Yahoo, the company that was once synonymous with internet searches (though nobody ever used "Yahoo" as a verb, unlike "Google"), is going through tough financial times. As a consequence, we've seen a lot of headlines about Yahoo performing cutbacks and otherwise slimming down.
A particularly iconic service will be tied down to the chopping block on May 13, which is when the Yahoo Games site and its companion publishing channel are scheduled to be snuffed out for good.
The news about Yahoo Games' impending death was made public via the company's Q1 Progress Report. Other services are being offed as well, including Yahoo Livetext (a silent video chat app), and Yahoo Build your Own Search Service (BOSS).
You can still visit the Yahoo Games site, but you can no longer make in-app purchases through any of the games therein. Players with questions about any in-app purchases they've already made are encouraged to talk to the games' publishers in the Yahoo Games end-of-life FAQ. Though Yahoo developed some of titles internally, the vast majority of Yahoo Games' content comes from third parties.
Initially launched in 1998, the end of Yahoo Games is also the end of a hefty chunk of what remains of Web 1.0. All the match-three games that dominate mobile today, all the Scrabble imitators, all the endless variations of Solitaire -- many of us played them for the very first time on Yahoo Games. In fact, for some, Yahoo Games ushered in our first experience with online gaming. Sure, rounding up your buddies on IRC or ICQ for a game of digital checkers or Monopoly sounds hilariously archaic in today's constantly-connected world, but at the turn of the millennium, playing Scrabble (or "Scrabble") with faraway friends was a big deal.
At the same time, the death of Yahoo Games is hardly surprising. Not just because of Yahoo's problems, either. Web-based gaming, which was an extremely hot trend when the Aughts ticked over into the '10s, is rapidly dying. All those match-three games, clicker games, and Solitaire imitators are now on the App Store and Google Play. In fact, Zynga's hesitance to embrace casual gamers' migration from web-based / Facebook game platforms to mobile is one of the main reasons for the social game giant's decline.
That's not to say web-based gaming is doomed to be stamped out entirely. All of us have at least one relative who clings to their favorite Flash-powered distraction. And specialized archives like Kongregate and Newgrounds still get plenty of visitors. But internet content in general is becoming much more specialized towards mobile devices. If Yahoo must shed bits of itself to survive, Yahoo Games seems like an obvious cast-off.
It's still very sad to see Yahoo Games set adrift, though. Farewell, noble library of casual fare. I'll never forget fooling Scrabble's dictionary with the nonsense term "FOKPOOT."