- Over at indie game aggregation site Manifesto Games, Greg Costikyan has put up an announcement revealing a new project for them, the 'Play This Thing!' weblog, which is a standalone recommendation blog for cool, alternative games - whether carried by Manifesto or not.

In the blog post, Costik asks the question: "Why are we doing this, and why is it separate from the Manifesto site?", explaining: "In essence, we're divvying up responsibilities: Manifesto Games becomes an ecommerce site, while Play This Thing takes care of content and community." The reasons for this? "For one thing, when we launched the Manifesto site, we expected it to be a content-and-community site as well as an online retailer. That hasn't turned out as well as we had hoped; "The Word," our pages with reviews and articles about games, never got a lot of traffic--and in any event, reviews there sat a little uneasily on a site that was trying to sell you stuff. It was also not updated frequently enough to draw much repeat traffic--and perhaps was too much inspired by print magazine reviews."

He adds - and laudably, I think: "For another, we wanted to celebrate the full range of creativity in games outside the mainstream, including games that we ourselves don't necessarily sell--free games, games from people who haven't signed up to sell here, and so on. Play This Thing lets us do that, without confusing the Manifesto Games mission unduly. Of the five games on the front page at launch, for instance, only two are ones we sell. When Play This Thing features a game that Manifesto sells, we'll link back here for purchase, of course--but we'll be covering a lot of games we don't sell, too."

Anyhow, this looks like a good thing to do - if you poke around the Alexa rankings of some indie, casual, and various other digital distribution sites, you'll see that Manifesto hasn't got the kind of uptick that some other sites have managed. Here's a slightly crazed graph comparing ManifestoGames.com, GameTap.com, the surging Kongregate.com, alongside Reflexive.com and Miniclip.com. (Actually, all of these are not totally in the same market or even have the same business models - but they are all game sites who are distributing things digitally, so it's interesting to see their relative traffic rankings, even if Alexa doesn't always get it perfect.)