|Launch Date||February 2001|
Zelda Universe (ZU) is a web site devoted to The Legend of Zelda. It has been online since February 2001, when it started out as a small fan site, but has since grown to become the largest and most popular online source for information on The Legend of Zelda.
Zelda Universe was started in February of 2001 by Lars-Christian Simonsen, aka AnakiN-. It started out as a small, personal website with sporadic information on Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Within a year, it was expanded to include more in-depth coverage of the two games, as well as the older games. Popularity increased almost exponentially with the addition of new content, and reached its peak around the release of The Wind Waker in 2003, when more than 15,000 people visited the site per day on average over a period of a couple of months. Since that it stabilized itself as the most popular Legend of Zelda fan site online.
Summer of 2005 was marked a time of change for the website, when Lars decided to pull out of the site due to personal reasons. Lee Dodd made an offer which was accepted, and became the new owner of the site. A year later he decided to cash in, and sold the site on to Yousof ("spdude"). Yousof held the site throughout the year and up to mid 2007. These years were marked as a period of commercial growth, with both Lee and Yousof facing accusations that they didn't genuinely care for the community, only owning the site to reap advertising revenue while leaving the community to manage itself.
Late July marked the return of Jason Rappaport to the community, who had previously served as a webmaster under Lars and Lee. Soon after his return, Jason made an offer to Yousof to buy the site... an offer that after much discussion Yousof accepted. Even though the framework around the site has changed several times since 2005, the core values and day-to-day operations stayed the same, and Zelda fans and site veterans are stayed in charge of the maintenance of the site.
March 29, 2008 marked an epic day in the history of Zelda Universe, when Dennis Wyman (Captain Cornflake) beat Jason in a Super Smash Bros. Brawl match. The prize: Zelda Universe. This was revealed two days later to be an April Fool's prank, so no actual transferral of ownership took place.
Zelda Universe is currently in "The Fifth Era." This is a time frame from November 6, 2008- present, after the addition of Cody as a Webmaster, who is helping Jason with the site. During which time, Cody made numbered members mods, and mods more powerful by giving them promotions. Cody also wanted all of the mods to change their user name to their real name, which most mods did.
Zelda Universe has a long list of features which have helped it become one of the largest sources for Zelda information online. This includes to such things as guides for Items & Equipment, and Pieces of Heart. These guides are usually, but not always, accompanied by artwork or screenshots from the game.
In addition to this, they have exclusives such as a vast selection of Articles on The Legend of Zelda, a series of editorials called "Behind the Rupees", and a large selection of various media related to The Legend of Zelda. "Behind the Rupees" finally ended in 2007 after a long, slow decline. In a recent news post, a new series coming to ZU known as "The Missing Link (ZU Article Series)|The Missing Link" was announced as a revival of Behind the Rupees. ZU also boasts the largest independent Legend of Zelda based discussion forum online. All in all, more than 50,000 people have signed up for Zelda Universe, be it to participate in the Forums, or access the sections which are restricted to registered members only, although less than two thousand have remained active.
Zelda Universe also makes a dedicated effort to keep the visitors up to date on everything that goes on in the world of Zelda, accompanied by frequent updates with new and/or improved content. Zelda Universe recently has expanded outside of the Zelda realm and frequently updates on general gaming and Nintendo material.
- Main article: Community:Zelda Universe Community
Since it cemented itself as the most popular site within the Zelda community, ZU has found itself the caretaker of a growing and diverse community. Due to its sheer size, it has had its fair share of cliques, trends, memes and internal disputes. The main backbone of the community has historically been the ever changing Mod Team, the #zelda chat crew, and input taken from the various Oldbies and general forumgoers. The three Clans of the Goddesses are also a popular part of the community.
Due to its size, it is also often the place a good many Zelda and gaming fan sites start. While most of these sites tend to be hosted on places such as InvisionFree or Proboards, and generally don't last more than a couple months, places such as Heretic Gamer and ZeldaInformer have managed to successfully branch off of ZU to form their own "descendant" communities.