Sure! I’m the editor here, so always glad to have feedback.
I agree, though I feel like this part of the site went away a long time ago. When was the last big team game diary? How often have we had verdicts or chat features in the past three or four years as compared to when the site launched?
It’s caused by different things. Partly, as BillButNotBen says, it’s that a bunch of staff have kids and so have less time to play in their spare time. It’s partly that there are so many more games now and people’s tastes have diverged. There are fewer instances where we all end up playing the same game.
We’ve actually tried to do more of this stuff over the past two months or so though, which is what has led to Opus Magnum coverage, Into The Breach chat, Getting Over It rivalries and a few other things. It’s still not enough but we’re trending in that direction, not away from it.
It’s Christmas. Adam was on holiday for a week, and in Poland at an event for the week before that. John has written a bunch of stuff in that time but some of it is scheduled to run over the Christmas break.
As for “pop gaming drivel”: RPS has always posted about popular games if people on the team are playing them. Alice (and me and Matt) loves Plunkbat posts, there we’ve got Plunkbat posts. We get this same complaint every 4 months for a different game and have for as long as the site’s been around. In general, our post count has increased however, from 13 a day to often around 17 a day. Hardware posts are additive, not in place of anything else.
November was RPS’s biggest month ever. Our readership is bigger now than it’s ever been. Comments don’t correlate at all with readership, and the number of comments took its dive around 5 years ago when internet comments were replaced by things like Twitter. That said, John’s article about Cuphead got 487 comments, so it’s not like we don’t still get high numbers when we decide to tackle a topic that’s contentious.
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Jim left about three and a half years ago to focus on making games. Gamer Network (who own Eurogamer and now RPS), like most companies, did not spend a great deal of money acquiring a business just to watch it dissolve. Hardware writing, increased freelance budget, fixing the site’s tech problems, hiring in guides and video: these are investments about making a better site and growing the audience.
I know this sounds like I’m point-by-point dismissing your criticisms, and I don’t mean to. I know where you’re coming from. It’s something I think about a lot. But to me, the issues aren’t hardware coverage, posts about popular games, the acquisition, or any of the other potential causes you’ve outlined.
The problems to me are: the staff got older and had families; RPS has never had an office and so creating a cohesive team culture is extra difficult; the site was founded by four people who were already friends and who had worked together at previous offices, but that dissolved after a few years as people moved on; PC gaming itself grew and changed.
As BillButNotBen again said, we’re in a period of transition. We’re doing a lot to try to fix it. Back in September, the RPS team all met up together for the first time in about 4 years. It was the first time some of us had ever met before. We spent a couple days talking about the site and editorial. We came up with a bunch of editorial guidelines for features, for news, to try to get people on the same page. We’ve since then spent a lot of time trying to enact those changes.
I want our writers to feel less pressure to write about new releases and to write about games no one else is covering, because that’s how we get to a place of people playing the same games and writing together about them. But then, moving in that direction these past two months led to people complaining that we weren’t covering enough new indie games, and we want to do that too, so it’s a balance. Same with everything. I want the team to feel cohesive, but I also want a diverse set of voices, etc.
But everything we’re pushing for at the moment is: have more fun, have more fun together, and write more about the fun you’re having. That feels like the essence of early RPS to me, whether it was team diaries about playing a strategy game together or nine features on Team Fortress 2 classes or John posting about the fridge he painted like a companion cube because he loved Portal so much or, heck, even the site regularly posting photos of other people’s cosplay.