What a way to start the new year.
1UP.com was a very popular gaming website, full of veteran and new gaming journalists and home to my favorite audio podcasts and video podcasts. It was one of the few online gaming sites that managed to flourish after the dot com debacle of the 1990s—some will remember that it was born from much of the remains of Gamers.com. It was under the umbrella of magazine publisher Ziff-Davis, a publisher that at one time published almost every magazine that I bothered to read.
But 1UP.com wasn't making money. Or least it wasn't making the kind of money that Ziff-Davis needed to keep the network and all of its sister websites up and running. Rumors had been swirling for years that Ziff-Davis was in financial trouble, but nothing ever came of them. In fact, many just believed it was the print magazines that would take the fall. And they did, but as we now know, the online outlets would not be spared.
Word dropped yesterday, but the aftershocks are still resonating in game journalism circles. And it is interesting to watch because though from competing outlets, many of the 1UP Network staff had close relationships, both working and personal, with other writers. While reading the coverage from these writers, you can't help but feel their pain and anger while writing about their peers and friends who are now out of work.
Thanks to Twitter, 1UP forums, NeoGAF, other gaming forums and leaked correspondences, we're getting a better picture of what happened. Ziff-Davis was losing money on its print magazines and online media. It searched high and low for some entity to come in and provide help and keep all of its parts in tact. That suitor never appeared, but Hearst Corporation's UGO Entertainment did. UGO wasn't able to save all of the pieces that made the 1UP Network what it was, but considering the cost of a money-losing entity like 1UP Network and EGM, the state of our economy and advertising market, it was better than we should have expected.
The other thing to consider is that while many of the staff was let go, there are still some key people there. Is there not consolation in knowing that a gaming fixture will remain albeit in a different form?
At any rate, the deal is done. While I am glad to see that some segments of the 1UP Network were spared, I'm now without the 1UP audio podcasts (that I used to occupy me during long commutes) and the 1UP Show (that entertained me at home). The industry is now all the poorer without the talented writers and personalities that made talking about games, reviewing games and dissecting this industry so much fun.