A few days ago Eurogamer closed their forums, bringing to an end over 20 years of community discussion. The site explained the move like sites and companies always do, and it made sense the way it always does, but that doesn’t mean the process itself isn’t something that sucks.
The forums were closed on September 10, with Eurogamer’s decision explained as:
I am sorry to say that we are going to turn off access to the forum on 10th September 2021.The forum has been a long-standing part of Eurogamer, and at its peak welcomed thousands of active contributors each day.
Sadly, times change and the way people communicate also has changed. Traditional forums are no longer a popular place for people to come together to talk, and have been replaced in popularity with more modern community platforms like Discord, Twitter, and Twitch.
Due to this, our forum community has declined over the years to the point where there are only a handful of people left actively using the forum. This makes it difficult for us to spend resources keeping the forum running. You will have noticed how little attention the forum has had in terms of updates and changes over the past few years, which is a direct result of them not being used so much.
Readers are then urged to move to the site’s Discord, because of course they would be. Now, I don’t want to pick on Eurogamer here, as like I said up top, in every individual case companies and sites have their reasons for doing this, and the most frequently cited are the fact that forums need to be maintained (true!) and that people’s conversational habits have changed, with forum use dwindling (also true!).
But I simply do not care, because a) I don’t work for these companies, and b) I’m more interested in looking at the long-term damage this is doing to the internet. Forums and Discord are apples and oranges. Users aren’t being moved from one similar thing to another, they’re being shifted to platforms with fundamentally different ways of approaching discussions.
Discord is great for talking in the moment. It’s a place for real-time conversations (or at lease those a few hours old if they’re not as busy), a fancy way to manage multiple chat rooms and voice comms, and if that’s what you want — and millions of people around the world do, for loads of needs and wants — then great!
Forums aren’t the same though. They’re nothing like it. Forums are more deliberate, more considered, and while they’re far from perfect — I’m sure you can post a billion examples of people being neither deliberate or considered on forums — the point is that they’re more permanent.
Forums create a record, an archive we can search through, so that whenever we want to revisit issues, or find help with a problem, or see what was happening during a certain time, we can do that. There’s a paper trail, and while sometimes that leads to embarrassing takes on tv shows and game reveals, other times it’s providing an enormous help with technical issues or parts of a game you’re stuck on.
Discord simply can’t provide that. It’s a river running in real-time, and while it does have search functions, the way the whole site is structured means you’re simply never going to get the same levels of detailed discussion or archived information as we can get from forums. If places want to open a Discord and run that as something else, then cool, but using it as a replacement for forums is a disaster.
While every company closing forums and moving people to Discord in 2021 might have their reasons, if this trend keeps up we’re going to look around in 2026, not be able to find a whole ton of cool and/or interesting stuff and discover to our horror that, somehow, the internet had got even worse.