Welcome to the brand new and improved Petchulant, everyone! Yes, it’s out with the old and in with the new, new, new! Why? Well, we here at GameSparked did some research and what we found shocked us to our very core. Week after week, less and less people are turning up to read this very column. Audience retention is low and we just can’t be losing readers week after week with such a feature. We do, however, have faith that this very niche feature could become the next big thing on the Internet and that is why we are going to continue with the Petchulant column. We’re just going to broaden its appeal for a mass audience by making a couple of changes, but nothing that will negatively impact the spirit and soul of the Petchulant brand.
First things first, Callum Petch will no longer be the author of this column. Test audiences responded negatively to his overly pessimistic viewpoints, column-length rants about games that our test audiences had never heard of, diatribes that, whilst fitfully amusing, never went anywhere and the fact that he’s British – our test audiences are still highly distrusting of Redcoats, as it turns out. The fact that our test audiences had never read a Petchulant before we asked them these questions is completely irrelevant; our test audiences know what they want and what they want is not how this column used to be. So, as of now, Callum Petch is no longer affiliated with GameSparked. Instead, we would like to introduce Rip Sterling as your new column author! He’s a white, grizzled American with a tortured past who’s a loose cannon when it comes to orders but, dammit all, he gets results! And he’s always got the perfect quip for any potentially dangerous situation, too! Test audiences responded well to this kind of writer and other such columns have done well with this kind of writer in the past, so we’re certain that he’ll be a perfect fit for the acerbic stylings of the Petchulant column!
As for those overly long tangents and diatribes that elongate every column by at least 1 A4 page, yet nevertheless provide some ramshackle charm to the matter and give you an insight into the slightly messed up mind of the author of the piece, those are now history. We shall not tolerate such seemingly aimless time-wasting, regardless of whether it thematically ties into the rest of the column in question or not. Our research has showed that 5 in every 9 people never actually finish an article on the web that they start reading; surprising figures that we believe we have a solution for! That’s why, starting next week, every single Petchulant will be no longer than 2 A4 pages leading to an average read time of 4 to 5 minutes! This way, all of our readers will be able to experience every Petchulant from start to finish without the risk of fatigue from spending too long reading one thing! Some may claim that this represents “poor value for money,” but when most other successful columns on the Internet are reaching record numbers with the same short column lengths, it’s clear that said complainers are just a vocal minority and that the mass audience wishes for a column that can be read before they’ve finished drinking their morning coffee.
One of the biggest complaints we got from our test audiences was that prior Petchulant columns focussed too much on niche games that our test audiences had never heard of and, if we are going to make Petchulant the next big gaming column on the Internet, this column needs to stop focussing on such niche games. So no more full columns based on games like Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL or Tekken Tag Tournament 2 or obscure gaming events like Gamescom. As of the next instalment, this column will only exclusively reference the big titles in the industry like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden and Assassin’s Creed. Our research, from both test audiences and other gaming columns on the Internet, has shown that these are the titles that get the big traffic. Ergo, if we reference them and other more popular gaming columns enough, then we are certain to get plenty more readers flooding the site to read this very column! Because that’s how successful marketing works.
Finally, we’ve noticed that the frequently pessimistic and cynical viewpoints of this column are turning away a lot of potential readers. Many gaming column readers are looking for positive escapism when they read them, according to our research. They want to sit and read about how awesome gaming is, and how great it is to be a gamer, and how much fun it is to get a fourteen kill-streak in Call of Duty or score the winning goal in the closing seconds of a match in FIFA. They do not want to be challenged intellectually, or asked tough questions about the very nature of videogames, or be exposed to greater messages about the state of things in the modern world. We here at GameSparked have listened to these complaints and that’s why we have instituted mandatory policies on this column that dictate only positive words can be printed and only nice messages can be sent across. Because god forbid there be something out there that’s big and popular that actually asks the reader to sit up and take notice of negative things in the world and consider whether they’re actually the real bad guy for engaging in this past-time for the primary purpose of fun in the first frickin’ place.
Now, some of you may be thinking “GameSparked, why are you trying to make a niche column like Petchulant the Next Big Thing? Can’t you just accept that such a niche column is not designed for success in the mass marketplace in the first place and prioritise it accordingly, instead of risking alienating the small yet loyal core audience the column has in the likely futile search of slightly bigger sales by ‘dumbing down’ the column itself into a shallow knock-off of various other, more popular columns?” And that’s a viewpoint that we understand. But, much like EA with Dead Space and Namco Bandai with the upcoming Dark Souls II and now Deep Silver with future Metro games, we believe in the Petchulant brand and truly believe that it could be the next big hit with audiences worldwide, just like Fuse was for Insomniac Games. In order to do that, however, certain changes had to be made as, in its current state, the Petchulant column could be seen as undesirable to some. Too challenging, too bleak, too scary, too cartoon-y. We tried marketing it as the cornerstone of the website with those aspects, but the returns were too low to justify continuing the column in this manner with a AAA budget. Again, though, we are adamant that this could be the next big thing and so, rather than lower the budget to something more in-keeping with the actual audience that turns up to these things, we decided to change certain aspects to make it more appealing to a broader audience.
You may consider this a bewildering move that smacks of a column-based industry that can’t just accept that not all columns are going to be giant success stories and budget accordingly. You may read this as a move by a company that fails to understand that chasing after an audience that reads the Call of Duty column is a waste of time because said audience already has the Call of Duty column so why would they want to waste their time with our blatant and soulless knock-off? You may consider this the kind of move that will soon lead to the closure of this column and the collapse of the column industry as a whole due to every other column desperately trying to get a piece of that pie that, surprise, nobody else is having any success with because the mass audience they’re aiming for is already pre-occupied with the actual column everybody else is doing LESSER IMITATIONS OF. To these views, we respond: Where’s your highly-successful, multi-million-dollar Internet gaming column company? If you’re so clever, why don’t you try it, you back-sassing ponce?
To everyone else, we here at GameSparked are thrilled to be continuing our association with the Petchulant brand and look forward to hearing what you think of the new-look column when it re-launches next week! We just know that the fans, both new and old, are going to love the exciting new direction we have taken it in and everybody here at GameSparked, including your new writer, Rip Sterling, can’t wait to share it with you!
Callum Petch is doing this for the thrill of it, killing it.