About time I talked about this.
So. The Journey Through Steam series. I know its been on hiatus for a while and I thought I’d give an update on where I’m at with it. I still like this idea of browsing through Steam’s latest releases and featuring games that catch my eye. But there were a few problems with the original implementation which eventually led to a lot of disinterest on my end. That’s why its been on a hiatus ever since I got back from Washington. I want to discuss those problems at length and potential solutions to bring it back in a better way. Here’s the problems:
- It was incredibly time consuming.
- It was mentally draining.
- I don’t think it was the most effective idea.
- Response to it was largely lukewarm at best.
- It’s really dependent on good Steam marketing which a lot of developers suck at.
On #4: people weren’t reading it. When I publish a review now, I get an immediate spike in views (which is so very gratifying I might add) as people read what I have to say. Even on some games that aren’t necessarily in my usual genres, I’ll get a response. Journey was getting a lukewarm response at best and was often ignored at worse. For a series that took about 3-5 hours of steady work to do in one sitting, that simply wasn’t working for me. When I could spend the same amount of time working on a review or some other series, that’s simply unacceptable. It also led into #2 because I’d do all of this work and was constantly unsure if a game should be featured.
On #3: I think the problem with Journey is that it was trying to cover too many genres and the goals were far too vague for people to keep coming back. It was too wide a net of genres and most people that want to see interesting puzzles games aren’t going to want to see a post filled with grand strategy titles. I’ll admit that it was too ambitious for a little website run by a single person.
On #1 & 2: Reading through 60+ different store tabs twice a week of videogames was insanity. Seeing games from a whole host of genres that I had no interest in was ultimately stupid. I know why I did it, I wanted to be as fair to everyone as I could be and that simply can’t be done. And you don’t care about that. You don’t come to A Paladin Without A Crusade to see all genres featured, just the games that I find interesting. Which led to #2: mentally draining. Seeing all of those games in the various states was simply too much. The amount of boring 2D platformers, match-three puzzle games or even first person open world survival games was simply too much to trawl through. Especially when FPS survival games are a dime a dozen and its hard to tell if the game has any promise or not.
I think perhaps the biggest problem is #5: it’s far too dependent upon indie developers being competent at marketing on Steam. I could have very easily missed good games (and indeed it was pointed out several times that I did) because their marketing was either not special or not very good. On the other hand, the reversal is true as well. I could have easily gotten suckered by clever marketing for a crap game.
I don’t have a particular solution coming to mind to instantly fix the problems with Journey Through Steam. Though I’ve had a few ideas. One would be to narrow the focus of Journey to certain genres and come up with some clever search terms to find games that I’ll have interest in. It’s not a foolproof solution, but it would significantly reduce the amount of work I have to do on a weekly basis. It would probably focus on strategy, metroidvania, RPGs and simulation titles but I haven’t figured that all out. It would require some experimenting to make sure everything gets caught and I’d probably work on narrowing down the focus even more so so that people will have a reason to keep coming back to the series.
Second idea would be to simply run through Steam’s Queue every week and see what games it thinks I’ll find interesting. This would be pretty neat to see how it accurate it would be. It would be the simpliest way of managing the series but a whole lot less likely to catch games I might find interesting.
Another is to throw out the blog portion of it entirely and run it as a sort of YouTube first-impressions series where I contact developers to play each game I found interesting so you would get gamplay footage and it would be certain that the game would be of interest to you. But, that’s a lot of work that I’m not as interested in doing.
A final solution would just be featuring a couple of games on their own every week. Not really a fan of this idea as it comes way too close to what stores do already.
So, just throwing this out there to let you guys know what’s up. Unless I come up with an insanely clever idea or get a lot of comments about what direction to take the series, Journey will be sitting on the backburner until after Christmas. If you have any ideas, you know how to leave them. Thanks as always!