In 2005 former Webmaster and Site owner Sander Prinsen gave his position to Mike Geise to concentrate on his real life.
NFSCars – The History
To celebrate the 5th anniversary of NFSCars, I thought it would be nice to write a story about the history of NFSCars. Only a handful of current members know the beginning of NFSCars and how it became the biggest NFS site on the globe, so here’s how it happened.
Before NFSCars I have always been an NFS fan, since the first one came out. It set new standards on racing games and the game was a great success. So they developed NFS2, NFS3, and NFS4 etc... At a certain moment, October 1999 or so, I started experimenting with MS FrontPage. As a test, I started my first website, and what other subject would have been better than that of my favorite racing game, NFS. My first NFS site was called “NFS Links”. It had links to other NFS sites, and as with a lot of other small sites, it wasn’t a big success. It had a free ‘domain’, something like nfsinks or so.
One day, EA released an add-on car for NFS4, the 360 Modena. I posted it on my site, and more people came to visit and download the car. This got me thinking and I decided to combine my favorite race game with my favorite car brand, so I started NFS Ferrari, just a month or 2 after NFS Links was started. At that time, I wasn’t using FrontPage anymore, but was coding my own HTML, which gave much more satisfying results. NFS Ferrari was dedicated to Ferrari add-on cars for NFS3 and NFS4 and my goal was to collect them all. The site was a modest success, with just over 100 visitors a day. For a short period, the site was even hosted by a network that gave NFS Ferrari its domain www.nfsferrari.com, but it didn’t last.
The Beginning In the beginning of 2000, I got interested in PHP & MySQL and wanted to do something with it. I realized that NFS Ferrari wasn’t big enough to justify a MySQL database, so I decided to expand the site to all brands. NFSCars was born and I registered my first domain name nfscars.com. March 24 is the day that the domain was registered and that week, the site was launched. The domain name proved to be a good choice, the site took off very well immediately. Not many things were automated at that point, so we had to add cars manually, which took a lot of time. I added about 1 car/day, and this made people return regularly, increasing the amount of visitors rapidly. Within one month, the site had 7000 page views a day! One of the biggest features of NFSCars was its comment system, at that time a rare feature on NFS sites, or other sites for that matter.
Growing, growing, growing After 2 months, we passed our data limit at the hosting company it was hosted, so we moved the site to a temporary location until we found a decent host for the site. GameSpy decided NFSCars was good enough and offered hosting under SportPlanet. Files were offered using FilePlanet, which at that time, wasn’t so bad. During our time with GameSpy, the site was growing rapidly, and the first forum was launched. This simple forum (it had no categories or sub forums) attracted some more people and a community started to develop. Not long after that, NFSCars had become one of the biggest NFS sites in the community, right next to other big sites such as NFSCheats and NFSDesign.
Problems… Not everything was looking good though: FilePlanet was getting slower and slower, especially when they introduced waiting lines for downloads. A waiting line of 45 minutes was not uncommon on peak times and this didn’t do NFSCars any good. Also, the server hosting NFSCars was old and slow, and GameSpy wasn’t really interested in upgrading. People started complaining and I started to look for a solution. An old friend in the NFS scene contacted me and offered me hosting on his private server, and I decided to go for it, as anything looked better than GameSpy. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be a good choice as shortly after the site was moved, personal problems of that old friend caused his server to go offline, including NFSCars. The site was offline for several weeks, and I decided to move back to GameSpy. Fortunately, they allowed me to move back in, so I could continue NFSCars.
A new hope! Another friend from the community which I was chatting with regularly, a certain Mike343, had plans on getting his own server and was looking for a site that he could host. I had my doubts in the beginning (given my bad experience not long before), but when things started to develop, it started looking better and better, so I decided to go for it. It was early 2002. This had to work, because I couldn’t go back to GameSpy anymore after that, and once the site was moved, it proved to be a wise decision. At first, the server wasn’t very stable, but once that was solved, NFSCars had found a good new host.
The golden era The new server gave me the opportunity to expand the community. I installed a brand new board (phpBB2) and opened several sub forums. Once this got on its way, NFSCars was unstoppable and became the biggest NFS site by far. The number of cars grew rapidly, no other site could even keep up with the amounts of cars added on a daily basis (6 to 8 cars a day was average!), let alone pass NFSCars. Both NFS3 and NFS4 were hot items, even though NFS5 was out. The release of NFS6 only increased the amount of visitors even more. These times were definitely the golden days of NFSCars.
FnF & Underground era In 2003, EA decided to go a different way with NFS. Following the Fast & Furious hype, Underground was being developed. NFS got overrun by FnF fans, creating tuned Supra’s/Eclipses/Skylines/Civics and lots of people downloaded them.
Once Underground was released, a new, young, public discovered the NFS scene and NFSCars got overrun by new people talking about Underground. Older NFS games were slowly losing popularity and more and more older community members decided to move on. The success of Underground got noticed by EA and so they released Underground 2 late 2004. The community had changed and changed for good.
A new webmaster As many older members were leaving the community, my interest in NFS and NFSCars started to fade away. I spent less and less time on developing NFSCars further and started thinking about what to do with the site. A new webmaster was needed, someone with knowledge of the community and he had to be an experienced PHP/MySQL programmer. The right person was closer than I first thought. The only person I knew who was a good enough programmer and had the dedication and time for NFSCars was the one person responsible for hosting NFSCars for the last 2.5 years, no one less than Mike343. He gladly accepted the position and released a new version of NFSCars shortly after he got the job.
Future… Well, I can’t tell you much about the future of NFSCars. Not only is no longer in my hands, it is also unclear what the future of NFS will look like. Rumors say that the next NFS will be a true NFS, in the line of Hot Pursuit and High Stakes, but with a twist and ideas taken from Underground. If done right, this will attract a new public to NFS and might bring back the old days a bit, but with new people. But, as always with EA, don’t expect too much of it, as it might not be as good as it can be…
Closing argument Looking back on 5 years NFSCars, it’s not hard to see that the site is one of my biggest achievements in life so far. Not many people can say they started a community with over 20,000 members, and thousands of unique visitors a day. I am proud of what I have achieved, and in some ways, I regret stepping down. I enjoyed managing such a big community. But, overall I don’t regret my decision. For me it was time to move on, time to concentrate on my real life and career. I will not leave NFSCars completely though, I will remain as assistant admin (even if it’s just for old times sake) and I will keep visiting NFSCars!
Let’s hope NFSCars will live to see its 10th anniversary, but with a dedicated webmaster like Mike343, I don’t see any problems for the near future!