State of the Site: The Hard Truth

When I started this site about a year ago, I had an idea that we would be able to run a site unlike anyone else. I think we have succeeded, partly, in doing that. Thanks to the team that has put in tireless work on the site, helping me find ways to optimize the experience and ensure that we have as many accessibility options available to our readers as possible, we have created something that our fans seem to enjoy. So much so, that looking at our analytics for the site, we are performing so far ahead of where we planned to be that we are all a little shell shocked.

We are, however, having to face the hard truth about running a website. It is not free. In fact, it only grows in expenses as we bring in more writers and expand what we aim to provide. Our Text to Speech program is through Amazon Polly and while it, in itself, is not that expensive, it is another bill we have to pay to keep the site going in a way we see fit. Add to that the fact that we are running giveaways that we are paying for out of pocket (and plan to continue), plus trying to make sure our domains are renewed for as long as possible; the bills add up. This doesn’t even discuss the cost of hosting and keeping everything up to date and running efficiently.

We also have a group of writers that are bleeding for the site to write the best content they can as they increase their proficiency in their craft. What do they get for their efforts? In all honesty, a review code here and there. They are pouring their own money into equipment as we are starting to record podcasts. They are paying monthly for their own access to Adobe products to ensure they can continue to increase the quality of what we provide, and they are spending their time, taking away from their families, their sleep, and in my case, my studies as I continue to work towards finishing my degree. It takes a toll and while we have a site we are proud of as a reward, we also are seeing that I’m quickly draining my funds without getting anywhere close to breaking even.

We have tried for nearly a year to find revenue streams that are not intrusive. We thought Patreon would be the answer, but as of right now, outside of two people connected to the site, we have seen no traction there. In time, we expect that to grow and when it is paying the bills, then we stop advertising on the site. That is the lead that I had buried for too long. We have to advertise some, but wait! We think we have a way to do it that will not impact the site or your experience with it.

As you will hopefully see, the advertisements are out of the way and non-intrusive. They are there if you have your Ad Blocker off. If you want to click on them, it is the easiest way to support the site. If you want to keep Ad Blocker on, we get it. We will never require whitelisting, and we will never create pop up ads. I know we said at the start that we would stay ad-free for the long haul, but our goals have changed. Now we plan to continue to provide the same content you enjoy and get to a point that we can take the ads down. We will. I assure you of that. The second that we are breaking even, the ads go away. For now, here is what the advertising will allow the site to do going forward.

Bear with us as we try to get the ad placement just right. There may be a few days of adjustments, which is why we put it up on a Friday night. We appreciate your patience. 

  • More giveaways since we won’t be bleeding our funds.
  • More reviews as we can buy games that we can’t get keys for.
  • Upgraded gear for better media and more review options (VR, Podcasting, YouTube and Streaming).
  • Less annoying begging for support.
  • The ability to help support our writers, since they have spent plenty of their own money to create something for fellow fans.

Here are the rules we have set for our advertisements:

  • The ads will never contain audio or video as long as we can control them. The goal is to give static ads that are relevant.
  • No sponsorships for anything on the site.
  • If an ad pops up for something that we are currently covering, it will have no impact on our opinion. We will make this clear with any potential advertisers. Their wish to advertise on our site does not guarantee a good review or positive coverage, so it is up to them if they believe in their product enough to advertise with us.
  • This is not a way for us to buy private islands, the goal is to break even. We want to run at a zero dollar revenue stream from advertising. This allows us to keep the site going forever.
  • When we make a profit, that profit will (after refilling the coffers a little) go to upgrading gear, the site, and helping our writers make sure they have the tools they need to provide timely and relevant content.
  • Once we are running at a surplus we will also look at ways to use that money for those in need; gaming-related charities or donations to charity streams, or giveaways that we purchase through the Humble Store.

If you hate the idea of ads on the page, let us know what you think we should do to keep things going. The easiest way is to subscribe on Patreon. If you would prefer that we drop Patreon all together and keep the advertising going, let us know. We want to be different as a site, and I think we are staying that way, but the cold hard reality is this thing is far from free.

Thank you for your time and your loyalty to our site. We hope you find these reasonable changes reasonable.

Chris Gravelle

[email protected]

Chris Gravelle

Chris has been playing around in the gaming industry for entirely too long. These days he is an educator while also chasing his passion of helping up and coming writers and content creators make a name for themselves. He's a talker, so careful if you value your time.
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I don’t mind the ads as long as they’re not intrusive and they help to keep the site running. I definitely won’t complain about it, the giveaways you’re doing are fantastic.

Vlad Varela

Sometimes you just have to monetize these kinds of sites. It feels horrible since it goes against your intial vison, but we fully support you. Here’s hoping the site continues to flourish.

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