Feature

A true Christmas story: a tough year for website publishers

At the beginning of 2016, the future was unclear for PlayStation Universe (PSU.com). In fact, it’s been a similar story for many other small and medium publishers of gaming websites over the last couple of years as they struggle to adapt and keep up with the changes that are happening in the industry.

Truth is, we never expected to make it until the end of 2016, and after 10 years of hard work from many talented writers and PlayStation enthusiasts it was a bitter pill to swallow. However, we’ve managed to turn it around in the last four months of the year. This has largely been down to cuts, a re-focus on editorial strategy, and an incredible amount of hard work, above and beyond what is expected, from our writers. We think it’s important for our readers to know where we stand right now, and how we’ve managed to come out the other side of 2016 still intact before we make an appeal to you.

PSU survives through making advertising revenue from banners across the site, the same as any other gaming news site out there. There was a time when PSU could go directly to game publishers for advertising, but over the past two years it’s changed and now they turn to the much larger publisher networks with corporate backing because they offer a more significant reach of gamers. As we rely on the cash generated from banner advertising, this hits sites like ours the hardest and we had to turn to larger ad agencies to help manage our ad set-up.

These companies secure big budgets from the likes of EA and Activision at a price much lower than what we were once offering, because they can guarantee they’ll put their ads in front of the eyes of millions of gamers. So, they bring prices crashing down for banner ads. What then happens is the ad agencies spread that budget across dozens of sites, and by the time it gets to sites like PSU there’s little left. Essentially, you can compare it to the way that supermarkets took over the high streets and many corner shops closed their doors. In the same way, the big gaming networks have taken over in terms of cash generation which helps them to grow even further, and nails the coffin shut for small/medium website publishers.

As the money dwindles so does investment in the site and you lose staff, readers, and cash to the point where you can no longer survive. In short, many game publishers now buy their ads directly with the three or four big gaming sites, or go to huge ad agencies offering them cut-price deals to get their ads on dozens of websites that they control the ad set-ups for. It’s a model that spells disaster for small and medium publishers.

We fully expected to have to close the site this year, but we’ve managed to turn it around by making some tough decisions and adopting new ad strategies that now rarely includes the main game publishers, and there’s hope again going into 2017. However, we need your help. First up, we need more people to join us in the fight in 2017 to get to where we need to get to, and push PSU to the next level. We need more talented people who can offer time to the site: SEO experts, graphics gurus, video content creators, editors, writers, in fact anyone who can offer something that could be of help. In return you’ll be part of fantastic team who are fully committed to helping us grow, and gain extra experience at a PlayStation site that has built up a solid reputation over the years.

Please register your interest by contacting: [email protected]

Now, we’d also like to make another plea. If you enjoy our content, bookmark us, visit whenever you can. We have fresh content live daily, and this year alone we’ve written hundreds of reviews of PS4, PS Vita and PSVR games. Consider turning off your ad-blocking software, or whitelist PSU.com. At any one point each day up to 40% of users at PSU are using ad-blocking software. As our only revenue stream is from banner ads, this hits us hard. We understand why you use them. There’s nothing more annoying than an advert popping up, or a site that hampers your enjoyment of reading articles by plastering adverts all over the place. It’s sometimes an uphill battle, but we’re constantly working with our advertisers to ensure that your experience isn’t hampered by annoying adverts, and the more people that turn off their ad-blocking software, the less ads we’ll have to show to be able to break even and make some profit so we can invest further in the site and the people that help run it.

So, on this Christmas Day, we’d like to thank you for your support in 2016 and thank every single person who has had an input into PSU this year, because without you we are nothing. We’d also like to appeal to you to help support the site in any way you can. Lend us your expertise, turn off your ad-blocker, or simply keep visiting, because we’re far from finished yet. We’re not crying out for sympathy here, we’re just being honest with you because the clock really has been ticking on the site. We’ll move on, if need be, to other things, but we love this site dearly, we love PlayStation, and we’ll do what it takes to keep it alive for all the people who have been such incredible supporters over many years. 2017 has great prospects, but we need you more than ever.