GameFAQs

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GameFAQs
The word "GameFAQs" in white lettering on a blue background
GameFAQs logo.
Web address GameFAQs.com
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Gaming
Registration Optional, but is required for contributing content and posting on the message boards
Available in English
Written in PHP
Owner CBS Interactive
Created by Jeff "CJayC" Veasey
Launched November 5, 1995; 19 years ago (1995-11-05)
Alexa rank
positive decrease 710 (September 2014)[1]
Current status Active

GameFAQs is a website that hosts FAQs and walkthroughs for video games. It was created in November 1995 by Jeff Veasey and was bought by CNET Networks in May 2003. It is currently owned by CBS Interactive. The site has a database of video game information, cheat codes, reviews, game saves, box art images and screenshots, almost all of which is submitted by volunteer contributors. The systems covered include the 8-bit Atari platform through modern consoles, as well as computer games. Submissions made to the site are reviewed by the site's current editor, Allen "SBAllen" Tyner.

GameFAQs hosts an active message board community, which has a separate discussion board for each game in the site's database, along with a variety of other boards. From 2004 till 2012, most of the game-specific boards were shared between GameFAQs and GameSpot, another CBS Interactive website. However, on March 23, 2012, it was announced the sites will once again start to separate content. On May 7, 2012 the shared GameFAQs run message boards went read-only on GameSpot.[2] The site also runs a daily opinion poll and tournament contests, as well as an annual Character Battle.

GameFAQs has been positively reviewed by The Guardian[3][4][5] and Entertainment Weekly.[6] In 2009, GameFAQs.com was one of the 300 highest-trafficked English-language websites according to Alexa.[7]

History[edit]

GameFAQs was started as the Video Game FAQ Archive on November 5, 1995,[8] by gamer and programmer Jeff Veasey, who says he wanted to collect the numerous online guides and FAQs into one centralized location.[9] Hosted on America Online, it originally served as a mirror of Andy Eddy's FTP FAQ archive.[10][11][12] The initial version of the site had approximately 10 pages and 100 FAQs.[13] In 1996, the site moved to its current domain at gamefaqs.com and changed its name to GameFAQs.[8][14] At this time, GameFAQs listed fewer than 1000 FAQs and guides and was updated on an irregular basis.[15]

During the following months, the site grew in content and in design; two different styles were introduced in early 1997 to accommodate the support of tables in web browsers (or the lack thereof).[16][17] Two key features of the site—the game search engine and the contributor recognition pages—were planned at this time.

IGN affiliation[edit]

In 1997, GameFAQs became an independent affiliate of the Imagine Games Network (IGN), leading to the placement of affiliate links on the home page.[18] User contests were introduced during this period; the first monthly contest, which was held in 1998, received 253 entries.[19] GameFAQs went through several design changes, including a pink color scheme,[18] before arriving at the blue-colored layout that was used until 2004.

In November 1999, several changes occurred in rapid succession.[20] On November 5, a search box was added to every page, at which time the site was celebrating its fourth anniversary. On November 7, the message boards opened in a beta testing mode.[21] The "Poll of the Day" was introduced at the end of the month.[22][23] These changes marked Veasey's increased concentration on the site, and it was around this time that GameFAQs became his full-time job.[24][25][26] Until this time, he had been working as a programmer.[25] On August 9, 2000, the site received one million hits in a single day for the first time.[27] By 2001, the "GameFAQs Chat" (an IRC chat server) had been launched;[28] however, it was removed in May 2001 due to administrative issues.[13][29]

2001–2003[edit]

On January 9, 2001, GameFAQs ended its association with IGN.[30] To continue generating revenue, an advertising banner sold to non-profit organizations was placed on the top of each page. This lasted until CNET Networks became an official affiliate of GameFAQs; CNET ads ran on the top of the page and links to news articles from GameSpot were shown on the home page.[31] In September 2002, the ad was moved from the horizontal header to the vertical sidebar. This led to changes to the links on the side, as well as the creation of navigational links at the top of the screen.[32] Contributions to GameFAQs continued to increase, and Veasey, as sole operator and administrator of the site, dedicated significant portions of his time to ensure that GameFAQs remained updated and successful.

On April 1, 2002, Veasey changed GameFAQs to "GameFAX" as an April Fools' joke.[33] The site's colors were changed to green and black to imitate those of the Xbox, with the intention of making users believe that GameFAQs was now dedicated solely to the Xbox, "the only system that matters." After clicking on any link on the main page, users were directed to the real GameFAQs home page. Nevertheless, Veasey reported receiving hate mail from users.[34]

On March 2, 2002, Veasey participated in a radio interview with WXBH AM-1190 on their program called "The Gaming Files" During this interview Veasey was drilled with questions from current and former users of GameFAQs as well as discussed his time on GameFAQs and how the site came to be.[35]

CNET acquisition[edit]

On May 6, 2003, CNET Networks (the site's long-standing affiliate and sponsor) acquired GameFAQs. The amount paid for GameFAQs and two other unrelated websites was US$2.2 million.[36] On June 3, 2003, Veasey announced the merger to the users of the site.[26] He clarified that the user-submitted content (i.e. FAQs, reviews) remained under the ownership of the authors and was not (nor could be) sold to CNET; however, CNET acquired GameFAQs' rights to host them on the site. He assured users that GameFAQs would undergo no major administrative change and said, "The GameFAQs you see today is the one you'll see tomorrow."[26] This was true to a certain extent, as the only visible change over the next few months was the addition of a CNET footer to the bottom of every page. Additional changes included moving the site to servers in California.

From 2004 to 2006, GameFAQs witnessed further changes. On April 28, GameFAQs implemented a large visual redesign,[37] and the boards merged with the GameSpot boards to allow both communities to share the same game-specific boards (to the dismay of many GameFAQs users). To facilitate this, GameFAQs converted its board code from ASP to PHP, and GameSpot dropped its Lithium code. On April 11, 2006, a new design was implemented and the GameSpot logo was added to the GameFAQs logo on the header of every page. This change was initially greeted with general disapproval by users on the message boards.[38] To satisfy those who prefer the earlier layout, the old board pages have been preserved for certain users.[39] Shortly after the redesign, the site began using the Smarty template engine.[40] In 6 May 2008 GameFaqs launched a "my games"-feature.[41]

Veasey's departure[edit]

On July 19, 2007, Veasey announced that he would eventually be leaving the site. According to his announcement, Allen Tyner, who has been employed with the site since 2004, would take over as editor and administrator of GameFAQs.[42][43][44]

Content[edit]

All of the guides and walkthroughs on GameFAQs are contributed by volunteers.[45] Most of the FAQs are not actually lists of frequently asked questions; instead, they cover aspects of gameplay in the same way as strategy guides, with walkthroughs, item lists, maps, and puzzle solutions. Nearly all of the FAQs hosted on the site are in plain text,[46] though GameFAQs does also accept stand-alone images, such as maps, diagrams and puzzle solutions.[47] From December 2009, formatted guides which allow authors to use mark-up loosely based on Wiki markup in the document were being accepted.[48][49] In addition to FAQs, contributors can also submit reader reviews, cheat codes, developer credits, game release data, game saves, screenshots, and images of game boxes. In 2006, the site hosted over 36,000 guides.[9] By February 2009, over 49,000 guides were hosted on the site and over 113,194 reviews.[50] As of 2012, this had increased to over 56,000 guides for 21,639 unique games.[51]

When an author submits something to GameFAQs, it is screened by an administrator before being posted on the site.[52] The author retains the copyright on the submitted material,[53] and his name is added to the site's "Contributor Recognition" section. GameFAQs agrees to host the guide only on their servers but does allow other affiliates to link directly to the guides (including GameSpot, Yahoo! Games, AOL, and GameFly).[52]

GameFAQs features several ongoing contributor contests, including FAQ of the Month, Review of the Month, and numerous "FAQ Bounties", which reward contributors who submit FAQs for uncovered, high-demand games.[54] The FOTM and ROTM contests are generally picked from comprehensive, complete guides or reviews for new games. Winners are sent a gift certificate for an online retailer, or can opt for a mailed gift card upon contest entry.[55][56][57]

In 2004, Future Network USA published two commercial strategy guides with material from GameFAQs: The Ultimate Xbox Strategy Guide and The Ultimate PS2 Strategy Guide.[58][59] These guides were composed of FAQs written by contributors on GameFAQs.

Message Boards[edit]

Every game listed on GameFAQs has its own message board where both novice and experienced gamers can discuss game strategies and other game-related topics.[60][61] Since the redesign of May 2004, the game boards with enforced topicality have been shared with the GameSpot community. Certain popular games may have additional boards for social discussion. Game-specific boards for certain older consoles do not have topicality rules and are often claimed for social discussion—these are referred to as "secret" or "dead" boards. Every system also has a general board for discussing hardware and upcoming games.[62]

GameFAQs has boards made purely for the purpose of socializing, some that cater to special interests (such as Anime, TV, Music, and Pro Wrestling), and some purely for users from a particular region (e.g. United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand). GameFAQs also has boards for official announcements, contributor discussion, contest discussion, suggestions, and site help.[62]

The custom-made GameFAQs Message Boards, coded by Veasey, began operation on November 7, 1999.[63] Although the original purpose of the board system was to facilitate game discussion, other board categories have been added since the boards opened. Every day, approximately 20,000 topics and 200,000 messages are posted on GameFAQs' 60,000+ individual boards,[64] and on November 7, 2006, there were more than 100,000 accounts actively in use.[65] During October 2009, there was an average of 84,853 unique logins a day.[66]

Features[edit]

Posts made on the message boards are mostly plain text. Some HTML mark-up is used on the boards, including bold and italics tags.[67] Unlike many message boards, GameFAQs does not allow tags for images, hyperlinks (however higher level users are able to view them), or underlining. Avatars are not used, signatures are limited to two lines of text (160 characters total). Additionally, the forums use a wordfilter to prevent the use of certain vulgar words.[68] On some boards, topics are removed permanently after having no new posts for a period of time. On other boards, they are locked and archived (a feature which was added in 2008). The length of time that a topic can remain inactive without being removed or archived depends on the number of posts on its board.[69][70]

Users who are level 20 and higher are able to have a friend list. Usernames who are on someone's friend list will be highlighted in yellow on the message boards making it easier for someone to find their friends topic on a board.[citation needed]

Another feature that has been implemented on the boards is the ability to send someone a private message. Private messages can be sent to anyone so long as that person is not ignoring the user. Users must be level 31 or higher in order to use the ignore feature.[citation needed]

GameFAQs users gain one "karma" for every day they visit the boards while logged in. As karma increases, new features become available, such as the ability to post more messages per day, visit high-level social boards, edit posts, and view a post history page.[67] Registered users can choose between various stylesheets, search topics, and message display options.[71] Users can add favorite boards to a personalized list on the main boards page and can track specific topics (a feature added in 2006).[72][73]

On June 20, 2007, advertisements on message list pages were moved from the top of the page to the middle of the message lists.[74] Shortly thereafter, the advertisements were moved to the bottom of the message lists.[74] On October 8, 2007, an "ignore user" system was launched for users level 31 or above.[75]

Moderators[edit]

The message boards are managed by the site's administrators and moderators. Initially, Veasey was the only administrator and therefore had full control over the boards; however, more administrators have since been appointed. Tyner, who uses the username "SBAllen" (formerly "Sailor Bacon"), is the administrator on the boards.[8] On May 7, 2012, Tyner announced long-time moderator Devin Morgan had been hired as another administrator, whose primary purpose would be to work on the code of the site.[76] On September 5th, 2014, Tyner also announced that long time user Stephanie Barnes (under the username Krystal109) had been hired as the site's Community Manager and was added to the administration team. Barne's duties include more interaction with the users, as well as running the site's contests, and Facebook/Twitter feeds.[77]

GameFAQs' moderators are volunteer users selected by the administrator and are responsible for keeping order within the message board community. Because of the size of the boards, the moderators do not patrol every board and topic. Instead, messages that break the site's Terms of Service can be "marked" by regular users, which brings the message to the attention of the moderators. The strictness, impulsiveness and inconsistency of the moderators is often criticized.[78]

Contests[edit]

User poll contests[edit]

Contest Winner Runner-up
Character Battle[79] Link Mario
Character Battle II[80] Cloud Strife Sephiroth
Best. Game. Ever.[81] Final Fantasy VII Chrono Trigger
Character Battle III[82] Link Cloud Strife
Got Villains?[83] Sephiroth Ganondorf
Character Battle IV[84] Mario Crono
Tournament of Champions[84] Link Sephiroth
Best. Series. Ever.[85] The Legend of Zelda Final Fantasy
Character Battle V[86] Samus Aran Solid Snake
Battle Royale[86][87][88] Link Cloud Strife
Character Battle VI[89] L-Block Link
Character Battle VII[90] Link Solid Snake
Best. Game. Ever. 2009[91] The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Final Fantasy VII
Character Battle VIII[92] Link Cloud Strife
Game of the Decade[93] The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Rivalry Rumble[94] Link vs. Ganondorf Mario vs. Bowser
Character Battle IX[95] Draven Solid Snake

Since 2002, GameFAQs has hosted annual (or semiannual) tournament contests consisting of daily polls in which visitors to the site choose between competing characters, games, or series, with the character contests being known as "Character Battles". Registered users can submit prediction brackets, and prizes are awarded to those who score the highest. The contest polls are shown in place of or in addition to the regular Poll of the Day and have always been accompanied by an image depicting the entrants in the match. The entrants of the Character Battles change from year to year, with some characters being added and some being removed. In some years, previous winners were removed from the main bracket and competed in a separate contest (i.e., "Tournament of Champions", "Battle Royale").[84][86]

The annual Character Battle has been the subject of two webcomicsPenny Arcade featured the Character Battle in their comic on August 23, 2002,[96] and Creative Uncut's Inside the Gamers Studio strip mentioned the Character Battle in their ninth comic.[97]

10 Best Games Ever[edit]

During the 10-Year Anniversary Contest in 2005, GameFAQs users voted on the 10 best games of all time (and tried to predict what the top 10 would be). Final Fantasy VII was selected as the best game ever, followed by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, GoldenEye 007, Metal Gear Solid, Halo: Combat Evolved, and Final Fantasy III/VI.[98]

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External links[edit]