THE (AD-FREE) FUTURE OF VELOGAMES FANTASY CYCLINGUpdate: 10th May 2019
It has been a while since my original post last summer, so here is a quick update to the campaign, including next steps as the first Fantasy Grand Tour of the season approaches.
Firstly, let me thank again all of you have have provided such generous support over the last 10 months.
This support was a real assistance to keep the site running in the absence of the expected, but eventually non-existent, advertising revenue that would have come from the cancelled main event last summer.
The support has also shown that, with the help of the Velogames community, it is certainly worth continuing with the aim to run Velogames as an an advertising-free website. Starting with the upcoming Velogames Italy 2019, I will be adding some internal banners on the Velogames website linking back to this campaign page, to get this campaign back up and running.Network advertising will remain absent from the site throughout the upcoming contest and months to come.The immediate usage of your support will be to cover the costs of running the site, followed by supporting new development tasks and increasing the coverage of races offered.
One such development task is a new "team story" feature I have recently rolled out for the Tour de Romandie (example: https://www.velogames.com/tour-de-romandie/2019/teamstory.php?tid=13sab2a68345d2203ae75e37ed4d177b63fF
). I will be adding to this feature over the coming days and weeks, both in look-and-feel of the page itself, and the events included in the story feed.
Regarding the increase in races covered, the inaugural Fantasy Tour of Poland is already on the Velogames season calendar, as is an expansion of the Autumn Classics series to start with the Classic of San Sebastian.
Regarding the big event in July, I must report that there is still a large question mark on that contest, but rest assured I will be exploring all opportunities to get that race back on the calendar.
As it stands, though, I am massively looking forward to the next three weeks of action in Italy, featuring the most beautiful and, arguably, most competitive Grand Tour on the calendar!
I look forward to seeing your team on the roads of Italy and other territories in the weeks and months ahead. Your support, be it by contributing to this campaign, or simply entering your teams in the contests across the season, is massively appreciated!
Yours in fantasy cycling,
Velogames Fantasy Cycling
Initial Post: 22nd July 2018
What just happened?
As most of you will now know, the Velogames contest which launched in late June did not proceed to the stated entry deadline or start scoring.
Thank you for your patience during these last two weeks while I sorted out some outstanding issues, with the added complexity of moving house thrown in for good measure!
I would like to now take the time to make some more detailed comments on the events of the last fortnight, and next steps for Velogames Fantasy Cycling.
First of all, I am so grateful for all the support you have provided me, both by entering teams into the games I offer (some of you for over 20 years!) and also for the emails and tweets of recent days.
It honestly means a great deal to me to see how much love there is for Velogames and its community, and gives me a lot of motivation to keep on providing fantasy cycling contests to you all.
I fundamentally believe that all fantasy sports games, official and otherwise, increase engagement with each real-life event and could be able to live side-by-side with each other, perhaps even to each others' mutual benefit.
But equally I accept that is simply my own view and others, including official rights holders for an event, have the right to a different opinion.
I have possibly been quite naive that, as Velogames grew (and I never thought when I started this all off as a bored teenager that the website would grow to be quite so popular!) I did not address some of the more contentious and risky elements of running such contests.
Before drawing a line under the issues of the last week, I'd like to personally (and freely) place on record my gratitude for the good attitude in which these complicated matters have been resolved.
I'd also like to once again thank all of you who have expressed support and, to those of you who have expressed concern on behalf of myself and my family, let you know there's really nothing to worry about.
I don't intend to make any further comments on these issues above.
So, what now?
For clarity, the contest affected will not be restarted and points will not be updated for teams already entered.
But that does not mean that there are not opportunities on the road ahead.
If anything, the events of the past couple of weeks have shown the now is the perfect time to step back to review the state of play, and make changes so that Velogames emerges stronger on the other side.
There's currently two main things I am focusing on.1. The Season calendar
I cannot make any promises regarding a full set of the usual contests going forward.
But I am still committed to running fantasy cycling contests throughout the year, and indeed I intend to add more events to the calendar in future seasons.
I am currently busy making arrangements for both the inaugural Fantasy Autumn Classics contest, and also the upcoming Fantasy Tour of Portugal, which will be going live for entries in the coming days - I am sincerely looking forward to getting the website back on track!
In future races, you may see some cosmetic changes on the site, with more generic images used on the game pages and some slight changes in the name of each event.
And for next season, you might see less of a reliance on contests with their own branded "microsite", and more emphasis on a season-long game structure, with different races being game rounds within a wider calendar, as currently happens with the Fantasy Spring Classics contest.
Perhaps more importantly, the events of the past fortnight have taught us that Velogames does not live in a bubble outside the world of real bike racing.
This presents its own challenges, but also opens up a host of opportunities to make fundamental changes regarding how the Velogames game system can help support each real-life event.
I already have had friendly invitations from a number of race organisations (the names of which might surprise you!) to discuss future arrangements and will be reaching out to others soon.
At a very high level, Velogames has a dedicated and valuable community of 50,000+ fantasy cycling fans willing to engage with races big and small.
If you are a race organiser (however big or small) and are reading this, I would be keen to hear your thoughts.2. Network Advertising
Velogames has traditionally relied on advertising to gain income and cover costs.
Like many smaller websites around the world without a dedicated sales team, I use "network ads", which are basically a "fire and forget" method - I place ad units on each page and my automated advertising partner does the rest of the work to serve relevant content matched to the website content or user.
I don't like network ads - in fact not many people do.
They can be ugly and intrusive, and they also take up valuable space on the page which could be better used to show information relating to the game itself (for such items as stats, rider scores, leaderboards and schedules), or for messages from official race organisations or their sponsors.
In short, network ads disrupt the user experience and limit what I can do in several key areas of the page.
I am therefore going to immediately remove all network advertising from the site for all future contests run on the Velogames platform, for at least the next 18 months.
It's important to note that I am not intending to get rid of *all* advertising - removing network ads will provide opportunities for game sponsors and race sponsors to engage with the Velogames audience with their own integrated campaigns.
If an organiser wants to engage with the Velogames platform, there will now be ample opportunities and space on the website to deal with any bespoke requirements they have.How you can help?
First of all, there is absolutely no obligation to help out any more than you already have.
As I said at the top, the events of the last couple of weeks do not threaten my personal finances, nor do they represent an existential threat to the future of the Velogames website.
You have all already supported the site in the most significant capacity - simply by entering teams into the various contests over the years and offering words of support.
Having said that, though, the events of the last couple of weeks have left a bit of a hole in this year's budget, both due to some unexpected costs and also the removal of the most significant revenue-earning contest of the year.
After thinking long and hard about this issue, and gaining advice from several friends and Velogames directeurs, I have set up a GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/manage/support-the-future-of-velogames/
to support the future of Velogames, enabling it to move towards a donation-led website rather than one that relies on advertising revenue.
I feel it is important that, rather than simply asking for donations, I am able to provide a clear "value exchange" for the future, and that's where removing the network advertising comes in.
For those of you who want to show extra appreciation for contests already completed, and support the advertising-free future of Velogames, I would be very grateful if you consider showing your support.
For the sake of clarity, donations are optional and Velogames will remain completely free to play - I do not intend to introduce any sort of preferred status to supporters when they select their teams or introduce any sort of "pay-to-win" elements within the game.What will campaign funds be spent on?
In the short-term, the stated goal amount represents the shortfall to cover running costs for the year, plus some unexpected additional costs accrued this last fortnight.
If the stated goal amount is exceeded, additional monies will be spent to support the new advertising-free model for Velogames Fantasy Cycling.
These monies will be spent on several areas, which will include, but not be limited to, the following:-
- Replace future expected revenues that have been lost due to removing network ads, to cover costs of web hosting and email newsletters.
- Introduction of new features of the website to replace areas of the page currently taken up by advertising banners with more fun stuff such as race information and statistics panels.
- Introduction of a prize fund pot which will be set up to provide prizes for future contests (Velogames will always remain free to play!)
- Support the creation of promotional material in order to reach out to race organisations and official sponsors.
- Gaining legal opinions on the format and content of future contests being offered.
I hope that all of the above provides you with the information you need regarding what went on this last fortnight, and gives some indications of how I will be getting Velogames back on track.
As always, I am grateful for your support.
Yours in fantasy cycling,
Velogames Fantasy Cycling