I remember in the .com rush of the mid 90's yahoo hit the scene and everyone was so amazed at their portal content and their site directory. The conventional wisdom was, "Internet users don't want to find stuff they want one site where they can get all the information they need". Microsoft made MSN, various news portals popped up. Everyone was making portals, talking about things like stickyness and how to keep people on your pages longer. You saw things like real estate pages with web games for kids, people tried everything to get as much traffic as they could. Companies liked the idea so much they started creating intranet portals for their own employees and the portal business took off. Companies started making a killing making portals for other companies, development companies started making portal products that you could buy in a box and customize to your needs. Better late then never Microsoft even showed up with Sharepoint (it's own intranet portal product). Recently trends have been changing however, Google is the big dog in town. It's a little bit odd too, Google's default search page is so unobtrusive that you can see why the big portal players ignored it for so long. But google (like em or hate em) approached the internet with a different theory. The decided that instead of trying to bring all the information that a user might need to one site and have them stay there indefinatly, they decided to invest in making one of the best search engines online and allowing users to find whatever they want. Instead of being sticky they became a spring board. Google has taken this principle of connecting users with information and laughed all the way to wallstreet. Google may not be laughing so loud now however, they managed to awake the bear from hibernation and now Google's prior unwitting enemies are rallying against them. Microsoft is investing heavily in search and now sees Google as a direct competitor. There's a lot of interesting implications about whats happening currently with the two companies, but one thing is evident. The theory of providing one site with selected information has proven to be less compelling to online users then the site that allows them to find whatever they want. ---- With that preface, the point I would like to make is that if you want to beat the portals, don't build an indie portal, build an indie search. One of the biggest flaws of a portal is that there's just no way to have everything a person possibly wants. The content they provide is what most people want because content is expensive and they only have so many resources. The need to focus on the content that gets them the most ROI. Right now that means that game portals are largely locked into casual games. If I was in a mind to enter their business (and believe me, i'm not) I would make a games search. It would find casual games on the portals, it would find flash and web games, it would find downloadable games from sites like blitwise, phelos, happy puppy and so on. It would find you any type of game you were interested in, with relevant results. By default it would be a search, like google, but you can see it growing to add value, like a game registry where once you found "Platypus" on real arcade and on reflexive you could look it up in the registry and see what people were saying about it. Maybe even wiki style reviews of games where users produce the content. Game players are a very lucrative market demographic and online advertising has matured to a viable business strategy. One could imagine selling google style adwords on the search. I'll let you imagine the possibilities. The point is you can't beat the portals at their own game, the have these things that make very string barriers to entry. Capital, Resources, Momentium, Critical Mass, Product Catalog, Brand Recognition and so on. If you want to beat the portals you have to do it by solving a different problem. A game search doesn't really solve the problem that most developers have, not being able to publish their games. With an indie game search developers would have to get their lazy asses in gear and actually set up some means of taking payment and put their game up on their website somewhere. The one thing it does do however is apply a democratizing affect to how users find games, it also as a much wider reach then a real arcade would because if the search is just as good at finding sci-fi games as it is at finding mach three, and just as good at finding shooters as it is at word games then you can have something that's relevant to many more people then females 18-35 and senior citizens. Because of that universal relevancy you allow the traffic to flow to where it should, allow people to find the games they want. Instead of having all the casual traffic sucked up by big portal magnets, and all the core traffic sucked up by bluesnews and 1up, you have a site that can be rel event to all of them and connect all of them to games. In conclusion the way to beat the portals is not to beat the portals but to be more relevant then the portals. The real problem is traffic not publishing, publishing is cheap, it costs almost nothing to publish online. What is expensive right now is traffic, if you solve the traffic problem you solve the portal problem.