The lead-up to the PS5's inevitable launch is going to be a wild ride, but not just because of the hype that'll no doubt be generated. The next 12 months or so are going to be incredibly important for many gaming sites -- Push Square included -- as we all attempt to provide the most up-to-date coverage on Sony's next-gen machine.
Of course, the issue is that the internet at large has no shame, and you're going to see a lot of misinformation and, dare we say it, "fake news" be spread over the next year. In fact, there's plenty of reason to believe that it's going to be something of an epidemic.
The gaming media landscape has changed quite a bit since the launch of the PS4 back in 2013. Perhaps most notably, now more than ever, gaming sites rely heavily on something called Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short, and this is where a lot of problems are already beginning to take root.
In case you don't already know, SEO is the process of making content appealing to search engines such as Google. Essentially, by creating articles that house a lot of keywords, the likes of Google pick up on them and push them to the top of your search results.
For example, if you type a popular search term such as "PS5 release date" into Google right now, you're going to be shown articles that hit those keywords and more -- it doesn't matter one bit whether the information within them is accurate. Needless to say, sites that manage to get their content high up on the search results means increased traffic. As always, it's all about the hits.
In many ways this is the new "clickbait". Exploit SEO well and you stand to gain a lot more traffic. Now to be clear, SEO isn't in itself a bad thing -- just about every site that you can think of will use it in some capacity. It's obviously entirely possible to write high quality articles and then use SEO to push them out to as many readers as possible -- and there's nothing wrong with that. But again, you can exploit SEO without ever providing useful or accurate information, and that's exactly what some gaming websites are already doing.
The reality right now is that the gaming media at large barely knows anything more about the PS5 than you do, but that certainly won't stop sites from writing articles that are designed exclusively to farm your clicks. Just earlier this week, our own editor Sammy Barker wrote an article about supposed PS5 images that were doing the rounds on social media. These images were picked up by several gaming sites and framed as though they were genuine leaks, when clearly, they were renders made by fans.
Naturally, the images were slapped into makeshift articles that contained all of the relevant keywords, and so you can still find them on Google's front page. A lot of people searching for PS5 information are going to find these articles, and you better believe that they're going to take them seriously.
That right there is the problem, and there's not much that can be done about it. Chances are that if you're reading this very website on a regular basis, then you're probably knowledgeable about games in general -- but we're ultimately a hardcore minority. The vast majority of people interested in something like the PS5 are simply going to hit up Google, search for information, and be presented with content that can only be described as utter guff.
And so we thought that it was worth highlighting the situation with this article. Do we think that the aforementioned majority are going to read this? Not at all, but we think that sharing our perspective as games writers is important, and hopefully you found this article relevant, or even educational.
The bottom line is that, again, the next 12 months are going to be telling of which direction the games media is headed. As you'd expect, we'll be providing in-depth coverage of everything PS5 here on Push Square, but we will always aim to to bring you well-informed and reliable content.