VGCollect has grown much over the first 5 years of its existence. It’s been a great ride so far and things look to be better than ever leading into 2016. Get ready for a read, because what follows is a little history lesson in how VGCollect came to be...
VGCollect was officially opened to the public, via beta testing, on January 20th, 2011. The site began as a side project of Matt Kris’. But, before VGCollect ever became its own entity, its roots go deeper and the idea of collection management goes back slightly further, to another website: DigitalSomething.com.
DigitalSomething was a video game news website run by Matt, Jeremy Pluta and myself. We all have been video gamers since childhood and it seemed like a great next step in our love the hobby.
So, in the fall of 2006, DigitalSomething was born.
It was a great project, and over the years we saw some decent growth. Matt and Jeremy were able to hit up E3 (it still kills me that I was unable to go as well), we received review copies of games and had access to free swag for contests.
DigitalSomething grew from being only a news/ reviews site, it also attempted to grab a bit of the social media craze, giving users their own space for profile pages and blogs. Part of this was a small user created database of games for a Currently Playing feature of the user profile pages. Here users could add games that they are playing, complete with box art and game information, to their profiles. Then, the user could select up to five games to list as their Currently Playing list (complete with a forum signature image).
The first ten games added to the database were:
But, while the Currently Playing image was limited to five games, each user’s actual game list wasn’t limited at all. They could have any number of games stored on their personal Currently Playing list to pull from. Almost instantly, users began adding more games to the database and using it as a primitive collection tracking list.
It was a no frills tracking solution. This list didn’t differentiate games by system and the games were all listed alphabetically. There was no sort function, other than the ability to arrange which games were shown in the Currently Playing image. But that didn’t seem to matter in the old days. The game list grew and grew, eventually totalling up to roughly 5,000 game entries.
DigitalSomething seemed to grow yearly. But the stress of trying to keep up on gaming news, while trying to produce well written articles, attempting to compete with the big boys and having regular jobs, became draining. But I could tell the games list was a big deal and would constantly talk to Matt about reworking the game pages, or adding polish to it. Little did I know, he was secretly working on something.
The day after Christmas in 2010, Matt and I were sitting in the local Buffalo Wild Wings and he pulled up something on his phone. As he handed it to me, he said “I’ve been working on something new, based on the games pages from DS. It’s a game collection site, called VGCollect”. It was super primitive, but was exactly what I had dreamed of when thinking of upgrades to the DigitalSomething Currently Playing database. I wasn’t sold on the name, but it’s grown on me since.
After playing with the alpha build of VGCollect for a few minutes, I replied “Merry Christmas, Scott!” and we started talking and planning what steps to make next.
VGCollect was born.
From there, with only Matt, myself and the original 5,000+ DigitalSomething games in its database, and we began work on the early stages of VGCollect’s database.
At first we just added all our own games to the site and tested functionality. I began buying up Game Boy games just to add cart images to the site too. When everything seemed to be stable and user friendly, Matt opened the site to Beta testing via Reddit and Digitpress forums.
After a few months of testing under a closed environment, we opened the the site up to the public, while still in beta mode.
Everything was going great! Users started joining in the site and adding their games. Then more people joined and word of mouth started spreading. We could tell that we had something special happening.
Then the unthinkable happened. The server that hosted the site went down and the hosting company shut its doors. Matt was notified what was happening, but due to a misunderstanding of the notice, he failed to do the backups in time.
Matt was certain that everything was automatically backed up nightly, but when he was finally able to get a hold of the backup files, he found that all data from November 2nd - 21th, 2011 was missing.
We lost tons of information, from user accounts, entire collections, game listings, edits to forum posts. Anyone who joined the site during that period lost their accounts and their entire collection listings. It was completely devastating.
VGCollect could have easily died after this happened. Many users felt that our site was unstable, and unreliable. New users who had joined during this period we deflated, after having spent hours or days entering all their information. The trust that our users had in us was shaken, or at least it seemed like it.
When the site came back online, on a new server, something amazing happened.
Once we opened up the ability to add games and do edits again, many of our users dedicated days of their time to rebuilding the missing content. They began searching Google caches for missing forum posts, and re-entering all the data they had already added just days before. The community became an even tighter knit group as a result as well.
I believe this bounce back helped our community develop into the one it is today. Without the most excellent folks that helped us rebuild that lost month, who knows what would have happened to VGCollect.
By the end of that first year, we ended the beta testing period. VGCollect had also grown from just two users to 2,527 users, tracking 10,706 items in their collections. The database more than tripled in size and ended 2011 with 19,715 items listed within it.
Now, five years later, the VGCollect has welcomed over 24,000 users, tracking more than one and a half million items in their collections and the database has grown to over 85,000 items! That is completely mind blowing.
Thanks to everyone that has helped maintain VGCollect over the years. From the admins, who volunteer their time and sanity in order to keep the database running smooth. To the users who have built and make our community better than any other video game forum on the Internet.
Without any of you, VGCollect wouldn’t be what it is today.