Important update: We’re going to start running a little advertising, please read

The next stage in the DDNet journey...

7 mins read

Hello friends!

I wanted to share this brief update, because you’ll likely see some changes to the DDNet website in the coming days (if not within the next 24 hours). Basically, we’re going to be running a small number of advertisements on the site, and I didn’t want that to happen without having this explanation first.

Ads were not something I really wanted for this website. I am personally tired of heading over to any number of gaming websites and being so inundated with ads that the reading experience is compromised. I didn’t want that for DDNet, however, at the same time, it’s a basic reality that running a website that generates hundreds of thousands of views costs money. A lot of money. Even putting aside the sheer number of hours I work for nothing (and I assure you all, it’s more than a full-time job), there are significant operational costs, such as the cost of hosting the site after we moved from Blogger to a self-hosted option earlier this year. And then there’s the cost of producing the magazine, the podcast, and everything else.

I had hoped that when DDNet moved to the new-look site it would encourage people to subscribe to the magazine, buy our merchandise, and so on. That hasn’t happened, unfortunately, and it’s a simple reality that the overwhelming majority of readers don’t wish to actively pay to support media sites now. So, consequently, now the site’s running at a massive loss each month. And while I can probably absorb that cost indefinitely because I do work 80-hour weeks to earn the additional money I need to cover this site, I feel like 1) I shouldn’t have to do that and 2) I would much rather be able to invest in growing the site even more than just keeping it treating water.

So we’re opening the site up to a few ads. The goal here isn’t to earn millions and go live on a yacht. Rather, we’re trying to calibrate things so that, firstly, we can reach a break-even point for the site and then, perhaps, have a small amount of revenue to reinvest into growing our coverage further.

Now, there are a couple of things I wanted to make really clear here:

  1. Advertising is just something we’re trialling. If after a few months it becomes clear that it is compromising the reading experience, or it’s simply not generating the returns to make it worth putting on the site, then I’ll pull it. What that means for the site beyond that I don’t know, but I’m not going to let it be dragged down by ads.
  2. The core reading experience should not be compromised. You should not see ads within the body of the text itself, so from the opening sentence to the score at the bottom, it should be our work, images and videos, unbroken. I was very clear with the agency that will be serving the ads that they need to be distinct and separate from our editorial work.
  3. The agency that is serving the ads is Network N. This is an agency that serves a lot of sites that I have a lot of respect for, including Pocket Tactics, The Sixth Axis, TrueAchievements, Nintendo Soup, and others. To be clear: we have no role, whatsoever, in the advertising that you will see. We are simply renting the space to Network N to fill with ads. They have no editorial oversight whatsoever over us, and in return, we do not know what ads are going to run. The very last thing I would want was for people to wonder whether we were dealing with developer/publisher marketing teams while also reviewing their games, so to be unequivocal about this, we do not. The ads you see are more like rented space – a digital billboard we hire out – rather than something we manage.

So in short, all that’s happening is that you’re going to see a few ads pop up around the site. They shouldn’t be distracting or obnoxious, and we are not selling them ourselves. Our editorial position is as fiercely independent as ever, and we’ll continue to call things as we see them, even if that ends up dunking us in a sea of controversy every once in a while.

My – and our – priority remains firmly on making DDNet the best reading, watching, and listening experience that we can. I really hope that you can all see this as a positive for both us, and importantly, you as the reader, because for the last 13 years I have invested blood, sweat, and literal tears into this site and it has been almost all on me. Just imagine what we could achieve if it was also making some money for me to reinvest into it? That’s ultimately what this is about. Making the site fly even higher, and that ends up being better for the readers.

I am very interested in hearing your feedback once the ads have been implemented. This is important, because, as I said, the UI and reading quality of the site remains my #1 priority. Expect some minor teething issues for a day or two as we get the website back-end ticking over, but it should all be seamless.

Most of all, thank you for continuing to read DDNet! If you think back to where we were even at the start of the year, with that creaking Blogger site that barely worked, to where we are now with this gorgeous site and everything else we’ve done… there’s still so much we can do and, moving into 2023, we’re going to be hitting the ground running.

Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

  • I think it’s a good idea and certainly sounds necessary. Ads are unfortunate, but you can’t be expected to work for free (and with substantial costs).

    I’m interested in seeing what happens with sites in the coming years, both as a visitor and someone whose job is also writing for one. It does seem like people paying to support sites is slowly becoming more accepted, but there’s still a barrier where people are used to getting things for free.

    Even if that’s overcome, there’s the issue that most people can’t reasonably support all the sites they visit now – I know that’s the case for me. I do give a bit monthly to a couple of sites, but I’ve had to prioritise. I don’t know if with everyone doing the same it would balance out to where all sites get the support they need, or if it would remain an unsustainable model for many. But one way or another I think we’re going to see more changes in how sites make money over the coming years.

    Good luck anyway, but I think this is probably the right path for now.

    • Thanks, buddy. It is a challenging time to be in the media – particularly independent media, but just gotta keep throwing those darts to see what lands. The good thing is I found an ad provider that won’t become overbearing with the ads, so the website experience shouldn’t be compromised 🙂

      But you are right. No one can directly support every media website they visit. There’s so many great websites out there too. It’s tough being an indie in the media haha.

  • I completely understand the need to run ads. Hope you make enough off them that you don’t have to work yourself to the bone anymore. Wish I could contribute (to this site & many other things), but I just can’t afford it. Still, I remain a loyal reader!

    • Having you as a reader was an amazing contribution before the ads even came in. I appreciate every reader that enjoys what we do, and my goal is to keep that going into the indefinite future 🙂

  • Alright, so here’s my review of DDNet Ads:

    The reading experience continues excellent, the few ads are well placed and do not harm the aesthetic of the website.

    | ⬤
    Entertaining —————– Thoughtflul

    Jokes aside, I do hope for the best of DDNet and completely understand, and accept, the need for ads. DDNet is one of the few projects I can support on Patreon, even by a little, and I really wish more people do the same.

    Anyways, keep up with the good work 😀

    • Excellent review. I approve 😀

      Thank you though, I do appreciate it! All the ad placements are there now. So! Hopefully, you can see what I meant about keeping it out of the way of the reading experience.

      And, of course, these ads won’t be plaguing the magazine, so our “DDNet Premium” will continue on… and who knows. If we do get some decent revenue from the website, then we can expand that further too 🙂

    • Nooooo, my precious formatting to mimic the review graphic 😭 You can delete this if you want, it ended up quite horrendous 😐

  • A few notes. Sadly we do live in a world where people apparently accept ads and selling their souls over paying a tiny bit of money. However, I don’t even know where to buy merchandise or subscribe to this magazine you speak of. And I’ve been reading for a few years now. At the very least your own advertising has been lacking. Not that I’m claiming I’d be the saving grace because I don’t have a lot of money so it must be something really good for me to want to import from Australia. I don’t like the mascot either.
    I feel like I’m being harsh. Sorry about that, I love this site I don’t mean to criticise. I hope you can break even without doing 80 hour weeks Matt.

    • I did feel like I was doing everything to make the availability of the magazine clear each month. I write a story about it on the day it’s published (this month’s:, there’s a link to the online store where you can buy issues of the magazine in the sidebar and the top navbar, and at the bottom of each article, there’s a banner ad for the DDNet Patreon, where people that back it get the magazine each month.

      So I’m very keen to understand what I could do to make the presence of the magazine more clear, because clearly something’s lacking! 🙂

      • I see. I always skip those articles because I’m not 1 fan of deedee. In fact, I’m not even a fan of the idea of a mascot. And since I had no idea what a deedee-zine would be apart from a magazine about deedee I always skipped those articles completely.
        I went looking now in the menu and apparently there’s a tab there about the magazine and even the merchandise! Again, in all that time I’ve never even clicked on the menu, not even once, because I never had to. All the articles are on the main page.
        I’d say for starters, since everything is on the main page, having a drop down menu is redundant. Just put that stuff right up there on the main page, there no reason for a drop down menu.
        For me personally though, know that buying merchandise isn’t really an option since I have to import it to Belgium and import costs and taxes here are very high. We have the highest taxes in Europe. In fact, we’re in the top 3 of taxes in the world. And there’s no escaping it, they check every package!

        • Well, I’m glad that I was able to clarify this for you. Now you know that the magazine is editorial in nature – and big, too! 56 pages every month, filled with our best in-depth features and writing. Stuff that doesn’t really work on the website. You can check out the details and summary of each month’s magazine here:

          Enjoy 🙂

  • Hi Matt,
    I’m a bit shocked to read that you work 80-hour weeks 😮
    May I ask what is it you do ? I’m guessing it’s outside of DDNet, but maybe I’m understanding wrong.

    • DDNet’s part of it, but yeah, I’ve got bills to pay, lol. For income, I’m a freelance business & technology writer and consultant.

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