If you’re a hardcore gamer you probably have heard of a fast rising video game news aggregation site, N4G.com. It’s run by gamers and provides news for gamers. Just like any other news aggregator, stories become popular or big hits based on user feedback and community driven approval. But is N4G really a community of gaming related information being used to propel news or just a marketing tool for popular products (namely the PS3 and Xbox 360)?
From the outset, viewers can find a plethora of information across a broad range of gaming related material. There’s no doubt about the smorgasbord of gaming lineal categories that span the likes of N4G. Whether you’re into tech news, development inspired tidings or the latest pitch about software trends and sales, N4G has you covered. Or so, you would think.
Anyone who frequents the site will quickly realize that gamer propelled news is actually a giant scheme equivalent to company advertising. The stories pending front-page qualities always consists of something fanboy oriented and is usually geared toward the gamer willing to pick sides. And while many people would say this is fine and dandy, you have to look at the bigger picture of how this divides the console war.
Instead of being a resource that caters general and categorical gaming news in abundance, N4G’s approval system dictates which stories will even become part of the N4G database. The concept seems bulletproof: Senior contributors of the site vote to approve or disapprove the activation of a user-submitted story. So it’s like Digg, except not every story will make it into its respective section if it does not receive the appropriate number of approvals. Now given that gamers are the arbitrary mediums between stories receiving approval or being reported in as non-news worthy, means that a vast number of stories may fall by the wayside in favor of something more fanboy-oriented.
In turn, this creates the scenario in which stories that are sensational enough to capture the [short] attention span of gamers will more than likely receive front-page exposure. And, as we all know, there’s a certain kind of news that captures the attention of a hardcore gamer: Flame-bait news. Unlike Digg, where a story is submitted, commented on, and then quickly moves out of the way for newer stories, N4G can keep a story around on the front-page for quite some time based on its popularity. Now I admit, this is a great resource for smaller gaming sites and information blog communities. But that’s assuming the content doesn’t reverberate the now banal bickering that Sony and Microsoft are constantly involved in regarding their two consoles.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that we here at CB Games will take jabs at any company whenever applicable. Our articles about Bill Gates and Chris Satchell’s Xbox 360 claims created a huge backlash from M$ fanboys, and our PS3 is dying and Wii-mote will be useless articles created the same flames from Nintendo and Sony fanboys. But you have to question, how healthy is it for the industry to have a fast growing news resource that’s almost dedicated to flame-wars? Yes, there’s a lot of good news coming from N4G, but at times you almost question how effective it is at actually informing gamers, as opposed to spreading marketing jargon without the official stamps by Sony and M$ (and on rare occasions, Nintendo).
I’m almost convinced, though, that N4G might be the new kind of battleground for the console war; lots of straw men being used to virtually argue on behalf of each company. Bloggers, gamers and advertisers make their rounds to the aggregation site and the big story worth talking about is either a jab at Sony, a jab at Microsoft or a jab at both. It’s a breeding ground for controversy and a gamer dugout for fanboys to duke it out every other article. Now there’s nothing wrong with a little heated confrontation, or articles that spawn such confrontations. However, when the majority of the articles pushed to the forefront of the news are always denigrating another company, it almost makes it look like a marketing bid to recruit fanboys for their favorite console maker.
News for gamers by gamers isn’t a bad concept at all. But when it turns into a pseudo-promotional outlet for the big three to slander each other through the voice of the gamers, it makes you wonder how beneficial it will be in the long run. For now it looks like N4G will continue to play an instrumental role in allowing gamers to voice their fanaticism for the gaming industry in general, and especially toward the budding competition of this latest console era. Let’s just hope it doesn’t hurt the industry more than it helps it.