Back to the games comparison, a lot of gaming site news is the equivalent of an asset flip. Maybe a site will post some story, and if it ever blows up on Reddit (which could be within hours or it could be months after the fact) then suddenly everyone will start posting the story. It feels very rare for any such site to go particularly far back into the chain, and almost none go outside the chain (beyond throwing in a “We have asked X for comment, but have yet to receive a reply.”)
While it is something that I’ve thought about before, it has particularly sank in due to some relatively recent events. The Aliens: Colonial Marines typo was treated, when any time frame was implied at all, as a recent discovery by most sites, even though it had been found the previous year. But to realize when it was found, you had to walk the chain back to the original ModDB post and look at the posting date, and I doubt most sites simply bothered to go that extra step, which was reflected in their cited source often either being the more recent Forum post that talked about it (which happened to blow up on Reddit.) Another case was when I found myself replying to another commenter in the RPS coverage of Abstractism. The other commenter had knocked YouTuber SidAlpha for jumping onto stories without making a factual check, and I found myself posting that SidAlpha (who is more of an aggregator) looks into stories more than most news sites, that he checks multiple sources and posts the whole list with links in his video description. (For an example, his Abstractism video cited six source links, ranging from user reports to an article about cryptomining. The video itself further included information culled from SteamDB.)
One could argue that quality-wise the current state of video game journalism is more comparable to the contents of an IndieGala bundle than an amazing award-winning got-to-buy-it game.
Looking at the recent articles on the RPS main site, I see:
A couple of (admittedly a decent few minutes read) list articles, which are a dime a dozen online. A PUBG feature that I have zero interest in. RPS’s weekly “What are you playing” topic that I always ignore. An article introducing another new staff member, that I always ignore. A Red Dead Redemption article where the relevant info could be summarized in a single sentence, and admittedly is mostly given away in the screenshot and article header anyway. Bioware saying they aren’t done with ME or DA, which is almost non-news, and isn’t really that interesting anyway given Bioware’s more recent track record (as in I’d more expect their future “fans may like” projects are more likely to be disappointing.) There are multiple articles about games that I don’t care about, but which seem to be RPS darlings. In theory the Evo article should be tailored for me, since I like fighting games, but honestly I look elsewhere for fighting game coverage. The board game articles in theory should be interesting news as well, but the headers alone give me enough information without clicking on the articles. Etc…
What have I actually read on the current front page? I read two list articles, the easy filler content of the internet. I read the EVE article, despite not playing or caring about playing EVE. I read the Quake Champions article, despite not playing or caring about playing (again) Quake Champions. And the latter was because I wanted to see if it had anything interesting to say about bots. I did gain from some of the other articles, but everything I needed was held within the article title and I didn’t feel any need to bother reading the articles themselves.
I could do a similar breakdown on other gaming news sites, and likely find similar results.
Quite bluntly, most aren’t worth paying for the content they create. I buy a game because I want to play it and/or I want to reward the creator and/or I want to encourage the creation of similar games. If Platinum Games or Vanillaware shut down, I’d feel that gaming as a whole had suffered the loss. Even more mediocre publishers, developers, and games hold value.
On the other hand, if RPS shut down, the only thing I’d miss would be the forum, which RPS staff don’t even seem to like. If IGN shut down, it would only be the ripple effects of the death of a giant that would impact me, not the loss of any of its produced content. (IGN still exists, right? I’ve not bothered to look at the site for years.)
EDIT: As for rewarding and encouraging, over the years RPS main site has done more to discourage me from offering support than to encourage me. The site isn’t as bad as its really bad years, but that only means it moved from being a heavily biased blight to being generic filler.