Recently, OpenCritic kicked off their new Contributor Program. In short, it's a way for OpenCritic to bring to light a plethora of reviews from sites that aren't quite as big and all reaching as the IGNs and GameSpots of the world. It's a great way for sites like Total Gaming Network to get our reviews out there to perhaps help a larger audience make an informed decision on whether or not a game is worth spending money on.

To be very clear, the scores of those enrolled in the Contributor Program are not mixed in with the Official Score listing. This area remains the domain of the IGNs and GameSpots of the world. However, while they are kept separate, the Contributor scores are still easily accessible from each game's Summary page on OpenCritic. This is a wonderful way for those looking for multiple impressions to easily access the scores and reviews from sites they may have never seen otherwise. It is also a unique and interesting way to see how the scores of the larger sites compare with the scores offered up by smaller sites.

It is also precisely why I was thrilled, and perhaps a bit anxious, when I submitted Total Gaming Network in for approval into this new Contributor Program. After some pleasant email exchanges and ensuring that I met their criteria, Total Gaming Network was approved! We are now a part of OpenCritic's Contributor Program!

You can find Total Gaming Network on OpenCritic right here.

I do have to manually add in each review. As you can probably already see, it's off to a decent start but it's far from a complete listing. I will continue to add in reviews in the coming days when I find the time. To deal with any potential questions about this: OpenCritic does not own us. We do not work for them. There are no payments changing hands. Etc. This is simply a great way for one community to share content and opinions on a related industry platform. OpenCritic has the benefit of being more "open" to a larger pool of critics and we get to (hopefully) share our thoughts with a wider and ever growing audience.

Example: Contributor section for Dark Souls III

What does this mean for the future of Total Gaming Network?
In the short term, nothing much will really change as far as the operation of the site is concerned. I do need to include a link to OpenCritic on the main page. I have already done that as of a few days ago. You can see that under the Reviews section on the right side navbar on the main index. I will make that look a lot better as soon as I can, as well as adding a direct link to Total Gaming Network's landing page on OpenCritic.

It also means that the Week in Review format may have to change up a bit. As it stands, the Week in Reviews were meant to be bite sized reviews that helped to inform without being too overbearing. It allowed me to get an opinion out on a handful of games that I played in the past week or two while cutting out the fat that longer format reviews tend to have. It's a format that works well here but not so much when trying to link to the individual reviews using the same URL. This will have to change. For the older reviews, I've started to implement jump links.

What's a jump link? Take a look at the Month in Review for May 2016. Notice how there are four reviews there (Dark Souls III, Battleborn, Uncharted 4, and DOOM)? Now, you can simply jump directly to the review for Uncharted 4, or DOOM, or Battleborn. I would like to comply with OpenCritic's constraints on URL usage, and while this method is a partial bypass of that constraint, I would rather we be in full compliance moving forward.

As such, the Week in Review format will either turn into one game per post (if there is indeed more than one game per week that needs reviewed) or as separate pages within a single article if the URL would be different enough. It's also possible that the Week in Review will go away for good and the long form review format will make a return. To be brutally honest here, I like the format of the reviews for Week in Review. They are concise and get right to the point in most cases. I will first try to see if separating the reviews into separate pages in a single article would work well. If not, I will simply keep the reviews as separate pieces while sticking with the shorter and more concise review format.

In the long term? Maybe it will bring in some fresh visitors to the site. You never know!

Feel free to post any questions you have about this in the comments below. If you are a regular visitor to OpenCritic, feel free to add Total Gaming Network to your Trusted Contributors, bookmark our OpenCritic page, and tell your friends about it! That'd be awesome of you.