The Consolidation of Game Media and Game Communities

Ramble about a trend I’ve been thinking about for awhile:

This is a trend that I’ve noticed over the past year, and it’s something that I’m obviously paying close attention to since I work for a game community:

As media is changing and leaving print media more and more, we’re seeing the media companies adapting to these changes in interesting ways.  Most recently we’re seeing companies like GamePro (IDG) and Game Informer (GameStop) invest money in bringing their readership and community from their magazines onto the web to their online communities.

This isn’t anything new or mind blowing…heck, 1up.com did this years ago with Elecontric Gaming Monthly and Computer Gaming World/Games for Windows Magazine.  (I’m wondering if 1up was just ahead of its time, or if it lacked some sort of feature set or push from Ziff to really get it to making bucket loads of cash)

Over the past week we’ve seen some pretty interesting changes:

  • Garnett Lee, former executive editor for 1up.com left to join GameFly Media as their Editorial Director.  GameFly doesn’t just rent games any more..they own several different gaming websites, including Shack News.
  • John Davison’s company/website WhatTheyPlay.com was sold to IGN, and now he’s leaving to go join GamePro as their Executive Vice President of Content.  His goal is to “reboot” GamePro, with better integration between the website and the magazine.
  • Billy Berghammer (Director of Gaming Editorial) is no longer at G4TV.com…and I suspect others left as well.  I’m wondering what direction G4TV.com will take now, if any change at all, since they just relaunched their website at E3 and dedicated a lot of resources to it.
  • GameInformer totally revamped and relaunched their website, turning it into a community website with editorial content in the spotlight.  It’s very 1up.com, and the site is looking great.

We’ve also got the new Electronic Gaming Monthly reboot happening this winter..which promises to be some sort of mix between Web and Magazine content.

We’re also seeing existing and new media sites recognize the importance of community and invest in interesting ways to help facilitate community.  For instance, Giant Bomb now tracks your PSN, Xbox Live, Steam and World of Warcraft Achievements.  Not only that, Giant Bomb is some sort of hybrid Wiki site mixed with an editorial site, the editorial brought to you by Jeff Gerstmann, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, and Vinny Carravelli (Sorry if I butchered your name man!).  All of these guys are former GameSpot guys, and they’re doing some interesting stuff.  As a side note: the parent company of Giant Bomb, Whiskey Media, is doing some interesting stuff in general. Keep an eye on them!

Other examples of news sites being communities would be Destructoid.com, Kotaku.com and Joystiq.com…all three of which are blogging sites that are growing more and more, and being taken more seriously by the game industry..and by themselves.  The amount of people reading these blogs every day is huge, and their power is not something to underestimate.

We’ve also got CrispyGamer.com, which is carving out its niche with a feature and video content based offering, and an advertising model which refuses to take money from game advertisers.

Lastly we have the GameSpot’s and IGN’s of the world…humongous game news sites and communities on the web that inform and entertain tens of millions of gamers every single day.

Anyways…I think there is some *really* interesting stuff happening out there right now, as some huge companies (and even smaller startups like Whiskey and Crispy Gamer) all invest in making the next version of the Media/Community site for gamers.  This is definitely something I’m going to be keeping an eye on, and I’m excited to see what everyone does next, as they all push each other to do something new and interesting in the game industry.

Are there any trends that you’re noticing?  Do you think any of the companies above are wrong about their approach, or one of them is totally dead on?  I’m interested in what others think of this trend..what others think is the larger story.  Let me know!