Goodbye Gleemax


According to a post by Randy Buehler, WOTC's Vice President of Digital Gaming, "Wizards of the Coast has made the decision to pull down its Gleemax social networking site in order to focus on other aspects of our digital initiatives, especially Magic Online and Dungeons & Dragons Insider. We continue to believe that fostering online community is an important part of taking care of our customers, but until we have our games up and running at a quality level we can be proud of, it will be the games themselves that receive the lion’s share of our attention and resources."

Other highlights from the post:

"Our plan is to shut down Gleemax completely sometime in September."

"The mistake that I made, however, was in trying to push us too far too fast. I still think the vision for Gleemax is awesome: creating a place on the web where hobby gamers (or lifestyle gamers or thinking gamers, or whatever you want to call us) can gather to talk about games, play games, and find people to play games with. But I’ve come to realize that the vision was too ambitious. We’ve made progress down about ten different paths over the past eighteen months, but we haven’t been able to reach the end of any of them yet."

"The correct strategy at this point is clear: we need to focus. We’re not going to abandon the vision, but we are going to put large chunks of it on the backburner until we prove that we can succeed at the most important pieces. Those pieces are Magic Online and D&D Insider."

"D&D Insider functionality has started to roll out, but we’re still behind where we wanted to be."

"Wizards of the Coast remains committed to online community, but instead of trying to grow a new website for a brand-agnostic community, we need to focus on keeping our own house in order. We have the two best games in the world, and we need to take care of them before expanding into new digital arenas."

Thoughts? Comments? Is this the beginning of the end, or a wise move?

I think it's a wise move, as Gleemax did not live up to the grandiose promises that were made. In addition, I think it was clunky and under-subscribed.
Hopefully they will do better when focused, although their track record isn't reassuring.

It was barely functional, utterly hostile to users due to the worst navigation I have seen in ages, and contained little beyond the old WotC forums.

This was a matter of time. Maybe someone can now do an actually publisher-neutral social network for gamers.

Maybe someone can now do an actually publisher-neutral social network for gamers.

If Gleemax was as awful as you have described I doubt it was holding anyone back...

WotC has some severely rabid fanbases that are desperately in need of a well designed centralized community like what it sounds like Gleemax was trying to be. It's too bad WotC is too incompetent to deliver the kinds of services that web sites run by just a one or two people and a lot of donations/cheap subscriptions/ad revenue have been providing for years.

Seriously, look around. ENworld? All the most popular tabletop sites were started by one or two people as spare time projects. Yet WotC with all its Hasbro money and its stable of professional developers melts down when they try to create a MySpace clone.


I understand the decision on their part. Right now they are behind schedule on D&D insider which is the product that they need to release to get the $15 a month per client that MMPORPGs earn. Until that comes out their division isn't making money, and now that Hasbro ultimately owns D&D it needs to make a profit. That's the primary motivation for all actions they take...the bottom line.

However, I also think that 4th edition is a solid product. If they need to wait six more months to do a re-release of the forums after they've gotten D&D Insider out I think people will forgive them in the long run. They may grumble but once the forums come back and the software are out people will want to try it.

I also think Hasbro, and most of WotC, wasn't onboard the idea and the team had no budget, no support, a severe case of "not invented here" syndrome and, frankly, no clue. At least that is what it smelled like. I consider it a real missed opportunity.

The frustrating part is, as D.P. points out, it wasn't that hard an idea to implement. But as with other things the Open Source advocates can't seem to get it together enough to pose a threat to the corps so the idea is a pipe dream.