Post news Report content RSS feed A 10 year history of ModDB

ModDB is a big boy now! 10 years young! What better way to celebrate then a look back at what we used to be and how that shaped what we are now!

Posted by Henley on Jul 30th, 2012


The Prologue

Enter stage right Scott Reismanis, the CEO and founder of all you can see (on this site), his passion? Web Design and Gaming. A potent mixture that would fuel his future ideas and ventures. This story starts off with a website called ChaosRealm, wheeling and dealing game content of all descriptions in an attempt to get traffic. Starting a web business back then was not for the faint of heart, and Scott quickly found out that user interactions and modifications drove the most traffic to his site.

1999 to 2001 - ChaosRealm v1 1999 to 2001 - ChaosRealm v2
1999 to 2001 - ChaosRealm v3 2000 to 2002 - ModRealm

Towards the end of ChaosRealms reign of terror (Scott's words not mine) ModRealm was born with a focus on what was the most popular aspects of CR, the mods. Still completely dependent on the interactions of her owners ModRealm never really exploded in its popularity and in late 2001 ModRealm met a grizzly end with the closure of her service provider, rending the site dead.


Humble beginnings: The birth of a giant.

It was a cold morning on June 8 2002, Scott Reismanis launched his third site to the world simply called mod database. Unlike his previous sites Mod Database (shortened to ModDB by all the cool kids) focused on content generated by the community of the site, meaning that no-longer was it required for Scott to be the only voice. The netscape was a very different place in 2002, so you could chalk it up too being in the right place at the right time, what the gaming public wanted or just stupid sexy luck, no one could foresee the potential and what ModDB would become.

2002 to 2004 - Mod DB v0.5 to v1.5

  • Members joined: 5,348
  • Number of visitors this year: (no tracking yet)
  • Number of Mods added this year: 535
  • Most popular mod: Mobile Infantry
  • Number of news posts added this year: 916
  • Most popular news: Forums Are Getting There
  • Number of comments added this year: 5,164
  • Number of images added this year: 362
  • Most popular piece of media: Stalker Cosmo Kramer


A young yet curious ModDB: Growing like a weed.

We were growing like a weed in the earily years of ModDB. Because of this 10 year writeup I had a chance to peruse our older blog posts. I came across this gem, both Scotty and I had a chuckle at this simple, yet well placed news post.

INtense! wrote:You may have noticed a few strange things happening about the moddatabase lately. The reason why, is because the 1 gigbyte worth of harddrive space allocated to the site was 100% used up.

2003 was such a different time. Now-a-days ModDB creates roughly about 4 gigabytes of content a day. Which includes downloads, images, videos and news. Which just goes to show how far we have come as a database. However expansion comes at a cost, as 2003 was a year plagued with downtimes. A few hours on and off, no where near as stable as the ModDB you know today.

Oh just in-case you were in the market for a nice thong to wear. ModDB launched its first clothing line in November of this year. Along with some other nice things.

Naturally these items did not sell all that well... If any...

  • Members joined this year: 20,532
  • Total Members: 25,880
  • Number of visitors this year: (no tracking yet)
  • Number of Mods added this year: 1,100
  • Total Mods: 1,635
  • Most popular mod: hammy-bob mod
  • Number of news posts added this year: 2,803
  • Total news posts: 3,719
  • Most popular news: hammy-bob beta 1 is here!
  • Number of images added this year: 5,590
  • Total images: 5,952
  • Most popular piece of media: Old HL1 battle shot


Flabber gasting: A new coat of paint.

Alas! Version 2! ModDB has removed her dirty peasant clothing for a more suitable attire for this modern age. With more than 200 changes from v1 version 2 also had a brand new theme and a few other notable upgrades like our tutorial section, multi-language support (site navi) and a better permission system for site admins.

2004 to 2006 - Mod DB v2.0

This version is still regarded among our oldest members to be one of the best versions of the site. "Lean and Mean" was how it was mostly regarded as. 2004 was also the first time ModDB joined the rest of the net with RSS feeds, which is how a lot of our community enjoy's our content right now.

  • Members joined this year: 22,907
  • Total Members: 48,787
  • Number of visitors this year: (no tracking yet)
  • Number of Mods at years end: 1,109
  • Total number of Mods: 2,744
  • Most popular mod: RED DAWN
  • Number of news posts added this year: 2,904
  • Total news posts: 6,623
  • Most popular news: SForever featured in PCGamer UK
  • Number of images added this year: 5,456
  • Total images: 11,408
  • Most popular piece of media: What zealot is more pleasant to you?


Fade to black: The year that almost killed us.

It was a very rough time for ModDB in 2005. We faced massive downtimes, a week long. We lost a month worth of content and our service providers were in the same sinking ship.

Following the downtime the site was faced with a decision. Close down its doors forever and move onto new pastures or face the 2 month roll-back head on and build up once agian what was lost. Both idea's had merit. In the end however, ModDB persisted and with a lot of work she bounced back, even with the missing content.

INtense! wrote:Rest assured this will NEVER happen again as I now make daily backups of the mod database!

Good idea Scotty...

As the saying goes what does not kill you, only makes you stronger. This is very much the case for ModDB as within 2005 we launched the first iteration of the ModDB local download servers, meaning that we would never again lose modifications to the ether!

Download Now Available!

This was a giant step forward for what ModDB eventually became.

At the end of 2005 our community woke up to find an early Christmas gift in the form of version 3 of ModDB! This is when we grew out of our simple database children's cot to being the suave site you all know and love. I call this update the personality update as we (finally) got some colour, Wally worked what he had to the world and ModDB became a much easier site to navigate.

2006 to 2007 - Mod DB v3

  • Members joined this year: 33,706
  • Total Members: 82,493
  • Number of visitors this year: (no tracking yet)
  • Number of Mods at years end: 1,497
  • Total number of Mods: 4,241
  • Most popular mod: StarKiller
  • Number of news posts this year: 4,107
  • Total news posts: 10,730
  • Most popular news: Mod DB v3 Launch
  • Number of images added this year: 9,929
  • Total images: 21,337
  • Most popular piece of media: INS_Fallujah
  • Number of downloads added this year: 619
  • Most popular download: GTA Long Night


Talk to me Scotty: Burning for expansion!

With the new version of ModDB spreading good vibes, you could not have asked for a better start to 2006. Scott found time to update the RSS feature we had on the site to be more comprehensive. This allowed users to track singular mod news and updates. AddonDB was our first failed attempt at expanding the DB network of sites. The idea was solid, create another site that deals only with content that adds content to an already existing game. Like a map, model replacement or sounds.

INtense!_2006 wrote:Giving gamers the power to customize their games and share their customizations is the idea behind Addon DB. Variety is the 'spice of life' and with games titles losing their creative edge due to the sheer number of sequels and movie adaptations flooding the market, game addons have emerged to fill the void, allowing players the power to customize their game, their way.

2006 to 2007 - Addon DB

  • Members joined this year: 55,762
  • Total Members: 138,255
  • Number of visitors this year: 18,148,236
  • Number of Mods added this year: 1,343
  • Total number of Mods: 5,584
  • Most popular mod: Black Mesa
  • Number of news posts added this year: 4,179
  • Total news posts: 14,909
  • Most popular news: Red Orchestra Beta Access
  • Number of images added this year: 13,652
  • Total images: 34,989
  • Number of videos added this year: 76
  • Most popular piece of media: Zombie Scientist
  • Number of downloads added this year: 1,718
  • Total downloads: 2,337
  • Most popular download: SUPERMAN SA BETA v1.0


A telling of the future: Just out of reach.

Our first venture into digital distribution was not as many believe to be Desura. ModDB back in early 2007 partnered with IGN and created a whitelabel distributor of games. In the end this approach to selling games wasn't for us, so Scott's attention was looking to the future.

Version 4 future. Announced around August 2007, v4 had a whole list of impressive site changes that would push ModDB to be a powerhouse for modding related files and media. Some of the changes included:

  • A New design
  • Platform support
  • Groups
  • Engines
  • Standalone games as games
  • Addon DB merged
  • Community controlled content
  • Blogs & Friends
  • Video support

v4 is the current version of ModDB you are browsing right now (yes this version is almost 6 years old) and was completed on November 9th 2007.

  • Members joined this year: 74,408
  • Total Members: 212,663
  • Number of visitors this year: 21,590,909
  • Total Visitors: 39,739,145
  • Number of Mods at years end: 1,391
  • Total number of Mods: 6,975
  • Most popular mod: Tyranid Mod
  • Number of news posts at years end: 4,637
  • Total news posts: 19,546
  • Most popular news: Mod DB v4 Closed BETA
  • Number of images added this year: 19,446
  • Total images: 54,435
  • Number of videos added this year: 266
  • Total videos: 342
  • Most popular piece of media: HECU Soldier (deleted media) Profile
  • Number of downloads added this year: 2,073
  • Total downloads: 4,410
  • Most popular download: Hidden Source Beta 4b


A few words to the wise: The editorial push.

ModDB has never really been a syndicate news site for the great news breaking around the globe, that does not mean we didn't give it a go. In early 2008 we hired a editor-in-chief. Ryan "stenchy" Anderson was that man. For the next two years he attempted to craft our own brand of reviews, news, interviews, personality driven blogs and podcasts. However no matter what we attempted to do he could never over-shadow what ModDB natively grew into - a mod/indie game developer driven PR site. Anything we did never really stuck with our larger audience (we had our die-hard fans).

In the end we did make up some fantastic explosions of content from this boon. My personal favourite flop was the cringe worthy Modcast Live we ran. Horrible.

On a side note, we started working on Desura about now.

  • Members joined this year: 92,834
  • Total Members: 305,497
  • Number of visitors this year: 18,715,420
  • Total Visitors: 58,454,565
  • Number of Mods at years end: 1,600
  • Total number of Mods: 8,575
  • Most popular mod: Stargate - Empire at War
  • Number of news posts at years end: 8,195
  • Total news posts: 27,741
  • Most popular news: Player's Choice Winners Showcase
  • Number of images added this year: 45,103
  • Total images: 99,538
  • Number of videos added this year: 2,445
  • Total videos: 2,787
  • Most popular piece of media: Black Mesa Official Trailer
  • Number of downloads added this year: 3,861
  • Total downloads: 8,271
  • Most popular download: Hero Editor Full V 0.96


Forever forward: Too big for our own britches!

We just kept growing, almost too fast. We needed space, speed and bandwidth. Our database manager since the dawn of time had this to say on our rapid growth.

DBManager wrote:Since the 1st of August, Mod DB has been performing behind the scenes work to improve the speed of the site, and also our download system - which is growing rapidly! Our file library is growing at a rate of 200% every year, which is a testament to the rapidly growing Mod and Indie development scenes!

We ended up adding a whole slue of new download servers to our site.

  • 7 x European mirrors, hosted in the Netherlands
  • 5 x US-based mirrors, 2 in California, 2 in Denver and 1 in Texas
  • 1 x Australian mirror, in Perth.
  • Filefront available as a download option for users and guests.

Upgrades are costly things, so we looked into ways to help cover costs a little. Some worked better than most. We first had our professional job board and the other was our "proper" clothing store.

Desura was announced to the public on December 17th 2009. It was a long time coming and we were very excited to release what we had. To our surprise it launched to a massive audience and was syndicated across the net.

  • Members joined this year: 69,094
  • Total Members: 374,591
  • Number of visitors this year: 29,907,520
  • Total Visitors: 88,362,085
  • Number of Mods at years end: 2,413
  • Total number of Mods: 10,988
  • Most popular mod: Stargate - Empire at War
  • Number of news posts at years end: 14,672
  • Total news posts: 42,413
  • Most popular news: Introducing Desura
  • Number of images added this year: 96,715
  • Total images: 196,253
  • Number of videos added this year: 4,953
  • Total videos: 7,740
  • Most popular piece of media: The Mortewood Plaza - Dev Video 4 Finally!
  • Number of downloads added this year: 7,078
  • Total downloads: 15,349
  • Most popular download: STALKER Complete 2009 1.4.4


The story of the sharp pixel: Step it up!

INDIEDB! Having just come back from GDC 2009 our team sat down and decided that IndieDB was our next logical step, we already supported Independent developers, but we had no home for them. With the inclusion of IndieDB to our family we saw a great increase of indie games being added to the database.

While just supporting features is great, we needed to improve a whole lot more to match other sites. We needed to upgrade the quality of our media if teams were going to use our service to host and spread their works. To facilitate this we increase the quality of our thumbnails and created our powerful embed system for all media coming out of our site. Our review system also received a much needed update, gone the days of heavy formatting and HTML corrections. Now the review system is very simple and everyone is encouraged to participate!

  • Members joined this year: 93,761
  • Total Members: 468,352
  • Number of visitors this year: 42,119,713
  • Total Visitors: 130,481,798
  • Number of Mods at years end: 2,387
  • Total number of Mods: 13,375
  • Most popular mod: Company of Heroes: Eastern Front
  • Number of news posts at years end: 17,999
  • Total news posts: 60,412
  • Most popular news: Improving Deus Ex's Graphics With Mods
  • Number of images added this year: 148,911
  • Total images: 345,164
  • Number of videos added this year: 7,884
  • Total videos: 15,624
  • Most popular piece of media: Dual Sawn-off Shotguns!
  • Number of downloads added this year: 8,495
  • Total downloads: 23,844
  • Most popular download: Naruto: Naiteki Kensei R1


That feels oh so good: ModDB running smooth.

We are nearing the present for our look back at ModDB. The last year to talk about is a little sparse with interesting information as this year was mostly spent on expanding our other site Desura. Here is a little bit of information you might not have known though.

For the first time since 2002, ModDB gathered all of her full-time staff members in one place. Melbourne Australia became our official home and office back in May. The three main members, Scott Reismanis, Mark Chandler and myself Dave Traeger all moved into a flat and made a sitcom to the city to better organise ourselves and run the site as best as possible. Since then we have been a whole lot more productive and the site runs a smooth as a whistle.

  • Members joined this year: 273,626
  • Total Members: 741,978
  • Number of visitors this year: 53,748,496
  • Total Visitors: 184,230,294
  • Number of Mods at years end: 2,518
  • Total number of Mods: 15,893
  • Most popular mod: Republic at War
  • Number of news posts at years end: 20,233
  • Total news posts: 80,645
  • Most popular news: New Vision Version 1.0 Released
  • Number of images added this year: 188,164
  • Total images: 533,328
  • Number of videos added this year: 10,688
  • Total videos: 26,312
  • Most popular piece of media: Show of arms
  • Number of downloads added this year: 9,613
  • Total downloads: 33,457
  • Most popular download: Third Age - Total War 3.0 Part 1of2


The future...

It seems fitting that in our 10th year we reached the 1,000,000 members mark. So thanks to everyone who has ever visited, commented, submitted a mod or game or news or video or download or anything else to our site. Not a day passes that we don't enjoy browsing all of the amazing creative work getting added. Bring on another 10 years we say!

Post comment Comments
mgs2 Jul 30 2012 says:

Speechless, good job moddb, you are the greatest modding site ever.

+28 votes     reply to comment
Extradaemon Jul 30 2012 replied:

Amen Brother :D

+12 votes     reply to comment
Light_Kill Jul 30 2012 says:

Cool story bro.

+7 votes     reply to comment
cW#Ravenblood Jul 30 2012 says:

Really nice history, you can be proud of yourself :)

+7 votes     reply to comment
Docm30 Jul 30 2012 says:

Seeing old V1 always brings a nostalgic tear to my eye.

Though, I had always thought V1 was the beginning of it all, I hadn't realised there were sites before that. Very interesting.

Nice job staying around for 10 years --- I know I've enjoyed 9 of them.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Cheeseness Jul 30 2012 says:

Awesome writeup and some fantastic memories. Here's to another decade!

+4 votes     reply to comment
Nohomers48 Jul 30 2012 says:

A toast to another decade and million members! Keep up the awesome work guys.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ChromeAngel Jul 30 2012 says:

Congratulations on hitting the 10 year mark :D

1,000,000+ members and more than 4GB of data per day ... Wow!

Where does ModDB go from here?

+3 votes     reply to comment
mystery8 Jul 30 2012 says:

Congrats and Happy Birthday :) Here's to another 10 years :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Brage Jul 30 2012 says:

good job!
I really love the ModDB, keep it up...
and what is the new site you are working with???

+3 votes     reply to comment
AirborneSn1p3r Jul 30 2012 says:

great work! an awesome story for an awesome website, i hope moddb will still be around in another 10 years :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dr.Goupyl Jul 30 2012 says:

Im here since 2008 and im far from being bored ! long live mod database !

+1 vote     reply to comment
kommandojoe Jul 30 2012 says:

You should have stayed in the business of designing man-thongs, its a whole heap of potential :D

+3 votes     reply to comment
CountVlad Jul 30 2012 says:

Wow! I'd forgotten I'd been on here for so long! I actually remember the 2005 design. Here's to many more years of ModDB! :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
Brando_3609 Oct 25 2012 replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
BioDestroyer Jul 30 2012 says:

Congratulations! 10 years is a lot.
I have been browsing Moddb since 2008 and created an account in 2009!
I have so much fun browsing Moddb, I found (and still find!) great mods and great indie games.

+4 votes     reply to comment
NekoGenijalan Jul 30 2012 says:

Great job Moddb!!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Jerikಠh Jul 30 2012 says:

Evolution <:')

+2 votes     reply to comment
PhillInHoles Jul 30 2012 says:

I always found '05 to be the best design for the site! Something about it I just loved.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dr.Eviltag Jul 30 2012 says:

I joined this site a year ago, and i released a few mods here, and damn the history this site has been through is amazing.

Here are my mods if anyone want to check it out.

-1 votes     reply to comment
myles Jul 30 2012 says:

huge congrats! ModDB has changed a lot since I first started using it but it's still my top site to visit daily next to youtube. Keep it up guys and don't forget your roots :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Garyn Dakari Jul 30 2012 says:

I've been here since late 2007, so I missed out on most of those revisions. Interesting read!

...Low lets make it twenty years ;)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Garyn Dakari Jul 30 2012 replied:


+3 votes     reply to comment
TheConjurersTower Jul 30 2012 says:

I love stories like this, thanks for sharing! And I wish you guys the very best of luck for the coming years!

Can't wait to see what awesomeness is on the way!

+3 votes     reply to comment
STOKK-E Jul 30 2012 says:

2011 I join in yay it was a great year for the community.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ℒuna-tic™ Jul 30 2012 says:

I have only been a member here for 3 of those years, but I plan on staying around for many more, as long as this site is alive ;)

It's good to have a central place to monitor you're favourite mod's and games, plus to run a small portion of it is fun too, long live Moddb...

+2 votes     reply to comment
freredarme Jul 31 2012 says:

2005 is the best year of Moddb for me. I think its the best template of the Website :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dnst Jul 31 2012 says:

Lol, most read news in 2003 has no comments. It must have been a silent year over here :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dave27 Jul 31 2012 says:

Luv moddb and always will. Keep up the good work folks :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
kmarvell125 Jul 31 2012 says:

Version 3 summed up in a sentence:
Good luck navigating the front page, let alone anything else.
Never forget.

2003 represent!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Admiral_Skeybar Jul 31 2012 says:

Makes a fantastic read for an all time fan of this great site!

Thanks for everything =)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Hell_Diguner Aug 1 2012 says:

ModDB has more than tripled in size since I was aware of it, and more than doubled since I joined in 2008. My greatest fear is the site becoming too popular and going the way of YouTube.

Here's a thought for future development: ModDB remains a mod showcase website. I believe mod creation (tutorials, tools, information, etc) is underdeveloped. Other websites (often created by the game developers) are typically more useful if you are trying to learn how to mod a game.

+3 votes     reply to comment
feillyne Staff Subscriber
feillyne Aug 1 2012 says:

BTW the origin of v4 design of ModDB:

+1 vote   reply to comment
LordIheanacho Aug 2 2012 says:

Very awesome work so far. Although I really hope to see AddonDB again. I barely tried its features while it lasted.

And the thong part turned me on... ♥♥♥♥

+2 votes     reply to comment
cork279 Aug 4 2012 says:

You can use this to see ModDB throughout its history (well, since 2002 atleast) :D
Just search!

Congrats to ModDB's success!

+1 vote     reply to comment
BigBird Aug 13 2012 says:

Man this article brings back some great memories :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
TheDebonairNomad Sep 29 2012 says:

Manly Tears of Nostalgia were shed at this.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Project_Legacy Oct 22 2012 says:

legen-wait for it!-dary since 1999 :D
congratz Moddb with the 10th anniversary hope you stay for 10 more years ^^

+2 votes     reply to comment
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