I was originally going to post this over here in this thread, but as I wrote this, I realized that it needed its own air to breath in. If a mod feels it needs to be locked, I completely understand. However, I get the feeling from the thread I've referenced that it needs a place for serious debate and discussion...if the community's voice really does mean what we are told it means. I believe that our voice does matter, and in turn, here's a tl;dr blog going into some details.
For many of the websites that are out there, HD content is free. It's not something that comes with a paid subscription. Giant Bomb has been a trend-setter since day one. They were the first to mainstream the idea of Quick Looks for games rather than just some developer previews and hands-on things like we had in the past. They have one of the most successful gaming podcasts in the WORLD. They were (as far as I know of) the first dedicated gaming site to also be a wiki site, and that content is created BY THE COMMUNITY! These guys allowed the community to have a voice in this industry! Fuck, they play games from start to finish for 100 episodes because WHY THE FUCK NOT?
However, they are restricting HD video viewing availability to premium members in a time and day where HD content is the NORMAL STANDARD? That just seems a little...odd. Anybody could go to Gametrailers and watch stuff in HD without a membership. It's a step backwards, and does anyone honestly want Giant Bomb to take a step backwards? I sure as fuck don't. I want these guys to continue being the ones that the rest of this industry looks at and says "fuck, we gotta step our game up".
I understand that a comparison to a big entity like Gametrailers is not exactly fair. Giant Bomb is a much smaller operation. However, it's the first site that came to mind because it's the one I watch HAWP on. Still, should the size be an issue when you are a website dedicated to the idea of quality?
Downloading HD content? Sure, I could understand a membership. Premium-only content? Absolutely, I'm alright with that. However, locking the ability to WATCH in HD behind a pay wall at this point seems outdated and unnecessary. These guys have come up with all kinds of excellent premium content that I think losing exclusivity to watching HD content is worth it in order for people to enjoy the free content in the best possible quality that they can. Mind you, I don't know what kind of demands that would have on the overall infrastructure they have as well as how it would affect those of us who are trying to watch stuff. Bandwidth isn't free, and I can only imagine what the stress must be like when you have thousands upon millions viewing your content. Hell, I work at a place where we have a dedicated fiber line. I know how hard that can buckle from 20 Xbox consoles playing online, 20 computers playing online, and just a couple of people watching YouTube or some other video service.
However, it feels like there is an equal place to meet up on this without sacrificing the one thing that really matters the most about this site: quality.
The way I look at it is like this: if I were a new person coming in and decided to watch a video on the site in HD, then I was told "that's for subscribers only", would I want to continue coming to the site itself? Is that a good experience for me as a customer and a visitor? Most likely, it's not. I can go over to YouTube and watch a game trailer or hands-on demo from a ton of other people. I can go to the aforementioned Gametrailers and watch stuff in HD. So why go to Giant Bomb? This is where I can understand the point in the argument: Giant Bomb produces some good original content that can't be found anywhere else, and like anyone that produces original content, you want a paycheck at the end of the day. However, when we're told "we're going to outsource stuff to YouTube as well in order to get extra revenue stream", well...why am I going to click on your video if it's not HD? Because it's Giant Bomb content? What is Giant Bomb? I visit the website and they get a couple of clicks. I see a thread in the forums where both non-subscribers and subscribers alike are saying "HD videos should be free to anyone to watch". I say "oh, they're YouTube is only in 360p? Bump that, I'm Audi 5000".
So, Whiskey Media staff, if you are reading or listening, I am a paid member. I remember something you all said a while back and have stated multiple times since: you work for us - the free ones that see the ads and the paid ones who don't. We put money in your pockets to buy outlandish amounts of Skylanders shit for our amusement, and we greatly appreciate everything this site does. In turn, I know that I myself would like to implore you as a paid member...as someone you work for...to allow everyone to VIEW the video content you produce in the standard of today: HD. If there is something that we can all do, if there is something that can be rearranged...hell, if I have to pay another $10 on my membership for it to happen, then so be it. It feels like the dialogue needs to be there.
We are a community where many of us subscribed just to keep the Bombcast from being split into two pieces so that EVERYONE can enjoy it. Remember that? Here I am, a user, saying I'd pay an extra $10 a year to allow EVERYONE that visits this site to see your shenanigans, in-depth looks at games, and general commentary on the industry in glorious HD. That's still the cost of ONE video game, and I can easily cut ONE game out of my library each year for a community I care about, even if I don't know the vast majority of them.
There will probably be many members that don't agree with this, but at least this side of the argument...I hope and feel...has been presented in a formidable and decently thought-out fashion for you to consider.
*EDIT* Thank you all very much for the intellectual and thoughtful way we have approached this topic. It's nice to see this community can still get down to the nitty gritty when needed.
I wanted to slightly amend something that was brought to my attention. I was unaware that intern content on the YouTube channel was available all the way up to 720p. That is a link to a 20+ minute video of Fear Gauntlet available in high definition. This is content hosted on TheRealGiantBomb, which in turn has left me scratching my head. Why would intern content available in HD but not the regular stuff for the site? We have to ask ourselves that question. I do not mean this to belittle the intern's work, as I love the stuff they've done. I just never checked the HD button on that before because I thought it was locked to the same standard definition as everything else on the channel.
Also, I'm not writing this...and I hope no one else is either...as a "call-out" to Whiskey Media. I hope the staff and everyone else realizes that. A lot of it is curiosity and the users trying to work it out in their own heads what the deal is. As you can see through the comments (and I suggest that everyone reads every single one of them, there's been some great discussion about it so far), this is a community that is just wanting some answers to questions that they have, as well as offering their two cents on whether having HD viewing exclusivity is something they are getting a membership for. It's kind of like a town hall meeting. The vast majority of comments I've seen suggest that HD viewing exclusivity is not a dealbreaker on their memberships. Stuff like TNT, the mobile site, Random PC Game, Load Our Last Save, and Whiskey Jar Time (or whatever Jeff decides to call it with each new iteration) is the reason we pay for our memberships.