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Abandonia is an abandonware website, focused on showcasing video games and - where legally permissible – known best for its distributing and discussion of games made for the MS-DOS and earlier Windows operating systems. Abandonia also features a music section and an Abandonware List,[2] a slowly expanding database of over 4600 games including information about their publishers, release dates and whether according to the staff's knowledge the software is sold, protected or "abandoned". This list is a sum total of research and inquiries made by the site's volunteer workforce and its users, with sources including MobyGames, Wikipedia and the company registry at Home of the Underdogs.

Abandonia
Abandonia title page screen shot.jpg
A screenshot of the main page.
Type of site
Abandonware video games
OwnerAbovo Media Group, Sweden
Created byKosta Krauth
Websitehttp://www.abandonia.com/
Alexa rankNegative increase 115,579 (as of January 2016)[1]
CommercialYes
Registrationnot required since password leak
Launched1999-06-21
Current statusIntermittent DDoS Attacks

Reloaded[3] is a sister project of Abandonia, with the focus upon freeware and "freemake" (free, remade) games. Every game showcased is accompanied by a set of screenshots, and reviews written and often proof-read by the site's forum members.

Both Abandonia and Reloaded are community-driven projects, meaning they are staffed by unpaid volunteers who devote their time in order to maintain an archive that does nothing more than provide ad-revenue and donation to the owners.

With the exception of the featured games themselves, advertising and current site coding, all content available on both sites is created by the community as a volunteer effort. There has not been any intervention by the Abovo Group since 2015. Only the Abovo Media Group (an attempt to continue the previous corporate incarnation, Studentis, by Andreas Swahn) are paid for the distribution of any software, or for any member's choice to provide content or volunteer effort at the site.

Both also have a game evaluation system, in which games are rated by a site reviewer and any regular visitors that might happen to try the game.

Despite Abandonia.com reporting a sum total of 3 members of staff and asking for donations of 5 Euros per visitor, the actual revenue, from advertising and other methods, on Abandonia, Reloaded and the associated downloads brings in around 1,200e (~$1340) per month. Considering that it is made clear that the "staff" receive none of these monies and the games the visitors come to find are not "abandoned" as expected, it is not surprising that Abandonia is slowly becoming abandoned itself. The sites together are worth less than 15,000 Euros ($35,000), despite the seven-fold drop in traffic in the past few years.

User visitor stats have shown a slight increase over the past year (2019) in particular, with almost 4,000 daily visitors to Abandonia and 3,000 to Reloaded. From these 7,000 visitors, mainly from USA, Holland and Australia, there are now fewer than 4% (160) downloads from the site file servers per day [4]. 15 years ago, this was a very different situation, and the site thrived and was even host to the first ever Minecraft competition online, offering, in conjunction with Markus Persson aka Notch, free keys for premium versions for winning entries. This marked decrease can be attributed to the increase in online distributors such as GOG.com and publishers who maintain the IP rights for this software, updating and packaging the software in a "user friendly" format, for a comparatively low price for the privilege of "golden era" gaming, DRM free (of which many of these abandonware games on offer were not, or used old cracks and were not optimised for play on modern machines - provided "as is" with no support).

Abandonia currently averages a of total 3 pageviews per visitor (1 landing, 1 "not available", 1 referral to GOG.com), an average of 2 minutes on site and a 58.1% bouncerate [5], likely from the number of adverts causing such long loading times, or the continuous [DDOS] attacks that have plagued the site for the past years. GOG.com ranks Abandonia as one of its highest referral sites, according to Alexa.

Reloaded does not host its own files. As a freeware site, it redirects to the game-maker's download site directly. Compared to its competitors (many of whom offer these games for download, or to play in browser) [6], Abandonia can be seen to be little more than a catalogue of games that gains revenue from adverts and via sponsored links to sites where these games are for sale, maintained by a few members.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Abandonia was created by Croatian, Kosta Krauth on June 21, 1999.

At that time Abandonia was an oldwarez site, with games such as Monkey Island and Doom available for download, even though these games were still being sold in stores. The site gained a major boost in popularity throughout 2003 and 2004 as a discussion forum was opened, updates became more frequent, and the focus shifted towards abandoned games in lieu of the piracy and copied crack files, during the early days of expansion of internet access.

At the present time Abandonia has been translated into German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Italian, Danish, Polish, Croatian, Norwegian, Slovene, Icelandic, Greek, Slovak and Romanian, in addition to the main English. Other translations currently being worked on include Hebrew and Russian.

In July 2010 Abandonia was acquired by Abovo Media Group, a Swedish internet media company. Abovo Media Group took over the hosting responsibilities for Abandonia and support of its upcoming versions. Since 2010 the Abovo Media Group team led by Rafiq Ahmed, Andreas Swahn, Steven Harding and Abdul Majid has managed the development, maintenance and support of the site.

Between 2006 and 2010, Abandonia was owned by Studentis Group, a Swedish online community company. Studentis handled the hosting responsibilities for Abandonia and supported its upcoming versions.[7] In October 2007 Abandonia received a new layout and was transferred over to the Drupal platform by Kosta Krauth and the Studentis team consisting of Andreas Swahn, Marcus Johansson, Daniele Testa, Fredrik Holm and Carl McDade.

However, access to all site functions was never clearly handed-over and even to this day, the initial design flaws from Kosta Krauth persist due to this.

The introduction of advertisements to the site was seen as an inconvenience by many of its users. By this time, however, so many other abandonware sites had opened (including those that do not care if a title is sold or not) that many of the site volunteers and users have slowly moved away from Abandonia, leaving it abandoned by all but the most stubborn of long-suffering volunteers and a diminishing community (albeit with a rich archive, with particular regard to troubleshooting of older games).

Data breachEdit

In November 2015, the website's database was breached, allowing attackers to gain information on 776,000 accounts registered on the site. The data contained email and IP addresses, usernames and salted MD5 hashes of passwords. This hack was made public by website Have I Been Pwned? on June 5, 2017, via a front-page announcement.[8] It was not deemed necessary to inform each member via their confirmed, sign-up email addresses, nor was an enforced password change deemed necessary. The incident, however, was reported as a news article on the site's main page.

This breach was (and not made known to the over 770,000 members to the leak of usernames, emails, passwords and IP addresses used) due to an organised smokescreen, to gain administrator access and force server switches as part of a joint cybercrimes operation, so to expose and bear evidence for prosecution upon a child-teen pornography allegation, that Abandonia's previous operators had been operating within Studentis' various student chat, and other, sites, for several years prior.

The time between the leak being made public and the site "staff" and administration being unaware – coupled with several "slow lorris"-type DDOS attacks at the time, allowed for the link to be established that there was some connection between Studentis' site and the servers that hosted those that contained materials of the original investigation into allegation. This method was considered to be best approach in order to effect the server switch to one that contained the offending materials, without alerting any member involved that it was an action with intention to do so.

As the offending servers were "hidden from the public eye" (although still operational to this day, pending a similar outcome to Operation Poweroff), it was necessary to force Abandonia to be hosted for a short time on a "backup" server (upon which the offending materials did reside), therefore allowing a direct connection to be made—one without implicating Abovo Media. No warning was possible or made, as the founding members and those of Studentis' administration were on this list. The site staff are volunteers and, as such, were unaware of anything above daily operation.

No conviction has been made as of 2019, trial pending further investigation as from dissolution of Studentis and formation of Abovo media[9] by Andreas Swahn.

However, offending materials and related sites have been seized and are closed.

This was an operation performed in collobration between Openbaar Ministerie, Politie Europol and J-CAT, in conjunction with key figures of the newly formed Abovo Group.[10]

The breach has led to a new spate of phishing emails "passphrase abandon" originating from a Russian spam server in the past months.[11] It is not unlikely that many of Abandonia members, whose emails and passwords were leaked at the time, would have or will be receiving such emails (from July 2018 - date).[when?]

It appears as if the site, due to its association, is subject to many, minor attempts at closure, despite its innocence and ignorance in this matter.[citation needed]

Software hosted on AbandoniaEdit

Abandonia's definition of abandonware is one of the more clearly defined in the abandonware scene. In order for a game to be considered abandoned - therefore legally hosted on the site for download - it has to pass three criteria:

  • First, the game has to be unavailable on the retail market and no longer distributed by its publishers nor in any format by legitimate retailers.
  • Second, official support for the game, by both its publisher and developer, must have ended.
  • Third, the game must not be under active protection of any anti-piracy agency, such as Entertainment Software Association, nor directly by the copyright holders themselves. If a legitimate copyright holder for any game requests its removal - any downloads of the game (or links to thereof) present on the site or its forum will be subject to removal by site staff (although the review of the game will still remain onsite).
Only the PC version of the game needs to fulfill the above three criteria: whether any console versions do or do not is considered irrelevant. Despite Abandonia's declaration that it follows a strict policy to not deal with ROMs or disk images for non-PC systems, there is much to be found on the subject, if not the files themselves.

If the site staff discovers that one of the games placed on the site no longer fulfils one of those criteria or has been qualified as Abandonware when it was not, downloads of the game is remove on Abandonia's own initiative.[12]

In order to facilitate status identification for games not yet introduced in its abandonware list, the staff of Abandonia relies on an updated list of known ESA member and subsidiary companies, that can be found incorporated in the ruleset of the site's Requests forum.[13]

ReloadedEdit

Reloaded
 
A screenshot of the main page.
Type of site
Freeware Video Games
OwnerAbovo Media Group, Sweden
Created byKosta "Sellout" Krauth, Monica Schoenthaler, Maikel Kersbergen, Tom Henrik Aaberg
Websitewww.reloaded.org
CommercialYes
RegistrationForums only
Launched2005-05-07
Current statusActive

Reloaded (previously "Abandonia Reloaded") is a sister project of Abandonia dedicated to the development and distribution of freeware games.[3] It was created on 2005-05-07 by Kosta "Sellout" Krauth, Monica "Taikara" Schoenthaler, Maikel "GTX2GvO" Kersbergen & Tom "Totalitarian" Henrik Aaberg.

None of these four have been active or involved in Abandonia nor Reloaded for some years.

The site is maintained by small number of volunteer staff, for the Abovo Media Group, most of whom are (or have previously been) involved with the original Abandonia.

HistoryEdit

The concept for Abandonia Reloaded was conceived by Kosta "Sellout" Krauth, Abandonia's owner, in 2004, in order to separate independently produced freeware from the abandonware already featured on Abandonia. He was joined by Maikel "GTX2GvO" Kersbergen and Tom "Totalitarian" Henrik, both already admins for Abandonia. Soon after, Monica "Taikara" Schoenthaler was invited to join the team. These four are listed as the original "Founders" of Abandonia Reloaded.

Its library of games initially consisted of Adventure genre titles, but was later expanded to include other genres, with both old commercial games released as freeware (such as The Elder Scrolls: Arena, The Black Cauldron and Beneath a Steel Sky), and later independent freeware (such as Ark 22, Trilby's Notes and Enclosure).

On October 14, 2010, it was announced that "Abandonia Reloaded" was to be renamed "Reloaded".[3]

There has been some hostility between the two sites, in the past, despite both working towards what might be considered the same goal and operated by the same sets of volunteers.[14]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Abandonia.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  2. ^ Krauth, Kosta; Martin Transø; Tom Henrik Aaberg; Ruben Steins; Maikel J. Kersbergen; Stephan Wissing. "Abandonia's Abandonware List". Abandonia. Archived from the original on 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  3. ^ a b c "Reloaded.org - Download Freeware Games and Retro Remakes". Reloaded.org. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  4. ^ https://www.similarweb.com/website/abandonia.com#websiteContent
  5. ^ https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/abandonia.com
  6. ^ https://www.similarweb.com/website/abandonia.com#similarSites
  7. ^ Swahn, Andreas; Kosta Krauth. "Studentis Group förvärvar Abandonia och Reloaded". Studentis/Abandonia. Retrieved 2006-08-15.
  8. ^ haveibeenpwned. "New breach: The Abandonia DOS game site had 776k accounts exposed in Nov 2015. 47% were already in @haveibeenpwned".
  9. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=34015070&privcapId=33771995&previousCapId=33771995&previousTitle=Abovo%20Group%20SA
  10. ^ https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/services-support/joint-cybercrime-action-taskforce
  11. ^ https://gizmodo.com/dont-fall-for-this-scam-claiming-you-were-recorded-watc-1827557323
  12. ^ ReamusLQ (2006-11-09). "Bards Tale, The - Tales of the Unknown". Abandonia Forums. Abandonia. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  13. ^ the_fifth_horseman (2006-11-14). "IMPORTANT: RULES! Read this before posting here!, Ignorance does not imply innocence". Abandonia Requests Forum. Abandonia. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  14. ^ "Abandonia Vs. Reloaded Hostilities". April 2006.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit