Thursday, September 8, 2005

NewsCorp + IGN = High Comedy

The raucous sound of laughter on the internet today is from gamers the world over mocking Rupert Murdoch's $650 million buy out of IGN, Inc., which is about $630 million more than he should have paid for it. With that purchase comes ownership of several sites including IGN, FilePlanet, GameSpy, Rotten Tomatoes, AskMen.Com, and others. In one fell swoop, NewsCorp bought up a hearty chunk of the online gaming world, and if this isn't a sign of sheer desperation on the part of Big Conglomerates I don't know what is.

For all the complaining that people on the Right and the Left do about the current state of the US economy, no one seems willing to acknowledge that we lived through the Second Gold Rush, better known as The Internet Boom. The early to mid 1990's was truly when the internet exploded the world over. Everyone everywhere with access to a phone line had access to vast amounts of people and information, moreso than ever before. Overnight, companies popped up online and offered good and services that sometimes could barely keep up with demand, if at all. It mattered not a whit, as several of those sites were purchased for obscene amounts of money, and Wall Street traders reveled as their stocks soared higher and higher.

The funny thing is, no one looked behind the curtain until it was too late. Once that bubble burst, stocks across the board that were over-inflated rolled over and died, and millionaires became paupers overnight. At this point, you economists out there might be asking, "What does this quickie history lesson have to do with why you think NewsCorp. buying IGN is funny?"

Simple - they grossly overpaid for a terrifically underperforming octopus with so many tentacles that NewsCorp. must have figured their investment would pay off in some form. A big company like NewsCorp. doesn't do something like this unless they see an opportunity to strike gold.

Where they'll find the gold at IGN is unbeknownst to me. I know no one who goes out of their way to read IGN for anything insightful, they have hands-down one of the top three worst layouts on the web (and that includes porn sites), the infamous McGriddles episode ranks as one of the worst ad-crazy sprees ever witnessed, their writing is poor, and they care more about the "I'm first, you're not!" mentality than they do about gaming in general. I laugh when I read their grossly over-inflated scores, or when they say a game will change the face of gaming forever when all it actually is is an annual update to a stale franchise.

I have no idea what NewsCorp. has in store for IGN, but a healthy round of mass firings followed by a healthy redesign would be a strong first two steps. Bill Harris at Dubious Quality made a sound point on this today when he said that this also marks the entry of truly giant corporations into the gaming market. I have to agree on that, and his assessment that Walt Disney could actually buy out EA might be spot-on. Were that to happen, I would also laugh long and hard because EA is so bloated and utterly useless now as a game developer, that I will go out of my way to avoid in-house titles from them.

I'm sure the diamond in the rough might slip out sometime, but that's what reliable gamers on the internet are for. The ten-year-olds who spam the IGN boards thinking they're cool because they can write l337 remind me of the vaptards who frequent the Aint-It-Cool-News talk backs, which is one among many reasons why I go out of my way to find truth on the web.

Now that's a diamond in the rough. But if you can plough through enough junk out there, you'll be surprised at what you may find. I suspect it will take about six months before NewsCorp. realizes they've bought a hefty chunk of fool's gold thinking it was the real thing.


  1. GameSpy, FilePlanet, and (most noteably) RottenTomatoes sound like solid investment potential. I'm guessing it's a case where the ancilliaries are what they're after.

  2. And I agree with that. What I in no way shape or form agree with is the price tag. If IGN as a company (including all ancilliaries) isn't making much money despite assaulting viewers with ads (and hit using Firefox and watch it spaz out), then the buyer would be in a better position to buy it out. I think News Corp could have easily bought the whole thing for less than half of what they paid for it, and probably get more out of their investment in the long run.

    Since IGN owns so many different sites, NewsCorp. has a stronger foothold on the net now more than ever. Having said that, look no further than the fickle habits of the average net user. If one site they frequent turns to crap, they stop going and move on to the next. But we'll see in the next 6-9 months whether NewsCorp can do anything with it. But that's my view. :)