The role of video game websites and game studio websites

Originally published at danny-t.co.uk on January 28, 2017.

This is the first of a series of posts on planning, designing and building video game websites.

A common theme I notice in the video games industry is a confused website personality. Typically, there are two main types of site. The video game studio website and associated video game title website(s). But often the lines between them get blurred.

Differences

A video game studio website will serve a different purpose to that of a title website. Typically, a studio site serves a more corporate function and is less player focused. The site will focus more towards the industry concerns of the studio. Concerns such as recruitment and investment-related content, like identifying key team members, studio legacy, games portfolio and so on.

An IP-based video game website is more geared towards end users, the players/customers of the title. This might offer a more flamboyant experience and aim to excite and inform about an upcoming launch or enable the purchase of an already launched title. There might be additional features that compliment the game experience such as being able to log in and view stats or community functions such as forums and social media integration. Features such as these, help increase retention by offering added value to players and make a title more “sticky”.

Blurred lines

It’s still desirable for a video game title to have its own website. Whether that’s created and maintained by the development studio or as a function of the publisher. Invariably, a studio will also have its own pre-existing site. This is where things can start to get messy. The new shiny title website will have a fresher design, a more up to date content management system and be the focus of more marketing effort and likely result in more traffic. It is immediately a more desirable platform on which to position any and all messaging. However, putting all news, jobs and general studio announcements on a title website can start to dilute the messaging. This will also lead to problems down the line when the title has had its day. The studio will still exist and be active but it’s now conditioned into using a fading title site for its communications and updates.

Studio and video game website advice

Consider from the off, what the purpose of each site is. Who are the audience for each and how do they differ? Structure content strategy around them (something I’ll write more about soon). Don’t be tempted to throw everything onto one pile because it’s newer, easier or has a larger viewership. By all means use the popularity of one site (and social channels) to signpost material on the other when the content might be relevant to both audiences.

In short, the purpose of a website needs to be extremely well considered by all stakeholders. This might sound obvious but is so often neglected. Instead, the rationale for a web presence defaults to “just because” or “it would be cool if…” which will impact the site’s effectiveness. Having a clearly defined goal for your website will be a massive help. This will inform the content creation and design processes and greatly simplify decision making.

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