I have been playing games long since before GameFAQs existed, and I don’t think I can put into words how amazing that site was when it appeared back in 1995. Having someone finally explain to me, in simple and direct language, how to get to the stupid sweater in Friday the 13thfor the NES was something I didn’t think would ever happen in my lifetime. Sure, Nintendo Power might have explained how, but I didn’t have that issue and my parents weren’t going to back order a magazine for me just so I could get slightly further in a game I hated. These guys were willing to give that information away for free on the glorious internet, accessible any time I needed to know where all the secrets were in just about any game ever made. Almost nothing was too obscure for GameFAQs, and it became my second home after Nintendo Power.
Like Nintendo Power, GameFAQs is starting to seem a little outdated; especially with the announcement that Steam is starting up its own system of guides. Having the guide accessible from the service you access the game off of is a really great idea in itself, but there’s going to be lots of other perks to it from the sounds of things. You’ll be able to link to youtube videos and post your own screenshots into the guides, stuff that isn’t really all that amazing but is still leaps and bounds above the text-based GameFAQs. It’s a smart move for Steam to want to keep more people on their service for every one of the gaming needs. One that GameFAQs may want to answer to soon if it doesn’t want to become obsolete.
It’s already been a bit depressing for the site over the past few years as Xbox 360 Achievements and PS3 Trophies have become my go-to places for information on the games I’m playing. There’s also many other places that promise the same quality of information that GameFAQs presents, but all told with modern tools. Instead of spending a paragraph telling me where I’m supposed to go, I get a screenshot or video showing me the exact steps I need to take. It’s all made simple, straightforward, and visually appealing. From what I’m hearing from Steam, they’ll be doing more of the same thing but in the same program you’re using to play the game itself. There will be no need to go to any kind of outside service or website to get your information. If you can access the game, you can access information on any one of its secrets and hidden places through the game itself.
So, why would anyone want to go look at a plain-text site anymore? I still love GameFAQs, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not doing itself any favors by not trying to work with newer technologies. They have an amazing database on every video game ever made, but that’s not going to matter a whole lot if they can’t keep the new gamers coming there. It’s a site that set out to make information about every video game accessible to everyone, but they’re not doing their best to accomplish that any more. The site’s walkthroughs look almost exactly the same as they did back in 1995 when I started going to that site, and it’s not doing them any favors.
I’m glad that there’s a ton of information out there on all the secrets in games, and I’m really interested to see how well-integrated Steam’s walkthroughs are with their games, but it does make me worry for the old stalwart. GameFAQs is really going to have to do something to stay relevant against the more modern websites and guides. I’ll always be happy for its classic game information, but it really does need to undergo a change. If Steam manages to integrate the guides extremely well with the games in their library, I think it’ll be another harsh blow for GameFAQs. For now, we’ll have to wait and see.