Tons of news breaking late in the day regarding EGM and 1Up - namely that:
1. EGM has been shut down. (source: 1Up.com)
2. The 1Up Yours and 1Up Show podcasts have been shuttered. (source: twitter)
3. 30 people or so lost their jobs from BOTH the 1Up staff and the EGM staff, here's what is believed to be a comprehensive list (source: joystiq.com):
Andrew "Skip" Pfister
James "Milkman" Mielke
4. Rumors are swirling around about what this means for CheapAssGamer.com's "Wombat" - if he'll still be a part of the UGO Games Blog (early reports aren't rosy, stating that he's been fired from the very blog still bearing his name!).
5. GameVideos.com essentially has no more staff - will this site close completely, or be staffed by UGO employees? (source: twitter)
Leaks and Statements:
From GamaSutra.com, the following has been released either officially, or through (former employee) leaks:
Statement from Jason Young (Media CEO, Ziff Davis):
"We believe this is a smart transaction for Ziff Davis Media that places these market leading assets and teams in a great environment poised for further success. The transaction allows us to pay down debt and shift our full focus to our core PCMag Digital Network business. We thank our 1UP team members for their contributions and wish them the best of success into the future", said Ziff Davis Media CEO Jason Young.
The following email was sent to all employees late today:
We are announcing today the sale of our 1UP digital business to UGO Entertainment, a dvision of Hearst Corporation.
Over the course of the last 4 years we have built the 1UP sites into a top tier gaming digital destination. While our growth has been sharp, it has become apparent that more scale is necessary to effectively compete in this market segment.
We made the decision that the best path to putting our award winning 1UP brand and content in a more competitive position was to combine it with the operations of another publisher. We received much interest from other parties.
After a comprehensive process, this morning we completed a deal with Hearst Interactive, the owner and operator of UGO Entertainment. 1UP.com, MyCheats.com, Gamevideos.com, and Gametab.com will now all be part of the UGO Entertainment business. Many of our employees will travel with this business and become part of the UGO team.
With this transaction happening, we have also made the decision to discontinue publication of EGM. The January 2009 issue will be the final issue of the publication. With demand for print continuing to decline amongst both advertisers and readers and the content being produced by 1UP no longer available for use in the publication, it simply did not make sense for us to move forward with this business any longer.
We will continue to operate the Filefront business as a part of the PCMag Digital Network. In the coming months we will determine the best ways to leverage the scale and functionality of this digital property to expand our business position.
The Ziff Davis position in the gaming market has been significant and important to our company and the market itself. While many of our assets in the PCMag Digital Network (including Filefront now) will continue to cover this market, it's important that we celebrate all that we have achieved over the last 25 years.
Our leadership in print for decades with titles like Computer Gaming World and EGM which in turn translated into the build out of one of the leading digital gaming media assets in 1UP are prime examples of the skill, passion, and expertise of our teams.and what they achieved.
It's incredible to compare the 1UP.com of today versus that of 12 months ago. I want to thank everybody in our Game Group for their important contributions over the years.
For Ziff Davis Media, our attention and focus now shifts squarely to the PC Mag Digital Network. The proceeds from this transaction will be used to pay down debt. One of the primary objectives of our business plan is ensuring that we have plenty of room to service our debt obligations into the future, and manage for growth in what will be a challenging year in the advertising market.
While the market will be tough, we are confident our position is well aligned to where the demand is most active. We move forward as a 100% digital business with tenured brand position, and powerful capabilities to drive results for our customers. I look forward to sharing more updates in the coming weeks.
Comment from former Games for Windows (and CGW Magazine) Editor Jeff Green:
“A sad day for all the folks at 1up.com, the vast majority of whom lost their jobs today. I’ll try to post a longer blog about this--I’ve been in meetings the whole time the proverbial merde hit the fan--but this is just a quick note to say that my condolences go out to all those now looking for work. The list of people they decided to lay off is just crazy. Don’t ask me to make any sense of it, because I don’t see any.
R.I.P. 1up.com. They may keep your URL, there, but we all know better. “
From a Washington Post article on the topic:
A rep for UGO responded to the question about layoffs with a different perspective: “The reality is that UGO Entertainemnt is saving over 25 jobs,” adding that the company is “retaining a core group of editorial all-star performers"
1Up Staff members during a protest / show of support, when Jeff Gerstmann was fired allegedly for giving a poor review score to Kayne and Lynch... Many pictured here have been impacted directly by today's layoffs.
Comment from Sam Kennedy (he's been on a few forums commenting, and doing a bit of damage control / perspective (source: NeoGAF):
Hey guys, I haven't really read through this thread -- 50+ pages! -- and I probably won't ever be able to. But I did want to hop in here since, well, this is a pretty fucking big deal, I just lost almost half my staff, and God knows what sort of hate is flying around right now.
There's no way to rationalize this for most people, and I don't want to sugarcoat anything. My blog (for anyone that actually read all of it) was sincere -- this is a great thing for 1UP. Lord knows we need some better infrastructure and backing. As for many of the podcasts and other shows that we worked so hard on -- and the people that produced them -- obviously, not so much. And I'm not saying that's OK, and I'm not saying you should even be remotely fine with that -- it kills me (and, to be perfectly honest, even the UGO people), that not everything could be preserved.
And I'm not here to defend this. It freaking sucks. But from my vantage point, UGO did what they could to, what I consider, "save" 1UP. Obviously, all of us would have wanted to see things go differently -- most of all me, considering I just lost many of my closest friends as coworkers and employees today.
A couple of things to realize, though:
Fact: 1UP was a business that was losing money.
Fact: This economy sucks and the ad market is diminished.
Fact: Ziff Davis has been trying to offload 1UP for years.
With those sorts of factors playing against us, something had to give. Everyone loved the stuff we did, but our business wasn't in the best of shape (see: Ziff-Davis files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last summer).
My hope in all of this, over the last year or so, was that some company would come along and be able to buy 1UP -- the entire operation -- and run with it. And I think UGO had actually originally approached 1UP with those same hopes.
But the reality of the market was that no company, including UGO, was willing to sustain 1UP as it was. And that includes Ziff Davis. I hate to to break it to you, but the sad fact was that there was little hope for 1UP to continue as it had been. Not in this economy. If any company out there would have been willing to support us as we were, they certainly didn't step up.
The only company that really did was UGO, and they did their very best to continue 1UP.
So like I said, while UGO may appear like the bad guy here, in a lot of ways, they just did what few, if any, other companies would. And, from everything they've indicated to us, they are completely supportive of 1UP and its people. Believe me, they were in the office today and were just as distraught about the losses of any of these shows and the people.
Of course, that doesn't make things any better for any of us. Fact is, we -- as in, the games industry, not just 1UP -- are losing some great things today. I'm with you in mourning. But I have a commitment from the UGO guys that they -- now, actually, we -- are going to do whatever we can to help these guys out and look for ways to continue these shows with them and/or to look into possibilities for new shows in the future. I'm not saying everything will be back to "normal" as you knew it anytime soon, but I am saying there should be some good things to look forward to in the future.
But anyway, now's not the time to think ahead -- certainly not for me, at least. Right now I'm just concerned about my friends. I just came back from a night of drinks at our regular spot, where lots of the games industry showed up to show their support for the guys. Honestly, it was so great to see everyone come out for the team. While a part of me is certainly happy about what UGO/Hearst has just done for 1UP -- because, like I said, it could have been a lot worse -- today was the worst day of my life.