Ethics, Disclosures, Partner Games and Promotional Features

The Indie Game Website is owned by Game If You Are, a consultancy for indie game developers. “Gosh,” we hear you thinking, somehow. “That sounds ripe for corruption, shady deals, and other such nonsense.” And, well, it’s a fair point. You wouldn’t be unreasonable to be concerned.

The thing is, working around indie games, you start to realise how few opportunities there are for genuinely brilliant titles to get noticed these days, and how few websites have the capacity to really cover them in the depth they’d like to. And, more to the point, how many people seem to miss the heady days of 2007-2013 when indie game content was abundant, singing and dancing its way around the web.

We wanted to create a new home for such singing and dancing. But we were mindful of the potential for conflicts of interest. That’s why we clearly mark two types of content on our website: Partner Games, and Promotional Features.

What are Partner Games?

If you see an item of content marked ‘Partner Game’ – or, indeed, in the Partner Games section of the website – this means it’s a game represented by Game If You Are. Most of these articles haven’t been paid for directly, although it is of course in the best interests of both the game and Game If You Are itself that this content exists. Broadly speaking The Indie Game Website is run independently from the PR company, and our writers and editors have full ownership of what they say about each game, regardless of whose job it is to promote it. That’s why you might sometimes see a negative review of a Partner Game, even though it’s sort of indirectly partnered with the site.

What are Promotional Features?

Promotional features have been paid for directly and, as such, we take great pains to point this out – not only by placing them in the appropriate category, but also by including a disclosure in the article itself. These are, in effect, advertisements for the game in question, and the developers behind them will have vetted the copy before it goes live. Promotional features won’t usually be overtly positive, because – well – that looks kind of silly on an editorial website. They’re more likely to be game overviews, descriptions, interviews, or other features that espouse what the studio in question wants you to see. Most promotional features will be about our Partner Games, but not all will be necessarily. Confusing, we know. But we wanted to demystify it as best we could.

What about the rest of the content?

Everything on The Indie Game Website that isn’t tagged with one of the above is standard editorial content about games that have no business association with either Game If You Are or The Indie Game Website. By ‘business association’, we mean any game that A) is being publicised by Game If You Are, B) has in the recent past been publicised by Game If You Are, or C) is in discussions with Game If You Are about a publicity campaign (to the best of our knowledge at any given time). If we feel there’s any room for ambiguity, we’ll disclose the relationship in the article. We want to be as up-front as possible about the way we operate, because it’s important to our readers and, as such, important to us.

Who works with Game If You Are’s clients?

Editor Jon Calvin and director Lewis Denby both work directly with Game If You Are’s clients. As such, full editorial control of each section of the site is delegated to the relevant section editor, and Jon and Lewis don’t get involved in day-to-day content planning or production. Jon’s responsibilities with the site involve managing the staff team and developing the overall quality and reach of the website. Lewis’ responsibilities lie on the commercial side, working with new advertising partners and securing funding opportunities. Neither of them consciously allows their interests to influence the content on the site, but we wanted to be clear on this in the interests of transparency.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out via contact[at]theindiegamewebsite[dot]com and we’ll do our best to respond as quickly as we can.