Gamesville's success was driven by a strong product vision, itself based on understanding of users. User experience was not a concept the company founders discussed, but they nevertheless followed its precepts.
The games all were designed around frequent short advertising breaks, drawing on the mental model of television commercials. The website's tagline, "Free Games, Cash Prizes," described the site effectively in just four words. Despite a slow, checkbox-form design, Gamesville's core bingo games were easy enough that expert users could play multiple cards at once, just like real life bingo. Unique among Lycos properties, the company collected users' photos and posted them prominently in the workspace -- a constant reminder of the real people we were building games for.
Lycos, a company that's never held to a strong vision, ought to have learned from Gamesville's focus. Instead it ran the property into the ground by squeezing its prize money and diverting its talented engineers onto other projects. Gamesville has recently surged back, however.