There and Back Again

Some of you may have noticed the server logo/name change; I just wanted to give some context and news about that shift.

In 2006, I was playing a random online ranked game of FIFA and my opponent had a mic on. We chatted about the game, the sport, and some website called Xbox Live League Network (founded in 2002). I figured I might as well check it out, I was just a college kid with too much free time and not enough drive to study, so more video games was perfect!

Not long after I joined, the site was re-branded as United Leagues, because the owner wanted to run more than just Xbox leagues on the site. Eventually they added Playstation leagues into the fold as well.

After 11 years and too many leagues to count, the owner decided he had run his last league and shut the site down. I didn’t really blame him since the site had never been the same after NCAA football was no longer being made. UL had a 64- team NCAA league with ranking polls voted on by a select group of members and a full bowl system. This league was the bee’s knees.

I was the proverbial man without a country. However after a bit of time in the wilderness, a fellow ULer and myself decided to purchase the site and try to get the band back together again.

I knew the ins and outs of how the run the leagues and the website, but neither one of us could know exactly how hard it would be to actually bring guys back that had been in a community for 11 years and it disappeared.

So, being completely honest, the last 7 years have been a lot of trial and error in hopes of building back what was once a pillar in online sports gaming. You may laugh at that, but at its peak, UL had over 1000 members and anywhere from 300-500 active in a league at any one time.

Which brings me to today…

From a personal standpoint, my life is in a much more stable position. Sure we added a kid into the mix, but he helps me stay up late, which is my idea time!

From a league/gaming standpoint, I think we are getting to be in a better spot as well. The past few years have been pretty poor as far as sports games go, in my opinion, but I can see the tide slowly turning (also NCAA is coming back!).

So I have made the decision to make a genuine effort to rebuild UL, starting with the PFA leagues. FIFA on Playstation is a massive community, so using that as a starting point just made sense to me. I am considering adding Madden into the mix later this Fall, but I also don’t want to spread too thin too quickly.

The UL v2.0 site will not be like the OG site. It was a site built in 2004, and frankly, looked like it. Some new things will work and some things won’t. I’m still learning and building up the new processes, so I only ask for your patience and constructive feedback in this regard,

We certainly have a couple new technologies at our disposal as well.

Discord will be our main communication program evolving from MSN Messenger and AIM 😂.

Additionally, video game streaming is easier than ever before, sometimes as simple as a couple of button presses on the console.

Now down to brass tacks:

United Leagues will operate two types of leagues moving forward – casual and dynasty. I won’t go into all of the details of the differences, but both league types will incur a league fee.

League fee, you say? But Hoff, why should we have to pay for this?

Well, random internet friend, the short answer is: because I’m paying for it. 🙂

There are actually more reasons behind the league fee, and they are:

It took (and takes) a long time to develop the website and run the leagues, so this is an easy way to recoup some of that time.

It also allows for continuing maintenance and enhancements (hosting fees, new league features, etc.).

The two big reasons behind the fee for me though are:

A fee (no matter how small) indicates a level of commitment. It requires the owner (you) to have some skin in the game. Owners who pay a league fee are far less likely to just drop out. I’ve seen it happen over a decade plus of leagues, it really works.

Also a fee weeds out the umm….less desirable owners that may be interested in joining. It’s highly unlikely that someone will pay a league fee just to be a toxic jerk and get booted after a couple weeks.

I completely understand that some people refuse to pay for certain things. That’s fine, there are lots of free leagues all around the internet. You get what you pay for.

Transparency time: I’m not doing this to get rich, I’m trying to add a little accountability and stability to the site, and this is an easy and cheap way to do it. League fees will be $5.46 per season for dynasty leagues.

My final point is the closest to my heart.

I mentioned above how I just randomly encountered someone from this site years ago. He loved it so much that he told me about it and convinced me to join. That’s a community. I have lifelong friends I’ve made from this site. Just guys who like playing games with and against one another. I want to make this a place where guys play random online matches and recommend the leagues. I don’t know where we lost the plot in regards to only winning matters, but I’m going to do my best to prevent it here.

I cannot stress this enough, UL will have a zero tolerance policy towards toxicity. If the main purpose of you joining one of our leagues is to beat everyone else, run up the score, and not interact with anyone, don’t waste your time and don’t waste my time. Wanting to win is perfectly fine, I welcome a competitive atmosphere. However, if that desire to win comes at the cost of the people you are playing against, that’s where I draw the line.

So that’s it and that’s all. Let me know if you have any questions/comments/concerns and I’ll forward them to the appropriate people.

I’m looking forward to building this back up with your help!

– Josh

**Updated 8/4 – I have made the decision to require a league fee for all leagues. The more I think about the justification I have for a fee and the more work I put into setting these leagues up, the more I realize it needs to apply to every league. If it only applied to some leagues and not others, there would probably be a drop-off in quality in terms of the owner it attracts. I am putting forward the same amount of work for each type of league, so it doesn’t make sense for me to work twice as hard for half as much.

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