April 30, 2001
5:43 PM   Subscribe

The Daily Radar is dead. This leaves only Gamespot and IGN left as the primary mega-gaming news sites. With IGN's stock everything but worthless, what is the future state of online journalism in these specialized areas? Sure, there's Blue's News and Stomped. But with the online business model unprofitable for everyone from the small-timers to the big-timers, is the hobbyist nature of personal sites an effective way of carrying the torch of dedicated reporting? Is something being lost as whole staffs are decimated? Discuss.
posted by ed (23 comments total)
But... but... what about Old Man Murray? >:)
posted by fusinski at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2001

Gamespy has some decent gaming news, albeit a little limited in full scope.
posted by benjh at 6:09 PM on April 30, 2001

there's happypuppy.com, too. But I see your point. It would be interesting to see if fan sites might pick up the torches dropped by the smaller gameing sites, but i doubt the could get much hard industry news or interviews. I guess I'll just have to stick to penny arcade for my game news for now ;)
posted by Hackworth at 6:28 PM on April 30, 2001

How big of a staff did they have? I think that's the biggest bugaboo with these news sites - just outright too much staffing. Sure, banner ad revenue is dropping - but I think adopting the Hollywood "overstaff" model is what doomed these and other fellas...

not to mention - how many sources of gaming news are needed? Gamespy, IGN, Gamecenter, Daily Radar, Happy Puppy were all corporate ones running neck and neck while Blue has covered his niche and done seemingly well...
posted by owillis at 6:30 PM on April 30, 2001

owillis: bluesnews (and sites like it, like shacknews and voodooextreme), are different than gamespy, IGN, et. al. the latter have writers and reviewers, the former are mainly third-party news gatherers. they point to the info, they usually don't make it.
posted by pnevares at 6:47 PM on April 30, 2001

The now dead gamecenter used to be my favorite gaming site, I didn't really need gaming news but it's something that was part of my schedule, to be in on the things. Their reviews were to point, easy pro-cons, good screenshots and unbiased.

Now there's gamespot, I don't visit anymore, their reviews seem to be the opposite, as is the navigation awfull, their front page looks like an experiment in placing banners and offers in every other line.

Small fan sites will continue to operate, most of them are really good, I have yet to really select an official best though.

I'm also guessing that the breakthrough of the next century will be a way to make the web work, then once profit and all that come in place, everything else, including game sites, will.
posted by tiaka at 7:05 PM on April 30, 2001

BenJH: Gamespy, much like Blue and Stomped, relies on the big boys for the serious news. (Just compare their "Source: Gamespy" notes with the latter two and you begin to see a certain theft.)

In fact, here's a real consideration. Some of the most noted blogs (Romenensko, etc.) rely on news sources for their links. If online news sources with solid reporters were to be eliminated, who would take their place? Will we see a rise in Ain't It Illiterate News like sites?

Fusinski: I like Old Man Murray too, but it's updated only sporadically. :)

Owillis: Roughly 30 people were let go. Everybody from sales to marketing to editors in the online departments. That also includes all of the people running the websites for the Imagine magazines. I believe that's about comparable to IGN.

tiaka: Agree with you about the now defunct GameCenter.

I think one of the problems with the current Internet business model is that all the creative people who worked under it, once we eliminate the slackers, were dictated first and foremost by their passion. They are also largely unresponsible for the way the money and marketing people handle things, regardless of whether the sites in question are viable profit-oriented sites. And that's the true tragedy. You had ideas making the rounds that had to be cut from the waist down because of ineffectual marketing or a not-so-solid business plan.
posted by ed at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2001

By the way, the DR's front page now reflects the fact.
posted by ed at 7:27 PM on April 30, 2001

Haha... I just noticed this was posted at slashdot after it was posted here, and there was a mention of Old Man Murray on the post there as well. Go figure LOL
posted by fusinski at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2001

what about gameshark.com? i know it's not a mega-site, but it's better than happypuppy, and has tons of game news.
posted by moth at 8:47 PM on April 30, 2001

There's also UGO and then gamers.com
posted by silverthorn at 9:11 PM on April 30, 2001

Then there is my Temple of Pong. A one man portal and looks like it.

I think this is just a result of the bad karma after they destroyed a PS2.
posted by john at 9:32 PM on April 30, 2001

I`m really going to miss Daily Radar. But there were quite a few hardcore fans, people who, the DR people said, wrote two or three letters to each section every day. These fans could very well take their newfound freetime and build a fansite. Some probably will and several probably already have.

The problem with fansites and such is that the fans don`t have the journalistic credentials or connections or whatever are necessary to get the scoops or to spend three days to come to Tokyo to see Bill Gates hype the Xbox or see a beta version of some game for the GameBoy Advance that will never see the light of day in any country outside of Japan.

What is lost, then, is one more outlet for marketing (in the good sense). It makes it that much harder for a game company to tell me what`s coming and when and for how much. If IGN and Gamespot fall prey to the collapse of the internet souffle, the game companies begin to lose too. If I don`t know that a game is out, or coming out, I`m not very likely to buy it or set aside money for it. Ergo, Nintendo doesn`t get my money.

The fan sites will have reviews. They won`t have inside information or previews and it won`t be centralized.

Of course, all of this only matters if all the other sites die off. Were any other sites downsized? Maximum PC and Business 2.0 were both active last time I checked.

As a side note, has anybody had a look at the PCXL site. This was going to be a supscription based website/successor to PC Accelerator magazine, which folded due to lack of advertising. Nobody subscribed, despite the fact that plenty of people wrote in to say they would. It seems the people at Imagine are a bit bitter about this.
posted by chiheisen at 10:14 PM on April 30, 2001

One of my favorites (and probably the first to die, seemingly way before the bubble burst) was OGR - Online Gaming Review. Now it leads to the most ugly site I've ever seen in my life.

The future looks bleak for the "professional" gaming site. When every other .com is failing, they don't seem to stand much of a chance. Like someone said above, it takes real writers, commitment, and resources. Fan sites are pretty amazing and always have been, both in how much info they can gather and how professional the design is (I'll cite starcraft.org as just one example). But these sites are hobbies, and despite the amount of time people seem to invest in them, I don't think it's really possible to make such a quality site that covers the same scope to replace the Gamecenters and Daily Radars. I don't know what I am going to do when/if (probably when) IGN goes down... oh the humanity.

chiheisen, word on the Maximum PC forums is that they probably aren't going down completely - as a computer magazine it would seem ridiculous for them to have no web presence - but they are probably going to downsize in some way. They haven't decided what's happening yet. I would guess similar things are going to happen for Business 2.0.
posted by swank6 at 10:32 PM on April 30, 2001

As someone who has recieved a paycheck from Dailyradar and written for the fan sites, here's my take on the current situation:

While most fan sites don't have much financing for "inside info", a lot of the larger fan sites (such as Core Magazine, Gaming Age, etc..) do have contacts within many companies who provide exclusives to them occasionally. Most of these sites also send a few people to things like TGS, E3, etc.. I do think the amount of "inside info" will slip, but I think that's one of the problems with the old situation.

All of the funded sites (Gamers.com, GS, IGN, DR, etc.) had the same content. They all had conventional reviews, the obligatory previews, and, at most, a few articles a week actually worth reading. Guys like Samuel Bell at DR occasionally wrote content that provided a "filter" for the information, which is what news sources are theoretically supposed to do. The sites didn't do enough of that, and that's why their failing.

If I saw a site that would provide literary work like myvideogames.com (only written by people who understand the industry better than the often-wrong people at the above), I think it could be very successful.

posted by Kevs at 10:40 PM on April 30, 2001

I personally enjoy The GIA.
posted by chesuta at 10:44 PM on April 30, 2001

I spent a few months seriously addicted to Diablo II last year, and diabloii.net is a great example of a fan site with clout -- Blizzard treats them with about as much respect as it does Gamespot, as they get special offers, previews and interviews. The fan network for The Sims is fully supported by Maxis; two days ago, I even saw a link to a cheats site on the front page of the official site, which I thought was pretty cool.
posted by lia at 1:42 AM on May 1, 2001

Maybe what is needed is a sort of network site to link these smaller, fan based sites together in some way that is cohesive yet beneficial to the sites. Feature snippets on the front page, linking to full articles on the fan site, as well as a directory of those fan sites, all interlinked like webring (except making it make sense)...

Oh dear, I'm rambling again...
posted by benjh at 4:54 AM on May 1, 2001

Don't forget about the Shack!
posted by jasonepowell at 5:26 AM on May 1, 2001

I can assure you that Maximum PC isn't going down as a magazine. But the online presence (and the talented man behind it) has unfortunately been eliminated.
posted by ed at 7:00 AM on May 1, 2001

They're gone? Those homophobic assholes are gone?


Okay I'm overstating the case but of the gaming sites that I would check out, Daily Radar was the worst offender of my sensibilities. The Direct Hit section was a disgrace.
posted by Pinwiz at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2001

Wow. Some interesting sites.

Kevs, you`re right about the rarity of valuable articles on DR, or any other site. The real value comes from the news (like pricing and release dates, not that Myst III has gone gold or 93 new screenshots of Metal Gear Solid) and reviews. Most everything else is fluff or infotainment of some sort. no real value that added to the enjoyment of gaming.

benjh: That`s a very interesting idea. Might well be worth looking into
posted by chiheisen at 7:42 PM on May 1, 2001

The problem with integrating a "network" of sites like diabloii.net, the sims page, starcraft.org, etc. is that each site only caters to one game, and thus they fill a completely different niche. You would not be able to find reviews for new games, or gaming news in general. In-depth info for each specific game would be great (as it always has been), but that's where it ends.

The generic mega-gaming site follows a static formula as Kevs points out, but they do serve an essential purpose. If ALL of these sites die, there will be nowhere online to look for those reviews, previews, etc...
posted by swank6 at 9:00 PM on May 1, 2001

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