For many, the question will be: what the hell is a Gofobo? And to be sure, “death” is a bit hyperbolic–the Gofobo website has actually revamped itself into a Version 2.0 that’s taken a valuable website for movie fans and made it utterly useless. But how? And why?
Gofobo was, until recently, a service that posted announcements of advance movie screenings sponsored by the studios themselves, or by such companies as radio stations, websites or local merchants. It was searchable by zip code, so users could find upcoming screenings in their area, and allowed printing of passes if any were available. Often they weren’t, or were accessible only for contest winners or others with special passwords, but once users knew a screening was going to take place, they could check back with the site to see if seats opened up.
A few days ago, under dead of holiday weekend, the site changed. Apart from a design upgrade, there was a change in policy: from now on, screenings will only be posted if and when seats are generally available, which in practical terms will mean very briefly and sporadically. Thus, the vast majority of the time screening pages will be blank of meaningful content, leaving little reason to check in other than the hope of blind luck. This will almost surely result in less use.
Why would a website deliberately diminish its own usefulness? Reading between the lines of their communique to users, it’s pretty clear that this wasn’t Gofobo’s own idea–apparently the studios and sponsors were annoyed that users, having found out a screening was taking place, would contact them in search of tickets. (We’ll see how they like it when no one contacts them at all.)
Trying to make lemonade out of some particularly sour lemons, Gofobo is attempting to reposition itself as (a) a social network site for movie fans (good luck with that, now that there’s little reason to patronize the site), and (b) a pure fulfillment house for the studios and sponsors, essentially just providing the ticketing service for companies that aren’t in that business. Since presumably the bulk of Gofobo’s revenues comes from those clients, perhaps this isn’t a bad move financially for them. But it’s sad to see a previously helpful site placed behind a Uselessness Wall.