The sources, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the talks, confirmed to Joystiq that the companies were in "very advanced talks" regarding the sale of many of Ziff's popular gaming web sites. 1UP Network editorial staff were reportedly informed of the potential sale in an all-hands meeting Tuesday and UGO executives will reportedly be flying out to meet with the Ziff staff as soon as Wednesday. Few details of the potential buyout plan are known at this time, but UGO reportedly plans to keep the Ziff sites operating independently as separate entities with their own branding, rather than subsuming them fully into the UGO Entertainment Network.
Our sources also report that UGO has little to no interest in purchasing either Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine or FileFront.com, two wavering pillars of Ziff's increasingly shaky Game Group. Ziff has had particular trouble selling ads for upcoming issues of EGM, suggesting that the February issue might be the final one for the long-running magazine, our sources reported. This adds credence to recent reports that Ziff may be looking to transform EGM into an online-only property. Ziff has been looking for a buyer for the beleaguered Game Group for at least two years.
UGO Entertainment started off in 1997 as Unified Gamers Online and currently attracts over 35 million unique monthly visitors to its general lifestyle portal at UGO.com. In July of 2007 the UGO Network was acquired by mega-publishing conglomerate Hearst Corporation. The network's current properties include GamingTarget.com, GameCheats.com and RPG-focused site GameBanshee.com, as well as celebrity-focused sites like At Pictures.