Home of the Underdogs
Home of The Underdogs as of 14 May 2006
|Web address||Defunct; multiple revivals exist (see below)|
|Type of site||Abandonware video games|
|Launched||September 1998/April 2009|
|Current status||Defunct; succeeded by multiple third-party mirrors/revivals|
Home of the Underdogs (often called HotU) was an abandonware archive founded by Thai Sarinee Achavanuntakul (สฤณี อาชวานันทกุล), aka: Underdogs or Fringer on her own blog, in September 1998, and grew to be one of the most significant abandonware websites on the Internet, despite losing its domains to cybersquatters and then briefly going offline.
The site provided reviews for over 5,300 games, as well as offered downloads of software and manuals for a number of games that were no longer commercially available. This allowed it to be a valuable resource to players who lost the original discs or manuals. While a majority of games available on the site were for DOS or Microsoft Windows, the site also contained a section with games for other platforms. Where downloads for these games were provided, they were usually present in formats compatible with emulators. The site also had scans of several gamebook series, many of them complete. In addition to commercial titles, the site contained a small number of 'freeware' titles.
Downloading was strictly regulated, due to bandwidth costs and limitations. Users could not download more than one file at a time or they would be banned anywhere from three hours to one week. This included speeding downloads using tools such as Getright. One common complaint users shared towards the site regarded the typically extremely slow download speeds, which were known to go as slow as 10 kbit/s on a high-speed connection. This did not, however, prevent the site's continued expansion.
The site tended to focus on underdog games; that is, games that were not a huge commercial success for whatever reason. Some games were classified with one or more of three distinctions:
- Top Dog referred to games perceived by some as gems, but that for some reason failed commercially, for instance because of poor marketing.
- Hall of Belated Fame referred to a small number of games that should have received a number of awards and high ratings, in the opinion of the site's staff.
- Real Dog referred to games that failed for a good reason, usually poor gameplay, but that were requested to be included on the site by fans, or fans of related games. These were classified with a "thumbs down" logo.
The site claimed to be more of a museum than a download site, offering what were by them considered "great" games that never received due attention upon their initial releases. It was also asserted that the site was careful about copyright concerns, so if a game available for download became once more available for purchase, or if a game's copyright holder so requested, the downloadable files were removed and replaced with a link to the site selling the game, if applicable. The site has also removed a number of ESA/IDSA members' titles from its download archive.
- While at first hosted on free web hosts, Home of the Underdogs began using a dedicated server due to its high bandwidth usage in February 2000. The original domain name was theunderdogs.org. Achavanuntakul long resisted the commercialization of the site with ads and popups but eventually agreed to it after donations were unable to cover mounting bandwidth costs.
- In 2002 the domain name was changed to the-underdogs.org and in 2006 to www.the-underdogs.info. The reason in both cases was that the domain was not renewed in time and was subsequently taken over by cybersquatters.
- After January 13, 2006, addition of any new entries to the site ceased completely.
- After a brief stint of being offline during the month of September 2008, HotU seemingly returned late in the month; however, the games once offered were no longer available.
- On February 13, 2009 the original Home of the Underdogs went offline. According to a message posted on Twitter by the site's owner, this was because of the webhost's bankruptcy.
- On March 8, 2009, the first of the "new" Home Of The Underdogs sites went online at www.hotud.org, based on the Joomla! CMS.
- On March 24, 2009, a second site went online at www.HomeOfTheUnderdogs.net. It retains the design of the original site and does not use a CMS. The two sites work independently of each other; neither is endorsed by Achavanuntakul.
- As of 8 April 2009, several sites were still working independently of each other. Some share common goals, but none is allegedly endorsed by Sarinee, the webhost of the original site.
- As of 4 June 2009, Hotud.org had both downloads of most listed games, manuals, user reviews, new user listings, user uploads, forums and many other community features. The original archive was now in the process of being improved and grown beyond the source data.
- As of 15 September 2009, Hotud.org had rebuilt the archive. An active team of four people is working on correcting errors in the filesystem. There is an active relationship between Hotud.org and GOG.com to promote both the history of classic gaming as well as modern access by digital distribution to these classic games.
- A notice went up in February of 2014 on Hotud.org stating that the site will be taken offline due to financial reasons.
After the original website went offline, a number of sites are actively working on revivals of the source data, as well as expansion of the existing archive. Some are focused on historical recreations of the original site, while others are focused on expansions of the community aspects. Each shares a set of both conflicting and coordinating goals.
- To provide access to the database of games from the original site
- To allow near infinite expansion by the community in a simple and understandable fashion
- To grow far beyond the static dataset represented by earlier versions of the site.
- Downloads - All original data with new additions
- Uploads - User expansion of dataset
- Listings - Full dataset
- User Reviews and User Additions
- Full user added content system
- To preserve the look, feel, spirit and functionality of the old HotU without preserving its disadvantages.
- Revival of the original visual style of the site
- Import of original Game Dataset
- Some Downloads
- Simon Carless, Gaming Hacks New York: O'Reilly (2004): 2 - 3. "Sites such as Home of the Underdogs ... have major copyright issues but can provide valuable resources, for example, for people who've lost legitimate copies of the manuals."
- Saltzman, Marc (2002). "Flashbacks For Free: The Skinny On Abandonware". gamespot.com. Archived from the original on 2006. Retrieved 2012-12-29. "By day, 28-year-old Sarinee Achavanuntakul is an investment banker in Hong Kong, but by night, she runs the infamous Home of the Underdogs, a Web site she founded three and a half years ago, and receives an average of more than 30,000 unique visitors per day. According to Achavanuntakul, the purpose of starting Home of the Underdogs was simple: to preserve out-of-print games that publishers no longer support, to keep them from falling into oblivion, and to honor other underrated games, including freeware games and recent commercial titles that might have been poor sellers."
- Fringer (2009-02-09). "Home of the Underdogs webhost went bankrupt T_T". Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Site reconstruction forum thread
- "Home of the Underdogs is back!". 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- Home of the Underdogs Revival group
- Interview with the Underdogs at Review with Extreme Prejudice
- "Nostalgia Keeps Games Afloat" article about HotU from Wired News
- Abandonware article, including interview with HotU from GameSpot
- HOTU returns, thanks to a subdomain webmaster of HOTU from Abandonwarering.com
- Nooooo!!!! HOTU!!!!! from Expensive Planetarium
- Home of the Underdogs: It Returns!