The Rise and Fall of Goozex
When Goozex started in 2006 I had no idea what it was. There was nothing like it on the Internet at the time. This was a website that used an algorithm to calculate the value of games based on 100-500 points. Gamers would trade games for points or purchase the points. In order to make a trade, one had to have trade tokens, and they would need to be at the top of the queue line for the game of their choice. This meant some people would hop into the queue and be 120th or so in line. Often times, the queue moved very quickly for popular games and before a lot of traders knew it, the game was arriving at their door.
Goozex took off with a bang and I first decided to sign up in 2008. At this time, I did most of my game trading to places like Gamestop/Craigslist/eBay/Hastings/Cheapassgamer.com, and being a poor college student, I didn't buy many games. By 2008, as I was finishing up college, I decided to give Goozex a shot. I still had a ps2 and needed to pick up a few games on the cheap. They offered a guarantee as well, if the game didn't work, Goozex would refund the buyer’s points. The guarantee offered little risk and sold me.
I completed a few successful trades for things I needed while sending off a few other games. Goozex really picked up for me in early 2009, as the site added movies. Now I had another place to get and dump movies. People were praising the site more than ever. Kotaku ran articles praising the site. Wall Street Journal had also written pieces in Goozex's favor. Whatever Goozex was doing right, it was making a splash that was going to be noticed by the mainstream media.
The community was growing as well. There were regular community gaming nights, token contests, and a growing member base. 2010 saw the addition of retro games. Which meant gamers such as myself could finally trade for Dreamcast games. Goozex’s community continued to grow, the forums became more active and at the time there were opportunities to earn extra Goozex points and trading tokens by referring people. The Goozex staff members were actively involved in all aspects of the website, any disputes or trading issues were handled quickly. Goozex made an appearance at PAX. There were news articles touting the site’s success. Cheapassgamer had voted it the number one trading site in 2008, a trend that would continue for the next few years. Goozex even had an acceptance speech.
These were the golden years. From 2009 to the end of 2011, I don’t think I ever paid for points and I may have bought tokens once. I probably saved close to $500 using the site for trading games and I got some good things in return. But things changed pretty quickly. I think it was in mid-2011, the community saw some drastic changes.
Goozex raised the point cap for games. Prices for $50 games was no longer capped at 500 points, it increased up to 2400 points based on the demand and algorithm. This resulted in much backlash from the community. In 2011, my trading slowed down. I was still trading, at a much slower pace, but the site was going through a mini slump. There were several point sales. Members could buy points for cash and the site decided to offer the Goozex Exchange. Goozex would buy games and sell them for much more than they were worth in points. People would bid on them. This was a great idea for people that had a lot of points, but it made the overall value of the points drop. Eventually this Auction/Exchange would open up to the community and members would start dumping their games. Positive changes the Goozex community were hoping for, such as console trading and a 4th listing option, never came.
All of these changes contributed to a lot of points in the marketplace and not a lot of games. By mid-2012 I decided I would keep a lower balance on the site just in case something ever happened. I was still actively trading, but I wasn’t depending on Goozex as my main trading site, due to their lack of inventory. Big name traders were worried, here’s a great post on Destructoid in regards to this.
I personally had started to use 99Gamers as another option, as well as VGFive. Both sites could be considered competition. VGFive was started by a former Goozex member who was dissatisfied with what was happening at Goozex. VGFive would be one of the first trading sites to handle digital trades from Steam/PSN/XBL and when it was around it was a fantastic site with a great community. By the end of 2012 Goozex’s founding members had mentioned they were looking for a buyer for the site and had found one. They sold the site to Bay Acquisition Corp. for an undisclosed amount. Under new leadership, Goozex turned around and bought VGFive in April 2013, to better firm up its grasp on video game trading communities.
The new owners of Goozex promised many positive changes. I closely monitored the site through 2013 and I continued to keep a low balance of points. Trades were less frequent and more prominent community members who once had spoken out in support of the site and contributed tirelessly to trading, had left. They were smart and could see what was coming. On December 20th, 2013, Goozex.com unexpectantly went down. There were apologies on the official Goozex Facebook page, but no word for a few weeks. The site never came back up.
Some members lost 10k worth of points, which was equal to several hundred dollars in points. There was no word or followup. Some people were lucky, they had recently purchased trading tokens and were able to get their money back. There was no word from Goozex’s management on any of this, and the Internet later pointed out there was a lawsuit against Bay Acquisition Corp, which sealed the fate of Goozex.
Thinking back, when Goozex was for sale, CheapyD mentioned on the CAGcast he would have considered making an offer. Who knew why the founding members sold it? Maybe they were tired of running a site. Was it no longer profitable? Goozex did leave a legacy. It was one of the first sites to make online trading work. There was a system and a community. Mistakes were made, but overall the industry praised it. Goozex paved the way for sites like 99Gamers and Leaptrade. Anyone who may be interested in online game trading should check out these sites. While Leaptrade offers a system like Goozex had, 99Gamers utilizes a free market economy.
I wonder if Goozex would still be the number one trading site if it was still around today? As of right now, it appears that the former domain, Goozex.com was purchased by 99Gamers. I did enjoy my time with Goozex picking up such gems as System Shock 2, Battlefield 4, Deus EX HR for PC, Def Jam Fight for NY, and so many more
I got into Goozex when they were popular enough to hit mainstream: A thrilling proposition, I was in the process of saving up for an Xbox 360. I got on the site and put my name down on a few games I was interested in. I sacrificed a couple big games, namely the Lunar PS1 special edition, but in return I got something like six games for my new machine before it even got to me. It was an amazing service.
I was hooked up with GoozerNation soon after I put a piece up on the forum. Many people were dissing Final Fantasy 13, and I was having a good time with it. Oddly enough, while I still hold the game in decent regard, I’ve not finished it! I’ve even picked up 13-2 and 3 for the future plans of gaming, but life, work, and other fun games got in my way.
I was able to help stimulate the economy. I was mostly interested in older titles by trading new ones I was done with, which made it all the more exciting when the retro titles hit. I had about $14 in tokens when it went under, and I put in files with the Better Business Bureau like a few people had suggested. It was an odd feeling: while I had barely any points and only a few tokens left, I felt that I still got my “money’s worth” out of the site, even though the new owners had nothing to do with the people who made it golden for me.
Sadly, those who had put more into the site are the ones who lost the most when it went under. The inflated points helped stimulate the economy, but it had turned into a bunch of people with banks held up and short line spots, making any new submissions snapped up quickly by the old guard and make new people get frustrated. The “early access” tokens were an attempt to bypass this, but it was a chance to pay to jump in line, which defeated some of the spirit of the site.
Goozex was just a site that worked better amongst a small group. Once it got big, and random people really knew how to work the system, combined with the long lines of people queueing up for a new game, it started to falter. The conspiracy theories going on in the forums combined with the lack of information being given by the bigwigs made it a rather sad end to a wonderful site.
I discovered Goozex on the tail end of its life. I traded some, but what stood out most to me was the community. It was more than just a site for trading games, it was a place to find gamers with the same love for video games that I had. Sure, you had your trolls like on every other forum, but overall it was a good community.
Support was shown the most on the Goozex fan site GoozerNation. I was already working with Erik on a podcast for another site while he was editor-in-chief for GoozerNation. They were having a writing contest, so I wrote an opinion piece that ended up running on the site. From that moment on, I was a staff member. We ended up moving the podcast to GoozerNation, where it stayed until Goozex closed.
If it hadn't been for that contest, I really don't know where any of us would be today. Erik and I decided that once Goozex and GoozerNation was gone, we would start our own site. Here we are one year later and we are still going strong. Had it not been for the Goozex community, we never would have started The Gamers Lounge.