IGN Entertainment Acquires UGO, 1UP

In a joint statement, gaming sites IGN and 1UP announced that IGN’s parent company, IGN Entertainment, has acquired 1UP’s parent company UGO from Hears Corporation. Both sites have their own entries on the matter. Under the terms of the agreement, Hearst will be an active shareholder, and will contribute to the business. Meanwhile, IGN Entertainment is looking to be the largest website on the internet among males 18-34 years of age.

The deal will look to combine the 40 million viewers that IGN draws with the 30 million that 1UP brings in. The IGN data includes data from their deal with Gamestop from back in December.

UGO acquired IGN in January of 2009 from Ziff-Davis, at which time long-running gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly was immediately shut down. UGO will be bringing over Actress Archives, GameTab and Hero Machine. IGN Entertainment is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Analysis: This is probably going to earn me some enemies, and it’s going to end any and all chances of me being picked up by a larger site. Then again, it’s not like there are many “larger” sites left, so what the hell.

There is nothing good about this deal that doesn’t involve investors or upper managers making more money. Period. This is a bad deal for consumers, it’s a bad deal for writers, and ultimately, it’s bad for the entire industry.

Already, the majority of the big sites in this industry are owned by massive corporations. Hearst owned 1UP and UGO. News Corporation owns IGN Entertainment. AOL owns Joystiq. CBS Interactive owns Gamespot, which has had their own problems in regards to editorial content being stomped on. GamePro is owned by IDG, a venture capitalist. In terms of large sites that bring in a lot of hits, the only one I can think of that is independent is Destructoid, and they make it plainly known that they are NOT journalists. Now, we have one more corporation owning that much larger a share of the pie. It’s not a “monopoly”, like I’ve heard some commenters call it, but in terms of larger companies – the ones game publishers deal with, give early access to and advertise with in order to ensure higher numbers on reviews – it might as well be. Hitcounts drive this business, and News Corporation now has more tools to drive higher hitcounts.

This is a terrible deal for consumers. Most of them don’t even realize just how badly they’re being treated by a system that rewards blurring the line between editorial and marketing. They still go to Gamespot, who are owned and largely run by the same people that ran Gerstmann out because he pissed off his corporate overlords. They still click on day one reviews, suck up all the screenshots and previews and other media put out specifically by PR to sell their game, and though they bitch about certain reviews and certain reviewers, they all come running back once that same reviewer says something they find agreeable. The same problems I talked about in a past UTS are going to go on, in force, because readers are like Pavlov’s Dog; they snap to attention when told to. This is a large reason why I have a disclosure section on all of my reviews.

Finally, and most sympathetically, this is a terrible thing for the writers. There are so few writing jobs in this business that are worth a living wage, and even those don’t make much money because, as proven by recent issues with AOL-owned Huffington Post, for every guy who gets sick of this shit, there are a hundred more willing to take their place before money even enters the discussion. They’re desperate to famous, and in a lot of cases, they’re taken advantage of. This business causes the good writers to become jaded, and the bad ones to get ahead, because the bad ones don’t mind selling themselves out to make marketing happy. Already, job security is pathetic in this business, and because of that, most writers would be smart to do what Shane Bettenhausen did: turn his work at EGM into a paid PR gig for a games company. Now, writers – most of them good ones – are going to lose their jobs. There’s precedent for this, as the first thing UGO did when they bought Ziff-Davis’s properties was to slash headcount. What sucks is that the good ones are going to be let go, but people like Greg Miller and Jack DeVries are going to keep their jobs. To fully disclose my opinion, I am not a fan of IGN’s content – I think they’re closer to being the problem in the art and profession of writing about video games than being the solution – and this won’t help things in the slightest.

Things like this are the main reason I started Gaming Bus. I wanted to start a video games site that wasn’t about making suits happy in the slightest. It’s going to hurt the number of hits I bring in, but at least I and anyone that writes for us will have integrity, and won’t be under the thumb of a corporation on either side of the ledger.

Good luck to those about to be affected by this, and I hope everyone lands on their feet.

Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.