1UP No More

1UP Yours

It’s not unusual to see companies disappearing in this current financial climate and my thoughts are with anyone whose Christmas bonus included a P45, so it’s quite strange that the casualty that has disappointed me the most is actually one that may now be more financially secure. The 1UP Network will continue after its purchase from the ailing Ziff-Davis, but Hearst hasn’t bought its soul.

Cheesy as that may sound, the closure of EGM is the end of an era. While it may not resonate quite as much outside the US, I used to import it back in the day and would always look forward to the latest issue, late and with an inflated price – just like UK games at the time, then. I remember features like a guide to imports that became my bible in the late 90s, and EGM’s cover feature was the first thing I ever read about the original Xbox, which blew me away with its tales of custom soundtracks and built-in hard drives. I remember the short-format reviews, which I still infinitely prefer to some bloated four-pager from any of the big websites at the moment. It was unfailingly exciting to get the Christmas issues, which were a good centimetre thick.

Of course, it was equally mind-blowing just how many ads were in it relative to the content, but we mustn’t speak ill of the dead.

What I’ll miss more than anything, though, is the podcasts and video shows. 1UP Yours has been a permanent fixture on my iPod since the epic of E3 2006, seeing me through countless walks home from work, and The 1UP Show and Retronauts have been there for almost as long. 1UP Yours may have passed its peak when Luke left, but it’s given me many hours of pleasure over the years and a whole list of memorable moments – mainly involving Shane’s bizarre pronouncements and interests that seem to shift depending on whether or not a game is on a certain console.

I know I’m not the only one who pretty much visited 1UP simply for the podcasts, so to completely can them just strikes me as a baffling decision. I know that they rarely had advertising and so probably didn’t make money, but when a random fan podcast can get long-term sponsorship from a multinational corporation, surely the new owners, with a portfolio of titles like this, can pull some strings for the purpose of getting itself a foot inside the new media door?

Even if 1UP podcasts continue, a significant chunk of the editorial staff, which was admittedly bloated but didn’t need a fucking cull, will now no longer be on it, and only one of the regular 1UP Yours team, Garnett Lee, is still with the company. With so few jobs around anyway and something like another 40 experienced people now in the market, the job prospects in the gaming media just went through the floor, and unless they do it for fun I doubt somewhere like Giant Bomb, founded by GameSpot exiles, could afford to pick up some of the best of them. It’s a cut-throat business…

All the best to those who lost their jobs, and I hope you can all land on your feet and get back to confirming our weekends before too long.

3 thoughts on “1UP No More

  1. I suppose this is the way of things, games reviewers either get laid off, form their own site / join a startup or become ‘community managers’ for various developers; I always find the latter so disappointing – hopefully they use it as a spring-board into a game design / product manager role ala Greg Kasavin.

    1UP’s acquisition comes as no surprise to most of us, they’ve had plenty of high-profile departures prior to the lay-offs; as such my interest in the ‘1UP Show’ has continued to wane as favourites such as Luke Smith, Che Chou, Kathleen Sanders and a host of others left only to be replaced with interns.

    I’ll definitely miss the meeting of minds that was the ‘1UP Yours’ podcast; John Davison, Garnett and Shane and formerly Luke Smith.

    My thirst for editorial content will now have to be satiated by your blog *grin*, Kotaku, Giantbomb and Neo-GAF.

    In the meantime, if you’ve not seen it (EGM RIP):

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=WIBPX_Scz98

  2. Giant Bomb has a really interesting approach to forming its own venture after leaving a bigger site. They only have a handful of staff, and they’ve said that their approach is that a handful of exceptional people rather than a load of decent ones, which was partly 1UP’s problem.

    Not to be callous, but when you can lose 40 people and still have the manpower to run the site, your company is probably a bit bloated. A lot of my favourites from the site – Luke Smith, Jeff Green, Shawn Elliott – have left over the last couple of years to go into development. Elliott in particular is one of the most insightful people I’ve read, and one of the few who can really justify calling himself a ‘journalist’, and he’s now working with Ken Levine. Jeff Green is now over at EA and wrote an excellent blog entry about the 1UP situation.

    I know the former 1UP and Giant Bomb teams are close – the Giant Bomb crew appeared on what will apparently now be the last 1UP Yours – so hopefully 1UP’s best will pop up there.

  3. 1UP.com certainly did seem to carry a lot of staff but maybe it only seemed that way because 1UP Show featured members across the Ziff Davis group?

    Thanks for the link to Jeff’s blog, much more palletable than Kennedy’s blog.

    No doubt the talented staff will find their feet; however I think GiantBomb needs to develop the commercial side of things before they can entertain hiring; unless would-be applicants are willing to work for next to nothing.

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