Wednesday, November 08, 2023
Video game journalism isn't dead yet
I wouldn't call myself a journalist, although I am definitely a "content creator" and cover video games among other things. Video game journalism isn't having a great time, facing the same sort of distrust as other forms of journalism do. The companies doing the reporting and reviewing of video games are frequently paid by the companies that are doing the video games, and on sites like Metacritic the "professional critics" reviews and the user reviews are more and more frequently diverging by a lot. Then there is a lot of junk "video game journalism" which is basically search-engine optimized tips for various games; content which is produced in large quantities, and at such low quality that ChatGPT will certainly quickly replace all human writers in that field.
But of course there are some good video game journalists, who are producing good content. And sometimes producing good content gets into conflict with a large media company wanting to maximize profit. So media company Gamurs, owners of The Escapist among other publications, decided to fire editor-in-chief Nick Calandra, the guy who most insiders believe was actually responsible for reviving The Escapist after a long period of non-relevance. Which then led to everybody in the team making videos for The Escapist quitting their jobs, including Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, the man behind Zero Punctuation, one of the longest series of video game review videos on YouTube.
The good news is that two days later, the whole team had a new channel up, called Second Wind. And while some content, like Zero Punctuation, will need to be renamed due to The Escapist holding the intellectual property rights to the name, all the content creators and their distinctive styles will be back in some form or another on the new channel.
While few people trust video game journalism media companies, a lot of people do trust "influencers". It makes a lot of sense for content creators to ditch their employers, especially if they are already famous enough that their quitting is reported by BBC News. Well, the BBC had their own experience with the phenomenon, after they fired Jeremy Clarkson and found out that a show called Top Gear on BBC without Clarkson, May, and Hammond wasn't as popular as a show not called Top Gear on Amazon with Clarkson, May, and Hammond. I don't think The Escapist could continue the Zero Punctuation series without Yahtzee, so that is some intellectual property that lost all value over night. Actually The Escapist might have to totally ditch video content, unless they want to build up a new team to do so from scratch. Too bad Gamurs isn't a publicly traded company, because it might be rather funny to listen to some manager explain the initial decision to fire Calandra to the investors. The future of video game journalism might well be content creator owned, and the big media companies will not like that.