So we’ve gone ahead and added some subscription buttons to the site. Note that these subscriptions are optional – they don’t unlock any content or anything, they just allow those that want to an opportunity to support the site. “Why?”, you may ask…
Since the launch of FFXIV back in September 2010, I’ve spent thousands of dollars (five digits truth be told) to keep the site running (actual losses, as opposed to costs). Upon realizing that sobering fact, and seeing the trends, I decided it was time to at least allow those who want to help out the opportunity to do so. So we’ve gone ahead and added a few options so that anyone who wants to contribute to the financial stability of Gamer Escape can do so at a comfortable level.
Just in case there are any misconceptions out there, let me speak a bit about Gamer Escape. There is no corporate backer. No network. No team selling ads. No salaries. No side letters. No back scratching. The contributors do so out of a desire to form a true community driven site. Revenues are entirely driven by google adsense. Costs are primarily related to hosting and bandwidth (85.3%). The only other material expense relates to our coverage E3 (8.6%), which is basically just 2 flights plus a room. The rest goes to licenses, bank fees, and postage (sending out posters and stuff). And of course – since we have losses – these costs outpace revenue. There are a number of reasons why the revenue is so low.
- Traffic. The initial failure of FFXIV of course is primarily to blame, but tack on an extended period of closed alpha/beta where the wiki is dormant, and you get significantly reduced traffic.
Ad blockers. The precise impact of this one is hard to figure out, but Destructoid recently identified that more than 40% of its visitors were blocking its ads.
Remnant ad rates. Rates for things like google adsense, as compared to direct sales with an advertiser – have been falling. This is true of both ads paid based on on clicks (CPC) or impressions (CPM).
Click though rates. Of those that even see the ads, click through rates (which has an effect on, but does not solely determine, revenues) are abysmal, usually around 0.2% – meaning for every thousand page views there are 2 clicks.
So you have a situation where traffic and rates are both decreasing, many people block ads altogether, and of those that see the ads, nobody clicks. Not good.
Notably, this combination is particularly true in gaming, where the typical visitor is technologically sophisticated – meaning higher block rates and lower click rates, leading to lower demand on the part of advertisers, leading to lower rates, and lower and lower revenues. Of course, you can see the effects of this with respect to Final Fantasy XIV directly. FFXIVCore, Yellow Gremlin and FFXIV tactics are all gone. Even larger gaming sites are being shuttered (most recently and notably, 1UP.com, Gamespy.com, and UGO.com were shut down by Ziff-Davis).
If you want more background on these trends I would really recommend reading the Destructoid article – it is an excellent read on the subject overall.
So long story short (too late?), we’re adding subscription buttons. I thought about kickstarter and other crowd-sourcing platforms – but it’s really not what this is about. We don’t need X dollars in order to deliver Y. Nor do I don’t want to hide any content (even “bonus” content”) behind paywalls. If the content is good enough for some, it is good enough for all. I know I hate sites with paywalls – so I don’t want to create one.
Small, monthly donations is really the most direct and sustainable way to keep the site viable for the long haul. You will notice both “subscribe” and “unsubscribe” buttons – so you can of course unsubscribe at any time.
The reality is that some people contribute to the site by editing the wikis. Some contribute by writing articles or monitoring our network. Some contribute by recording podcasts, or with artwork, comics, graphics, etc. Everyone contributes by visiting the site (there needs be a reason for the site to exist after all). But this is a way for people to contribute financially – in small amounts – and only if they want, for as long as they want.
Like you, anxiously awaiting August the 27th.