I just came across a post on Voodoo Extreme about the fact that IGN are offering fansite hosting. The commentary along with the post really made me think about the state of fansites in recent years.
They really *have* pretty much completely died off. The closest you’ll get to a fan site these days is something like the SGS or Prophecy forums. I see the Prophecy homepage is even a store-front now, with the forum coming across as an afterthought. Perhaps a little closer to the original fansite idea, you get places like BeyondUnreal and GameSpy’s various Planet* sites. However, these sites have taken themselves from traditional fansites, to giant networks, many of which focusing on some business model or another, rather than the game that got them going in the first place.
On the other hand, a site like UnrealZA is perhaps one of the few remaining dedicated fan sites around. Although, most members on the forums hardly play the game any more :), the idea behind the site and it’s operation has remained pretty much the same since Buccaneer founded it way back in 1998 (granted, a lot of sections and things have been ‘streamlined’ or removed completely due to lack of interest from maintainers and readers alike).
Sadly though, I have also noticed fewer and fewer visitors, and new community members, on the site. Perhaps this is why the bigger sites have reformed themselves from mere fansites like UZA, to the giant networks they are today. I’d really like to try some new stuff with UZA, which I believe could be rather successful (thinking the ‘network’ approach of some sites), however on the other hand, I’m worried about losing UZA’s ‘identity’ and ‘legacy’ which has been one of the cooler things about being involved with UZA. It really is a pretty unique place on the local gaming scene, I think.
But we’ll see what develops over the coming months.