An editor posts a blog about a new game, but focuses on how an earlier game in this franchise helped him reconnect with an old friend. Readers comment on the site with their own nostalgia. They open up to the editor because he’s more than a byline to them–they have seen his face and heard him talk many times (previewing this new game, for instance) on a video podcast. Readers find an immersive experience at the 1UP Network.
Launched only three years ago, 1UP has evolved from its magazine heritage (Ziff-Davis’ Electronic Gaming Monthly, Official PlayStation Magazine, and Computer Gaming World) to become a network of shared ideas–and not just between the magazines’ editorial staffs, but with readers as well. Reader Chad Garrett said 1UP offers, “the best Web 2.0 experience for gamers.” The community stretches beyond comments, to reader blogs, message boards, clubs based around certain games, and interactivity with podcasts by submitting questions, suggestions, and the like.
Another reader, Jonathan Santiago, said he liked 1UP because, “Its got the best audio/visual features like 1UP Yours.” The 1UP Yours podcast features editors from all the titles sharing game reviews, news, and opinions. It is consistently the top-ranked videogame podcast in iTunes. Each print title also has a weekly podcast. More intriguing has been the success of their weekly video podcast the 1UP Show (over half-a-million downloads in the last year), while other sites are still struggling to find an audience for their video. With its mix of gaming reviews and narratives involving the editors, the 1UP Show has gained a following–evidenced by the five-star rating at iTunes–by giving readers a connection to editors in a way that magazines alone cannot. “The only way for print to be viable–it can’t exist on its own. So you put it online, put in on video, put in on podcast.” Says, John Davison, 1UP’s Editorial Director.
User-interaction also extends to submissions to two of the Network’s sites, GameVideos.com and MyCheats.com. GameVideos.com is a destination for obtaining the 1UP Show, but it also features trailers of upcoming games, videos with tips on playing particular games, humorous short films about gaming or game graphics, or even the latest television commercials for game products. User-generated content is presented alongside official material, all of it served up for rating and sharing. Similarly, MyCheats recently launched a feature enabling users to submit game playing guides. These guides include images and wiki-like collaboration.
Recently, two new 1UP sites have been added. Gazerk, a search engine for gaming, and ESPN Videogames, the sports site’s section devoted to video games of the sports genre. In addition, Computer Gaming World has been re-branded into Games for Windows, partnering with Microsoft on an initiative to reinvigorate gaming on PCs. The 1UP Network continues to grow to serve the hundreds of millions of gamers worldwide with editorial offerings and a robust community.
“We’ve tried to carve out a niche and serve the readers something unique,” Davison explained.