Synergy: Should games journalism be on games consoles?

It’s no secret that games consoles are trying to do everythingXBOX One, for example, has it’s sights on being an all-round entertainment platform. Microsoft made it’s intentions clear, telling Polygon that the console was aesthetically designed to interest a wider audience. PlayStation 4 might be focused on the core gaming experience, but still has a variety of entertainment apps. IGN even has a place on the PS4. Is it time, perhaps, that more games journalism took advantage of these platforms?

The question is, why isn’t this already happening? The current situation is that a gamer will go onto XBOX Live or the PlayStation Store and be battered by sale offers. There aren’t enough critical outlets, meaning that gamers, particularly more casual ones, may end up spending money without knowledge of the quality of the games that they are purchasing. Shouldn’t there be a balance between sales pitching and criticism?

One problem is that it’s unlikely to happen, or not without significant demand, anyway. Why would Sony or Microsoft have apps for all and sundry? The most likely scenario is that they would be selective about what appears; they wouldn’t give a platform to publications that provide harsher review scores. So no Edge, for example. This would make only a slight improvement over the current situation, as to have balance there needs to be as wide a range of views as possible.

If it happened, it could both reinvigorate magazines by sparking their move to digital. It could drive up the traffic for both online-only publications and magazines that have an online presence; whilst this could make magazines look even less financially viable, they would at least have somewhere to move to. There would be plenty of options for magazines to approach this situation, though. What about selling and viewing digital magazines through consoles? That would be mean far fewer people out of jobs than in a move to websites.

I can’t see this happening, as I think that if it turned out to be as successful a venture as I envisage, publications would be wary of upsetting the platform holders as they wouldn’t want to be turfed out. I’ve considered YouTube as an alternative, but obviously that isn’t game focused, and neither would Twitch be suitable, since it is focused purely on streaming games.

Even if everything worked out as hoped, even if there was a broad range of publications, it wouldn’t be fair. It could be a death knell for many a smaller website, with the bigger ones getting more traffic, more money and more success. Of course, IGN’s appearance hasn’t been a game changer to my knowledge, but IGN was already enormous. Even so, it is likely that we would see change if a flurry of outlets appeared.

I just can’t see this type of synergy working, and it’s a shame. It could bring an end to the this awkward tension in games journalism, this uneasiness with not knowing when magazines are going to disappear from the shelves. That’s where the real worry is. Until someone comes up with a revolutionary idea, I can’t see my concerns going away.

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