[Games] MyGamerCard Shuts Down

Gone - MyGamerCard.net has shut down

Gone - MyGamerCard.net has shut down

As you’ll see from the fact that my Xbox Live gamercard has vanished from the right of this blog, the excellent free service MyGamerCard has shut down. In a long post on the site’s page the service’s founder Morgon explains why he could no longer make ends meet. He blames the rise of for-profit services using unfair screen-scraping services to glean extra info from the Xbox pages, and Microsoft’s lack of assistance for the closure.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but one that sadly befalls many simple websites created to serve the public at large for free. I will hunt around for an alternative, but in the meantime here’s Morgon’s post in full, reproduced here for posterity, should MyGamerCard.net cease to be altogether.

Dear Xbox Community,

First, thank you for visiting MyGamerCard. I apologize in advance if this turns out to be long or disjointed, or if things don’t even make sense or seem relevant; there are a number of things I want to say, much of which I’m not even sure how to say, and even more that I will likely forget to say and will have to add in later.

For over five years, MGC has served the Xbox Community in ways that I had never imagined. What started as a “test of concept” for a few Xbox.com forum users led to a rollercoaster ride that has been one of my life’s greatest adventures.

When I started working on the code that would eventually become the heart of MGC, I certainly did not imagine that nearly five million unique GamerTags would end up using it. Nor could I ever fathom that the handful of requests that saturated my home cable modem (and kept me from playing Halo 2!) would eventually require five servers to handle the load of thirteen million daily GamerCard requests!

I don’t share these numbers just for show: to me, they’re testaments. Testaments that such a service was useful to the Xbox Community – even needed, and worth nurturing and investing in. I wasn’t in it for fame or money, I was doing it because I loved the challenge, the learning experience. Of course the recognition felt great, but mostly because it reinforced that I had created something beyond myself, something I was giving others.

Plus I got to play with fun datapoints, and show my love for programming and gaming at the same time! It was easy to work with a company who recognized, embraced, and respected the concept of community involvement in building a strong and loyal customer base. A true symbiotic relationship that benefitted both parties.

However, in the past few years, that love for community has been lost by Microsoft. The closure of customer-to-company community-centric interfaces (that weren’t tech support (no disrespect towards the awesome @XboxSupport!)) was a huge blow for Xbox fans. Especially those who really felt like they had a connection to the company they were spending their disposable income on. Similarly, the Xbox Community Developer Program – the program that was essentially created forMyGamerCard and a select few similarly broad-minded community projects – stagnated, with extremely few updates or new data features (despite constant requests), and waning communication as Xbox was not allocating any time to the program.

To make matters worse, while most of us who insisted on playing by the rules (Terms of Use) of the XCDP, others were showing their lack of respect and selfishness by setting up ‘screen scraping’ mechanisms to gather additional data from the Xbox website that are otherwise unavailable to us. If you’ve ever been to Xbox.com and noticed how slow it is – they are the reason why. These sites – some of them for-profit corporations – benefit from having the type of information that the rest of us had been asking for, which quickly started eating away at our traffic. Repeated discussions with Microsoft regarding this issue have gone largely unacknowledged (and certainly un-actioned) by anyone beyond my initial contact.

Eventually, the rise of these websites, coupled with the declining advertising ecosystem, pushed my out-of-pocket expenses upwards as advertising alone couldn’t maintain the (quite modest, comparatively) monthly hosting fees. Eventually, the decision had to be made to take down the site. It wasn’t (and still isn’t) a decision I’ve made lightly; proof of that is the simple fact that I’ve been running half of my monthly costs out-of-pocket for over a year now. But despite the sadness of having to shut down this part and chapter of my life, there’s a part of me is a little relieved that there’s a set ‘closure’ to all of it, rather than infinite abandonment.

But it hasn’t been all bad! In fact, as I mentioned, it’s been one of the greatest parts of my life so far. I’ve been able to make wonderful friendships and business acquantances with community members, Xbox Employees, and industry workers. The technical experience I’ve learned about programming, database design, system architecture and scalability, community management, public relations, advertising (I could go on)…. all of that has been invaluable and much of it not easily taught by a book or online. I have gained jobs from that experience, and I’ve lost those same jobs when my loyalty to MGC came before the tasks I was hired to do. However, I’m currently in a job that I would like to hold onto (assuming my experience doesn’t qualify me for any game-industry jobs, which I would certainly consider!), and I simply don’t have the resources to maintain the site or bring it back to a respectable state where it could be self-sustainable.

I’m incredibly proud of how far MyGamerCard went, and the status it obtained in the gaming community. While in ‘normal’ terms five years isn’t all that long, as far as the Internet goes, that’s essentially a lifetime. QuantCast currently measures MyGamerCard at a rank just under 15,000. Out of nearly 200 million websites on the Internet. I’d consider that an Achievement (Unlocked).

Is this the last you’ll hear from me? One can never say. Obviously I’ll still be around personally, whether it be Xbox Live (Morgon)Twitter (@Morgon), or via email (see the bottom of the page). But I still have a number of project ideas floating around in my head, including some non-Xbox related things, so perhaps I’ll hit on something that’s a fraction of the success that MyGamerCard has been.

Thank you again for your praises, suggestions, and criticisms; awards, interviews and invites; and Tweets, Friend Requests, emails, and posts. But most of all, thank you for being a part of MyGamerCard!


Founder, Developer, et cetera


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Categories: Games

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