No Need to Bribe

Something frequently (willfully) misunderstood in politics is that you do not need to bribe people to say things in your favor. It is much easier to find someone who is already on your side and promote/support them. That think tank is not saying nice things about Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart is funding them; Wal-Mart is funding them because they are the kind of shop that will say nice thinkgs about Wal-Mart. Bribing a senator is more expensive and uncertain than funding the campaign of the guy who already agrees with you.

Syncaine has not been bribed to say nice things about Darkfall. Darkfall is funding its most passionate advocate in the hopes that he just keeps talking. These companies give away accounts and free time as promotions anyway, so why not pass some to someone who will promote your game in the process?

For we the gaming bloggers, the key is removing barriers to play. If the game is there and available, odds are better that I will play, odds are better than I will write about it. I phrase many things in terms of LotRO because I have the lifetime account, so it is always there, ready, never needing that decision point about re-subscribing. $15/month is nothing to me, but the trivial inconvenience of re-subscribing and allocating my attention across multiple games is a barrier. If Blizzard granted me free play, heck, half a dozen friends re-subscribed last month, I would join them occasionally. And then I would find myself noticing and commenting on patch notes, events, etc. Were we not such a bunch of hate-filled vipers who constantly attack the games we play, I would be surprised that so few developers have offered bloggers free play.

Bloggers are not like the advertising-funded sites and magazines. Even if we have ads, they are usually through an ad network rather than a direct relationship with a publisher. It is hard to buy good blog reviews, although you could try buying goodwill with a bit of swag. You can buy attention, which may or may not be an issue for you the reader, and which may be an issue for the publisher given how much venom we have in the blogosphere. And, of course, full disclosure.

: Zubon

I have not bothered to keep track of whether I got into betas randomly or as “press,” not that I visit many betas these days. I don’t have anything to disclose for live games. I receive few bribe offers. I want a pony.

9 thoughts on “No Need to Bribe”

  1. “Syncaine has not been bribed to say nice things about Darkfall. Darkfall is funding its most passionate advocate in the hopes that he just keeps talking.”

    This seems to be *exactly* what happened, although I was starting to think the entire gaming community disagreed with me about Syncaine.

    While I think Aventurine’s approach to marketing by slipping a bone to it’s most enthusiastic supporters will likely be copied in the future by other companies I highly doubt the Blizzard behemoth will be among them.

  2. It doesn’t happen much because we’re, for the most part, loose cannons who you can’t trust to be reliably nice about your game.

    If you did start giving a blogger free access, what if they said something you didn’t like? If you then remove the access, they’ll blog about that!

    Far better to work with a reliable big site who will whisper sweet nothings for as long as you give them access for interviews.

  3. Bhagpuss, in the world of MMO, 10,000, 5000, or even (like myself) a few hundred a day is still useful. WoW might not care about a few hundred players, but most companies would.

    The MMO companies pay a lot of attention to blogs. We’re what advertising folks call opinion formers. If you write a post about EQ2 or WAR a little light starts flashing at the games headquarters and they’re taking a peek within an hour. We can see this from our logs. I mean, they read my pokey little thing, let alone the larger ones like this one or Tobolds.

    Replies are no guide. At best 1% of readers will reply to a post. Most folks aren’t interested in that side of things.

  4. The thing is, and I am totally stealing this from a great CM guru, is that blog readers are the keys of information in guilds. It’s pretty well known that only a portion of actual players visit the forums (official or not). Even less visit punditry sites, no matter how well written… but those that do become somewhat of a guild guru themselves. This is why companies should want blogger attention because we might not have a hundred thousand readers per day, but those that read us all are generally movers and shakers themselves. Hyperbole included.

  5. I would like to throw a comment into the mix. Im not in the industry, im not a blogger. I came across this site in my one of my searches to find out more about a game. I have been reading this site and lots of the ones listed to the right for about a year now. I would rather get information about games from the players themselves than from one of the big sites. We are out there and we are reading.

  6. I would be scared if I received a package in the mail from a game company. I would probably think they hired the unibomber to send me a package.

    I know Warhammer reads blogs. They actually sent special promotional things to different bloggers for people to piece secret codes together for LotD. They were really big on fansites, and still feature some bloggers.

    I would rather visit their headquarters, interview devs, etc more than just getting a free copy of a game. I want to see what really is happening.

    I do have to agree that unfortunately most blog visits are just other bloggers. Why? Because most gaming bloggers don’t optimize their sites for SEO, use a or address instead of their own domain name which google penalizes heavily in search results.

    I get most of my visitors these days from Twitter, Google, and my Youtube game videos. I don’t believe in blogrolls, and found my gaming site still continues to grow even though I am not listed on anyone’s blogs. Even when I was listed on some the referrals from other blogs were very minimal compared to overall visits when I look at google analytics.

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