Re-confirmed: I’m kind of a big deal

Knowing how many ‘real people’ readers a blog has, much less how much influence a writer has on his readers, is almost impossible to tell. WordPress provides view/visitor statistics of course, but based on personal experience those numbers aren’t 100% accurate (or even close, really). Not only that, but at this point I’m not even sure if they are inaccurately inflated or under-reported for this blog, as a few recent events have hinted at.

Let’s take a step back; as anyone who reads this blog has noticed, post volume is down, mostly because the MMO genre is in the toilet right now and this being an MMO blog, that has an impact. And it goes deeper than just the current crop of MMOs being meh-to-terrible; they also bring nothing new to the table, which further makes it difficult to break things down and write a blog post. For all its failings, at least Warhammer Online brought new ideas, and had a dev team behind it giving us plenty of fodder. It ultimately didn’t work out for Mythic, but it was blogging gold.

In addition to needing a good MMO to play, I’d also like another WAR in terms of blog fodder please.

From a pure “looking at my numbers” perspective, the shutting down of Google reader was noticeable, and my WordPress stats page reflects this. To a lesser extent, VirginWorlds no longer picking up my blog (along with no longer really working overall) hurt. Jester not blogging has an impact as well. But again, while the raw numbers are down, how many ‘real people’ readers have stopped coming here is tough to tell. I’d like to think that if you are a real person, and you enjoy reading this blog, the shutting down of a reader, or another blog no longer updating, isn’t going to instantly stop you from figuring out how to keep reading this blog, right?

Number of comments is another indicator, but again it gets tricky. I mean, I’m pretty sure I could write a comment-bait post tomorrow (spoiler-alert) and get north of 30 comments. If the comment-bait is really good, and gets picked up by some larger sites, 50+ comments would happen. Get a good comment-section flame-war going, and 100+ is ‘achieved’. But what does 30, 50, or even 100 comments mean, especially when they were somewhat baited or 80% of them are off-topic flames? Does a post getting one person to comment mean that post sucked and this blog is dead/dying, or did thousands of people read it, enjoy it, and just have nothing to add so they didn’t comment? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night (not really).

Let’s return to those recent events I mentioned in the first paragraph. The first is my Clash of Clans… clan. Those posts didn’t get a lot of comments, and traffic was normal, so it would be easy to assume not many found them all that interesting or were ‘influenced’ by them. Yet today, I think I’ve had 10+ people join the clan (“Supreme Cream!”, still time to join and we are building something pretty solid), many of them new players to the game who picked it up due to this blog. How many others at least tried the game due to those posts and just didn’t enjoy it? How many are playing, just slowly, so they haven’t joined the clan yet (or joined someone else because they are jerks like that)?

The second example is Risen, another post with very few comments, and Steam. On Steam my friends list has grown tremendously due to mentioning my screen name (Syncaine) on this blog and asking people for Steam cards (feel free to send some), which has resulted in getting a better feel for what “the people” are doing on Steam thanks to the “Activity” section.

As mentioned Risen was on sale recently due to the pre-order coming up for Risen 3, and thanks to the “Activity” tab I noticed a bunch of people picked the Risen 1+2 bundle up. Now I don’t know how many of those buys are due to this blog and how many of them would have happened anyway, but I’d bet at least SOME are blog-based, which is pretty cool and says something about influence.

Lastly, and the example with by far the most data, was my time blogging about Darkfall 1 and including the Community Publishing Program link/mention in every post. The CPP was basically a referral system that paid me 20% (I think?) of the initial purchase made using my link, so when AV was running a promo for the game+6months for $100, I got $20 per person who bought that bundle. I wish I had gotten 20% of all future sub fees, if only to track how long people stuck with the game, but sadly it didn’t work that way.

Through the CPP I got credited with hundreds of purchases (and I know for a fact I didn’t get credit with all purchases made due to technical issues sometimes), and AV would later confirm that I was by far the most successful CPP user. This blog, literally, made AV thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars, and unlike Clash of Clans that rakes in millions daily, for AV my contribution was actually very noticeable to the company overall. More importantly to me however was seeing confirmation that this blog was influencing people to the point of spending real money on something they would have otherwise passed on.

Examples like the above making writing the blog easier, because it confirms ‘real people’ are reading and not every view is some spam-bot finding its way here thanks to Google. This blog’s main purpose is to entertain #1 (me), but that can’t happen without all of the little people (you) showing up, so thank you dear reader, and keep dancing on those strings (and sending Steam cards).

19 Responses to Re-confirmed: I’m kind of a big deal

  1. Raw traffic is down for me too. The end of Google Reader, changes to Google image search (I post lots of pictures, so that used to result in some traffic), the slow decline of VirginWorlds, Jester, the end of my syndication on EN24, and just the general air of “meh” about MMOs these days have contributed to that.

    2012 was my peak year for traffic, according to WP. 2013 was 80% of 2012. I expect 2014 to be about 60% of 2012, which would put me back into 2009 levels of traffic, when things were still ramping up and there were lots of blogs and WAR had brought a bunch of new people into the mix.

    On the other hand, as you note, comments are about the same. I don’t get a ton of comments, I can’t do a comment-bait post and keep a straight face, but I get a few on average per post.

    So I suspect that the whole “people who actually read my blog” demographic has remained somewhat static for since about 2008, with random passers by surging and then ebbing as time has gone by.

    And, of course, since I started blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+ have all become things. (I was blogging two weeks before Facebook was available to anybody who wanted to sign up, being previously restricted.) That has diluted interest as well.

    What can you say? Things change.

    • Anonymous says:

      Side note and off topic. I’m still trying to figure out why Google Reader went down. At the time it went dark it was a toss up which I used more, Google Search or Google Reader. It may not have had a high user base, but the users it had used it extensively. And it seemed like everyone else who didn’t use it just couldn’t be bothered to figure out how it worked.

      • Google+ killed Google Reader. It was one of the first steps in Google’s plan to integrate everything into G+ to take on Facebook. Or such is my theory. Google never said as much, but the timing was right, and they went on to piss a lot of people off with other efforts to push people into G+, like the time they screwed with everybody’s YouTube account.

  2. Jenks says:

    FWIW, I started playing CoC because of your post. I already owned Risen, but only started playing it because of your post. Don’t let it go to your head. :p

  3. Kryss says:

    Clash of Clans because your blog sure, but Risen was waaaay before, so only 50% big deal, stop being smug :D

  4. bhagpuss says:

    May 2014 saw my third-highest page-view numbers ever and I have no idea why. The first and second highest were September and October 2013 when I was writing mostly about FFXIV as it launched. I have no idea what any of it means, other than if you cover the Hot New Thing the numbers go up, but it’s fun to watch.

    As for finding your now-infrequent posts, that what my auto-updating Blogger Blog Roll is for, and Feedly of course.

    • silvertemplar says:

      Yes, May 2014 you covered TESO, Wildstar and ArchAge which is kinda the month where hype was quite high, especially between Wildstar vs TESO . So you were covering the hot new things at the right time ;).

      Although maybe it’s because you kinda talked about MMOs without necessarily playing them, kind of a third person perspective. It’s that thing where if you write about GW2 while you play it, and i’m not playing it, i won’t read that as it kinda caters for current players (even though i did play GW2).

      So it’s ironic, i actually read Syncaine’s Darkfall posts more often when i know he was not actually playing it and making comments as a bit of an ex-player (so you don’t feel you need to be playing it right now either to join the conversation).The same applies to posts on WoW,GW2 and EQ2 , while blogger is playing i don’t find it as interesting, but write about them combining your previous experience and whatever is happening now, that is more interesting.

  5. Cora says:

    I am a real person and I did buy the Risen package thanks to your blog ;)

  6. weritsblog says:

    With the demise of WAR, I lost a lot of traffic. I’m just not passionate enough about any game to really get involved with the community like I was with WAR.

  7. sid6.7 says:

    I read blogs that inspire intelligent discussion. I started a blog as a way of expressing interesting observations coming from these discussions. I stopped blogging because there really aren’t new topics.

    It’s very rare that a brand new topic comes up. I suppose you could blame it on a lack of innovation but even when there is something new, it’s quickly placed in one of the boxes we’ve already discussed.

    To prove the point, I suggest that someone start a challenge where we pick a topic and we discuss it entirely by linking old blog posts. :)

  8. Kyff says:

    I don’t know how how dwindling pageviews should confirm that you are kind of a big deal but I may add that you made me buy DF and Banished as well as download the Prophecy of Pendor mod.

    Myself, I also made others try out different games so everyone is a puppet on a string and a master puppeteer at the same time.

  9. sleepysam says:

    I think I have been reading since at least WAR, if not before. Did the EVE trial twice after reading here. I’d probably try more of the games described if I wasn’t using the Mac laptop we have at home. Never pushed the DF button, but I thought about it.

  10. Braver says:

    Because I am too stupid to get comfortable with any RSS addon I used Jesters Blog as my link hub xD

    And Blogs are not “in” I am the only one in my entire social circle who is reading them 😱

  11. Fez says:

    It’s a shame Wildstar was such a poop and it offered nothing new to talk about. And also I have to thank you about mentioning Riven, I hadn’t paid any attention to it before reading your comments about it.

  12. guest says:

    Semi-off-topic, since you seem to be looking for something to write about, then I’d like to read about your opinion on the Gothic series, specially Gothic 3. Sure, they are all older than Riven, but the ones I played (2 and 3) offered more choice than Riven and the 3rd may be on pair with Skyrim (well, not in the content department, of course).

    • SynCaine says:

      Never played a Gothic game. Debating playing either 2 or 3 once I finished up Risen and nothing else comes along. Would you say its better to go into Gothic 2 or 3 at this point?

      • guest says:

        I’m not sure what to answer to your question, so let me instead present some facts so you can decide better. I liked Gothic 3 more than #2, but at least a portion of that may be because I skipped #1 before playing #2, but played #2 before playing #3.

        You see, Gothic 1, 2 and 3 form a story arc for the same (nameless) protagonist. Sure, I lost a bunch of mostly unimportant information (and even a couple important ones) by going straight to #2, but nothing critical. The same would be true if I went straight to #3. I guess you will have to balance how much time you have to how much you care about knowing the story (which IMHO is between decent to solid). Also, it is worth noting you cannot carry savegames, such feature wasn’t very common back then.

        In terms of gameplay, #3 is openworld, oblivion/skyrim style. #2 is less so, but still far from linear. I imagine #1 to be similar to #2.

        Finally, about Gothic 4 … I really cannot recommend it. It gives up the best qualities of the series.

      • Mikrakov says:

        gothic 2, 3’s combat sucks and they left the main plot so open to choice that it is stupid and has no direction.

  13. Armagon says:

    I am a real person and you may not care, but I’ve been reading for a while and usually enjoying most of your rants.

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