Earlier this month we asked if you wouldn't mind filling in a survey telling us a bit about who you are and what you'd like us to do with the website when we're finished being wrong/ugly/biased etc. I'd just like to say thanks very much to everyone who filled it in!
As you might imagine, the results were a wonderful mixture of friendly suggestions, useful feedback and extreme violence. Obviously my favourite suggestion was that we should have "more Viva Pinata content". This is my number one priority every year.
We were also really heartened that so many of you had kind words for Ellie Gibson, who is currently on maternity leave. I'm seeing her tomorrow so I'll pass that on and make sure she knows you miss her. I'll pass some of the feedback on anyway. She's got a big enough ego already so I'll pretend a few of you slagged her off.
There were plenty of common themes in your design and editorial feedback that we're discussing at the moment, but I've picked out a few editorial ones that are worth some additional comment below.
Bugs and patches in games
First off, a few of you raised the issue of bugs in big video game releases and asked whether we could draw more attention to them when we review games and afterward. In particular, a few of you were incensed that Skyrim was held in such high esteem despite being a festering pile of backwards-flying dragons and so forth, and others brought up F1 2011 as an example of a game ridden with issues that you felt we didn't do enough to highlight.
In Skyrim's case, we've continued to cover Bethesda's patches and Digital Foundry has covered the PS3 version's lag issues in depth (so much depth that Bethesda actually asked us to send over our save files for its engineers to analyse). We've also railed against the bugs even while praising the game in our end-of-year coverage, arguing they are bad for the future of hardcore games as a whole. As for F1 2011, the weird truth of the matter is that our pre-release review code exhibited fewer issues than the retail code.
This brings to light an interesting trend lately, which is for day-one patches (or those following close after launch) to break or otherwise disrupt games in ways that our reviews couldn't anticipate. We're going to be more mindful of that this year, making sure that we update reviews with links to additional coverage that could affect your buying decisions. We've also set up a patches topic on our left-hand site navigation that brings together news and features in this area to reflect your growing concern.
We always try to strike a useful balance between being informative and offering critical analysis in our reviews, and, while we will never let them descend into dry benchmarking, we do know we have a duty of care to those of you who use our reviews to make your minds up about what to buy, and we'll continue discussing how we can improve our approach to better live up to that.
We really appreciate your feedback on this - reviews are our lifeblood and our passion, and we want you to enjoy them too.
Mobile and indie content
Another thing a lot of you mentioned was that we've been neglecting mobile and independent games in the past year. That's partly true, because (as we've said on a couple of occasions) we've enjoyed covering all the wonderful treats digital content has to offer but have struggled to find the right balance for the site. Some of you felt we had that with our download and mobile roundups, but the truth is that only a vocal minority followed them. (We still love you.)
We hear you though and it's one of our top priorities for 2012, because we're just as glued to our iPhones, iPads, HTC Desire HDs and whatnot as any of the rest of you, and given our regular moaning about the dearth of large-scale creativity in boxed games it seems silly not to be spending more time in one of the few places you can reliably encounter new thinking.
We reckon we have a good idea of what to do now, so we'll be getting on with that before the month is out. If you have any suggestions for mobile or indie games that we haven't covered yet that you'd like to see on the site, or you're a developer who wants us to check out their wares, drop us a line.
And the rest
There were dozens of other suggestions in your feedback. A lot of you said you'd like to see more post-release content about big games - something we're trying to serve with articles like Telling Tales: Skyrim and Dark Souls and Star Wars The Old Republic: My Story, Your Story, Everyone's Story.
We want to do more of this, but we also want to make sure it isn't just "Top 10 Bugs In Skyrim" (sorry Google) and has a point and a purpose. You'll certainly hear more of it on the Eurogamer.net Podcast though, where we've already gathered to discuss things like Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand and Nintendo's bumper Q4 crop.
You also asked for more tech reviews of gadgets, phones and the like. We're already heading in that direction with some of our Digital Foundry content and there will be a lot more of it in 2012, because frankly we had no f***ing idea which Android handset to buy either until we asked someone.
Other things you asked for: more articles about issues like homophobia and sexism in games, more investigative journalism and analysis, a more critical approach in interviews, fewer sensationalist headlines, more e-sports coverage, and more about DRM. You also suggested some great ideas for articles, some of which we will try to follow up.
And that's before we get onto all your feedback about the new site design, which launched last October. We hear you there too and will continue tweaking, fixing and adding functionality in the coming months. Our tech team has been rolling out a lot of bug fixes since we got back from Christmas, so thank you to everyone who continues to report those on the forum.
Once again, thank you if you took the time to fill out the survey, and thank you for reading generally. We want the site to be great too and hopefully with your help and slightly fewer backwards-flying dragons we can get there together.
Viva Pinata forever.