When leading computer hardware and software retailer Newegg wanted to punch up its editorial coverage of video games, the first thing it considered doing was to simply enhance its review section. That didn’t seem big enough, so it took the idea to its logical extreme. The result is GameCrate, a full-featured video game site with news, reviews, videos and eSports coverage that launched on March 28. With a team led by an ex-IGN staffer and a design that is easier on the eyes than the regular Newegg site, it’s a serious entry into a crowded field, one that Director of Brand Marketing Jim Merk was eager to talk about with Gamesided at PAX East.
In keeping with the original concept, one of the things that Merk was most proud to highlight was the way GameCrate approaches reviews. Whether the product in question is a game or a gaming accessory like a mouse or headphones, the review includes an overall score that is made up of four sub-scores. These are ordered by how important they are to the reviewer and can differ from one writer to another. For example, gameplay mechanics might rank first for one reviewer with graphics last, while another writer might put graphics at the top of his or her list.
Merk said this decision was made to embrace the fact that reviews are fundamentally tied up with the personal preferences of the people writing them. Instead of trying to cover that truth up in layers of fake objectivity, GameCrate is embracing it by making it even more clear to readers.
As one might expect, Newegg’s deals are prominently built into GameCrate content of all kinds, including things as simple as news pieces. The obvious question of having an editorial site so closely linked with an e-commerce site is going to be there until GameCrate has more time to establish itself — and while the site’s design doesn’t call tons of attention to its parentage, the gamecrate.newegg.com domain is a pretty strong hint — but the hope is that it will carve out its own identity before too long. Newegg’s 25 million subscribers can give GameCrate a head start other sites can only dream of having.
Newegg is expanding its core business too, taking steps into the U.K. and Australia markets. Merk explained that those moves were “customer-led,” with people in those areas asking for the chance to shop at the site and the traffic numbers (10 percent of Newegg’s website visitors are from overseas) reinforcing the potential opportunities. There’s native competition in both regions, but Australia, in particular, is underserved by online retailers, and Newegg believes it can be very attractive in both price and merchandising right off the bat.
The other initiative Merk wanted to highlight was Newegg Premier, a service launched in January that has been compared to Amazon Prime in both concept and execution. For $49.99 a year, members get expedited shipping (“three days or faster,” according to Merk), free returns, advance notice on Newegg’s public deals and special offers exclusive to Premier. So far the service is trending higher than expected, and as the company continues to explore expanding its warehouse footprint, it’s possible shipping times and perks could get even better.
While Merk spoke to us in a meeting room far from the chaos on the PAX East show floor, Newegg also had a very noticeable booth. It’s already one of the first names that comes to mind for PC gamers, but it wants to be more prominent across all forms of gaming, and it’s definitely not sitting around waiting for that to happen.