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Nieman Journalism Lab
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What game designers can teach news orgs about money

Kevin Kelly pointed a few days ago to this essay by Dan Cook, a designer of online Flash games, on how game designers can make money. As Kevin points out, there’s an awful lot of stuff in Dan’s essay that could be applied to other creative fields where a limited professional class is facing enormous new pressure from worthwhile free competitors.

Dan identifies four classes of gamers and potential revenue strategies that can be used with each. Those four classes could also describe news consumers; I’ve outlined a few possible streams for each. Can you think of more?

People who don’t want to pay. Potential revenue source in gaming: Advertising. In news: Ditto.

People who are interested in more of the same: Gaming: Selling additional levels or challenges. News: Generating extra pageviews by posting original documents and databases, encouraging good comments and content from users, and better repurposing of archives.

People who are interested in status or identity improvements. Gaming: Selling items that let players customize the experience or express their identity. News: Selling subscription access to in-depth reporting on narrow issues; holding events to connect readers and sources; giving public rewards for good reader contributions.

People who have limited time. Gaming: Cheat codes and other functions that allow players to skip ahead. News: iPhone and other mobile apps; email newsletters; summarizing and aggregation features; quick-read free dailies.

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Joseph Lichterman    Aug. 12, 2014
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  • Tim Maly

    As a person who has limited time, I’d love to see much better curating. There is such a thing as TOO MUCH information and authoritative sites that cut through the noise and increase the level of signal for my personal needs. I don’t need ALL the news. I need the most important (whatever that means) news.

    Chris Anderson is giving away the full Audio Book for FREE but making you pay for the abridged version.

    On the other end, I wonder if there is a market for way more indepth coverage of topics. Full briefs of the background and relevant information aimed at a small(ish) group of hyper interested parties. The main news site becomes a kind of loss leader pulse of the new (WANT TO KNOW MORE?).

    The busy people pay for better curating. The interested people pay for way more information.

  • EP

    I’m particularly interested on that other end. I understand some people need synthesis, filtered data, etc. But in all this sea of information (the metaphor is getting tired) I see a paradoxical lack of depth. Sometimes this lack of depth is caused by too much emphasis on brief items, assuming that the definition of “busy” is “not willing to invest time in finding out more.” Curating sources would have to earn a badge of authority before they can be trusted– in my opinion there’s too much editing already and not enough discussion. For those who miss more investigative or in-depth journalism, this might be very good news, at least in the UK.

  • Teach_J

    You forgot about console gamers like the XBox 360, Wii and PS3. These gamers are willing to pay a premium to make it just work. For the news, this would be the Kindle. You could sell them both the device, via a partnership with Amazon and then a subscription on top of it. Some might be willing to get more than one newspaper too, such as USA Today, NY Times, Wash. Post, and their local paper. Maybe even an international paper like the Times of London.

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