Kotaku was first launched in October 2004, and since then, the site has launched several country-specific sites for Australia, Japan, and Brazil. Kotaku is currently headed by Stephen Totilo, who took over after Brian Crecente and Joel Johnson left in 2012. Previous contributors to the site include Luke Smith. The site has made CNET's "Blog 100" list and was ranked 50th on PC Magazine's "Top 100 Classic Web Sites" list. In 2009, Business Insider reported that Hearst Corporation sought to buy Kotaku from Gawker Media.
In 2007, attorney Jack Thompson sued Gawker Media over concerns that Kotaku declined to remove threatening user comments, but the lawsuit was dismissed the next day. That same year, Kotaku ran a story about rumored upcoming features on the PlayStation 3 and Sony responded by temporarily blacklisting the website. In 2010, Kotaku criticized a Japanese magazine's glowing endorsement of a Konami game as a conflict of interest; Konami subsequently revoked Kotaku's invitation to the game's launch party. In 2011, Kotaku spoiled the plot of Batman: Arkham City, which Venture Beat criticized as tabloid-style sensationalism. In 2013, Forbes criticized Kotaku over what they called an inflammatory headline in a story about Hideki Kamiya; Kotaku rewrote the headline.Hardcore Gamer has also criticized Kotaku's inflammatory and sensationalistic headlines.