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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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You Can’t Get Rich With Video Game Reviews

I’ve got a bone to pick with gamers. It seems like every 13 year-old with an XBox 360 and a copy of Halo 3 suddenly thinks he’s a game reviewer. Sites are being created, domain names are being wasted, and video reviews are clogging up Youtube. Even worse, these sites are full of Adsense blocks and Gamefly referral banners. It’s time to step back and realize that, really, nobody cares about your opinions on gaming (or anything else for that matter).

The qualifications

I saw this phrase online a few weeks ago: “Anyone can post to a blog. That does not make you a reporter. Just like driving fast does not make you a professional driver of race cars.” Think about that for a moment. Ok, you want to review video games. That’s great. What qualifications do you have? I’ve been playing video games since 1989 (I still have my first controller too), and even I’m not arrogant enough to think that I could attract a decent number of readers with my writing skills. In a way, people trying to break into the video game review niche are the same as people trying to break into the make money online niche: They have nothing new to bring to the table.

Making a website

Do you really think your site can compete with a site like Kotaku? They update every day, around a dozen times per day. They have multiple writers, living all over the world. They attend trade shows, interview industry insiders, and have access to games before they even come out. Reviewing games is their job.

You buy a new game once a week and have the grammar of an 8th grader. Let’s see who wins.

Video reviews

Webcams are the worst thing to ever happen to the Internet. Now, instead of reading about what people think about their newest game, we get to watch them sit in a chair with a headset and talk about it. This is definitely a sore spot for me. Gamers have struggled for years with the unfair stereotype that we’re all fat, acne-ridden, pasty-white losers who never go outside. Well, guess what kind of people record the majority of these video reviews? Seriously, you guys aren’t helping the way non-gamers (the majority) see us.

Again, you can’t bring anything new to the table. I mean, look at Yahtzee. He’s single-handedly redefined how video game reviews should be done. He also has a British accent, and you’ll never be able to compete with that. Even Screwattack’s Angry Video Game Nerd is entertaining to watch (sometimes). Your flat, monotone voice and soulless, empty eyes can’t, and won’t bring anything new to the table.

The bottom line

If you want to share your opinions on your own website, that’s fine. Just realize that they’re probably the exact same as everybody else’s, and that they’re most likely uninteresting. Don’t try to monetize your worthless ideas, and don’t complain when you can’t develop a loyal reader base. Keep your expectations low so you won’t be disappointed.

On the plus side, if you stick with it for years, and I mean years, you might catch someone’s eye.

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8 Responses to “You Can’t Get Rich With Video Game Reviews”

  1. Rhys Says:

    I do love Zero Punctuation. I am starting a retro games blog soon, and I do have a British Accent too, so here’s hoping.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a British Sense of Humour, so it’ll probably be as painful as this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aaw2K5qKbWo

  2. Andrew Says:

    I think you should take your own tag line to heart, and not kid yourself. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there who play video games, and who want to sit and talk about them in a professional and interesting manner. They can string together a sentence, their opinions are not only valid but interesting, and some even have a better grasp on gaming than yourself, or the geniuses over at Kotaku.

    I understand you are probably venting your frustrating at the fact that there are a lot of immature kids who are trying to talk about the games that they play, but guess what, you’re addressing the vocal minority. Furthermore, you are essentially saying that anyone who does something they love, and aren’t professionals at it, shouldn’t even try in the first place.

    All of those 8 year old kids in YouTube love to play games, just like you and I. They want to be cool like the game reviewers out there, so they try and mimic them. Just like I would play Army men, or pretend I was Robocop when I was 8 years old, these kids are talking about something that they love doing. To discourage that because YOU take the time to watch their videos and don’t like what they say, is utterly ridiculous, immature and just plain arrogant.

    If you don’t like what they have to say, don’t listen to it. If you go in IRC, and don’t like the text someone is writing, DON’T READ IT. It’s not like they tied you up in a room and made you listen to what they have to say.

    Trust me, I get tired of the sheer idiocy of most of the people in the real world, let alone the internet. That being said, they have every right to explore their hobbies in any way they see fit. You are also completely entitled to write however you feel, but perhaps you should focus more on important issues in game reviewing (like mistrust of reviewers, or poor scoring of games), as opposed to saying that anyone who isn’t a professional reviewer has no voice whatsoever. Those guys at Kotaku had to start somewhere.

  3. Steven Fergus Says:

    After reading the post, I’m going to hypothesise that this, will be your most commented post so far :)

    I’m sorry, I have to agree with Andrew. Now, I’m no gamer, but if kids want to review a game which they love to play, then let them. You don’t need qualifications to write about a hobby, you just need an opinion. No one is asking - or forcing you - to watch or read the reviews.

    Everyone has to start somewhere. Now, at 8 years old they may be writing stupid reviews that no one cares about, but who knows what they could be doing in the future? They may well be running a really successful blog by then.

    “even I’m not arrogant enough to think that I could attract a decent number of readers with my writing skills.”

    Every niche has a few ‘big boys’ which lead the table, but if everyone had that attitue people would get nowhere in life.

    - Steven

  4. Ty Brown Says:

    One of the good things about the internet is it allows regular people to become experts on any subject. One of the bad things about the internet is it allows regular people to become experts on any subject.

  5. K Says:

    Video Game Review Shows that beat the curve of suckdom.

    Still Gaming - http://www.revver.com/video/654013/sg-river-city-ransom/
    Little Miss Gamer - http://www.revver.com/video/506370/little-miss-gamer-startropics/
    (parody) Happy Video Game Nerd - http://www.retrowaretv.com/home/HappyVideoGameNerdEpisodes13/tabid/97/Default.aspx#ep2

    Somehow, I doubt you’ll like any of them. They don’t have ‘teh credentials’ to be allowed to have an opinion that others can see.

  6. K Says:

    However, the fact does remain that you cannot get rich or make any money off of this, unless your name is James Rolfe, Chris Bores (plagiarist of James Rolfe), or Yahtzee Croshaw. The three shows I mentioned are definitely NOT in it for the money.

  7. Jenny Says:

    I don’t think Geoff’s point was to say that people shouldn’t write things like this altogether… but more to say that kids shouldn’t expect to get rich from their video game blog, because it’s a pretty well-populated niche. I could be wrong, though.

  8. JustChris Says:

    Add one more person on your hate list as to why you hate video game reviewers ;) But when video games is one of your biggest interests, can you really expect to write better content for a different topic? I know video games is a very fast paced niche, even in the sub-niche I placed for myself. But I’d still feel better blogging about games than politics or breakthroughs in science, because this is what I’m into. I’m more interested in building a community around it rather than getting payoffs in money.

    As far as websites go, I’m into Destructoid’s writing style, since they compare themselves to Kotaku’s drunken uncle.

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