Friday, 11 October 2013

A Big Thank You From Retro 101: One Year On


It’s been a year since the first article was published on the new look Retro 101 and it’s been a busy one at that. When I first looked to move the sight to more manageable surroundings I was really doing it in order to maintain and archive the reviews and features that already existed. I wasn’t sure how long it would last or, to be honest, if anyone was interested. However, as soon as the site officially made its way back to the net (and indeed before it had), I was literally swamped with encouragement and interest from the wonderful retro gaming community.

The initial new content and reviews moved from the old site seemed to go down well and we were certainly getting noticed. With a bit of twitter and YouTube integration the site has attracted far more readers then I every envisaged and for that I can only say thank you. The site had always been a mix of retro games and new games that built on a retro style and before long I had messages coming through asking for various games to be looked at.

Initially I was unsure how to approach this as being what is effectively a new and unproven site I felt the only real way to get hold of things to review would be to pay for it. With such a vast amount of content out there this would be impractical on a wide scale and so I had to jump into the world of PR once more. Initially working on the premise of joint reviewing with Gamestyle (another, bigger site I’m involved with), I made a few enquiries into the ether. To my surprise every single one came back to me with code and so the site began to grow and gain a reputation on its own.

Twitter also helped massively and gathering followers from the worlds of indie development, PR and journalism certainly helped to identify where to go and who to ask to help get the site the content it needed. Now, a year on Retro 101 is trusted by a large amount of studios and PR teams. Retro 101 is now at the point where studios such as Ubisoft, Blizzard, Arc Systems and Nippon Ichi trust us to give fair appraisals of their work and this is something I am very proud of.

But Retro 101 has never been just about the big guys. The site exists to take retro games, indie games and AAA games and place them all together on the front page. We have a simple philosophy and that’s that everyone gets treated the same, everyone gets on the front page and games get reviewed honestly and in the order they’re received. 

Review code is handpicked to fit our audience and we don’t apply for code until research has been done to make sure it’s something that seems like it will interest the readers. If you get an email from Retro 101 it’s because I personally have sifted through the release schedule and identified your game as something I feel the readers will want to know about.

The support we have received from enthusiasts, developers and PR teams is nothing short of phenomenal. Almost every email I’ve sent has been replied to and we’ve got just about every single piece of review code that I have requested on behalf of the site. I never expected support like this and it is truly humbling to realise how wonderful the people in this industry are.

A the bottom of this piece is a huge list of people Retro 101 would like to thank but here are a few that have stood out as we developed. 

Frozenbyte Studios gave us our very first piece of review code on the new site. A very friendly exchange led to Trine 2 (Wii U), being our first reviewed piece of code on the site in its new surroundings. A big thank you has to go to the studio for having faith and also for making such an amazing game.

Our first piece of full retail review code since the move came from Arc Systems via Blazblu Europe. Persona 4 Arena allowed the site to show it was up to the task of taking on big releases and giving great coverage. The Persona 4 Arena review is still the most read article on the site. Again, big thanks to the team for letting us do the game justice in our review.

James Marsden and the Futur Lab team also deserve a mention. After initially winning a copy of the Velocity mini the site has developed a good relationship with the studio. They make awesome stuff and are always so easy to deal with. If all companies were like this my job would be so much easier.

Support from Gamestyle has also been strong and a massive thank you has to go to Bradley Marsh. From helping with the occasional review to sending contact details my way it’s fair to say we wouldn’t have been able to find half the things we’ve covered if it wasn’t for him.

Old friend of the site Toby Lethby has also been instrumental in getting Retro 101 back on the .co.uk webpage. As useful as moving to a blogger template has been, it’s not the same as a solid and independent website url.

A host of other people and studios have supported the site in the past year and I’d like to say a huge thanks to – Dan and Dakko Dakko, Dant Rambo and Gaijin Games, Ubisoft, Blizzard, Playdead, Dennaton Games, Devolver Digital, the Cosmo Cover team, Team 17, Neko entertainment, Q-Games, Curve Studios, Pwnee Studios, Derek Yu at Mossmouth, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, The Bitmap Brothers, Cellar Door Games, Becca and Sam at Indigo Pearl and Kirsten at Double 11 and many others.

I’d also like to thank our army of dedicated twitter followers and website readers for spreading the word and visiting the site. You’re all amazing, but maybe Kaelyn is just that little bit more awesome (and 8-bit synth town you really need to get back on twitter).

A huge thanks to you all and I look forward to seeing what happens next with the site!

Gareth Chappell
Retro 101 Head Editor.

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