DING. It was 10 years ago today that I posted a one page guide to how to play Everquest and linked it in various forums. People liked it and suggested additions and changes. Over time, it grew and grew into the monster it is today with a network that covers hundreds of games and gets over 600 million page views every month. We have a great staff of over 40 people currently working on the site. More importantly, we have a great community of gamers without whom we would just be another boring web site. For our 10th Anniversary, we are going to give back to the community by giving away a month's worth of prizes.
Before I get to the prizes, I want to wax nostalgic courtesy of the internet archive wayback machine and our own archives. (To skip my ramblings and just see what you can win, scroll down to the bottom of the page). Unfortunately the original version of the site is lost in time. Old time EQ players may remember the animated ogre and wizard and the clashing color scheme. One thing not lost to time is the EQ Site Update Archives. Reading through the first couple months really gives a sense of how this evolved from a small guide to a multifaceted information site in just a few months. It's also kind of fun.
The first archived version of the site I can find is from October, 1999, when we were still part of Gamestats. That was actually the snazzy updated design that one of our readers had sent me because he was tired of looking at the old colors every time he wanted to look up a quest. Again, old EQ players might find it amusing to look through some of the subpages there to bring up long repressed memories. One of the updates notes that the site had recorded its millionth visit in August.
It was January 2000 when we left gamestats and moved to our own URL and allakhazam.com was officially born. By that time Andy Sharp, aka Illia, had teamed up with me to try to bring order to the chaos I had created. This led to a newer version of the site, which you can see here. It also led to our very first actual database, the famously misspelled Illia's Beastiary. By the end of the year, Illia had managed to take most of the site's data and organize it into a real, searchable database, with yet another brand new design. We were one of the first sites on the entire internet to have a database of that size, extent and complexity, and I am not just talking amongst gaming sites. By this time we were doing a very respectable 15 million page views a month and Illia and I had decided we might actually be able to make a living doing this. To my wife's consternation, I left my job as a lawyer and dedicated myself full time to playing games.
Then came 2001. This was a devastating year for the internet. Advertising revenue completely vanished and huge numbers of sites just dried up and disappeared. We were hit hard as well. By March, our revenue stream had basically died. I found myself rethinking whether the site could even continue. Most of our competitors simply closed down. Instead we sat down and devised a premium membership system that we hoped would bring in enough revenue to survive until ad revenue returned. Our goal was to build features people would pay for that would still leave all of the actual information on the site free for our users, who had after all contributed most of it themselves. That September, coincidentally on the same day the twin towers came down in NYC, we crossed our fingers and launched our premium service, one of the first of its kind on the entire internet. It succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, eventually rising to over 45,000 members and saving the site from extinction. A month later we even hired our first employee, Lori McCauley, aka Darqflame, who still works here today.
2001 was also the year we branched out from Everquest, launching a site for the new MMO Dark Age of Camelot. Sites soon followed for Final Fantasy Online (2002), Everquest Online Adventures (2003), Star Wars Galaxies (2003) and in 2004 both World of Warcraft and Everquest 2. Other now defunct sites were launched for games such as Anarchy Online, Lineage 2 and Planetside. In the process we built our own custom forum system, hired on more fanatical gamers as staff, designed a host of new tools, and gathered literally millions of pieces of game information in one single place.
That leads us back up to 2009, where we have databases, wikis, forums and news coverage for hundreds of MMO games both large and small. Over 10 million posts have been made by almost 1.5 million registered users. Everquest alone has over 80,000 items and 4,800 quests listed. Most importantly, we have the greatest community of gamers on the internet. For this we thank you all.
So now that you have read all the way through to this part, I can tell you what we are going to do this month. Every day from now until April 3rd, we will give something away to an active member of our community. Daily winners can win things like a 60 day subscription to WoW or SOE Station, and at the end of each week we will pick a weekly winner and buy them a Nintendo Wii, and finally at the end of the month we will pick a community member and buy him or her a gaming ready laptop computer. To be eligible to win a prize, all you have to do is log into your account and continue to contribute to the community by posting in our forums, adding comments to our databases, or editing our wiki. The more you do, the more chances you will have to win something. Complete rules and details can be found at this link.
So happy anniversary to the Allakhazam Community. It has been an amazing ten years. I hope I will be writing up an even longer and more rambling post in 2019.