One Year of LGC: The Bad, and the Good
Hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since I wrote my first post on LGC. If you got a dollar every time someone said, “time flies,” you’d probably be swimming in cash right now. But it’s true!
I wanted to go over both the bad and the good of having LGC around. I’ll start with the bad first, since I want to end this post on a positive note. But before that, I wanted to briefly go over some website stats.
Over the past 12 months, there have been 406k unique visitors and 574k total pageviews. You divide that by month, that’s around 34k readers and 48k pageviews. Per day, that would be a little over 1,000 visitors. It’s been getting somewhat better over the past few months though. For example, there were 46k visitors over the last 30 days, which would be about 1.5k visitors per day.
Top 5 articles, listed from most viewed to least, are:
- Proton Next announcement – 55k views
- Ryujinx VS. Yuzu on Deck – 27k views
- DLSS unlocker guide – 14k views
- GE-Proton guide – 11k views
- Nobara Project announcement – 10k views
By far my largest source of traffic is from Google. 134k visitors came from this source over the past year. The most common articles that people have searched for with this engine, listed from highest to lowest, are as follows:
- Ryujinx VS. Yuzu on Deck
- Xbox remote play on Deck
- CryoUtilities 1.0 guide
- DLSS unlocker guide
- HoloISO announcement
After Google comes Reddit, Hacker News, then DuckDuckGo.
By far the most traffic comes from the United States, coming at 157k visitors. The second-largest, the United Kingdom, pales in comparison, at just 30k visitors. Germany doesn’t fall much behind at 28k. By region, England is the most common, while New York City is the most common city.
As for operating systems, Android is king, coming at 35% of total traffic. The second – interestingly enough – would be Windows, at 26%. GNU/Linux places third at 17% (yes, I said GNU. Bite me). iOS, Mac, then Ubuntu follow. Mobile users take almost the majority of visitors at 46%, then desktop at 38%. Laptop and tablet users only make up 12% and 5%, respectively. As for browsers, Chrome is the most used at 45%. Firefox takes 30%, Safari 14%, and Edge at 4%. Several other browsers are used, but they are far more niche than the rest.
Stats aren’t hidden, by the way; they’re publicly visible here.
Frankly, it’s been a struggle getting traffic. The average amount of unique visitors I get per day is 1.5k. Total pageviews per day is around 2.3k. 1.4k followers on Mastodon, a little over 500 followers on Twitter, a little over 300 subs on YouTube, 83 members on Discord. These numbers pale in comparison to some other websites, despite how much I try to remind myself not to compare numbers, because it often gets depressing. To this day I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not doing better. Is it because of the website? Does it not look right? Something wrong with the font? SEO not properly set up? What, am I talking about Metroid and Smash Bros. too much?
I have a theory for the small traffic though. See, these days, it doesn’t take much to be a blogger or YouTuber. You could have absolutely no experience in journalism, start up your own site, and, depending on your SEO and the things you talk about, get clicks. But here’s the thing: because of how easy it is to run your own website, just look at the number of Steam Deck-related websites and YouTubers that have been popping up, just in the last year.
So, because I talk about both Linux and Steam Deck gaming, I’m struggling trying to stand out from the crowd. A lot of the things that I talk about are things that these other websites/YouTubers are also giving the buzz to. Which is why I’m trying to figure out how to make my content more unique. Either that, or make sure that I’m the first one to cover that Proton Experimental update, even if that means staying up past midnight and losing sleep. If I’m not the first to cover it, then it already becomes old news and I lose clicks.
There was one time where I got lucky. Back in November, when Valve first introduced Proton Next, someone submitted the article on Hacker News. Evidently, it was briefly one of the top 10 most-popular articles there. View count exploded at that point; I was getting over 700 visitors to the site at once! It’s by far my most-viewed article on the site, with over 55k views.
But here’s the thing that grinds my gears. I really didn’t spend much time on that article. You can tell it was mostly a copy/paste of the patch notes. So, when I get 55k views on an article like that, versus the 100 or so views I get on a game that I spent weeks playing, then half a day writing the review with my blood, sweat, and skin, you tell me what sort of articles I should prioritize. It’s sad knowing that the copypasta articles with bare-minimum effort are the ones that make all the headlines. Work your arse off on a different type of article, and not even get one percent of those clicks.
You’re probably saying, “Mark, your website has only been around for a year, it’s normal to have low numbers like these for now.” You know what? I don’t disagree. But can you explain to me how X Steam Deck YouTuber/website has been around for even less time, and basically become this overnight success? Can you explain to me how they already get sponsors and have 20 times the amount of followers that I do? Can you explain to me why they deserve their popularity, even though they never had any previous journalism experience?
So, I’d like to ask the community, as well as fellow journalists and YouTubers, a favor. If you find an article that you like, please submit it on social media. Post it on Reddit. Put a link to the article in the description of your video. Outside of Google, Reddit is my largest source of traffic, and while r/linux_gaming is kind enough to allow self-promotion, I’ve honestly grown a bit tired of spamming my own stuff there. A lot of other subreddits don’t allow self-promotion anyway. Hacker News is also a great place to share articles, provided that it gets enough upvotes.
I’m starting to realize why companies are so hesitant to respond to new outlets like myself. Let’s illustrate it this way: say you gave me a graphics card. A good one, at that. The only requirement you have is that I have to follow up with a review of the card.
Several months go by and I decide not to review the card. How would that make you feel? You might have spent some hard-earned cash on that card. Spent even more money by shipping it to me. All that hard work and money is essentially thrown down the toilet, because I didn’t fulfill my end of the deal. I mean, there are obviously life circumstances that can get in the way and cause the review to get delayed. But if I don’t follow up with a review at all, I’m sure you’d be pretty pissed. You would never want to send me anything again – except for maybe a box with a picture of a middle finger inside.
Here’s the analogy: I was fortunate enough to get a review sample of the Intel Optane SSD before they were fully retired. There were 14 other people who got a sample at the same time as me. Now mind you, these samples were sent way back in October. I didn’t have my review ready until six weeks later, but aside from one other person, I was the only one that followed through with a review. I can only imagine Jacek Wysoczynski’s frustration. All those samples sent out – some of which were worth hundreds of dollars – for basically no one to follow through with. Just take advantage of the fact that they were “free” and hoard it to themselves. Sure, there were promises of “should be ready to publish it this week” and “I’ll be putting up a review of Optane shortly” but, of course, nothing came to fruition weeks later. A hardware review should not take longer than a few months. I frankly don’t care how busy the reviewer might be.
And so, now my work is that much harder, to prove to companies/publishers that I’m a “legit” source who will keep their word and follow up with a review, even if I might unintentionally damage the product if I have to return it (which, admittedly, has happened in the past). It’s examples like the one above that cause these companies to think twice. As annoying as the silence might be after contacting them, I’ve finally drawn my own conclusion that this is likely the reason for it.
In fact, some of the companies who I once worked with have told me that I’m no longer worth their time, because my numbers are too low. As painful as those emails have been to digest, what makes the situation even more awkward is, when you consult the advice of a few friends as to whether or not you should respond – and if so, what you should say – they don’t really know what to do.
Several months ago, when I wrote about my reasons for founding LGC, one of them was “LGC does not want to be an enemy with anyone.” Well, I feel a bit hypocritical now when I say that. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I have made enemies. But I have become so envious of the success of some content creators, that I just don’t want to have anything to do with them. It’s sad, really; some of these content creators were even in the talks of wanting to form a “partnership” with me. In hindsight I’m biting myself; I actually could have taken advantage of their offer to boost some of my own traffic. Now they’ve expressed sorrow and disappointment that I refuse to collaborate with them. I take 100% of the blame for that. I just wish I could swallow my pride and accept the fact that there is always someone who’s going to be more successful than I am, even if I feel like they don’t put in the same amount of effort as I do, or they don’t have as much experience in journalism as I do.
Image credit: UMG
Maybe one day, if I ever become as popular, maybe I wouldn’t be so opposed to the idea of collaboration.
Bad Financial Support⌗
I have three patrons so far; one on Ko-Fi, one on Liberapay, and one on Patreon. I knew, 110%, that I was going to get few to no patrons at all. Which was why I was so hesitant about setting up a donation page in the first place. Heck, for a while I looked like an idiot on Patreon, because the page said “$0 per month, 0 patrons.” For the few people that actually saw that page, it probably gave them the impression that I had a few patrons, but they all stopped supporting me because I said or did something that was controversial. Or that my work just wasn’t good enough. Nevertheless, I set up donations anyway thanks to the encouraging comments I got from my post earlier this year, and because it’s so expensive keeping the Plausible Analytics subscription active. I’d also like to thank Luke Short, who came to the rescue and supported me on Patreon. At least one patron looks better than zero.
And look, part of me understands the lack of patrons. Keeping the necessary bills paid in of itself is becoming increasingly expensive year-by-year, so I don’t blame some readers for giving higher priority for their rent/mortgage. Money is tight for just about everyone. In fact I might need to pick up a second job myself. It won’t leave as much time for the site, but seeing the numbers getting higher every year is anxiety-inducing and depressing.
I’ve cultivated a few friendships over the past year. Some of them have been really close. The ChimeraOS developers in particular – I have high regard and respect for them. Like, I can say whatever is on my mind, go off-topic, and just have a real, pleasant conversation. Honestly, I’d rather have these friendships than having one million followers on Twitter.
As a journalist, one of the benefits I get is getting hardware and games that I would have otherwise had to pay hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars for. The HP Dev One is an example of a laptop that I got to keep, on the house, along with a nice mouse and the Launch keyboard by System76. This would have been worth close to $1,500 if I had to pay for it. Sadly, the Dev One is being discontinued, but it’s a great laptop. It was pretty awesome to also get games like The Entropy Centre and SpongeBob: The Cosmic Shake. I even got early access to the latter. Nice to actually have the time to play the game and have the review ready the day the embargo lifts.
Back in October I kind of went on a tangent regarding how jealous I was of other peoples’ success. I was overwhelmed by the responses I got on that and the encouragement that I received. These comments were sent via DM, so I’ll be respecting the names of the individuals that sent them, but here were a few examples:
Hey Mark, just read your post. Just know that I exactly feel the same way often times…Completely understandable. But hey, I didn’t get Kena. You did. And that’s amazing!
Great article. I respect that in every way. You have my full respect.
You’ve been a big supporter of mine and I remember you posted an article about how jealous you were for not getting sponsorships. I totally get that feeling of being an underdog and it’s surprising because you seriously make some of the best news content out there! You dive into details or topics that are interesting and no one else talks about.
This one in particular, though…it hits hard (in a good way):
I just wanted to let you know that I love your site and I think you are doing an amazing job. Since the beginning when you went off on your own I was very impressed with your ability and work ethic. Keep it up! If it helps, I have been jealous and in awe of your ability to write amazing articles at such a fast pace. To put together an amazing website and community!
Even random emails like this go a long way to make my day:
Thank you for the upbuilding comments and letting me know that my efforts haven’t been fruitless. I should print these comments out and keep them as a sticky note on my fridge. That way, any time I need a morale boost, I can just read these comments at a glance.
Dedicated to an Amazing Couple⌗
I want you to think back to a time in your life where a stranger did a random act of kindness for you. How did it make you feel? Almost made you want to cry, right? Or perhaps you’re feeling down, and listened to a song that calms your nerves, lifts your spirits up. The songwriter might not have made that song just for you, but you appreciate the music nonetheless because of the effect it has on you.
Now imagine that songwriter did make it just for you. It’s not because you did them a favor. In fact, the songwriter barely even knows you. But they made that song because they knew it’s something you’d appreciate.
That’s how I felt when Ashley Anderson – the wife of one of the ChimeraOS devs – made her artwork. She didn’t even know me. I didn’t do any favors for her. She just did it out of the kindness of her heart. The artwork itself is great. But I think what pulls on my heart strings even more is the fact I didn’t even ask for this. Just made it out of nowhere – despite how busy her work life is – and surprised me, and didn’t ask for a bill. It’s hard to describe in words how grateful I am for this gift. I’ve said this before, but looking at the artwork has this phycological crutch that just turns my world upside down, for the better. And if you haven’t noticed, I’ve kind of sprinkled this artwork in some of the articles I’ve written. It’s on my fridge. It’s my phone’s wallpaper. It’s my Deck’s wallpaper. My Discord profile picture.
The lesson I can give here, I guess, is this: you’d be surprised how much a simple act of kindness can make a person’s day. To help them to hang in there, whether they’re a stranger or someone you know well. I know for me, this artwork inspired me to make artwork for other people. I try to do it as a surprise, and make something that I know they will like. But you don’t have to go that far; just a simple “I’m thinking of you” or “I appreciate what you do” is really all that’s needed.
Of course, I can’t go without mentioning Matthew Anderson (Ruineka). Probably the deepest friendship I’ve ever had. He bought me Sonic Frontiers. Heck, he even offered me his Steam Deck so that I could review it (I didn’t get mine till June). And overall just a super nice person, where again, I can just say whatever is on my mind to him, and argue with him what the best Sonic soundtrack is. He wrote a review of the HP Dev One on my site. And I’ve consulted his advice many times before submitting an article as to what should be improved upon, what should get removed, etc. It’s worth giving a read to the interview I had with him and Samsagax, one of the other devs behind ChimeraOS (you’re a dev, dude, stop telling people that you’re not).
Matthew, Ashley, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t think you realize how much you’ve helped me out.
A Thank You to Others⌗
In addition to Matt and Ashley, I’d like to thank the following individuals:
- Boiling Steam – in particular Ekianjo, Podiki, and Patola. If it wasn’t for them and the lessons they taught me to make sure every nook & cranny is covered in an article, the quality of my articles wouldn’t be the same
- ChimeraOS team – in particular Alkazar, the founder; Ruineka; and Samsagax. They are among some of the closest online friendships that I’ve had, and have been very supportive of my work
- Gaming on Linux – in particular Liam Dawe, for occasionally pointing out things in some of my articles that may need revision
- Luke Short – for helping me get in touch with Intel, for the creation of winesapOS, as well as being a strong, encouraging support line
- Jacek Wysoczynski – the one who is “responsible for Strategy and Solution Architecture in the Intel Optane Group” and sent me the Intel Optane 905p. Similar to Luke, Jacek has also had a very positive influence
- Fabian from Steam Deck Checker – for checking in from time-to-time to see how I’m doing, and for linking some of my articles in his videos
- Timo from the Deckverse – similar to Steam Deck Checker, for checking in occasionally
- Gardiner Bryant – for being such a nice guy, and for referring to my Metroid Prime Remastered Steam Deck report in one of his videos
- Álex Román – the developer behind the rhythm-based game Project Heartbeat. His game was the first that I reviewed on LGC, and he offered to be interviewed. He helped me set on my path so that I could get more game review keys in the future
- GDKChan – founder of the Ryujinx Nintendo Switch emulator. I really enjoy the interviews I have with him; he’s very open-minded and honest with his answers. I can’t wait to interview him again later this year
- Gabmus – owner of Deck Central. He helped make comments individual to each post, rather than the global comment section I had before
- Retro Studios – this is kind of an odd one, but if it weren’t for them, Metroid Prime, as well as the remaster, wouldn’t exist. If you’ve read my review you’d know how much of an impact this game has had on me
- Samus Prime, Ray3D, and SirMangler – the devs/artists behind the unoffical remaster of Metroid Prime, for giving me the opportunity to interview them. Sadly they’ve decided to move on to greener pastures since the official remaster came out, but I wish them the best with Prime 2 and their original IP
- patrons – you might be few in number, but the fact you’re willing to support me is even better than the money itself
- you, the reader. Even if it’s a comment that attacks me, the fact you spent the time to write your comment means something to me (but be aware, your comment probably got removed). Even some of your insults have given me a good chuckle. And, of course, the positive and encouraging comments as well, or sharing your opinion on a certain topic. Just the fact you’re willing to read stuff on my site is a good sign
I mean, there’s probably a few people that I’m missing. If so, I apologize.
LGC will be more-or-less the same thing. I’ll still have news, reviews, opinions, interviews, occasional off-topic posts, etc. My living situation isn’t exactly ideal at the moment, and I may need to pick up a second job, so the frequency of posts may start to slow down without notice. I’m definitely going to give game reviews less priority than everything else going forward; they require the most effort while getting the least amount of views.
Hopefully traffic will continue to improve over time. Of course, I’m open to suggestions as to what can be improved on the site, or the things I should be covering. I do have plans on adding a Search bar to the site; believe me, I want it as much as you do. I have looked into it once, but unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than I thought. I still do want to add it at some point though. In the meantime I’ve added a commonly used tags section on the Wiki/Bookmarks page, so hopefully it can make your search for any particular article a little easier.
- low traffic; trying to work on this. If there’s an article you like, please share it
- thank you, Matthew, Ashley, and several others for the support
- hopefully I can get a search bar added at some point