While this unfortunately played a substantial role in making the shallow, dismissive criticism that a game “looks like a flash game” (and should therefore be free) a common refrain, it also led to the creation of unconventional, genuinely interesting games.
For all its bark, the majority of the site’s early days involved housing goofy animations and games that made 420 jokes and dropped references to The Matrix while serving up the occasional ho-hum game whose one defining quality was its supposed-taboo subject matter.
At its worst, Newgrounds was Baby’s First Rebellion all the way through to its dick-jokey core.
And yet in spite of all this, the site remains important in the history of video games.
Thanks to its lax submission policy, Newgrounds was an odd kind of frontier, especially in the later aughts, a Deadwood for developers to debut games that couldn’t exist anywhere else because there simply wasn’t a digital marketplace for them.
This was long before Itch.io, even before Steam took a vested interest in anything indie.