There are hundreds of pirate sites online today with many offering a broad range of content. Others prefer to work in a niche, aiming to lure fans of particular media to grow a dedicated following.
In recent months, GoodOldDownloads (GOD) – a site dedicated to gaming – has been growing powerfully, attracting millions of visitors every month. The site built its reputation on trouble-free downloads while trying to make the experience a smooth and safe one for users.
“We looked at other popular game piracy sites and discovered they were all filled with dozens of tracking scripts, infuriating ads (sometimes viruses) and mainly existed for the sole purpose of making money,” the site said in a statement over the weekend.
“In response, we created a website without any of those things and improvements; it was easy to download files, a clean design, and dead links became a thing of the past with the voting system where you could vote to have games re-uploaded automatically. Best of all, almost everything was automated so you didn’t have to rely on some person at their computer to upload files!”
But while a good time was had by all while it lasted, the site has now chosen to relegate itself to the history books. Announcing its closure, the site’s operators cite attacks from competitors and the ever-present threat of legal action as the reasons behind their decision.
“Rival sites started to target us by making threats and claiming they have reported us to anti-piracy corporations. We also want to move on with our lives and enjoy other things without the constant fear of legal action breathing down our necks,” the team confirmed.
As reported here on TF on Saturday, rival pirate sites have recently been making life difficult for each other with various bogus anti-piracy reports, some of which involved GOD.
While it is difficult from the evidence available to definitively point the finger at any particular platforms, it does seem that there’s been a simmering tit-for-tat conflict.
GOD doesn’t indicate specifically who they had problems with but as a parting blow, the platform has taken the unusual step of publishing the results of an ‘investigation’ into the security of two “gaming piracy sites” on its main page.
The report makes for interesting reading but it controversially involves the ‘doxxing’ of individuals said to be behind two popular rival sites, something that rarely ends well.
“The purpose of this document is to summarize information found online that reveals the identity of the individuals that operate the gaming piracy websites ‘igg-games.com’ (http://igg-games.com/) and ‘gamestorrent.co’ (http://gamestorrent.co/) which profit from the distribution of illegal copies of video games via advertisements (pop-up ads, etc). At the time of publication, they are ranked 1,305 and 5,958 globally by Alexa.com,” the report notes.
Predictably, this is causing additional friction and conflict. IGG-Games has already retaliated with the apparent ‘doxxing’ of the alleged operator of GOD and even his alleged family members, something that makes particularly uncomfortable reading.
Due to the hugely private information placed online, we aren’t linking to either report and several gaming piracy discussion forums have also banned their publication. Considering the details published, it’s possible that the fallout from this war of words could have serious implications for all of the parties involved.
While GOD is now bowing out, the site is leaving something behind to cement its legacy. Unlike most defunct platforms that simply fade away, GOD has taken the interesting step of publishing its source code on Github.
“The source code for all our sites is being released under GPLv3. Feel free to fork and improve the project; we have been working on this almost every day for nearly 2 years,” the site’s operators write.
While GOD offering so-called ‘Scene’ releases and specialized in offering titles from official distributor platform GoodOldGames, GoodOldDownloads recently made the headlines after stepping into a freshly turbulent area of the gaming scene.
In response, however, GoodOldDownloads decided to fill the gaps in the market by directly challenging Nintendo with the launch of a retro-gaming section on the site.
While the move was celebrated by fans, this weekend’s shutdown means that the initiative has now come to an end, along with everything else the site offered. Considering the tit-for-tat ‘doxxing’, however, this might not be the last we hear of this controversial affair.