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Gabe’s Glance: The Gaming Media Landscape

I’m not disillusioned to one of the most maligned things about this industry — people do not read. I’m not disillusioned to the second most maligned thing about this industry — people do not trust games journalists. And I’m not disillusioned to the third most maligned thing about this industry — the industry is crumbling down.

The gaming media landscape is going the same way the gaming industry is, full of layoffs, AIs, and disgruntled execs at less-than-excellent profits after major overhauls and acquisitions. Case in point — Gamurs, among the larger media companies out there operating the likes of Destructoid, Twinfinite, Prima Games, Gamupur, and — arguably most notably — The Escapist. 

The Rise Of The Pheonix

In early November, it was revealed on Twitter that editor-in-chief Nick Calandra was booted from his position due to failing to meet goals set in place by Gamurs, which evidently has its own skeletons in its closet, like considering AI content with the guidance of an editor who would publish 100+ posts a day.

In response, the entirety of The Escapist’s video team was either fired or quit out of solidarity just to continue to work for Calandra in his new venture — Second Wind. This would encompass columns, but overall, it’s mostly video content at the front and center, which makes sense since that’s the bread and butter of 90% of the team behind the new group.

In a similar story, some of Kotaku’s legacy writers left, leading them to set up Aftermath after getting fed up with G/O Media’s handling. A largely subscriber-based operation, just like Second Wind, but with Kotaku staff instead.

Vice shuttered its gaming-centered Waypoint column. GameSpot and Giant Bomb faced layoffs post-Fandom acquisition. Washington Post sunset active contributions to Launcher, with the only person resuscitating life to the column being Gene Park in a generic “Video Games” section, which is seldomly updated, going with as little as two to three stories a month. All of these significant layoffs happened this year.

Legacy’s Entered The Chat

This all happens because a legacy media group or big buyer swooped into the fray, it then realizes that traditional games media is not as profitable as it thought, and either suddenly stops syndication of gaming content or keeps it up in a slow drip-feed to give the illusion that it’s still getting worked on.

Publications like NPR and Axios, for example, have gaming sections. While Axios — I believe — has more chance of being a mainstay for the publication for the long-haul thanks to its model being newsletters and real-time coverage, NPR has already faced some troubles making games coverage work, focusing almost exclusively on game reviews, and part of me is concerned leadership will give up on it in the near future.

At least Second Wind is a learning experience for those who put all their eggs in one basket — try not to. But, if you do, a strong community will follow anyone anywhere and, if needs be, help financially. Sadly, traditional media content isn’t as valued as video content, but such is the case of changing generations going from reading lengthy magazines to get the latest in games media to only having to pull out their phone and go to any number of real-time updated websites. 

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Irkella
Irkella
5 months ago

For what it’s worth, I’ve been enjoying the content and glad to see PSX still showing up in my news feed; but I think I’m less averse to reading an article than most these days, unfortunately.

The rot is definitely setting in as execs and shareholders become almost entirely removed from those their publications and studios are serving their content to. Minimum viable product is the name of the game, and none of the consumers are interested in playing.

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