News Corp., the corporate news conglomerate owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has recently announced its acquisition of UGO.com, a former competitor of their gaming asset IGN.com. UGO was acquired back in 2007 by the Hearst Corporation, another major news corporation that was originally started by William Randolph Hearst, the guy whose life just happened to be the basis for that obscure movie Citizen Kane.
Since then, Hearst hasn’t really done much with UGO, but now that News Corp will be owning both sites as well as 1UP.com, a social networking video game site that is owned by UGO, the plan seems to combine them all into a super-huge video games site that will cover news, reviews and more community based topics.
The new video game media conglomerate, which as of now is unnamed, will be run by Roy Bahat, the current President of IGN and will be reportedly independent of News Corp’s influence. Officials from both companies have not released official statements on the merger as of yet. Assuming that all readers of both sites migrate to the new site, merging these two corporate-sponsored entertainment networks will combine IGN’s audience of 19.7 million US readers with UGO’s 13.1 for a total of 22.8 million US readers.
Now while that’s great and all for the big-wigs out there, it certainty remains to be seen how that will affect the gaming community as a whole. I’d like to think the integrity of both websites will not be affected by the merger, but with Rupert Murdoch involved it’s somewhat hard to believe. Of course the writers for both websites right now are good at what they do and are in touch with the common game enthusiast (I should know, I used to date one of the editors at UGO) but even if News Corp. claims to be bringing this new gaming juggernaut outside of their influence, it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s pure conjecture at this point.
This may also have a negative impact on smaller independent game sites like DualShockers, the heart and soul of the industry, where the writers are both journalists and hobbyists and believe their opinion is of more importance to their community rather than their sponsors. I would hope that while this new mega gaming site prospers, it doesn’t ultimately take away traffic from the hard-working peoples who see this is more than just a day job. Of course, making this argument is like asking you all to go out to the local farmer’s market instead of shopping at your local Stop & Shop or Walmart, but in this case, there’s no price difference. I’m not going to ask for that, but I will ask that you all at least keep the little guys in mind.