Yesterday one of my favorite websites on the Internet announced they were shutting down. To me, losing GameSpy is tantamount to hearing that the Tombs or a favorite theme park would be closing. These are places—virtual and physical—where I spent a significant amount of time feeling a part of something. Restructuring is painful and though I think it is a business necessity that should be embraced more often, I cannot help but feel bitterness when it happens to people or companies that I know. But there’s a lesson to be learned here and that’s one of effective communication, even to the end.
For most businesses the end comes unceremoniously—and as T. S. Eliot once said about the world in some distant future— with a whimper. You’d be on your way to a favorite hangout place when you spot the boarded up windows and a hastily written sign on the door, before finally noticing the cold stillness in the air. A trip to a dead website is not dissimilar. Your arrival is met with a barren skeleton of a page, a list of links pointing you everywhere but where you wanted to be—the telltale sign of a domain snuffed of life.
GameSpy.com will eventually share that fate, but for now its staff continue to do what they’ve done so well for the last few years: creating a robust community through effective communication. Their farewell letter reads like one that would be sent out by freedom fighters who recognize their defeat, but who want their supporters to know the cause was just.
…we’re not being shut down because PC gaming isn’t a big, important, and growing thing — because it is… We’ll still be out there talking and writing about the great things happening in the world of PC gaming, both at IGN and other places around the internet, because it’s what we love to do. It’s why we wanted to work at GameSpy in the first place. We hope you’ll keep reading and watching and talking about PC games with us.
Effective communication is about preserving a thought. Not too long ago, GameSpy refocused its mission to cover the PC gaming scene. At the time, PC gaming was mocked and repeatedly labeled as a dying platform. Fast-forward to today and we see a whole new side of PC gaming: from indie developers finding clout on Kickstarter to passionate modders who can completely transform an average game experience into something truly special. GameSpy did not bring PC gaming to life; they simply showed us that there was never any doubt of it going away to begin with.
GameSpy may no longer exist, but they convinced at least one person that PC gaming is here to stay. And judging by the community response to their letter, I think its safe to say I won’t be the only one.