From a top-level perspective, the concept is fairly simple: Earn free games by writing game reviews. Obviously there's a lot more to it but let's start with that.
The Simple Concept: Everybody Loves Free Games
This site is the next best thing to a free game. In a nutshell, the system is designed as liberally as possible to help you obtain games of your choice, simply by writing reviews for the games you just played.
The process revolves around points. Points that can be earned by writing high-quality, thorough, and insightful reviews. In the future, we will also be introducing other ways one can earn points, but for now, we're focused on points earned exclusively for reviews. Write a great review, get more points. It's that easy.
What Makes a Good Review?
You might ask yourself "who are you to decide what makes a game review great?" And it's a fair question. To be honest, we're not looking to impose much editorial will upon your reviews. It's mostly just about keeping a baseline. For example, while we do have a minimum word count, I'm not entirely sure what it should be yet. Does your review have any images? It should, and we'll tell you so if it doesn't. Is your review just a giant wall of text? Maybe we'll suggest some paragraph line breaks.
The point is, we want to work with you to craft entertaining, informative, and readable reviews. We're not looking to influence your opinion, change your tone, or beat you over the head with an Oxford comma. In fact, most times I'm guessing our moderators won't have to contact you at all, and instead just approve and publish it, at which time you'll receive your points. It's that simple.
How Do You Calculate Points?
Ah that's a great question. Also, I can't tell you the answer.
What I CAN tell you, is that it's algorithmic, and that we'll be looking to tweak this over time, based on metrics we aggregate from the users themselves. It's a system that we want to be fair, but leaning in favor of the user. We don't want people to run out of points. After all, that would defeat the purpose. So it's an ongoing mechanism that we hope to perfect over time.
I suppose there are a couple of hints that I can offer as a way to understand how you should approach game redemption and expectations on points:
- The amount of points you receive for a review is in no way tied to the amount of points that a game costs BUT
- You can theoretically receive more than 10 times the amount of points for a review compared to the cost of certain games
I know those sound like conflicting sentences but I assure you they are not. Anyway, this is quickly turning into an FAQ page, so let's just get to how it works, shall we?
Everybody starts with a pre-determined amount of points. Right now, that number is 1,000 points. You can earn more points by connecting your Steam account, which enables you to earn even more points by reviewing games already in your library.
Games are worth anywhere from 120 points to several thousand. And before you ask, I also can't tell you how we calculate how many points a game is worth either. You'll just have to trust me.
From your user page, a link is provided to a list of games with available keys. If you're unsure about a game, we have a quick link on this page for you to look at the game on Steam. Once you decide on a game, the points are automatically deducted from your total. At the same time, the key will show up on your user page, in a list of keys assigned to your account. You can have 3 games redeemed at any one time that have not been reviewed yet.
Now, could you use this as a way to just get 3 free games and not review any of them? Sure, but I'm assuming that you won't do that. In any case though, we're not holding your feet to the fire to get your redeemed games reviewed in any specific amount of time. We figure we'll see how long it takes people on average and incorporate that into our methodologies going forward.
Once a game is redeemed, you can choose to review that game from your user page at any time. Obviously, we recommend you play it first, to the end if possible, but it doesn't necessarily need to be beaten. Once a review is submitted for moderation, it is no longer editable. However you can save your review as a draft for as long as you need, and come back to it periodically to add to it before you feel it is ready.
Writing a Review
Reviews are structured using a handful of different sections. I'd like to think creating one is a straightforward process, but I know that's only because I have an intimate knowledge of the software we use. I'm hoping to get some good feedback on what we can do to make it easier for everyone.
Nonetheless, at the moment, the create/edit form consists of 4 standard parts:
- The Featured Image, which shows up directly below the game title, and is also used in thumbnails throughout the site.
- The Main Content, which is categorized by the Subhead (a main headline directly below the Featured Image), Copy Sections, and Images, which are inserted between the copy.
- Facets, or essentially what could be considered the industry standard aspects of a game (Graphics, Sound, Controls, etc) but you are free to define your own.
- Pros and Cons - These are limited to five apiece and are typically a sentence or two long.
While we recommend using all of these different features, we don't require it. For a general idea of how these parts fit together on a full page, check out the reviews linked in the Featured Reviews section of the home page.
Reviews that are sent up to moderation are looked over only so that they meet our general guidelines. For the most part, we try to stick with fixing typos only. If any parts of the review feel like they would be more readable with a couple minor edits (typically spacing and formatting) then our moderators will contact the author through our dedicated Slack channel first to discuss with them. That's about as heavy-handed as we want to be, and the idea is to give more freedom to writers once they've submitted a reasonable amount of issue-free articles.
Moderators will then publish the review, you will receive your points for said review, and the review will show up in a list of your published works on your user page. From there, you're free to pick a new game to redeem, and start anew.
The Long Game
It bears repeating that the site, at this stage, is merely a test of the core functionality. However, we have big plans already for additions to the site, including:
- Different ways to earn points outside of publishing articles
- User engagement and rankings for reviews
- New components to add value to your reviews (galleries, videos, etc)
- Social spaces to discuss specific games
- Steam account connectivity
- Personalization and recommendation engine for keys and reviews
Plus much more that I can't even talk about yet. But we're excited, and we look forward to getting you some free games.