GameFAQs is a website that hosts FAQs and walkthroughs for video games. It was created in November 1995 by Jeff "CJayC" Veasey and has been owned by CNET Networks since May 2003. The site has a database of video game information, cheat codes, reviews, game saves, and screenshots, much of which is submitted by volunteer contributors. The systems covered include the 8-bit Atari platform through modern consoles, as well as computer games. Submissions made to the site are reviewed by the site's current editor, Allen "SBAllen" Tyner.
GameFAQs hosts an active message board community, which has a separate discussion board for each game in the site's database, along with a variety of other boards. Since 2003, most of the game-specific boards have been shared between GameFAQs and GameSpot, another CNET website. The site also runs a daily opinion poll and tournament contests.
During the following months, the site grew in content and in design; two different styles were introduced in early 1997 to accommodate the support of tables in web browsers (or the lack thereof). Two key features of the site—the game search engine and the contributor recognition pages—were planned at this time.
In November 1999, several changes occurred in rapid succession. On November 5, a search box was added to every page, at which time the site was celebrating its fourth anniversary. On November 7, the message boards opened in a beta testing mode. The "Poll of the Day" was introduced at the end of the month. These changes marked Veasey's increased concentration on the site, and it was around this time that GameFAQs became his full-time job. Until this time, he had been working as a programmer. On August 9, 2000, the site received one million hits in a single day for the first time. By 2001, the "GameFAQs Chat" (an IRC chat server) had been launched; however, it was removed in May 2001 due to administrative issues.
On April 1, 2002, Veasey changed GameFAQs to "GameFAX" as an April Fools' joke. The site's colors were changed to green and black to imitate those of the Xbox, with the intention of making users believe that GameFAQs was now dedicated solely to the Xbox, "the only system that matters." After clicking on any link on the main page, users were directed to the real GameFAQs home page. Nevertheless, Veasey reported receiving hate mail from users.
On May 6, 2003, CNET Networks (the site's long-standing affiliate and sponsor) acquired GameFAQs. The amount paid for GameFAQs and two other unrelated websites was US$2.2 million. On June 3, 2003, Veasey announced the merger to the users of the site. He clarified that the user-submitted content (i.e. FAQs, reviews) remained under the ownership of the authors and was not (nor could be) sold to CNET; however, CNET acquired GameFAQs' rights to host them on the site. He assured users that GameFAQs would undergo no major administrative change and said, "The GameFAQs you see today is the one you'll see tomorrow." This was true to a certain extent, as the only visible change over the next few months was the addition of a CNET footer to the bottom of every page. Additional changes included moving the site to new servers in California.
From 2004 to 2006, GameFAQs witnessed further changes. In April and May 2004, GameFAQs implemented a large visual redesign, and the boards merged with the GameSpot boards to allow both communities to share the same game-specific boards (to the dismay of many GameFAQs users). To facilitate this, GameFAQs converted its board code from ASP to PHP, and GameSpot dropped its Lithium code. On April 11, 2006, a new design was implemented and the GameSpot logo was added to the GameFAQs logo on the header of every page. This change was initially greeted with general disapproval by users on the message boards. To satisfy those who prefer the earlier layout, the old board pages have been preserved for certain users. Shortly after the redesign, the site began using the Smarty template engine.
Every game listed on GameFAQs has its own message board where both novice and experienced gamers can discuss game strategies and other game-related topics. Since the redesign of May 2004, the game boards with enforced topicality have been shared with the GameSpot community. Certain popular games may have additional boards for social discussion. Game-specific boards for certain older consoles do not have topicality rules and are often claimed for social discussion—these are referred to as "secret" or "dead" boards. Every system also has a general board for discussing hardware and upcoming games.
GameFAQs has boards made purely for the purpose of socializing, some that cater to special interests (such as Harry Potter, anime, or professional wrestling), and some purely for users from a particular region (e.g. United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand). GameFAQs also has boards for official announcements, contributor discussion, contest discussion, suggestions, and site help.
GameFAQs users gain one "karma" for every day they visit the boards while logged in. As karma increases, new features become available, such as the ability to post more messages per day, visit high-level social boards, and view a post history page. Registered users can choose between various stylesheets, search topics, and message display options. Users can add favorite boards to a personalized list on the main boards page and can track specific topics (a feature added in 2006).
On June 20, 2007, advertisements on message list pages were moved from the top of the page to the middle of the message lists. Shortly thereafter, the ads were moved to the bottom of the message lists. On October 8, 2007, an "ignore user" system was launched for users above a certain level.
GameFAQs' moderators are volunteer users selected by the administrator and are responsible for keeping order within the message board community. Because of the size of the boards, the moderators do not patrol every board and topic. Instead, messages that break the site's Terms of Service can be "marked" by regular users, which brings the message to the attention of the moderators.
When an author submits something to GameFAQs, it is screened by an administrator before being posted on the site. The author retains the copyright on the submitted material, and his name is added to the site's "Contributor Recognition" section. GameFAQs agrees to host the guide only on their servers but does allow other affiliates to link directly to the guides (including GameSpot, Yahoo! Games, AOL, and GameFly).
GameFAQs features several ongoing contributor contests, including FAQ of the Month, Review of the Month, and numerous "FAQ Bounties", which reward contributors who submit FAQs for uncovered, high-demand games. The FOTM and ROTM contests are generally picked from comprehensive, complete guides or reviews for new games. Winners are sent a gift certificate for an online retailer, or can opt for a mailed gift card upon contest entry.
In 2004, Future Network USA published two commercial strategy guides with material from GameFAQs: The Ultimate Xbox Strategy Guide and The Ultimate PS2 Strategy Guide. These guides were composed of FAQs written by contributors on GameFAQs.
|Character Battle II||Cloud Strife||Sephiroth|
|Best. Game. Ever.||Final Fantasy VII||Chrono Trigger|
|Character Battle III||Link||Cloud Strife|
|Character Battle IV||Mario||Crono|
|Tournament of Champions||Link||Sephiroth|
|Best. Series. Ever.||The Legend of Zelda||Final Fantasy|
|Character Battle V||Samus Aran||Solid Snake|
|Battle Royale||Link||Cloud Strife|
|Character Battle VI||L-Block||Link|
The annual Character Battle has been the subject of two webcomics—Penny Arcade featured the Character Battle in their comic on August 23, 2002, and Creative Uncut's Inside the Gamers Studio strip mentioned the Character Battle in their ninth comic.
The smallest margin between any two choices in a contest poll was three votes—this occurred in the four-way match between Alucard, Liquid Snake, Ness and Zidane Tribal on September 22, 2007, with the three vote difference between first-place winner Liquid Snake and runner-up Alucard.