- We're not going to get too hardcore into this [EDIT: Oh, wait, we did!], but figured, since we just got a triumphant new stats release from the Ziff folks, that we'd look into their claim: "The 1UP Network, Ziff Davis's set of gaming properties, has just set a new traffic record on the last day of November: 13 million unique monthly visitors online (not counting print or podcasts)", and work out (*assume The Prisoner tone*): 'Who is Number Three?'

What we're trying to work out is who the #3 video game website is in North America - at various times in the past 18 months, and citing Media Metrix reports, their own stats, and perhaps the scryings of Luke Smith with a tea-towel over his head, all of GameDaily, GamesRadar, and 1UP have claimed to be third. (As can easily be seen, GameSpot and IGN way overpower the other sites in terms of Alexa rank, even more obviously so in terms of page views.)

To analyze all this, we're using Alexa.com stats, which rely on people installing the Alexa toolbar and then surfing around - actually, the handy Alexaholic third-party widget which makes comparisons/smoothing easier. For Alexa stats overall, it's possible that certain areas of the world are less well-represented or over-represented - but I think it does a good job for North America, as recently demonstrated by a post on the official Alexa blog.

What we're really looking at here is 1UP.com itself vs. the other sites - the new press release reveals: "1UP.com alone has set its own record with 4 million monthly uniques -- that means we've nearly doubled our traffic every year for the past three years! GameVideos.com has grown rapidly since its May 2006 release: it's now at over 700,000 monthly uniques. That's remarkable organic growth for a 6-month-old site. MyCheats.com, launched September 2006, is growing even faster: it's just a few thousand away from tipping 400,000. And of course FileFront.com, our monster download site, continues to do some very heavy lifting, with 7.7 million uniques this month."

So the 1UP Network (including all the other sites) is definitely #3, as far as I can see - not least due to FileFront. But you may remember a GameSetWatch post from last April in which GamesRadar.com boasted that it "debuted as the fifth largest site in the category, measuring 2,602,354 unique visitors", something which was " substantially higher than IDG Entertainment, UGO Games and Ziff Davis’ 1UP Network" - this was according to Media Metrix.

I personally don't have access to the latest Media Metrix stats - but Alexa is significantly more transparent, in any case, and here's the latest 'Page Views' graph, tracked over the last 12 months, for Ziff's 1UP.com, Future's GamesRadar.com (plus its traffic feeder site CheatPlanet.com), GameDaily.com (now owned by AOL), and IDG's GamePro.com/Games.net, which aggregate together for Alexa purposes.

To round things out, here's the 'reach' graph - probably closest to a unique visitor comparison, and here's the overall Alexa rank, which, it should be noted, uses a non-linear vertical axis, so telescopes everyone together a bit.

The conclusion? 1UP.com really _did_ surge ahead in November, clearly into the #3 spot of game content sites who do reviews etc, likely due to the fever over the console launches. However, it appears that GamesRadar (who I would peg as #4 of the game content sites) has not majorly increased page views and reach over the original CheatPlanet stats, and both GameDaily (#5) and GamePro (#6) only saw a small bump around the console launches. A 3-year look at reach shows the overarching trends a little more clearly - 1UP is up, GamesRadar/Cheatplanet are honestly down a little bit from CheatPlanet's semi-mystifying, presumably search engine-impelled heights, GameDaily is making a minor move, and GamePro/Games.net is kinda... hanging out.

[Finally, for those wondering how the major game blogs are coming through, here's Joystiq, Kotaku, and 1UP compared over the previous 2 years with regard to page views, with some smoothing on - the reach graph also shows that the blogs are coming through pretty swiftly. Most importantly, all 3 of the sites show a telltale hint of vibrancy - peaks around E3 and console launches, showing that people are actually going to them for breaking news. Which is, y'know, important.]

[EDIT: Someone from GameSpy pinged me to ask why I wasn't ranking them as #3. Well, yeah, I did kinda leave GameSpy out, mainly because I consider them part of IGN for business purposes, and therefore part of the top 2. But in point of fact, they're technically correct - the site runs with a different editorial team, and if you rank them up, they're number 3, not 1UP.

However, I note that, according to their traffic details, a bunch of the 'PlanetX' community sites also factor into their traffic ranking, including Planet Elder Scrolls, Planet Quake, and even Classic Gaming, so that's kinda sorta munging in some content I don't consider to be part of GameSpy to their stats.]