by

Allakhazam.com purchased by IGE holding company

As posted by Allakhazam on his boards:

The ownership issues here are convoluted. This is how deals like this get done. The size of this is pretty amazing. This is just the announcement for our own users, not the actual corporate announcement, which will likely come much later. We are now owned by a company that owns a bunch of stuff, including IGE. They bought both of us (and several other sites as well) and then split us into separate divisions so that there is no interaction between them. You know my stand on gold selling. Before agreeing to anything like this, I wanted to make sure that there would be no interaction between those divisions and that I would have complete control over the new network, including the sites that used to be part of ogaming. So this means that the Ogaming sites and Thottbot have been split off of IGE and into our network and no longer have any connection with them.

I don’t like Marlboros, but I still buy oreos. I would never buy a Ford, but would definitely buy a Jaguar. Not big on Taco Bell, but like KFC. Many products you use are owned by people who own other products you may not like. It’s the way of the world. As long as the companies are run separately, most people are fine with that. If your oreo cookie wrapper had a marlboro ad on it, maybe that would be a problem. It is important to keep in mind that we are a completely separate company within a large holding company that just happens to own other companies as well.

I realize some people are not going to be happy with this, but the fact is that we are now able to do things we just were never able to do before. This gives us the financial backing and stability to really do a great deal for everyone. Before the financial backing for the site was just me. Now it is a well financed corporation.

As he mentioned, Allakhazam has always been very anti-gold farming and has turned down acquisition offers in the past. His new business partners, called variously RPG Holdings LLC and Content Holdings LLC, according to a quick Google search, include IGE, OGaming, Thottbot, what appears to be an RSS scooper-site that aggregates other site content, designed to milk Google Ads and Gay Indy.

The real motivation here is straightforward, if interesting.

IGE, which has a severely tarnished reputation among most gamers (ironically, since pre-Yantis acquisition they were briefly seen as “the good guy gold sellers”, as described in this interesting, if sometimes rumor-mongering article) has thrown a good deal of money about trying to purchase their way out of it. Thus the monthly full-page and often back-cover ads in Computer Games magazine (the only mass market trade publication still willing to sell IGE ad space), the abortive partnership with Themis Group, the purchasing of seemingly money losing community sites in bulk, and the hiring of ex-game industry executives.

This “interview” PR piece gives a good overview of what IGE would like to put forth as its spin. This was my takeoff on it at the time. You’re seeing it now for the first time because when it was topical, my employer was already in the news for vocally going after IGE and I thought it best not to throw logs on that fire. But as you can see, my take on IGE is pretty plain. They’re vice profiteers, no more and no less. Like most vice profiteers, they’d prefer to work within the law, but don’t feel particularly bound by it. And they profit off of… well, my work, and that of my friends and coworkers, so I take it a bit personally.

Thus the purchase of sites like Ogaming (which as far as I can tell is famous mainly for its ownership) and Thottbot, which has to be probably the site with the most traffic on the Internet. Note that neither of these sites are replete with mysupersales.com ads. It may well be that, especially in thottbot’s case, the purchase was simply to have an entity within the IGE constellation that was more well known than, well, IGE. And it may be simply that IGE purchased the site simply because it was available, and hey, that gold farmer money was just sitting there. Rumors have always swirled about that IGE purchased Thottbot to “put pressure on Blizzard”, but that doesn’t make a whole great deal of sense unless you’re being fitted for an aluminum foil Helm of Thought Control Warding. World of Warcraft would not spin off its axis were Thottbot to disappear.

However, Allakhazam would spin off its axis were Thottbot not to disappear. While, again, theorizing, as some have, that the Thottbot purchase was simply to put non-IGE sites like Allakhazam out of business is a bit too Machiavellan for believability, the fact remains that as long as Thottbot offered its wares for free, selling a similar service was going to be a hard sell. And here, we finally see at the end of a long series of rumor-control posts by Allakhazam, something approaching a primal scream of truth:

The value of the purchase is really obvious. Thottbot and Allakhazam are the two largest sites for the largest MMO game in the world. The two have cancelled each other out financially, since anything one would charge for in a premium service was offered by the other for free. Now with both sites, we can expand our premium service to cover all WoW players. Frankly if Thottbot hadn’t existed I doubt I would have had to sell Allakhazam. Because Thottbot existed and was giving away their information for free (and losing money like crazy to their former company who didn’t care if they made any money off it) we could not make a profit off our wow site even though it was by far our biggest expense. The company that bought both sites was smart enough to realize the potential of combining those two user bases.

For the end user, this mainly amounts to “Hope all you guys liked using Thottbot for free!”. For Allakhazam, this means that his primary competition just got folded under his banner. And for IGE? Who knows. They’re seeing heavy competition from Asian gold farmers, and the seriously odd set of sites you get from googling “RPG Holdings LLC” implies that, like all mobsters, in the end they just want to go legit as a media company.

Meanwhile, if you do /who Azshara or /who Dire Maul you’ll still see the usual names, and the world continues to turn on its axis, and people with more money than time will continue to buy gold online because, hey, it’s easy and they’re there. Even in games like Guild Wars and City of Heroes, where gold is essentially meaningless, people still queue up to buy it. So much for the theory that a well-designed game will eliminate “RMT”. Hey, it’s easy and they’re there.

There aren’t any easy answers, and there aren’t any good answers, but on the whole I’d rather John Smedley sell me my Cloak of Fire Resistance than Jonathan Yantis, all things considered. At least the former has to live with the impact of his decisions, along with the rest of us.