A Piece of History

I wanted to note down my observations of the Whiskey Media buyout. It's an event that surprised a lot of people and upset some for one reason or another. It is, for the most part, from the Giantbomb.com perspective as that is the site I visit most frequently.

It all started on Monday 12 March 2012 when Jeff posted a twitter message (image left). Assuming that Jeff took the photo, this meant that at least Jeff and Vinny were not in the office on Monday. This struck me as very odd. Especially when you consider that content has been thin on the ground recently (something Jeff admitted later in announcing all of this) and that they were at GDC the previous week. You would have assumed they were busy outputting some GDC content or something. But no.

Then a video went up on Giant Bomb on Tuesday. A belated but brief I Love "Mondays" video.

On Wednesday, two more videos went up:

A "Chili Day" video...

...and an unusual Quick Look of Street Fighter X Tekken.

I was starting to get worried because there was more and more evidence of them not being in the office. Not just Jeff and Vinny now, but also Patrick and Dave at the very least. What was going on?

Jeff announced on Twitter that an announcement would be made at 10am PDT on Thursday in a live stream from Dave’s house which was where the photo and videos had been taken this week and not at the office.

On Thursday in the live stream, Jeff announced that CBS Interactive had acquired GiantBomb.com and ComicVine.com and that they would be moving to the same office as Gamespot. CBS own Gamespot, and Gamespot is where Jeff was controversially fired from in 2007. As you can imagine this was big news. But the news got bigger when he also announced that later in the day he would be sitting down with the Vice President of Games Programming for CBSi in a live stream to set the record straight about why he was fired and to allay fears/worries people may have about the move. I trust in Jeff’s reassurances about this move. Giant Bomb will continue as a separate independent site. It is not merging with Gamespot but they are working in the same office space. Here’s an interview that you may find interesting that sheds further light on it.

Here's the original live stream video archived on Giant Bomb's twitch.tv channel. (For some unknown reason, I am unable to embed the video on this page). Also, here is a link to photos that Drew Scanlon took on the same day. Update: This link is now dead as Everpix has now closed down.

Jeff finally gets the story of his Gamespot termination off his chest.

Meanwhile, Will Smith had tweeted that he would be making an announcement at around the same time as Jeff’s. So I was very surprised to see that Tested.com would now be working with Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters. They’ve been acquired by a company called BermanBraun. BermanBraun co-produce a new T.V. show called Unchained Reaction. A reality gameshow where two teams are given tasks and identical equipment. Adam, Jamie and a guest judge the results.Tested has been the first site to relaunch with a new design as you have already seen. A lot of users’ first impressions were not good, mine included. Will and Norm’s presence on the front page had been swept aside and Adam and Jamie’s photo is prominent (along with their names in the new logo) and they were calling it their site. This is a bitter pill to swallow because this is Will and Norm’s site. They are the ones that have put all the hard work in. In my opinion it was very insensitive to aggressively change the front page like they have. But apparently it is still work-in-progress. Some of the Whiskey Media engineers (also acquired by BermanBraun. Dave and Alexis have stayed with Giantbomb & Comicvine) have been rushing to launch Tested’s site redesign because Adam and Jamie were on tour at the same time or something. Will and Norm are apparently very excited and thrilled about the move so we’ll see how things pan out. Will is aware of users being upset and posted this to try and reassure them.

Things seemed a bit in the dark for Screened and AnimeVice. Users for both these sites have voiced concerns because they are worried for the future of these sites. All we know at the present is that BermanBraun has acquired them. Alex Navarro has officially said goodbye to Screened because he is now working full time for Giantbomb. At the time of writing, Matt Rorie didn't know the future of Screened or whether they will continue to employ him. It was all a bit uncertain but I don’t think they would buy these two sites only to close them down. That would be silly and not make any sense. Update: Tom Pinchuk (Staff Contributor for Anime Vice) posted a very short update on Anime Vice's future on Monday 19th March 2012. It states that a long-term plan is being worked on.

To sum up, I have followed Jeff Gerstmann and his colleagues for about ten years now. I have come to trust him and what he says. I might not always agree with his opinions on games but he always comes across as trustworthy. I think things will be very rosy for Giantbomb. I think it will be exciting to see what they can do now that they have a bigger budget and more resources to do what they love to do. I can see Comicvine potentially expanding its audience because CBS haven’t had a comic book website before now (that I know of), and comic book movies are a big deal these days, so that may help with crossover-mainstream appeal.

I think things will be fine with Tested too. We just gotta give them a chance. Will and Norm are very happy so it must be good.

I have my fingers crossed for Screened. I like the site and how it is laid out, not to mention the wiki work I have put into it. Here’s hoping it has a long and fruitful future.

It occurs to me that faithful users to these sites feel strongly about these events not just because they enjoy the personalities but also put a lot of heart and soul into the site themselves, especially when you consider the Wiki System. So there you have it. It's sad to see the Whiskey Media family split up but I wish them all well in their future endeavours.

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2 Comments
Posted by Legend

Great write-up. In a year, things will change a lot around here.. and I don't expect these changes to be for the best. I really hope I'm wrong.