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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Used Games: Bad For Business, Great for the Industry?

In the book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, author / Wired Magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson quotes Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman, referring to the disruptive impact of the Internet on record sales, as saying ”The music industry is growing. The record industry is not growing.” The point? The Internet, with its incredible facility for piracy and viral distribution, has created a lousy environment in which to sell records according to the traditional models that helped turn the major labels into juggernauts. But it’s also helped obliterate the barriers to entry for independent artists and labels, and it forced participants at all levels to innovate (and at every angle, from songwriting to distribution to concert ticket sales and merchandising) or perish.

Fans, as a result, have more music choices to enjoy now than ever before. Music is cheaper (if not free — whether through piracy or legitimate means like Pandora) to acquire. The artist Amanda Palmer commented of her own experiences touring recently that, “Ticket prices are getting slashed and a lot of artists are playing to half-empty rooms due to the economy and the overgutted market since EVERY band and their moms are hitting the road to make up for the shortfall in record sales.” So: not a great time if you’re a musician relying on retail record sales or stadium gig ticket sales to make a living. A GREAT time, though, if you’re a music fan who wants a constant flood of new, good music and to see your favorite bands playing small gigs for not much money. (Palmer, incidentally, has done a phenomenal job on the innovation front, releasing her last record — an e.p. of all ukulele covers of Radiohead songs — via the self-publishing site Bandcamp. She juiced physical sales by offering packages accompanied by limited edition, often handmade, items… t-shirts, hand-decorated ukuleles, even a customized iPhone).

In the last week, with both Target and Best Buy announcing their entries into the used games market, I’ve begun to wonder if the unstoppable secondary market isn’t going to trigger something similar for gaming. It will allow more people to play by offering lower price points, inspire innovation by encouraging game creators / publishers to monetize differently – and, ultimately, will help to upend the top-heavy retail model around which most of the big guys have built their businesses.

Things have been heading this direction for a long time. The Internet had a radically different impact on the games industry than on the music industry because game developers, unlike musicians, can gracefully and seamlessly interweave games with functionality and service models that incorporate online connectivity (that’s the whole reason GameSpy Technology even exists). No one ever thought to fight the internet in the gaming space. They embraced it. And while the Internet certainly facilitates a deleterious volume of game piracy, it also presents a means of salvation that the industry has gradually awakened to. Steal the game, maybe — but get access to online-dependent features to enjoy the vast majority of the game? No one will flip that bit until you pay.

Used games, though, make publishers gnash their teeth just like Napster once did to the music industry, perhaps finally kicking into high gear the inferno of disruption that other phenomenon (first the Internet, then the iPhone, then the rapid deployment of cheap, off the shelf game creation tools, then social platforms) have been stoking for several years. Everyone complained, lots of people sued, few people embraced the sea change that was happening all around them. The same thing is happening now with used games. If you look at the arguments that the major publishers levy against used games, they almost mirror the comments made by major record label executives and fearful musicians at the dawn of the Internet music revolution. And, similar to that era, if the entry of two retail giants into the used games arena doesn’t clue someone into the fact that the world has fundamentally, irrevocably changed, we’re in for a frustrating era of real pain amongst the major publishers.

We’re also potentially in for a great time to be an independent,”garage band” game creator or a voracious consumer of gaming content. That dam is already breaking, with start up developers creating a glut of new content on every platform (some of it truly amazing, most of it dirt cheap). Local gatherings like Toronto’s Hand-Eye Society or the recent Babycastles event in Brooklyn are even giving developers and fans alike chances to congregate in small, welcoming, highly participatory settings. It’s only a matter of time before a developer or studio unaffiliated with a major publishers achieves success akin to Arcade Fire’s recent #1 album debut on the Billboard charts. It could also very well be that more and more major publishers will embrace or obviate the used games market by further embracing digital distribution, dropping up-front price points in favor of charging for service-based access to some content or finding ways to innovate as much with business models as they have with graphics, player engagement and storytelling.

So, while I agree that used games may indeed be a terrible thing for the games business (as it currently exists) – it’s potentially a great thing for the games industry.

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Categories: Commerce, Other

GameSpy Tech: Data Center Move Complete

GameSpy Technology (and IGN as a whole) has completed its move to a brand spanking new data center / hosting facility. All services for games powered by GameSpy Technology should now be restored. That sound you hear is the popping of champagne corks by some jubilant but admittedly tired engineers.

We appreciate your patience during the move, and hope you enjoy the improved performance of our services in our new facility. Should you encounter any lingering issues with games that you suspect may be the result of the move, please contact your GameSpy Technology account manager, or reach out through our developer support channels.

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Categories: Maintenance

GameSpy Tech Data Center Move Tonight

REMINDER: Our plans are tested and locked, our test apps are loaded, and the caffeine is flowing as GameSpy enters the final countdown to kick our old datacenter to the curb tonight (Wednesday, August 25, 2010) starting at 10pm (22:00) Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

EVERY GameSpy service and server will be unavailable starting at 10pm PDT. The anticipated duration of this outage is 6 hours. If you have implemented the GameSpy Availability Check in your title(s), this call will begin returning “Temporarily Unavailable” starting at 10pm.

Further updates will be posted at the start and end of maintenance and as conditions merit via the GameSpy Tumblr page at and via the GameSpy Status Twitter page at Contact your GameSpy Account Manager for further details.

We appreciate your patience as we move to our new facility and upgrade our services to benefit your games!

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Categories: Maintenance

Dungeon Defenders Goes “Open”

A quick shout-out to our friends at Trendy Entertainment today to congratulate them on the impending Fall 2010 release of their action-adventure game, Dungeon Defenders. The company announced the game’s imminent arrival today, and gamers will be able to get their hands on the title on the PC, PSN and more. You can read the full text of the release over at Gamasutra.

Dungeon Defenders will make use of GameSpy Technology’s server and network tools, voice chat and stat tracking services as part of our GameSpy Open initiative, which strives to make GameSpy’s services accessible to every tier of developer. Additionally, IGN’s Direct2Drive service will distribute the PC version of the game online as part of its ongoing and increasingly broad support for independent studios.

We wish Trendy the best of luck as the launch date of their title draws near — and we look forward to providing more independent and start-up studios with services to make amazing online games in the near future!

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Categories: Implementation

GameSpy Tech Data Center Move Update

After many months of hard work the GameSpy team is happy to announce our move to the new data center is finally upon us, which will eventually provide a host of benefits we’ve been alluding to in newsletters. We expect to begin the switch-over process during our normal maintenance window on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 22:00 (10:00PM) Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

The data center move will result in the outage of all GameSpy Tech services for a period of time. We expect this outage will last approximately six (6) hours during which time all games on the GameSpy Service that have properly implemented the availability check will receive a ‘Service Temporarily Unavailable’ response.

We will provide updates and notifications on our progress as conditions merit via our usual system status communication channels:; and via email (announcing the commencement of the move and its completion).

NOTE: Dedicated game servers utilizing GameSpy matchmaking will require a reboot in order to propagate the new DNS once the data center migration is complete. Should your dedicated game servers be managed by your game community, please be sure to notify them prior to Wednesday, August 25, 2010 22:00 (10:00PM) PDT. The reboot should occur after you have been notified we have completed the move.

Important Details:

Services Impacted: ALL GameSpy Tech Services (including any custom services developed in support of Professional Services Engagements)

Date of Switch Over: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 22:00 PDT – Thursday, August 26, 2010 04:00 PDT Check your local time

Expected Duration: Approximately 6 hours

Thank you in advance for your patience and assistance in this move!

Categories: Maintenance