trying to be jacks of all trades and risk the failure of mastery that comes with that approach, we're setting our sites on two specific disciplines: Features and reviews. While we're not abandoning news and previews, exactly, we will be taking a different approach to them than we have before. We'll be delving deeper into the topics we tackle, taking a little more time, and exploring current events and upcoming releases with a more critical eye. To couch it in clichéd terms, we're pursuing quality versus quantity.
We'll be publishing fewer articles on a daily basis, but our aspiration is to make each of those articles something you'll want to read, and that you'll feel enriched for having read. The Final Fantasy feature we published a few weeks ago was meant as a sort of statement of intent for the site's new direction. Obviously, not every article we write will be that enormous or revealing, but you can definitely expect to see more content along those lines in the coming months, as well as many other approaches to games journalism that (we hope) will prove equally interesting. We're taking the changes as we go, so there'll be some bumps and awkwardness while it happens — so please pardon the hiccups.
As part of all these changes, USgamer's design and format will be changing soon as well. We've given our tech team an extensive list of changes, improvements, and additions we'd like to see, and they'll begin rolling those out at the beginning of June. Some site features will change, some will vanish, and new tech will take its place. Like our editorial transition, the changes to our tech and design may be a little rocky from time to time, so please bear with us as we get things sorted out.
Unfortunately, tech quirks aren't the only drawback to such sweeping site changes. Unhappily, our stalwart news hound Pete Davison will be leaving USgamer at the end of June as a result of our transition away from news coverage. In no way does this reflect on Pete's skills, not to mention his extraordinary diligence! He's a talented writer, and I know a lot of readers appreciate his left-of-center take on niche genres — a torch he's already keeping lit with his new side venture.
Despite the challenges and fallout of the massive changes we're undertaking between now and E3 (and even beyond), I'm incredibly excited about USgamer's future. We've already seen great responses to our early efforts in our new direction, both here on the site and with the original content we've created for USgamer YouTube channel that kicked off in earnest this month. In the coming weeks, you can expect more material like this, as well as a podcast, expanded community-oriented content, as well as what we think will be a wholly unique approach to covering E3. Plus more! Always more.
I hope everyone else is as excited about USgamer's new direction as we are. Your opinion is important to us. USgamer's a business and we have to worry about things like traffic and whatnot, sure, but if traffic was all we were after we'd ditch in-depth features and create endless lists with headlines like, "Sonic The Hedgehog Made Many New Friends Over The Years. The Truth About Them Will Make You Cry." No, far more important to us is the fact that we are writing for you. When you like something, we want to know. And when you hate it... well, we need to know that, too. (Please be gentle.) We're here because we love video games and want to tell their stories... and we want to entertain and inform you, too. So, please let us know what you like, hate, and want to see more of. I read every single comment posted to the site, even the nasty ones, and your feedback gives us valuable guidance.
Thanks for reading. We hope you'll like the new direction for USgamer!