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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

hackenslash makes regional splash

One of the most useful sites for tech journalists is ITJourno Asia. The site, however, is only accessible to registered users, who are IT journalists from across the region.

It gathers news, white papers and other online resources from all over Asia. What's great about it is that it also gives you a regional perspective.

The site also has the daily Epitome column, which spotlights the stories from different Asian IT publications. Guess which publication was featured prominently today? Our new gaming site, hackenslash.

Here's the Epitome column:

Epitome:
Calling all games publishers
By Victoria Lea
01/02/2005 11:35:00 AM

Will the region's gaming industry open its heart - and wallet - to the brand new gaming website, Hackenslash?

There are reviews, there are forums, and there are occasional reports in the technology section of newspapers. But for too long there has been no reliable breaking news source on that very sexy industry, games.

Yes, we’ll always hear everything we need to about HP’s new regional VP. Or Maxis Malaysia’s new line of this. Or Creative Singapoire’s new line of that. But where’s the goss on the regional Asian gaming industry? Who’s on the out? On the in? Shattered on the cutting-room floor?

Following Friday’s hard launch of INQ7’s Hackenslash website, set to feature breaking news about the Philippines’ gaming industry – along with a promise to squeeze in some regional news reports – Epitome hopes this might be the start of something positive for the region's entire gaming industry.

Regular news-breakers Erwin Oliva and Alexander Villafania – both of whom often file up to four times a day – will now be on the hunt for industry gaming news, to file on INQ7’s new baby, Hackenslash.

Whether they can manage the new workload with ease – or whether indeed there is actually enough of a gaming industry to feed a breaking news site – remains to be seen. And it is that latter question which makes the Hackenslash experiment an important one for the region's media.

For a start, the Hackenslash boys will not have it easy. Existing Philippines print gaming titles – branded by Hackenslash editor Leo Magno as containing too much imported content (see accompanying story) – will naturally hike up their local content. And online, IT Matters, rival to Hackenslash mother site INQ7, has already taken to upping its gaming industry content over the past few months.

But what will prove hardest to conquer will be the size of the reaction of the all-too-vulnerable Philippines gaming industry itself, beautifully described in an IT Matters story yesterday on a crisis in the nation’s gaming industry. “Last year, Netopia said that of the total 500,000 online gamers in the [Philippines] last year, 99 percent played foreign games,” wrote Kerlyn Bautista. 12 new online games will be introduced into the nation this year, she continued – and “All of the games will be imported”, leaving “little to zero” chance for the development of the country’s local
developers.

Bautista was actually filing from an INQ7-organised event, suggesting just how close the game will be for rival reporters to stake out a competitive beat here. And while Epitome wishes good luck to those hungry reporters and their editors, she also hopes that the country's - and the region's - gaming industry will open not just their phone lines but their wallets to the teams.

If the AsiaPac is to steal a space at the world's gaming table, it will be, in no small part, through the region's media, through local websites like IT Matters and Hackenslash, which then gradually throw the word to the regional press such as CNETAsia and the wire services.

It is obviously essential that the Philippines games industry get behind projects like Hackenslash. We hope that support happens sooner rather than later, and that the industry make its intentions clear at the start that they will support, to their best ability, a portal for and about their very own growth and success.

Apart from this column, ITJourno Asia also had a full-blown story about hackenslash today:

INQ7 slashes a national first for RP
By Tan Lili
01/02/2005
09:00:00 AM

Gamers in the Philippines are now armed with what INQ7.net claims is the nation's first and only locally-produced news website on gaming, Hackenslash.net, which is already hunting down freelance writers.


Launched last Friday at Cyberpress’ gaming forum 'Plug and Play', Hackenslash describes itself as a commercial website offering breaking news on the country's - and region's - gaming industry.

“No website currently offers this, because in the Philippines, the game-related websites you’ll see are community sites composed mainly of blogs and discussion boards,” claimed Leo Magno, editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s IT section, VP of INQ7.net, and 'Final Boss' of Hackenslash.

Another differentiator of the site is that Hackenslash will be all home-bylined while, according to Magno, other Philippines online and print gaming publications take a significant percentage of content from the US and Europe.

"It all boils down to the local perspective," Magno told ITJourno. "Even our game reviews take it from the Filipino perspective, [because] not all video games in the international market appeal to Filipinos."

The launch also boils down to timing, Magno mused. IDC Philippines has reported that, come 2008, internet users will soar to 21.5 million in the region, with 6.3 million online gamers. Spurred by this prediction, Magno feels the “timing could not be more perfect".

"The timing is right and putting up hackenslash was just the logical thing to do," he said. Like its publisher INQ7.net, a news website with breaking news from joint partners Philippine Daily Inquirer and TV station GMA7 TV, Hackenslash will do the same through both its news stories and its gaming newsblog, GameBlog, which can be updated 24 hours a day.

“We will leverage on the news strength of INQ7.net and translate that into gaming news about the local and even Asian gaming industry."

Hackenslash’s editorial team consists of Magno, Alexander Villafania, Joey Alarilla, and Erwin Oliva, all of whom are writers for INQ7.net’s technology section, Infotech.

In an article on INQ7.net, penned by Erwin Oliva, the VP of business at INQ7, Ramon Lizardo, admitted that generating revenues would be one of the challenges faced by the Hackenslash team. But Magno was upbeat about the possibilities of finding revenue for the new project.

"We have seen an upward trend in advertising revenues despite gloomy predictions about the industry," he claimed."This is primarily because about three years ago, the market in the Philippines was too small and advertising was spread out across many websites. Three years later, many of these websites have died out, and INQ7.net was left standing to reap the benefits."

By following the exact same strategy as mothership INQ7, Hackenslash will also succeed, Magno argued.

"The online gaming business in the country is booming ... and game publishers are looking for an online medium where they can advertise. So the timing is right.

"By 2008, three years after the launch of hackenslash, and by the time IDC’s predictions come true (if at all), we would realize the benefits of putting up the gaming website because we’re sure the ad revenues would have flooded us by then, the same way it did for INQ7.net."

Still, the Hackensalsh sales team will look to other revenue generators outside pure advertising, Magno admitted, such as partnering with online gaming centres and publishers, in deals in which he declined to comment further upon at this stage.

So what of the title that some might say is disparaging to those gamers who want more depth than a hack or a slash of their enemy?

According to Magno, the website's title was chosen to reflect the core of games, and of the gaming industry.

“Hackenslash seeks to get to the heart of games and the heart of the gaming industry by hacking and slashing away at the fluff and noise and going to the core of the game or what’s important about a gaming news item,” Magno explained.

"It takes a look at the heart of the game and what makes them good or bad."

Magno is now on the lookout for more contributors and an editorial assistant for his new creation; he can be reached at lmagno@inq7.net


Yup, hackenslash is here to help spur the growth of the Philippine gaming community, and the rest of Asia is watching what will happen here.

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 3:10 PM :: 2 Comments:

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