This past Thursday, a formal announcement was made by Ziff-Davis Inc., the publishing and Internet company that owns the IGN Network, that it would be restructuring IGN Entertainment and dropping the secondary sites in the network. As a result, 1UP.com, Gamespy.com and UGO.com have been shut down and the staff have either been moved to the main IGN site or laid off. While the sites will no longer produce content, there has been no word on when or if the sites’ servers will be closed as well.
Former 1UP Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Parish and Former Gamespy Editor-in-Chief Dan Stapleton wrote letters, explaining the situation to their readers and thanking them for supporting their respective sites. Though they lamented the ending of each site, both editors promised that though the staff had been moved around or laid off, they would still be involved in the gaming news media in one way or another.
Now I am very sad to see these websites go. I enjoyed visiting these websites on a regular basis along with many other readers, but even I can understand that the company viewed running four websites that covered video games in parallel to be inefficient, despite the fact that each site had a unique voice and character. But it just stands as a stark reminder of the difficulties that various news media organizations have had to face over the past few years on top of having to deal with financial difficulties arising from having to adjust to the new, shifting digital landscape of the Internet and the economic recession that has plagued the U.S. for some time now. As IGN editor Casey Lynch points out the economic hardships have affected big gaming publications as much as the smaller ones. Lynch recounted the closing of Nintendo Power earlier this year, one of the oldest and most influential gaming publications ever, to drive the point home.
With everyone cutting corners to stay afloat, the decision to shut down the aforementioned websites seems perfectly logical from a business standpoint. However, it brings the question to those of us who call ourselves video game journalists, bloggers and commentators: “What kind of things can we do to produce meaningful and entertaining content while drawing in enough revenue to keep the big wigs in corporate happy?” Now obviously, I’m not a business expert, but I do know a thing or two about the media business. I understand that the media is currently struggling to find a way to sustain itself as a profitable business venture without relying heavily on advertising revenue as it once did. Now to be fair, publications such as the New York Times have introduced pay walls or required subscriptions to access the full breadth of their content.
Even so, such initiatives have not yet proven to be the end-all solution to the issue. But it’s a step in the right direction. While I would certainly agree that while the current state of the economy plays a role, there still is the fundamental issue of the currently outdated business models being used today. So I call upon all journalists, bloggers and commentators everywhere to really start thinking and working together to find a solution. The answer is out there, waiting to be found.
So then readers, what do you think about the closing of 1UP, Gamespy and UGO? Those of you who are journalists and media professionals, what ideas do you have on the issues I mentioned?
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