54,724,580 visitors since 2 February 2002 

Pay-sites & closing sites - how come?
Many fansites of The Sims are disappearing lately. It's a shame really, but it can't be prevented. This is because of their own success. "What do you mean?" I hear you saying. That's what I'm going to explain in this article. It also explains why several of the most popular sites now have paid memberships, which is something a lot of fans are not happy about. Unfortunately, there's nothing to do about it.
The Problem
The main problem is the amount of visitors visiting the fansites. Every visitor generates some traffic. If you download a page, that means the size of that page - and all images - are sent to you. This means the site has to send it, which is the traffic. Downloads also cause traffic. If you download a file of - let's say 100 kilobyte in size - it causes 100 kilobyte traffic. It takes only 1000 people to download it to generate 100 Megabyte of traffic. 10 of those files means 1000 Megabyte or 1 Gigabyte. These figures are not exact, but they are close enough. Most hosts have limits on traffic - for instance only 2 Gigabytes per month. That means that if the site exceeds this limit, it gets cut off by the host or the site owner has to pay more. Other sites say they have 'unlimited bandwidth' (bandwidth is another word for traffic), but the host will still cut you off too whenever you use too much, so other sites become inaccessible because of your site. That's how a 'Fair Use Policy' works.

"The Sims" is an extremely popular game, and so are the sites. The Sims Zone is rather small, compared to some of the sites that have been around longer. Some sites get more than 10,000 visitors a day and others even more than that. Not every visitor downloads files though but they still generate some traffic just by "window shopping" and looking at the pages only. With these rates, a fansite for The Sims easily generates a lot of traffic.
Bills cost money...
Traffic costs money and more traffic there is, the more money it costs. That is when a site gets in trouble. They'll have to set up something to pay the bills. Not only the traffic costs money though, but if you take in account that some extra costs for the hosting of the site itself have to be paid too, the costs can get very high. Some costs can be covered with the income from banner advertising, but that can only pay so much. It doesn't often pay all the running costs. Banner Ads don't make as much money as they used to do and advertisers have been holding their ads back because they get enough money from it themselves.

Also, hosting options differ, which can be reflected in the costs, and so the popularity of sites differ too. There are sites with probably 20,000 visitors a day - if not more. Other sites may have less visitors, but each visitor generates more traffic. When a site becomes very popular, costs can go up and monthly costs of $5,000 per month can easily become a reality. For instance, SimFreaks started as a small site but soon had bills of $4,000 a month. 7 Deadly Sims needed $6,000 per month on donations. They tried to cover these by setting up 8th Deadly Sim, which has proved to be a successful site. The actual costs are higher though, and advertising banners won't pay the whole bills with costs as high as these - not by far.
Decisions, Decisions...
When advertising doesn't work anymore, the site owner has to make a choice. Donations can help pay some of the bills, but they do not always pay all of them. Also, some visitors will think 'others will pay, so I don't have to'. In the meanwhile, the amount of traffic does not drop. The site owner has to decide: close up shop, or become a pay site?

Of course, the visitor won't like it if a site goes paysite. There are those who can't afford the monthly costs and others who don't have the means to pay, for instance no credit card. For the site owner, it's a matter of "What will be the best for the visitor?". Who has to pay for their hobby? Does one person pay a large amount, or do a lot of people pay a small amount each? I can believe one person doesn't like paying the whole lot. If they have to do that, they'll probably close the site down. The result is that nobody can visit the site anymore and enjoy the stuff that can be found there.

The other option is to become a paysite. This way visitors who do not have the means and/or the money to pay will be (partially) unable to visit the site. That is basically the same result as closing the site to them. For the others, they'll still be able to visit the site. So in the end, to the visitor not willing to pay, it doesn't really matter, but the others will be as happy as before - if not happier.
And The Sims Zone?
We don't blame popular fansites for becoming paysites. We even support them. However, The Sims Zone will remain free as long as possible - which hopefully is still a long time. If necessary, we will have to put up advertising banners and/or donations in the future. If things get really bad, we might have to become a paysite too. We will always try to serve the community to the best of our abilities, and hopefully without making you pay.

Please note that most figures used in this article are estimated figures and are not representative in any way.

If you have comments about this article, post them in this news-post.
Written at 23:39 on Monday 4 March 2002 by ChEeTaH.

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