I wrote a long-ass blog post, but I also realize your time is valuable. If you just don’t want to read through it all, here’s the gist:
- We’re launching Terminals 2.0 on December 8.
- We’ll have a livestream on December 8 at 10:00 Pacific/13:00 Eastern/19:00 Central European Time at https://www.twitch.tv/evolvepr. Come for an overview of the site and a Q&A.
- It’s basically a totally rebuilt site that should be much more stable for you and us.
- It will allow us to develop new features at a much faster pace.
- You can now ignore games or companies, so you never hear about things you don’t care about.
- The new Discovery Queue will help you discover new games to play that are relevant to your interests.
- We’re deleting all personal address data from Terminals, apart from cities, states/provinces, and countries.
- The site will no longer be as rigidly locked behind the “media status” barrier: we’re making everything more welcoming, and anyone can start following games or companies to get news.
If you want to learn more about those changes, read on.
A little over five years ago, we launched Terminals.io to prepare us for what was at the time to be our biggest launch ever, The Witcher 3. Our goal was to create a set of tools that would make our lives as PR professionals easier while greatly improving the process of learning about and gaining access to games for media and content creators.
In some ways we’ve succeeded: we couldn’t live without Terminals today, and we hear from a lot of our friends on the other side that you love how easy the system is to use. It’s saved us so much time and effort: in the past five years, we’ve used Terminals to launch more than 400 games, distribute more than 350,000 game keys, and send tens of millions of emails. Not bad for a little company that’s never had more than one full-time developer!
But holy shit, I can’t tell you how much of a pain in our collective ass it’s been: between crashes, hacking attempts, random errors, and plenty of other issues, much of our development time has been focused on trying to keep the site from falling apart. That all stops today, as we soothe that ass pain with a cooling ointment we like to call Terminals 2.0.
What Is Terminals 2.0?
Terminals 2.0 is essentially a total rebuild of the site. It gives us the best possible foundation upon which we’ll build our dream platform: we’ll be able to develop new features more quickly, allowing our overworked dev team (aka the one and only Lorenzo) to escape constant server and site maintenance. It sets the stage for us to open Terminals up to developers, publishers, and PR agencies around the world, and to allow gamers, media, streamers to benefit from some rather unprecedented changes we’re making.
Terminals 2.0 will be more reliable, and will introduce some major–dare we say revolutionary?–changes to how you use the site and how we engage with you through Terminals. It will set some new standards for how we handle your data, give you control over content and emails, and put a greater emphasis on your privacy. It’s not quite our dream platform yet, but it’s getting there; while there may not be huge differences in your day-to-day use of the site, 2.0 allows us to look to the future and continue to improve Terminals for years to come.
Let’s walk through some of what we’ve changed, and what you should expect now and in the future at Terminals.io. Bear with me: having not written any posts about the site in five years, there’s a lot to talk about!
The Battle for Your Attention: Control
At the risk of sounding like a self-deprecating fool who’s losing his grip on reality, I’d like to say that I can’t stand marketers, and I would love nothing more than to subvert the capitalist system upon which our society is built. Practically every internet-based business is obsessed with gathering as much info as they can about you so they can better sell you all manner of bullshit that you don’t want. Your attention is a commodity, and with countless… things—life, products, companies, people—trying to capture that attention, the noisiest and most tasteless marketing tactics often work. But let’s face it: if you don’t want the thing you’re being told to want—whether through newsletters, advertisements, social posts, or by that friend of yours who just can’t believe you don’t love BTS and you totally should because they’re really great people in addition to making really catchy tunes—it’s all just noise.
We’ve always allowed some measure of control over the news you get through Terminals: we only send you info about games that match the preferences you’ve selected. Many of you just select everything, though, not wanting to miss out; and that might mean you still get 10 emails from us in a day. I’d hate that if it were me. Furthermore, apart from those who are responsible for news content, for many of you it’s not super important to get news as it happens; or you may just not give a damn that some game you never played got an update. Why are we plugging up your inbox with something you don’t care about?
How often have you received a bunch of emails from us (or other developers, publishers, or PR agencies) about a game you just don’t care about? You put up with it because you don’t want to miss out on other games they’re working on, but each announcement you don’t give a shit about takes another small chunk out of your soul. We get it, so we’re also going to allow you to straight-up ignore games you don’t care about; you’ll never get another email about it, and it won’t be as visible on the site itself. Again, that little marketer inside of us thinks, “Okay, so they didn’t like that first announcement, but maybe this developer diary or our new DLC will change their minds, and they’ll suddenly fall in love with this game!” Yyyyeah, sure it will, little marketer.
You can also just choose to ignore companies entirely if their games just aren’t interesting to you (or, for example, if they spam you endlessly or do something offensive). This is something you can already do on Terminals through your email settings, but it’s worth noting here as another way we’re giving you control over what you see and hear about on Terminals.
All this talk about ignoring games and getting fewer emails is bound to cause a minor uproar from our little marketer, and we have to acknowledge that it’s still our jobs to showcase our clients’ games to people we think will like them. We’re introducing a new way to help you discover new games: the discovery queue.
This handy little feature allows you to flip through games on Terminals in a Papers, Please-style manner. Quickly request or follow games you’re interested in, or ignore the titles you simply don’t care about. We’ll continue to improve this feature (if you use it), adding stronger recommendation functions and otherwise iterating based on your feedback. It’s just another way we’re trying to make this whole site easier to use, and to help you focus on the games that matter to you.
Building Our Community
Terminals has always been a great tool for us; but we haven’t really fulfilled our vision to turn it into a ubiquitous platform that brings together developers and publishers, media and content creators, and the broader gaming community. Again, today’s launch won’t be the radical overhaul we’d love for it to be, but 2.0 moves us a few steps forward, creating a more welcoming experience for new users, while setting the stage for us to open up the platform to developers, publishers, and PR reps outside of Evolve PR.
A Warmer Welcome
Going back to the early days of Evolve, we’ve always believed in working with and supporting small outlets and channels; regardless of one’s perceived reach and influence, everyone deserves our respect and time, and in the end, you never really know who may someday rise to stardom. We haven’t lived out that philosophy with Terminals, though: for many, the first experience with the system was to have your status as “media” rejected because you didn’t meet certain criteria. Hey, thanks for signing up, but nah, you can’t use the site. That was a dick move on our part, and doesn’t create a very welcoming environment: making anyone feel excluded goes against our core values as a company.
We’re still going to verify contacts that register with us to ensure the integrity of our system, but it will be less of a “you’re in or you’re out” approach: anyone can now sign up and start getting news about games and companies they’re interested in. Certain functions, such as requesting review keys, may be limited to those who have been approved for media status; however, in the future we aim to loosen even that limitation, and to simply put the decision into the hands of PR reps responsible for each game; if they want to allow anyone to request a key, they’ll be able to. We’re not the final authority on who’s allowed to cover games, and while this change in mindset will mean very little to those of you who already use Terminals, it’s an important change that we hope will make the site feel much more inclusive.
These days, so many of us seem to have accepted that we’ve given up our privacy: I really have no idea who has access to my personal data, nor what sort of information they have. Needless to say, plenty of sites, apps, advertisers, and corporations have all kinds of info about me (and you).
We’ve long taken the security of your data seriously, and we’ve implemented applicable GDPR protocols, and as always encourage you to enable two-factor authentication on your account (and, y’know, write down the backup codes you’re provided). But we realized we needed to take things a bit further in terms of privacy and control, in light of our plans to eventually open Terminals up to companies outside Evolve. Part of this preparation was the introduction of “Ignore” outlined above, as well as ongoing improvements to how you control who’s able to contact you through the site.
As of today, we’ve also removed all mailing-address data from Terminals. We’ll still ask you for city, region, and country info, because we sometimes only have opportunities (games, events, etc.) available to people in certain regions; but Terminals simply won’t be a source of more personal data.
We’re in a tough position: we want to present you with relevant recommendations; and given that we have tens of thousands of contacts in Terminals, we also need some data about what you’re playing, the sort of content you produce, and more. But know that in the back of our minds, we’re constantly considering just how much data we actually need, and would prefer to have less: it may be useful to us, but most importantly, we want you to feel comfortable and safe.
We’re not going to sell your info to advertisers (and we currently do not). We’re going to allow you to choose who contacts you through the site. We’ll let you choose how you discover games and whether you get emails at all. Giving you control over your experience and the data you share is important to us.
When we created Terminals.io, we had a very simple vision: we wanted to build a single tool to help us better speak to our media and content-creator friends; to provide an online press kit for our titles; to maintain a database of contacts that was growing into the thousands; to distribute relevant news and information to said contacts; to manage the distribution of review keys… and to track coverage, gather analytics on campaigns we ran, help manage paid influencer campaigns, allow us to spot rising stars among the thousands of influencers and press in our system, to facilitate team communication, allow developers and publishers around the world to tap into the platform and our network, and… well… maybe it wasn’t such a simple vision.
The launch of Terminals 2.0 is a huge occasion for us: it’s the culmination of many long nights of work by our dev (yes, reminding you that Terminals has been built by just one person at a time), and lays the groundwork for the platform we really want to build. That platform will not only benefit PR reps, agencies, and developers, but should also be a daily stop and a tremendously useful tool for media and content creators. We have plenty of tricks up our sleeves, but first we had to deal with the aforementioned ass pain; now that we’ve taken care of it, expect plenty of new features and more open communication as we continue to march toward the (maybe stupidly) ambitious vision we had when we first conceived of Terminals five long years ago.