Will We Have to Say Goodbye to AOL’s Joystiq?

Demand for video ads and niche content could lead to blog's closure, expert says

One of the largest video game industry publications online, Joystiq, may be closing its doors in the upcoming weeks, re/code reported. The digital publication said that parent company AOL will likely be shutting down the 10-year-old gaming publication as well as other "underperforming" sites.  While the company declined to comment on the report, the gaming portal itself posted a tongue-in-cheek story regarding the rumor.

"Sources tell Joystiq that the staff is aware of the closure, but corporate hasn't officially told them, so they are unable to acknowledge anything out of concern that it will cause immediate shutdown," it wrote.

Altimeter industry analyst Rebecca Lieb said AOL's potential move to shut down the 10-year-old gaming site seemed to be in line with periodic housecleaning that large media companies do from time to time. It also seemed to show the technology company's move toward becoming more of an ad tech provider rather than a publisher, Lieb added. 

Lewis Ward, market research firm IDC's research director for gaming, said he would be surprised if Joystiq did end up closing; however, AOL still has Engadget on its roster and covers gaming in other verticals so it would be able to cover the increasingly lucrative industry.

But, Ward added, as the amount of gaming-themed publications online grows, the coverage is getting more fragmented and specific. Fans now seek out particular websites for different genres and games, he said. For example, fans interested in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (Mmorpgs) like World of Warcraft tend to head to Twitch instead of having to glean overarching news from an all-encompassing publication. 

Ward also pointed out that advertising on Twitch tends to be more video-based, which is what brands are looking for. Previously, he served on the board of defunct magazine GamePro and said it shut down primarily due to insufficient advertising dollars through banner ads when it tried to go online with a hybrid publication model.

"It's tough for a website that is banner ad-centric to keep the lights on or stay growing at the very least," he said.