Change can be good, like the institution of democracy or equal rights for women.
Change can also be bad, like the recent actions of Gamespot to sideline community content.
I'm certainly not the only person whose noticed this, but community content at Gamespot has been removed from most obviously public spaces. Where before Soapbox graced the bottom of the mainpage, and reader comments counted into the hundreds, now you have to go to Forums, drop down Gamespot Forums, to finally see the last 3 entries. Or go through Community drop down to Soapbox. Any guess as to the average number of comments since this change? Try about 20. Result? About 80% reduction in community engagement in the Soapbox.Similarly, Gamepages no longer reveal player/community reviews on the page. Rather, you need to click on the number of votes below "User Score" to reveal the GS community reviews.
[Can you spot the community content?]
Now to be clear, Gamespot still retains all of the community features I've mentioned. Reviews and Editorials are still here. And yet, the site revamping has coordened them off where only those in the know would look. In essense, this makes community content far more internal and self-serving, rather than showcased as a part of the entire GS presentation.
This irks me, as I know it does a lot of the members I've spoken to. There are a lot of game review sites out there, though certainly GS is one of the largest and most prestigious. And yet, much of what distinguishes Gamespot from IGN and the rest is most certainly the community involvement. The community has always been, if not front and center, just to the right of center. Now, with community content squirreled away such that browsers need to search for it, GS seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
So my question is: why?
Is GS trying to present a more "professional" site by moving community content away from these pages? It's certainly not as if the new presentation is streamlined to the extent of a site like Joystiq, where this might make sense given the aesthetic values. Quite frankly, GS pages have always been cluttered, and the new site design doesn't fix that, so this argument doesn't make sense.
Certainly, part of the new site design is meant to more accurately categorize the various components of the site, and I can only imagine that GS would not have made the changes to community content had those been receiving as much attention as other content on these pages. And yet, I can't help but feel that this is only going to negatively impact community involvement in the long run.
I'll be surprised if this post gets more than 20 readers, rather than 150 as it might have were Soapbox still on the main page. So my few readers, welcome to the desert of the real.