Content of the article: "History/News: Changing industry trends have killed Kongregate"
If this post breaks any rules I'll happily revise it as needed, just PM me.
After almost 14 years Kongregate is possibly scheduled to "die," with the site becoming an archive of sorts with most forums, chat, and game uploads disabled. Economic factors are likely involved. The parent company seems more interested in paid, pay2win, and mobile games.
I'm posting this to inform future gaming historians (and you) about changing industry trends and how they affect some companies. In today's episode we'll be observing the slow death of Kongregate which has already lead to staff layoffs. John Cooney (AKA jmtb02) of Flash game fame had left Armor Games to work for Kongregate in 2012 but returned to Armor Games in 2019. His Twitter (as of writing) shows some of the recent layoffs (without warning).
2020 can get worse!
COVID-19, police brutality and riots, lying presidents, sexual allegations, etc… Every time I think 2020 can't get worse it somehow does.
I don't know how many of you know or remember Kongregate but it used to be THE premier portal for Flash games. It's sad to see it go.
Why web games are out of style (opinion)
Ever cheaper gaming PC's make it easy to emulate the more innovative AAA games of the past to satisfy hardcore gamers while a wide selection of mobile games satisfy casual gamers. Previously web games filled a niche because they were free but held more diverse gameplay than mobile games. The evolution of hardware, rising mobile market, and "death" of Flash have all impacted Kongregate negatively.
*Kongregate has actually been platform agnostic for many years but the "death" of Flash has still hurt its public image. This likely applies to other web game portals too.
Kongregate was renowned for its slick UI and community features that made it a haven for developers and gamers alike. Developers got to release prototypes for feedback and make money on their games through the tips jar (retired), ad revenue, microtransactions, or winning the monthly contest for highest rated games (retired). Gamers got to hunt for badges or experience curated games based on their preferences while also enjoying chat and. Everyone could use forums for discussing anything or even collaboration and tutorials for developers. Kongregate also had a Kong+ subscription with some perks like being ad free.
Kongregate has done the following…
- Introduced Badge of The Day (2011) to increase user engagement.
- Introduced Kongpanions (2014) to increase user engagement. The perma-rare nature of Kongpanions left some users disgruntled.
- Started using aggressive interactive ads that pretty much destroyed the site for anyone not using an ad blocker.
- Promoted their own published pay2win games with fake ratings as well as idle games, which received their own category on the front page. This hurt Kongregate's reputation among its users.
- Launched Kartridge (2018) to compete with other digital games storefronts, despite being an incredibly risky endeavor.
A couple weeks ago Kongregate implemented a system called "blocks" which would be earned with BoTD and used to buy potentially perma-rare chat stickers, but it temporarily broke the site's badges and apparently most chat will now be disabled on July 22. It appears that stickers were never sold. Users suspect the feature was rushed out before July 1st.
The big news
As most of you know, Kongregate.com was first created in 2006. The gaming industry has changed a lot since then!
During the intervening years, Kongregate as a company has grown and adjusted with those industry-wide changes. Today our business is largely focused on developing games and flash, as you are aware, is slowly going away. That means that Kongregate.com will need to evolve as well.
We will be rolling out several changes to the website over the coming days and months, the first of which is that we will no longer be accepting new titles on Kongregate.com as of today. We also will not be adding any more badges to games. You will still be able to play our existing library of over 128,000 amazing games and developers will be able to update their games as normal.
In addition, we will be disabling a number of Kongregate.com’s social features later this month and in the future. We know that this change will be frustrating to many of you, but we wanted to give you a chance to plan for it, so you don’t lose contact with the many friends you’ve made on Kongregate.com over the years.
For those who crave all the details, the following changes will happen on or around July 22:
Chat rooms not associated with a particular game, including Badge-of-the-day chat rooms, will be closing.
Many game-specific chat rooms will no longer be available, but some games (roughly 20) will continue to have chat.
Certain non-gaming forums (Off Topic, Serious Discussion, The Arts, and Forum Games) will be removed from the site.
Most other forums will be moved to a read-only state in which administrators can make announcements but players will not be able to post. This will not affect the forums for Animation Throwdown, Bit Heroes and other Kongregate-created games.
Individuals wishing to create a new account will be required to verify their email address.
Please be aware that as part of our focus on developing games, we will have fewer resources to support Kongregate.com. That said, our support team will do their best to help players experiencing in-game issues.
We thank you for your continued support as we take this next step into our future.
Disclaimer: 128,000 games is 95+% shovelware, including titles like "Skyrim 2."
I quote senshisun:
"Kongregate will be mostly dead by the end of the month. Uploads are gone, badges are gone, most chats will be gone "around the 22nd", and most forums will be gone around the same time. They say they want to focus on "development". What does that mean?
- They have a partnership with Forte. Forte is focused on adding blockchain technology to games. Their vague announcement hints at the "Blocks" system.
- They acquired Surviv.io in December 2019. It looks like a Voodo io title, but it's not full of bots.
- They launched Pine and Floatsam on Kartrige.
- Many of the popular Kongregate games appear on Kartridge.
- DreamHack is doing very well. It's owned by the same parent company.
The parent company Modern Times Group will be hosting their April-June earnings call on July 23rd, one day after the forums and chats will close.
The following is a quote from their Q1 2020 earnings report.
Kongregate continued to yield positive results and although it did not record growth in net sales, it posted adjusted EBITDA improvements compared with last year. This development was mainly attributable to Kongregate discontinuing two of its key third-party publishing titles late last year, which is being offset by its first party games Idle Frontier and BitHeroes which continue to demonstrate positive results. In addition, its most recent acquisition Surviv.io has had a good start.
Kongregate, different to InnoGames, did however experience a small negative impact from the Coronavirus pandemic in the quarter on its in-game ad sales, also contributing to the overall sales performance.
The development pipeline is progressing well within both InnoGames and Kongregate. Kongregate plans to launch 5 new games within the year and InnoGames is having four new games planned to be tested in the market across 2020 – games that will be mobile first and build on our expertise in game development.
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