Xfire: Then and Now


If you're a gamer, chances are you used, or at least knew of, the original Xfire.

The seminal gaming instant messenger service rose to define an era of PC gaming before it eventually fell to bureaucracy and rivals that innovated faster. However, it left an eternal mark and is remembered by users worldwide.

Now, Xfire is back in a new form, with a new mission, but all of the old zeal. Let's take a look at what happened and where we are headed.

What was Xfire?

It's been five years since Xfire was shut down for good and even longer since it peaked, and there's a whole new generation of gamers out there who never used the service and may not understand the nostalgia.

Xfire launched in 2003 as an instant messaging desktop application designed specifically for gamers to chat with friends and team members, to quickly join each other's games and to serve as a proto-social network for fans of the medium.

Remember when websites looked like this?

In the very beginning, which I'm sure barely anyone remembers vividly anymore, Xfire existed as a website only service, with the big break coming as a desktop app was launched. Xfire invented and popularized the features we take for granted these days, like an in-game overlay that allowed you to chat while playing, taking screenshots and tracking gaming stats. Over the years the array of features kept growing and eventually even included live streaming functionality.

Xfire worked like a proper social media platform including friends lists, activity feeds and file sharing. You could see what games your friends were playing, hop in to join them if they were in-game, you could share a screenshot of your latest accomplishment and compete with others on the leaderboards for number of hours spent in-game. Xfire took the boredom out of loading screens!

The Rise and Fall of Xfire

In the murky, ancient past of 2003, organizing gaming sessions with people outside your home was much tricker than it is today, and Xfire offered a clean and simple solution to this problem which helped cement it as a gaming mainstay in the early years, and later on innovation and momentum kept it going. At its peak, Xfire provided its services to over 21 million users across 100 countries.

Popularity and success brought plenty of attention from rivals as well as users and eventually, competitor apps popped up on the scene. Most tried to take a slice out of Xfire's pie by focusing on certain aspects and seeking to improve upon them, instead of trying to dethrone the king in every regard. Raptr (also RIP) tried to double down on the social aspect, Twitch grew to become a streaming titan and built-in chat and friends list services found in every first-party launcher made a dedicated chat platform redundant - that is, until Discord exploded onto the scene and brought it back into vogue.

Competitors aren't something Xfire was unfamiliar with, after all, it shared the early 2000's with TeamSpeak. When Xfire was first sold off to a large corporation, namely Viacom in 2006, things were still going well, but the seeds of the eventual fall were planted. Executives with no clue about how any of it worked gave the team huge monetization quotas without any thought given to innovation or development.

Irony.

Later, Xfire got sold again to Titan Gaming, which had even less direction for the service, and stagnation set in while rivals soared. A botched attempt to expand into the far-east market and a failed eSports hosting service drained any faith regarding the longevity of the once-loved application.

The company ultimately closed its doors in 2015, shutting down the chat service that had connected gamers worldwide for 12 years. Many fans who had a decade's worth of fond gaming memories attached to Xfire were sad to see it go, and this event was widely considered the end of an era in gaming.

That said, plenty of other services filled the void, and the likes of Twitch and Discord have since surpassed the successes of Xfire - but many remain who think of it with nostalgia.

Xfire Reborn

So what's all this, then? If Xfire was shut down why is there a site using the name?

Like so many others out there, we too have fond memories of Xfire, and decided to do something about it. Xfire.com is back under new management, with a new team and a new mission to reinvent what Xfire is in this new era and to re-establish it as a mainstay of gaming.

Since the aforementioned rivals that surpassed the original chat client are still around and more popular than ever, it was clear to us that Xfire cannot be revived in the same form, at least for now.

For starters, we're shaping Xfire to be everyone's one-stop landing page for all kinds of breaking news, guides, walkthroughs and analysis about video games, eSports and anything related to these mediums and industries. We're re-establishing Xfire as the number one source of gaming content on the web.

As for where we'll expand to in the future, you'll have to wait and see!

Can I download the Xfire app?

Unfortunately not. The original Xfire application crossed the rainbow bridge when the company shut down the service, and while some intrepid software conservationists and/or people who don't wipe old hard drives may still have installers in layaway, the app won't work at all, only as a sad reminder of glory past.

Whether or not the future holds another Xfire app, only time will tell.

Can I Download My Old Videos & Screenshots, and Friends Lists?

Unfortunately also no. The servers and all data housed within went up in smoke when the service was shut down, and there is no way - especially this long after Xfire turned off the lights - to recover any of those screenshots, videos or contacts. We hope you made backups!

Feedback & Suggestions

That said, if you want to help guiding the path along which Xfire will grow and have suggestions or ideas to field to the team, then take a look at our forums where you can do exactly that - alongside chipping into other gaming discussions with other Xfire visitors.

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. When not writing or playing, you can find Aron on Facebook.