When it comes to gaming news today, not much can top the release of the hotly anticipated StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but this comes close. The world's largest video game retailer, GameStop, has purchased online gaming site Kongregate for an undisclosed amount. Kongregate is one of the leading online gaming portals, offering thousands and thousands of free games (the current count, as of this writing, is 31,070 free games), along with great community features like badges, levels, and development tools. On the developer side of things, anyone can create and upload a game, with the best rated games making it to the homepage and eventually getting badges, which helps generate thousands to millions of plays. Furthermore, developers can earn money for their games, earning a share of advertising and microtransaction revenue, as well as competing for weekly and monthly prizes. Through it all, developers retain full rights to their game!
The announcement that a retail chain like GameStop is purchasing a site that thrives on offering free content is disconcerting for many, but Kongregate CEO Jim Greer assures us that when it comes to free games, nothing is changing. What the purchase does mean is that things should get done faster. GameStop has a lot more employees than Kongregate's five programmers, so a lot of the "cool stuff" Kongregate had planned for awhile may actually see the light of day a lot faster. Furthermore, Jim believes that they may even integrate GameStop's new PowerUp rewards program, providing even more benefits to members. And as far as developers go, partnering with a retail giant like GameStop should provide more exposure.
Change is a scary thing, especially when it's a buyout, but Jim assures us that this will be a good thing - only time will tell. I have been a member of Kongregate since 2007, and it's been my de facto site when I need a game to play during lunch, while watching television, or simply when I need a break and don't feel like firing up a "real" game. I hope, for the sake of Kongregate's employees, the indie developers, and of course, us gamers, that this will only be beneficial. In any case, congratulations to Jim and his crew for creating such a great site and for selling it, presumably, for a nice profit.
You can read about the announcement here, as well as watch a video of Jim Greer discussing the sale.