John McCarroll
RPGFan Reader Survey - What We Found
Some of the common threads we found.
12.09.11 - 3:19 PM

Hi all, with more than 500 entries to our survey, we had more than enough information and quite a few suggestions. Before I get to the common threads, I wanted to address a couple of things I saw in the comments. Note that everything here is my own personal musing and I haven't run it by anyone else on our staff yet. So you get to hear pure, unadulterated John. :-) A word to the wary: This is a long post. Really long.

First off, thank you to every single person who said how much they loved the website. We appreciate it greatly and it's good to know that our work is appreciated. As many of you know, RPGFan is a labor of love - we do what we do because we love the genre as much as you do and want to do our best to make sure it flourishes. So hearing from you how much you like what we do is very heartening.

Secondly, several people asked about donations. I am incredibly thankful that the advertisements we run are enough to keep RPGFan as self-supporting. We're never in fear that our server bill will go unpaid, and it's been almost ten years since the last time we had to ask for donations. I'm incredibly proud of that fact, but still very appreciative that people want to donate. What I ask of you? If you ever feel the urge to donate, go take that money and buy a new copy of a more obscure RPG or a visual novel like 999. Part of the reason we're so successful is that we have the support of fantastic publishers like Atlus USA, Aksys Games, XSEED Games, Square Enix, Bethesda Softworks, Electronic Arts, 38 Studios, Natsume, Atari, THQ, and every other developer or publisher out there that lets us do what we do. So go support them, because they're the ones giving us the games that we love to play.

Third, a lot of people commented about our coverage, be it that they'd like us to cover more "borderline" RPGs and from those who would like to see a much stricter interpretation of what makes an RPG. Our coverage isn't likely to change any time soon - we're pretty confident in identifying what we think are RPGs. For those who are unaware, we cover three main genres, as well as their subgenres:

  • RPGs (Including Strategy RPGs, Action RPGs, and MMORPGs)
  • Point & Click Adventure Games (Monkey Island, Dreamfall, etc.)
  • Visual Novels (999, Good People Die)

Our approach to what defines an RPG is fairly unscientific: I know it when I see it. For those of you who aren't from the United States or who might be unfamiliar with the term, it was coined by US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in the case Jacobellis v. Ohio in the definition of pornography. "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

I can't tell you today what exactly makes your favorite RPG an RPG. There are a lot of common threads, but any time we're unsure, the staff talks about it. We put a LOT of thought into what we do and don't cover.

Fourth, Disgaea 4. Without going into detail, we had internal staff issues that prevented us from reviewing this sooner. Expect a review before the month's end. I'm personally very sorry we don't have this review up yet. I will give you a heads up in case you didn't read this review yet: The GamesRadar Review was written by our very own Kimberley Wallace.

Fifth, regarding Random Encounter, we had a lot of different comments here, with a couple of common threads. For those who listened to podcasts, we gathered: you want Random Encounter more often, and you want Random Encounter to have a more balanced focus between JRPG and WRPG. We've known the balance thing for a while. Several people suggested retrospective podcasts, and I think that's how we'll try to inject JRPG content for when things are slow or we haven't all played a particular title. We've heard what you've had to say here and we'll try to give you even more content here that I'm sure you'll love. I'm very proud of Rob for coming in and doing what he did with Random Encounter. He took an idea that people had tossed around on staff before and made it a real, living thing with a pretty regular update schedule. Even if he is a fanboy sometimes.

Last, several people asked about writing for us. Keep your eyes on the website. We'll be looking for new volunteers early next year.

So, with those few comments out of the way, I went through every single comment that was input (and there were over 200), and I had quite a few common threads:

  • Update Release Dates more often - This was far and away the most requested bit. We know we're out of date and we'll give more thought on how to make this more automated in how it's updated.

  • More Retro Reviews and Retrospectives - We hear you loud and clear here. Recent retro reviews have been very popular from a pageview standpoint, and this is something we can look at for slower periods (like this month, for instance.)

  • Soundtracks - These are not going anywhere and got left off of my "Why you visit RPGFan" list of options because I got in a hurry. I got a text message from Stephen M. after it went up asking me if I was axing him. (I'm not.)

  • Improved Pictures Navigation - We're already talking this. We know it sucks. A lot of our website is still stuck in 1998.

  • No News Story between the Front Page and a Review or Pics - Also something that's an issue regarding the website tech. I agree with you, because I really don't like writing those little blurbs either.

  • Staff Blogs - Intriguing concept mentioned by quite a few. We'll look into how we might possibly do this and integrate it.

  • Mobile-friendly RPGFan - We'd love to do this. Right now it's a question of how we can beat the website tech on this. Mike and Dave are looking at this right now.

  • More European coverage
  • - Hey, we got a Xenoblade review, didn't we? About 1/4 of our audience is European and you want release dates and other information. We'll try our best here!

And video reviews. Video reviews are a lot of work, as many people noted, and we're not going to take people away from their regular review work to take care of these. Luckily for you, I don't need to take reviewers off their work for me to play around with this concept personally with Bradley. Everyone on staff seems to really like this concept, as do most of you (about 2/3 responded positively.) So we'll start testing. I wouldn't expect anything until early next year, though. Video content is something that's very intriguing and within our reach now. I'm very interested to see how it goes.

So, there are my musings. If you read to this point, I'm impressed. I rambled quite a bit. As always, if you have any questions for staff members or want to talk to us, we want to hear what you have to say. Use the forums, or click the "about" page up top - it lists everyone's e-mail addresses. Want to send a news tip? E-mail Liz, Derek, and Andrew. Sitewide suggestions? That's me. Graphics or design? Talk to Mike. If you've got criticisms, though, be constructive. We're people just like you are and no one likes to hear garbage spewed at them. OK? Ok.

Thanks for being an RPGFan reader. We're glad you like us.