The GameFAQs Controversy

Take note I said GameFAQs not Gamestop. Click the logo to go to the site. A new window will open. By the way the “FAQs” in GameFAQs stands for “Frequently Asked Questions”.

For those who don’t know, GameFAQs holds the distinct honor of being the world’s largest archive of all things video games. Anything you want to know about any video game or game system ever made can be found on GameFAQs. And ALL of it is user-submitted. I myself I have contributed by adding a Walkthrough for Phantasy Star III back in 2005. It still stands as the only Full Guide I’ve ever written for GFAQs but I’ll get to the why a bit later.

First, let me give you a rundown of the history of this site.

The site was created sometime in 1995 by Chad “CJAYC” Veasey. From the very beginning it was clear GameFAQS was destined for greatness. The more video games released, the better the site became. As time went on the site got bigger and bigger both in terms of content and membership. As is often the case with sites that start out big like GameFAQs, IGN.com and MMO-Champion and just continue to get bigger, when a site that produces new content on a daily basis gets too big for one person to run on their own, they look for like-minded sites they can mutually benefit and mutually benefit from. There’s nothing wrong with that. Gamefaqs went through a couple partnerships–most notably IGN very briefly early on and Game Winners.com–from 1999 to 2007 (Some say the partnerships were broken off by CJAYC himself after he realized the partners needed GameFAQs more than the other way around) before merging with Gamespot and its parent company C.NET.

This is where it’s argued the site went into a downward spiral critics say it has yet to and will never recover from as things are now. About a year after the merger was completed, CJAYC stepped down as Administrator and put a very unknown SBAllen in charge before quickly and quietly cutting all ties with the site. Having built the site from scratch and grown it into something incredible, after 14 years I think CJAYC wanted to make sure the site would be able to continue to grow without him. Those against the merger stood up (figuratively) and called CJAYC a sellout and a liar for selling the site to C.NET after saying for years he would never sell the site. I don’t doubt he watches from a distance but SBAllen made it clear from his first day in charge his leadership style is very different from his predecessor.

The two biggest changes were made to the site’s forums: For the first time since the site was created, the forums had moderators. This was something that had been talked about during the CJAYC era but he made it clear it would never happen. That was one of the first changes SBAllen made.

The other change made was the addition of a search feature. You could type in a couple words or phrases and to quickly find a thread on a particular topic anywhere on the site. No more having to sift through pages and pages of large boards!

To the relief of the special few with special access, those who can access the Boards Life, The Universe and Everything (Commonly referred to as LUE, it’s revered as the Holy Grail of all GameFAQs boards due ot the fact there was no profanity filter, it was unmoderated and you could be as offensive as you wanted) and Random Insanity (Which I have access to, it’s a tamer version of LUE) the general population was not granted access to said boards as intended. LUE weas originally meant to be deleted but for reasons known only to him, CJAYC and SBAllen left it be.

Anyway, the biggest complaint some longime forum folks have had is according to them, the merger with C.NET marked the beginning of the end of the site everyone knew and loved. The reasoning for that–more so since CJAYC merged the site with C.NET–is it destabilized the site. That is is partly true. In the months immediately following SBAllen taking over as Head Admin thousands if not tens of thousands of Veteran Members either quit or were banned from the site for infractions the previous leadership would look the other way on. Those who left saw it coming. Those were were banned learned the hard way this was a different GameFAQs.

One change many were hoping would be changed and is believed to be the basis of the “Veteran Witch Hunt” during the transiton is the Karma system. Originally, Karma tied to how many posts you made. Then it was changed to reflect how many posts you made a day. Once you reached your allowed quota you no longer got Karma. You could tell who was either the most active or had been around the longest based on how much Karma they had.

Before the merger the Karma system was overhauled so you got some Karma every 24 hours regardless of posts made. This was done to drastically cut down on Spam Posts all over the place. An unexpected side effect was it also destroyed the community-created heiarchy where new members were on the bottom and vets were on the top. The change put both camps on equal footing and…yeah. The vets weren’t happy.

One policy that not only didn’t change but has the potential to incur a harsher punishment is the Moderation Contest system. Before, you had to really try to get an infraction. Two years ago my account was suspended for 3 days for saying I use ROMs. No, really. Before, it was strictly “Don’t ask, don’t tell” when it came to ROM discussion. Now the modding community and the homebrew community have both been essntially kicked off the site.

At this point I can probably guess at what many of you are probably thinking:

1. Why do you care?

and

2. Why stick around if you don’t like their policies?

In answer to the first question I don’t at the end of the day. I just felt like saying what I know a large number of Ex-GameFAQs members are thinking. An interesting caviat is the shakup at GameFAQs made having or being a part of a smaller video game themed community a viable option again. In my case, I’ve found I have more freedom with my blog than I ever did at ANY video game site I’ve ever used with the exception of FantasyAnime.

As for the second, I only use the site for Walkthroughs now. GameFAQs more or less killed the Physical Stratedgy Guide Industry after all. Why pay $20 for a vaguely descriptive physical guide when you can get a detailed in-depth guide made from someone who played the game for free? Heh, I remember hearing rumors Brady Games tried to serve GameFAQs a Ceast & Desist order but couldn’t because they couldn’t prove GameFAQs was hurting their business. It’s probably untrue but the very idea makes me smile.

Make no mistake GameFAQs is here to stay. Despite the extreme forum policies that have only gotten harsher over the years, the site is still a great resource for finding info on literally ANY video game. Just stay away from the forums and you’re good.

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This entry was posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, News, Serene Adventure, Video Games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The GameFAQs Controversy

  1. gunlord500 says:

    All this drama! Man, Internet History can be a fascinating thing. As someone who’s written more than a bit of it myself, I rather like your brief writeup of GameFAQs history. One caveat about the death of strategy guides: I think there’s still a place for them, but as very well-made collector’s items. For instance, as in the case of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, where they come bundled in with all the other extras in the Collector’s Edition or contain a lot of very nice artwork.

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