Monday, May 21, 2012

Can 1UP Rise Again?

I read a great blog post this past week by Jeremy Parish, the editor in chief of the gaming site 1UP. The post was essentially a state of the site address where he talked about recent staff turnover, the current status of the site, and what he envisioned as the plan moving forward over the next several months. It’s a great post, and you can read the whole thing here.

For those that follow gaming news, it’s been no secret that 1Up has seen better days. Five years ago, 1UP, along with EGM magazine and Games for Windows magazine was, in my opinion, the standard bearer for video game journalism. They had an amazing group of people who offered unique perspectives on the industry, and they let the personalities of their staff shine through in both the magazines as well as the podcasts they regularly put out (GFW Radio, EGM Live and The 1Up Show).

A lot of things changed in the industry over the past few years, however, and those changes really hurt 1UP. Games for Windows and EGM ended their print runs in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and things sort of continued downhill from there, culminating in massive layoffs when UGO acquired 1Up from Ziff-Davis in 2009. Things have never really been the same since. many of the old 1UP staffers have gone on to do great things across the industry, both on the press side and the developer side.

Through it all, 1UP has continued to limp along, with a handful of people holding up the website and trying to find an identity. The site changed hands again in 2011, when IGN took over 1UP. And while 1UP can’t hope to keep pace with IGN in terms of news coverage, the fact that it is now affiliated with IGN means that 1UP has a real chance to make itself unique again. As Parish said in his blog post:

“The current 1UP staff is better at sitting back and writing our own takes on games -- how our experiences as gamers affect us, or where we see games going as an art form, or how the medium is evolving as a business. Which, frankly, is why people liked 1UP back in its heyday.”

He’s 100% right about that. 1UP was not only my main destination for everything related to gaming, but listening to their podcasts regularly was one of the reasons I started the Secret Identity podcast with Matt herring back in 2006.

When I had the amazing opportunity to lead the games coverage for Comic Book Resources for two years, 1UP’s uniqueness was an inspiration for how I approached CBR’s coverage. Instead of just following press releases, or trying to keep pace with gaming-centric news sites, our coverage at CBR focused on the creators behind the games. Most of what we did centered around interviewing the people who were writing, developing and producing the video games that we covered. We focused on trying to provide something different from everything else.

Since getting out of the games press a couple of years ago, I’ve tried to get into following several sites and publications, but none of them have captured what was unique about 1UP. Which is why I’m really hopeful about where Jeremy Parish is taking 1UP in the near future. I’m really rooting for a return to the spirit of what made the site great in the first place. Here’s hoping that Jeremy and the rest of the 1UP crew are given the chance to chart their own course and provide an interesting perspective on the industry.

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