One of the longest serving lights in local gaming journalism, Gameplanet, has announced that it is ceasing operations after two decades.
In a post this week, co-founder Simon Garner said the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on ad revenues was the final nail in the coffin. "The current economic situation is not helping anyone. But Gameplanet has been on life-support for a while now, as some readers may have observed," Garner wrote.
"We've held out and sustained the financial losses for as long as we could, but there is, sadly, no realistic prospect of the business recovering, and so the decision has now been made to turn off the machine and put it to rest."
The New Zealand-based website, which was supported through investments from Simon Barton, the owner-operator of the Mighty Ape online store, will be migrating its forums to Tapatalk Groups so the community can keep functioning in a "non-commercial capacity". The site was headed up by Tom Mahoney, Gary Wright, Martin Caie, Dan Cheer, James Cullinane, Matt Maguire over the site's 20 year history, with Dan Grayson to serve as the site's final editor-in-chief.
The site's forums were especially crucial to New Zealand's local esports community, which congregated there, organised teams, tournaments, and supported each other while New Zealanders were playing abroad. The community banded together to post an especially touching tribute to Atta Elayyan, a 33-year-old Counter-Strike: Source player and prominent developer who was killed in the Christchurch terrorist attacks.
The site will be shut down in the next few days, according to Garner. He added that all users should consider subscribing to any news media that gives them the option:
Around the world, all corners of the media business have been squeezed over the last 5-10 years as online advertising has, for various reasons, largely ceased to be a viable way to fund content - but for niche players like us this has been especially acute.
While the loss of our small games media publication won't really matter in the scheme of things, the implications of a weakened journalism sector, with its critical role as the "fourth estate", are quite dire for the health of democratic societies. So I urge you all, if you can afford to do so, to pick a news media organisation you respect and pay for a subscription if they give you the option!