I started TechRaptor in 2013 with the goal of providing a place for people to come for quality content, free from any extra nonsense or some of the ethical violations we’ve seen over the years from game journalists around the industry. Personally, I think we’ve done pretty well in that endeavor, but we’re always striving to do better.
I’m going to be blunt, because for me, 5 years is a chance to look back at what we’ve done and reflect alongside my community of readers.
Over these last 5 years, we’ve created a ton of great content (I’ll drop a list of my favorites below), but we’ve also made a lot of mistakes doing it. We’re only human, after all, and in case you didn’t know – none of us have a background in journalism. TechRaptor was built off the knowledge we learned by doing. We test things, experiment, and work through problems until we find solutions that work. I think that’s pretty cool.
We don’t have much regret about any of the choices we’ve made over the years, because when it comes to creating something, you’ll never be perfect or make the right call every time. I don’t regret doing sponsored posts, but I’m glad we’ve stepped away from them for the time being. I don’t regret supporting and pushing for ethical journalistic coverage of games. I may regret my Death of the Authors comment … that ranks high on the “What the heck was I thinking!?” scale. Changing our comment system last year was a mistake, and I’m glad we’re back on Disqus. I don’t regret doing the Kickstarter, because that was incredibly important for our growth, but I do regret that I’ve failed our backers in delivering rewards in a timely manner.
There’s plenty more I can touch on, for sure, but the fact of the matter is that we always look back to our past and learn from it.
We’ve published over 13,000 articles in the last 5 years, and my team has seen over 220 different people from all around the world write for the site. To me, that’s such an awesome thing, to be able to connect and work with people from all over on a shared passion – gaming.
We've built a name for ourselves in the industry when it comes to reviews, and we've had the privilege of gaining embargo'ed access to a number of small, medium, and massive titles in order to get reviews out for our readers. Games like Yakuza 6, Halo 5, Shadow Warrior 2, Assassin's Creed Origins, SteamWorld Dig 2, and Enter the Gungeon just to name a few that we've reviewed over the years - not to mention the numerous others thanks to the great developers we've been able to work with.
We started a Steam Curator in 2014 that we update on a regular basis with games we've previewed or reviewed, and it's grown to over 21,500 followers since that time, putting us in the Top 75 of all Curators, with our page growing steadily each week! We've influenced over 100,000 views of Steam Games across the platform over time, and thanks to how often we maintain the page, we also had the opportunity to participate in the beta for the most recent Curator overhaul, working directly with Valve (and still do) to develop the Curator platform to its best potential.
We’ve been to E3 for a few years now, Gen Con, Indy PopCon, C2E2, PAX East, PAX South, PAX West, EGX Rezzed, and events all around the globe. We’ve met readers face to face, done cool interviews with developers, and played tons of games with the awesome people who made them. In recent years, we've even begun giving out our own show-specific awards, and the response has been phenomenal - we’re amped to do more at these events in the years to come, as well.
TechRaptor is (now) focused on Gaming, both of the video and tabletop varieties, with one of our goals going forward being to work more directly with developers to create incredible content, talk to them about their games, and explore their worlds hand-in-hand. Games are a medium like no other, and we want to showcase some of the amazing things out there.
We’re here for our readers and because of our readers, and we want to move the gaming industry forward and not focus on the past. By looking forward, making sure we listen to our readers when we make changes to the site and constantly trying to improve the user experience, we hope to grow to a size that will allow us to one day have full time staff.
We’re a small site, but we pay our staff based off how many articles they write in a month. Without delving into it, we’ve had people in the past accuse us of “taking advantage” of our staff, which has never been the goal – we simply want to reward our staff as much as we can for contributing to TechRaptor as a writer. Since I started paying in 2014, I’ve changed the pay system 3 or 4 times, always increasing pay and finding ways to make it easier for writers to make more money. It’s not full-time wages; we’re open and upfront about our pay with all new applicants and plan to continue improving what we can offer. I take zero pay for the site, because I’d rather have that money invested in my staff and the growth of the site. Maybe one day I’ll take a wage, but not until others can work full-time first.
Personally, I've learned a number of things over the last 5 years, and I hope that I continue to learn daily as we work to build TechRaptor into a site that more people come to every day for gaming content. However, there's 3 things that have really been key to our growth:
- Structure is so important. I've made it my goal since day one to build a site that, when people come to write for us, has systems in place for everything they could need. Review codes, news claiming, and so much more we built out custom systems for, specifically for this purpose. This is something that's CONSTANTLY evolving for our team, and something that we take a lot of pride in, and it's always a huge point of pride for me when new people are delighted by our organization. I hope to only make this better as time goes on.
- Having the right people, in the right positions, will drive growth. I've had a number of managers over the years, and the vast majority of them have been great, but I've learned an important lesson. If someone is in a position that isn't best for them, or the organization - everyone will feel it, and so will your readers. With new positions opening up internally for us, on a regular basis, learning this has been important.
- Content is key. We've made an effort to stay away from clickbait and create quality content and titles, rather than use controversial content to drive our views. For every review we publish, the game is finished before the review is started. With every news piece that goes live, we strive to add extra value by publishing a fully story (300+ words), and not just simply copy/pasting a press release in and calling it good. We didn't start out this way on news, but I can safely say that once this was in place, we've always published articles that are worth peoples' time.
Advertising Sucks. Over the last 5 years, I’ve changed our advertising network(s) over 12 times in an effort to generate more revenue, improve the usability of the site, avoid bad ads (such as popups, auto-play video, and sound ads), maintain the user experience, and pay my staff more and more. Thankfully, we’ve built some great affiliate partnerships to help boost that, and we have a Patreon Page, as well as a membership platform, but I’d love to make more so we can increase the number of articles we can put out, and so much more.
Which is where you come in. Obviously if you can become a Pack Hunter, or a Patron on Patreon, that goes directly to us and helps in a major way. If you can’t do that, it’s all good, because there’s other ways to support us like using our affiliate links or sharing our articles and bookmarking TechRaptor to read every day, especially without AdBlock! We need your support, and it doesn’t have to be monetary to grow!
There’s a lot we’ve done, and a lot more we have in the works. My staff and I are proud of everything we’ve accomplished over the last 5 years, and I am absolutely jacked to find out what we accomplish over the next 5 years.
Oh, before I go, here’s a few of my favorite articles we’ve done over the last 5 years:
Here's a few videos we've done:
Of course, I can't forget our always-running featured series as well! Make sure to check these out:
Year of Final Fantasy (2017)
Year of Pokemon (2018)
Thanks for reading my somewhat brief summary of our last few years, and I hope to continue doing more of these in the future – being transparent with our readers and communicating is something that’s extremely important to us. We have some major stuff in the works over the few months to a year, and we’re not slowing down on bringing you awesome content, so please keep checking back!
TechRaptor is growing in content, scope, and reach, and we're really looking forward to continuing to grow and shape the site into something great in the coming months and years. Thank you all so much for your support, and as always feel free to say hello to me on Twitter if you have any questions about us!
P.S. I’m shipping Kickstarter Rewards soon, and I apologize to all our backers for being atrocious at fulfilling your rewards.
Do you have a favorite article we’ve published in the last 5 years? Any reviews that resonated with you, or a series we’ve done you’d like to see resurrected? Have any questions for our team? Please let us know in the comments below!