Anonymous sources have informed us that Gaia Online, once a cornerstone of the online experience for millions of millennials, is planning a new round of layoffs. The latest batch of firings is seemingly another nail in the coffin of a company that commanded over 7 million unique hits a month in its prime.
Founded in 2003, Gaia Online helped to revolutionize the way that people interacted on the internet, including a very early iteration of “micro-transactions” – sealed digital envelopes that contained unique items for users’ digital avatars – another key element that helped to set the site apart.
While it took a few years to really get things rolling, between 2007-2011 you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting someone who was familiar with the forum-based website. Middle and high schoolers flocked to the site, and its varied hobby-focused forums, to participate in conversations ranging from nonsensical “What if” scenarios involving different heroes and villains to the very real drama and difficulty of being an adolescent.
During these peak years, you could find Gaia Online at all of the major conventions. Gaia panels would fill some of the largest halls, as eager fans gobbled up the latest features and exclusive items. The lore of Gaia Online grew and spun into its own universe, pushed forward each season with special events, rare items, and the opportunity to interact with the various NPCs that occupied its digital shops.
The tipping point came around 2011-2012, as the rest of the world was embracing the smartphone and becoming more mobile. While Gaia saw tremendous success with the web-based Monster Galaxy game, they never were able to recapture that lightning in a bottle, and attempts to move into the mobile market were abandoned after a couple of flops. Monster Galaxy could have very well helped to keep the company afloat for some time, if not for a devastating data loss incident that caused a good chunk of their base to leave the game behind.
And so, here we are – 15 years after the site’s founding, very few of the core staff that helped to propel the site to such immense popularity remain. The mobile market continued to grow, but Gaia ignored it until it was too late. Now, unable to catch up, Gaia Online is a shadow of its former self. While it’s unlikely the site will be shutting down right away, it’s very likely that Gaia will join other notable sites in the dustbin of internet history very soon.
Did you use Gaia Online? Feel free to share your stories in the comments or on our Discord server!
Update: It has come to our attention that some Gaia Online employees have taken to social media, claiming that not only are they being let go, but that their final paychecks are being delayed. The entire scenario sounds eerily familiar to the recent Telltale fiasco…