We caught up with GameFly today regarding its surprising purchase of Shacknews, along with all related sites. Speaking with GameFly co-founder Sean Spector, we asked him what the plans are for the respected site and how it fits into GameFly's business. We also made sure to ask if there are any expected layoffs and how it plans to succeed where companies like GameTap have failed.
Joystiq: So, first question: Why?
Sean Spector: We just feel there is for our users and our members, and as well the gamer community at large, that there's a growing need for quality game content. The guys at Shacknews have done a really good job of building a site and content that gamers seem to respond to.
Is it confirmed that the entire Shacknews staff is staying on? No layoffs?
SS: Steven Gibson, the founder, is not staying on. That was one of the reasons for him to want to sell the site. He's been doing it for 14 years and wanted to, sort of, take a vacation from the site. He and I are going to be talking on a regular basis. He's a really good guy, it's his baby, and I want to do it justice. Nick and Chris, who are the two journalists staying on, they are GameFly employees. Maarten, who has been doing the technical development for the last several years will stay on, probably as a consultant.
Who's the editor-in-chief?
SS: Steve has been the editor-in-chief, it'll be determined who will be editor-in-chief -- If there will be one.
In this economy, with a down ad market, why get into publishing?
SS: Umm (long pause) For us, you know, the GameFly core business is our retail business. But we also have a media side to our business and we've been successful with that. We think we can be successful with Shacknews. The guys have already been successful with the site, as far as monetizing the site goes. We think we can grow the site, grow the user base, grow the page views. Reality is the ad market is down, but it's going to come back and it's not down forever in our mind. And content, you know this, Alex. Content is always king. If you've got good quality content, people will come.
How much separation of church and state will there be?
SS: GameFly is pretty agnostic. That's why it's a nice fit. We don't favor one platform or one publisher. I'm not overly concerned about that. The site has done a good job at managing that. That work has fallen on Chris, Nick and Steve ... and will continue to.
GameTap tried getting into the editorial space and failed miserably. GameStop's ownership of Game Informer, on the other hand, has worked out really well. How do you plan to make your acquisition succeed? Where's the symbiotic relationship for you?
SS: We're interested in delivering a great gaming experience, whether that means a game delivered in the mail, a game on our casual game site, or great quality news within the game industry. We definitely see a point where Shacknews will be integrated into GameFly. There's definitely synergy there. We also have a lot of GameFly members who we're going to introduce to Shacknews
Will your GameFly login work on Shacknews? How much integration will there be, what do you have in the pipeline?
SS: It's still to be determined 'cause it's still really early. But ideas like that are certainly on the table.
Any other sites you considered buying?
SS: We looked at other sites, but this one constantly rose to the top of the list of: quality content, vibrant community, great user experience. It's hard to do all three of those well and these guys did that.
In this business, credibility is really important and it's important to us. And these guys built a really phenomenal site. Gamers are smart and savvy. These guys were able to build a site and grow a site while maintaining that integrity and authenticity. It's important for us to continue that.
Are you saying we're ugly? That you can't stand to look at us?!
SS: No, not at all. I actually like your redesign.
Anything else you'd like to add that I wouldn't know to ask?
SS: I can't think of anything at the moment. Nope, I'm just excited.