How to manage fansites

Sinclair Spectrum

In the old 8 bit days we had fanzines, badly printed A5 bundles of enthusiasm. And a breeding ground for journalistic talent. Now we have the web fansites, which are much easier to set up and keep running so there are far more of them than there ever were fanzines. This rampant proliferation has forced them to cover narrower ground, so whereas a fanzine could cover an entire gaming platform fansites tend to specialise, often to just one game.

The problem with fan sites is that they can tend to be anarchic and out of control. To be telling you (and the world) everything you should be doing about the game and generally slagging off your business. In fact many see that the more militant they are the more successful they will be. You could spend a fortune on solicitors trying to keep some semblance of order, and still fail.

The answer is to engage with these people. You want them inside your tent pissing out, not outside your tent pissing in. You will never be able to control them, they will always publish things that you don’t like, but you can make their behaviour a whole lot less unacceptable.

The simple technique is to reward good behaviour. With something like an accredited fansite scheme. They undertake to keep to a code of behaviour that isn’t too onerous but which cuts out the worst excesses. In exchange they get fansite toolkits of great assets, they get occasional access to key people and they get listed and linked on your website. A lot of carrot to keep them behaving. The whole relationship is managed by your community marketing team. You have a win win situation.

And remember that many fansites are a con trick. They are set up to get free games and goodies and to get the fanboy site owners closer to the publisher/developer. With the minimum amount of work they can get away with going into the site.  So there is a job that needs doing of sorting the wheat from the chaff, which is a dynamic thing as these sites often get rapidly worse or rapidly better.


  1. For an exceptional case study on this you should get in touch with Graeme Boyd, Community Manager for Xbox EMEA. His XCN programme is something that all marketers could learn from, not just those in the games industry.

  2. We run a whole bunch of gaming/fansites, but have never sought to get freebies or any such thing. I highly doubt people would go to the trouble of building and publishing real quality content on a daily, weekly basis just to get the odd game or other material sent to them.

  3. Zee: I used to work as a PR man for a gaming peripherals company, and you get loads of blaggers who set up a home page with their free storage allocation and use it to scam freebies. It’s amazing how irate some of them can be when you call their bluff and don’t send anything too.

  4. Even Evony has started a program to get fansites to fall inline with what they want written about them, offerring information and ingame prizes to sites that meet their requirements.

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