Features

Site News: How We Treat Our Writers, Past, Present, and Future

Hello again, it’s me, Chris Harding. I’m the dude that runs and owns Pure PlayStation. Every now and then I’ll break away from our familiar format to give you updates on the site. This is one of those posts.

Previous ‘Site Stuff’ posts:

Earlier today I had the misfortune of reading about some very, very shady practices by another gaming news website, Brash Games. It’s not a particularly impressive website, nor does it pull in anywhere near the same numbers that Pure PlayStation does, but that’s beside the point. Whether you’re getting 100 hits a week or 100 hits an hour, you need to make sure you’re not being a total dick.

The story goes that Brash Games doesn’t pay its writers. Fair enough, so long as those writers agreed to work on a voluntary basis, there’s no problem. However, it does offer “exposure” as a kind of passive payment. Okay… But who exactly are they exposing their writers to? As I said, they’re not a very popular site. On the other hand it’s always good for writers to build up a portfolio of their work across the web. It helps when you go knocking on another site’s door asking for a job.

What isn’t cool is that Brash Games has been removing the writing credit from anyone that leaves the site. So if a writer spent six months writing two news stories a day, those 400+ articles are now no longer attributed to the original author. What’s the problem? It effectively makes their work useless for their portfolio.

It’s not just the erasing of credit, but the manipulation of a reviewers words and scores for reviews. I’ve read from several ex-writers for Brash Games that their reviews would be altered to present a score that the site’s owner and Editor wanted instead. Not cool. Not cool at all. That’s like butting into a conversation you’re having and replacing your opinion with your own. Very not cool.

So, what’s my point, you’re asking. My point is that Pure PlayStation is not run this way. Now we’re not a massive website with publishers begging us to review their games. We’re not getting jetted out to sunny California for expensive parties and secretive shows. We’re doing good but we’re not at that level, not yet, but it’s still important to follow some kind of standards when it comes to treating other human beings with respect.

How Do You Pay Your People?

Short answer: I don’t. Believe me when I say that I’d love nothing more than to shower the good people who work alongside me with buckets of gold/pounds/dollars/euros/chocolate/whatever they want, but I can’t afford it. On a good month the site breaks even and I can pay the server bills without having to take money from my own bank account. On a bad month I’m stumping up the cash myself. I don’t want pity, mind you, as I still have a pretty sweet day job (store manager at a Clarks shoe store, if you’re wondering…) so I’m never left eating the scraps at work.

I appreciate the work my fellow writers do and I do allow them the opportunity to make a little cash using Amazon Associates. In fact, I’m working on putting up a Patreon page for Pure PlayStation. The reason? To pay my guys and gals!

I know for a fact that there are plenty of sites out there that are pulling in far more readers than we currently are (so more $$$), yet they don’t even allow their writers to use affiliate links to make a few pennies on the side. Some sites actually use review codes as a sort of payment. I get it, free games, but believe me when I say that not every game code you receive is a joy to play…

At the end of the day, we do what we do because we enjoy it. I don’t make a penny from the site and I’ve put more money into the site than I’ve ever made out of it. Should I suddenly come into an obscenely large amount of money, the third* thing I’ll do is put some aside for the staff at Pure PlayStation.

First I’d buy a sick island in the Bahamas and move Pure PlayStation HQ there. Secondly, I’d hire a hot nanny to help with the housework and childcare. Priorities, yo, priorities. At least I’m honest…

What Happens When Someone Leaves Pure PlayStation?

We mourn. There’s a standard 14-day mourning period. Every day at noon we sit in a circle and sacrifice an original PlayStation console to the gods in the hope that we’ll find a decent replacement writer. I’m kidding. Sort of…

What really happens is that we part ways very amicably. I’ve only ever had to fire one person and it wasn’t too unpleasant. Everyone else that has passed through our doors has been pretty cool. In fact, we’ve got a really, really low staff turnover rate. Thinking about it now, we’ve only had two full-time writers leave us since we started operation in January of 2016. Both were great guys who worked hard for the site, but for one reason or another they wanted to do something else. No hard feelings.

When a writer leaves Pure PlayStation, their work remains exactly as they left it. There’s no taking away of credit. Ever. We simply lock their account for security reasons, and then we disable their email account. It’s all rather simple and totally transparent. There’s no “fuck you, dude” and no threats that they’ll never work in the industry again. We have a little chat, I wish them the best of luck and tell them that my door is always open if they need anything. So if you’ve seen our job advertisement but are hesitant because you think you may be treated like the poo from a dog’s bum, don’t worry, you’ll be treated very nicely.

What Happens In The Editing Process? Do You Change Scores?

As the Editor of Pure PlayStation, it’s my job to make sure that everything goes live on the site is up to standard. As I’m just a human being who also has a full-time career, a child, and a partner, as well as an active social life away from my PC screen, I fluff it up occasionally. I let the odd bad article out. I miss a bit of crap grammar (sometimes I’m the culprit!) and I’ll see it a week later and correct it.

When it comes to reviews, I trust my people explicitly in their assessment of a game. If they think a game is worthy of high praise and they assign it a number that falls in line with our Review Policy, that’s what gets published. If they think a game is really poor and they explain their reasons justly in their review and assign it a number that reflects their thoughts, that’s what gets published. I’ll never look at a review and think “nah, I reckon it’s better/worse than what they say” and change the content or the score. Never. Now, I know that some sites out there do inflate their scores for certain publishers/platform holders, but we’re not one of them.

My role in the editing of reviews is to make sure mistakes are kept to a minimum (I’m not perfect…) and that the formatting is correct, and that it’s generally acceptable for the internet to consume. I’m not in the business of changing scores to fit my own tastes. Simple, really.

What’s It Like Working For Pure PlayStation?

It’s bloody amazing. Seriously, we all go on weeken – nah. It’s alright, or so I like to think. It’s a laid-back operation where everyone is equal. Nobody answers to anybody else, well, other than me for important stuff. We have a few laughs and we all get along splendidly. We share jokes, tips on games, and all other nonsense. A lot of the non-work chatter is me whinging about the thieves that are roaming my shopping centre (very long story, please email for full details if you’re that interested!) or Hannah crooning over her dogs, or Jason general being really polite about everything. Seriously, the dude is like Clark Kent on nicey-nicey pills…

There’s no sourness. There’s no North-Korean style dictatorship. Or is there? Would I really admit it here? Who knows… Generally speaking, I like to think that Pure PlayStation is a nice site to work for. I’ve never had a writer complain about the workload or how they’re treated, and I sincerely hope I never have to deal with such a complaint.

Final Thoughts

The reason for this post and the one’s that preceded it is so that our readers can see that we’re human beings and that we make mistakes, jokes, bad jokes, and that we aren’t going to shy away from anything. I’m willing to bet around 1% of my annual salary (c’mon, I got bills…) that no other site is quite as open as we are. Whether it’s sharing our annual site statistics or explaining how we operate on a day-to-day basis, I’m pretty sure we’re unique in that respect.

If we suddenly change how we do things, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be back here to tell you. So until then, er, I haven’t really got a catchy sign-off. Note to self: Have one ready for the next ‘Site News’ post.

Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella.
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