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GameSpy: The Lost Network November 24, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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As the rest of internet was just gaining it’s foothold as a gaming portal, they already had a site.  When Microsoft announced they had the first ever cross-platform console multiplayer service, they had developed the definitive online game server browser, which was what gamers used to play on their favorite Quake, Hexen and Quake II servers.  It was called the GameSpy program and it revolutionized the upcoming PC multiplayer gaming revolution.  With the Internet no longer a detached series of BBS boards, and servers no longer needed to be accessed by directly dialing your friend’s computer, GameSpy offered the best option for selecting a multiplayer server to play a game on.

In 1999, GameSpy branched out and created their own gaming site and became the definitive location for gaming news and editorials.    They had Dave Kosak, known as “Fargo” as a staple of the site.  Every Friday he would write a new Planet Fargo, providing the tagline “Your Parents are Wrong” and covering the hilarious side of being a gaming journalist.  He published political editorials written by Solid Snake to plead with Senators to “please stop making the Metal Gear”, he moved into a mall for a whole week hoping to be the first person to own Diablo II.  But the greatest article he ever wrote was the research thesis on the heuristics to making a kick ass LAN party.  He also worked with other GameSpy members like Chris “shaithis” Buecheler, because as we all know, in comedy, you must have a straight man to make the funny man funnier.

The domination started with the Planet Sites.  Starting with Planet Quake, a news website for all things Quake, the site quickly became the definitive site for Quake news, mod updates, and commentary.  Others would soon branch out, like Planet Unreal and Planet Half-Life.  Then it started to go a little crazy.  Pretty soon there was a planet site for everything, Planet Vampire, Planet AVP, and Planet Anachronox were just a few sites that took shape among the dozens more that popped up.  There was even a Planet Daikatana (I’m not shitting you).

Then there was the E3 presence.  They dominated it.  The proud few who freely contributed their time to operate their planet sites would get free invites every year, no questions asked and no reason needed to that year’s E3 in order to cover the show.  They had a local headquarters set up in the center of the show, not only to court other developers but to provide a lounge area for their contributors to kick back and relax after checking out the show floor.  They also had David Lawrence streaming a live video webcast (unheard of at the time!), interviewing the major game developers and getting previews out to people unable to attend the show.  Anyone at the show was welcome to sit and watch the live stream as it was being broadcast, or just hang out at the makeshift GameSpy HQ for a massage and some Tony Hawk.

GameSpy was on top of the world and it was looking prosperous for everyone, and then they made the decision to merge with their biggest competitor, and it would bring about their destruction.  By 2005 the company merged with IGN.  Slowly the greatness from the site started to leak.  Loyal Planet contributors were no longer being asked to go to E3.  One by one the sites stopped being updated, yet their domains were still being renewed.  Since they were no longer supporting their Planet Sites, each individual Planet site would basically run until the contributor lost interest, and since they would not be taking on any new people, once the site’s contributors stopped (or the site broke), it would mean the end for the site.  For a while it was a network lost in time (2005 to be exact), a monument to a once great revolution.  Not too long ago, the DNS entry broke on most of them, and nowadays if you try checking out one of the sites, it’ll incorrectly redirect you to a random 404 page.

Nowadays GameSpy has become just a blip on the radar of the internet.  Microsoft and Sony both use their own personal networks to handle multiplayer with their own first party server browsers to play, making the need for a third-party game browser unnecessary on a console.  On the PC side, the side where they dominated for so long, most game developers have migrated to more comprehensive developer tools which integrate into the game and act as DRM, like Valve’s Steam or Microsoft’s Games for Windows initiative.  Fargo left the site in early 2009, but some of his old articles are still accessible.  The really old ones require some serious digging with Google.

As a former GameSpy contributor, early GameSpy adopter, and frequent Planet Fargo reader, I felt a serious connection with the company that goes beyond what I can type up on this page.  The one token I kept was the letter written for me to serve as proof of industry identification, signed by Dave “Fargo” Kosak.  I have it framed and it will always hang on my wall, an honor not even my College Degree has.  It got me into my first E3, an experience I will never forget.

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1. You Will Be Missed (Part 1) « gameXcess.net – Gaming News, Videos and Editorials! - December 3, 2010

[…] Already talked about those guys.  I know the main website still exists and delivers new content but trust me, like Rome, the empire […]


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