30 years is a long time, especially when it comes to things like technology, gaming, gadgets, and the internet. As we celebrate PC Gamer's 30th anniversary this week, I thought it would be fun to peek in the rearview mirror to see what's come and gone in all that time.
To be clear, this list isn't meant to dance on any graves: It's just that three decades can bear witness to the rise and fall of a great many things, and the things that haven't lasted say as much about our culture as the things that have.
Also, not everything I thought was gone actually is gone. Did you know RealPlayer was still around? So are "The Rachel" haircut, flip phones, and Tamagotchi. There are even new Furbys coming out this year, believe it or not. Heck, the TV show Frasier started airing in 1993, the same year PC Gamer was founded, and while it ended in 2004, it's back again this year.
So just about anything on the list below could, theoretically, rise again. But until they do, here are 30 things PC Gamer has outlived over the past 30 years.
1. Y2K (1993-1999)
The dread fear of every computer malfunctioning at the turn of the century rose its ugly head the same year PC Gamer was born. It's since been replaced by the dread fear of literally everything else.
2. Zip disks and drives (1994-2003)
I honestly miss these: the satisfying ka-thunk of sticking a chunky disk into a little portable drive (that now seems huge and unwieldy). Even though they were replaced by larger HDDs, Zip drives were still used in the aviation industry until as recently as 2014, which is sorta scary in itself.
3. Vine (2012-2016)
Imagine inventing TikTok before TikTok and then abruptly shutting it down so TikTok could become TikTok a couple years later. Great job.
4. Netscape Navigator (1994-2008)
One of the earliest ways we fumbled our way around the internet looking for Myst puzzle solutions. The browser dominated the early internet landscape but, as happens a lot in tech, it was bought by something bigger (AOL), was quickly sidelined, and eventually perished.
5. Zune (2006-2012)
I still remember a coworker showing all us iPod owners his new Zune. The phrase "This ain't it, chief" wasn't around back then, but if it were, I'd have said "This ain't it, chief."
6. Web rings (1994-2014)
Once upon a time, websites would encourage visitors to go to other websites! Can you even imagine? Here in the future, we're not really into that. Please visit pcgamer.com, and only pcgamer.com. Thank you.
7. Family Guy Online (2012-2013)
Yeah, for reasons no one can explain, there was a Family Guy MMO. It blasted obnoxiously into beta in 2012 and then almost immediately imploded. As Peter Griffin is fond of saying… actually I don't know any Peter Griffin quotes.
8. Napster (1999-2002)
True story: I signed up for Napster three days before it was shut down. Three days! I think I downloaded maybe two songs. There is still a Napster music site, but only because someone else bought the name and logo.
9. AIM (1997-2017)
The death of AOL Instant Messenger was a bitter pill, even for those of us who had quit using it years before. Today, we all use something more advanced: IRC.
10. Quaker Blueberry Instant Oatmeal (????-????)
Quaker Instant Oatmeal still has Blueberries & Creme and something called Blueberry Strawberry, but what happened to just the regular Blueberry Instant Oatmeal? I can't even find proof it ever existed, but I know it did because I ate it all the time. Then one day it just vanished. What am I supposed to do, buy oatmeal and blueberries and mix them together myself?
11. MoviePass (2011-2018)
I think the creator of MoviePass planned for everything except what would happen if people actually wanted to use the service. If something sounds too good to be true, like unlimited movie subscriptions, it probably is.
Edit: I've just been told MoviePass is back, actually. I'm sure it'll work out great this time.
12. Teavana (1997-2018)
Cornering the coffee market wasn't enough for Starbucks so it targeted tea, spending more than a half a billion smackers to buy the company in 2012 and then shutting every Teavana down in 2018. Nice work, assholes!
13. Skull and Bones not being released (2013-????)
This is a dicey pick, but Skull and Bones has spent a startlingly long time not being released—a whole decade—and it may continue to not be released for even longer. PC Gamer has a 20 year head start, but I wouldn't bet against the development phase of S&B outlasting us.
14. NFTs (2014-2023)
It's over, right? They were always gonna suck. They always did suck. They will forever suck. Die in a digital fire, NFTs. You won't be missed.
15. Clippy (1997-2007)
I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Clippy, the annoying but retroactively loveable paperclip who desperately wanted to help us do that thing none of us ever do: write letters. I don't think he's really dead. Microsoft is gonna stuff his corpse with AI and send him lurching back onto our computers. Just you wait.
16. Juicero (2013-2017)
An expensive wifi-enabled juicer that collected $120 million in startup VC and then quickly tanked when everyone collectively decided juice did not need to be disrupted. Also—you could just squeeze the stupid juice packets with your hands. You didn't need the machine. C'mon.
17. My cat Beans (2004-2022)
Yeah, I'm gonna make you feel briefly sad about my dead cat in this list of jokes. Who's gonna stop me? Anyway, I miss him. 🙁
18. Jawbone (1999-2017)
At its peak this tech company was valued at $3 billion, and less than two years later it was worth nothing. Funny how that happens, over and over and over.
19. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (US) (1999-2020)
One of the first times I realized about 99% of all good TV show ideas in the US actually come from the UK.
20. Justice League - The Snyder Cut (2021-2023)
The only good thing about the Justice League movie was that it was 90 minutes long, but for some reason people demanded more. So, Zack Snyder released a version that was so long that if you started watching it in 2021 it will only just be ending… now. Right now, it finally ended, the credits are rolling. Whew.
21. Fidget Spinners (2017-2017)
I feel like we heard about these constantly for about a month in 2017 and then never saw them again. But it makes for a great cultural touchstone: if you're watching a movie or a TV rerun and see a fidget spinner, you know exactly when it was made.
22. Google Reader (2005-2017) (link)
There's a long, long, distressingly long list of things Google has brought to life and then abruptly executed, but the one I miss most is Google Reader, which was just a very pleasant way to have the internet delivered every day in a neat little package. RIP.
23. Vertu (1998-2017)
Vertu made luxury phones that could cost up to $10,000 but it turns out there's some things even rich, tacky snobs won't buy. Nokia sold the brand in 2014 and it was liquidated in 2017, though its parent company continues making fancy phones.
24. Tom Brady's career (2000-2023)
Get a load of this guy. He only played professional football for a measly 23 years? What happened, Tom? Did it get too hard to throw a little ball around while getting ragdolled by men three times your size? Ha! What a goof.
25. Coca-Cola BlāK (2006-2008)
It was Coke but with twice the caffeine. It didn't last long, maybe because Coca-Cola realized that if people want twice the caffeine of a Coke it makes more sense to just let them buy two bottles of Coke.
26. GameSpy (1996-2014)
Online matchmaking service GameSpy was incredibly huge and important, used by hundreds of games for multiplayer at its peak. Tragic, then, that it was shut down with very little warning, leaving players and devs scrambling to find alternatives. No joke: it was a terrible end to a priceless service.
27. Beanie Babies (1993-1999)
Another trend that began the same year PC Gamer did, and one that's echoed to this day as people continue to frantically buy things that don't wind up being worth nearly as much as they hoped.
28. Star Wars Galaxies (2003-2009)
If it had just managed to hang on a few more years for the massive Star Wars resurgence we've seen, it could have still been running today. Instead, it's just another Force Ghost.
29. Spike TV (2003-2018)
Silly Spike. Why didn't you wait until 2021 when there was suddenly a separate streaming service for every niche imaginable?
30. Motion sensing hardware (2006-2016)
I was nervous there for a while because with Wii and Kinect it suddenly seemed like everyone thought you should move around a lot while playing games. Thank god that fizzled out (except for VR, which I haven't touched in years) so I can continue to just slump happily and motionless in my chair, letting my muscles deteriorate, while gaming.