Our last site of the week was Cheap Ass Gamer, a site that provides reviews of all the latest games along with a weekly podcast and the deals on all the latest games.
This week our award goes to Gematsu, a site that 'exists to provide readers with the latest news, previews, reviews, screenshots, videos, and articles in the current-generation gaming world'.
We had a quick chat with founder, editor-in-chief, blogger extraordinaire and all-around nice guy Sal Romano about the creation of Gematsu, its key strengths and what the future holds for it. Here's what he had to say...
How did Gematsu come into existence?
Gematsu has come a long way. I started getting into the whole 'game-blogging' thing back in summer 2007. I started up a PlayStation 3 Blogger site - one I didn't expect to see increase in popularity - that all of a sudden had regulars. I liked it. I liked providing news to readers and 'competing' with the bigger outlets. But admittedly, the blog was shit.
Looking back on it now, I can clearly see how far it's all come. About a year later, I launched a self-hosted WordPress blog, which we still run on today, called ScrawlFX. Don't ask where the name came from - it was just there. It went on with exclusive PlayStation 3 coverage for a little bit before we ultimately decided to shift to super-awesome multiplatform coverage (because we'd rather not ignore awesome games).
In June this year, just before E3, we finalized a name-change long in the planning, giving us the Gematsu you know and (better) love today. And we have this sexy mascot. I mean, look at him. Try not to be blinded by his sexy, though. It's happened a few times, and they've held me responsible. I'm not going to court again.
It's usually just me updating the site (I seriously think I'm crazy sometimes-I've written over 10,000 articles in the past 3 years), but we do have two other guys that show up, one more often than the other. Aside from my usual works, there are the wonderfully-written reviews and features from our UK editor Adam Meadows, and the once-in-a-blue-moon appearances of a now-school-pressed Matthew Frassetti.
What sets Gematsu apart from other sites?
That's a tough question to answer.
If you're not IGN or GameSpot, you're not getting, what I consider, ridiculous exclusives, like a new Final Fantasy XIII-2 trailer, or something. So why visit a smaller gaming blog? I mean, we'll post the trailer and source the bigger outlet, but ultimately, you'll find it there first. I guess the answer to your question is this: we're a friendly site. When I post news updates, screenshots, or video, I think about the reader.
It sounds a bit cliché and I feel corny for saying it, but it's true. New details? We'll have it in a nice-to-look-at, easy-to-read format. New screenshots? Here, take 'em all in high-res 3680x2520, non-watermarked (because watermarks are ugly). New video? We'll have the highest-res version uploaded on our YouTube and posted to the site-because we know how much the gaming community hates monetized video players and loves the simplicity YouTube offers.
Sure, in the end, I'm not making much where I could be, but the site is more a labor of love than it is anything else at the moment. Do I hope Gematsu becomes the next big thing? Or as big as, dare I say it? CVG? Of course. But we'll get there in a way that makes our subscribers comfortable.
Speaking of our subscribers, we have a pretty interesting community. You'll see a lot of regulars commenting on our articles, sharing their thoughts, etc. We only hope that amount continues to increase. I'd love to be at a point where every article has at least 30+ comments. Looking at it in terms of other indie sites, we really admire where some of our colleagues, such as TheSixthAxis, have taken off to.
What would you say you specialize in?
Gematsu specializes in everything, really. We do have a specific love for Japanese games, though (but we tend to stray away from things like Love Plus and If I Were in a Sealed Room With a Girl I'd Probably XXX).
When it comes down to specifics, you could say we specialize in untouched media drops. We have this huge gallery of over 44,000 images (have a look at our Skyward Sword gallery, which as of today contains 203 untouched screenshots alone)
Or, I could ask, what does any games website specialize in? Games, of course. We write about games, we dream about games, and we play them as we sit on the toilet. So you could also say we specialize in loving games with a passion, and expressing that through our writing and constant interaction with the community.
And what I really love about Gematsu is that I feel very connected to that community. The commenters know me and Adam, we know them, and they'll welcome any new member to become part of that community. Even if we get to the point where we'll have 80 people commenting per article, I'll still strive to be familiar with every face (or avatar, rather).
What do you have planned for the future?
The future - I like talking about it. It's filled with all my hopes and dreams for the site. If we really lift off, I'd love to hire a coder and get a custom CMS going-game pages, user blogs, and all.
Right now, we've got a guy in the U.S. (me) and a guy in the U.K. (Adam), but I'd really love to get to the point where we're able to pick up Australia and Japan-based writers. I'd rather not have a million people writing for the site, though. I'd like for the staff to remain at 5-6 people so everyone is easily recognizable and known by the community.
Naturally, I'd like for the staff to know and be comfortable with each other as well-help each other out, all that. I've met writers from sites that have 10+ authors, some who've never even spoken to their colleagues from the same outlet, and that's not what I want to hear about Gematsu's writers.
In short, I want to make the site better in every way possible, and I will strive every day to do that.