Okay, I’m taping over the Twilight Zone marathon. Damned SciFi Channel. Just when I was starting to like them, too.
Anywho, remember how I said that I don’t do this page for profit? Well, looks like I probably wouldn’t have even had a chance to. Seems that 2001 is the “put up or shut up” year, as the Gamecenter Alliance (which funds many sites through ad banners, like my sentimental favorite Stomped.com) is no more after February 1, 2001. For that matter, UGO is said to be scaling back payments to websites it has to do with, (perhaps including your-favorite-and-mine, Blue’s News).
Yeah, the World Wide Web began for all intents and purposes in earnest around 1995. That was the same year I went to college. I remember browsing it on my roommate Travis Arlitt’s 486/50. My 486/20 (yes, they really did make them that slow) was too underpowered to connect to TAMUNet and run Netscape, so I transplanted my 14.4K modem to Travis’ system (he still has it, btw). I was in an organization at Texas A&M called the Corps of Cadets. Picture a JROTC thingy. Now forget that, because it’s nothing close. More to the point, I was in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, so I had plenty to do. I constructed a website for my outfit, B-Company, on Travis’ computer using the limited HTML 2.0 and Notepad (it’s probably still on Travis’ hard drive, if his old system still exists), and while I saw the potential of this “Internet Thing”, it still seemed like a pain in the ass to have to do this much to get a little web page up and going. For that matter, the only reason that little web site never saw the light of the Web is that I had no idea how to upload things to the Internet or for that matter that we had any personal space for this sort of thing to be uploaded to.
More importantly, however, was the fact that I wasn’t too good at this “college plus anything else” thing. My grades have never put me in any danger of the Dean’s list, and while part of me thinks my Corps/Band involvement had something to do with this, most of me knows I would be looking for a different scapegoat if I weren’t involved in those aforementioned organizations. Consequently, while college kids around the world seemed to be starting the next Amazon.com or Napster, I sat idly by these last five and a half years and thought “I could be doing this!” I always figured that, if the market was right when I got out of College, I might look into something like this. Granted, I put that notion in the same pile that most of us place the “some day I’ll drive one of those” idea we get when someone with a luxury car speeds past.
The other thing I noticed was the “content page” and its increasing dominance. While Blue’s did do some good – I watch it religiously for game news – other pages merely have stuff to browse. This would be great, except that the race to win sometimes outdoes the race to be any damn good. I like PlanetQuake (one word, not two), but PlanetDaikatana has never provided me with more than a good chuckle (I actually own Daikatana, btw), and I occasionally visit PlanetBlood, PlanetKingpin and PlanetDescent to find out if they still exist, and to be utterly shocked to find out that they still get updates! I mean, Doom still has lots of active websites, but that’s in the wake of the Source Code’s availability, plus it has some retro quality to it.
Imagine what it must feel like to be the first to set up and maintain the ultimate site on a particular computer game (and while I know that all of the previous examples are GameSpy sites, there’s more where they came from), and keep maintaining that site for years before the game is actually released, only to discover that the game sucks ass. Then what do you do? While I’ve actually seen some sites close up shop to say “show’s over, nothing to see here”, others go on to adamantly claim that the game in question is good, and that the critics – all of them – are wrong. Some might actually believe that (and God bless them – some of these games need it), but others are just trying to prolong the magic needlessly. Meanwhile, visits have dried up and the ads aren’t getting served.
So what do you do when you go to a web page and you see an ad banner? You probably do like I do – ignore it. That’s not entirely true – I do notice them, but I will rarely click them (I close pop up windows before they even get a chance to load). I had a buddy at one point who adamantly refused to click any ad banner – even if he wanted to. He would open a new browser and find where that ad was headed and go there the hard way. I guess he thought he was “fighting the man” or that ad banners would go away someday if no one would click on them. While I think he was a little crazy in some regards (he was one of these who believe that if you don’t use Microsoft products/technologies exclusively, you were deluding yourself), he may have his way eventually.
So now I’m out of college and, sure enough, the market is changing and in some ways, drying up. Dot-coms based on moronic notions like shipping dog food UPS have gone belly-up, and most of the “me, too”‘s (of which I would have been one were I not in college) have gone elsewhere. For that matter, the investors in “Free(whatever).com” have had enough of “good ideas” and now want to see these things called “profits”. So now we have the steady demise of the “ad networks”, and with them me might have the demise of the content sites. Hopefully the networks will just wise up – no cheating, no thousand sites on Deer Hunter games, no 2 page articles spread out onto 12 pages with a “next” link at the bottom. Hopefully Penny Arcade will sell enough books and “WANG!” T-shirts to stay afloat. And hopefully the “let’s just put up several pages of bullshit, post some ad banners and watch the money roll in” pages in this world will shrivel up and die.
Anywho, diatribe over. I’m turning 24 tomorrow. Have fun 🙂