Sponsored Quests on Giant Bomb

EDIT: Since this seems to be lost in the message, let me be clear that I'm all for Giant Bomb being an ad-supported site. Without a subscription system, there's really no other way for them to make money. And relying purely on a subscription system would mean locking out a lot of content to a lot of people, which isn't ideal and would hurt the site. So, yes, please, let there be ads on Giant Bomb. But there are different kinds of ads, and not all of them are OK. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.
 
Let me throw this out here first: Giant Bomb is not hurting for money. Or, at the very least, parent company Whiskey Media is not hurting for money. I don't know this for certain, but I'll surmise that it's the case based on the fact that they just moved into a new office because of constant expansion, and they just launched their fifth site (sixth, actually, but does PoliticalBase really even count?) in May. Since they are continuing to expand, one has to assume that their initial sites, at the very least Comic Vine and probably Giant Bomb, are profitable. Otherwise, they'd be taking a dramatic risk that could turn a bad situation into a catastrophic one. So, until I'm given any reason to think differently, I'm going to continue to assume that Giant Bomb is doing all right (as Jeff, Ryan, Brad, and Vinny have always insisted they are) and this was more of an experiment than necessary deal for desperately needed cash.
 
With that understood, I don't have much of a problem with this quest set, or future sponsored quests like it. It was a little jarring to see the Best Buy color scheme used for the quest graphics, and it's not ideal to be seeing their logosplashed up everywhere, but I want Giant Bomb to have money, whether they need it or not, and this isn't a horribly intrusive way to get that added income.
 
Except for the quest where they wanted me to view an advertisement to get experience points.
 
Now, you can look at my quest list and see that, when presented with the option to view an advertisement to complete the quest set, I did it. I confess. I did it mostly out of reflex, without really thinking about what I was doing. Now that I've had some time to think about it, though, it rather seems like something of a betrayal of the principles that the site was founded on two and a half years ago. Now, I'm not calling anyone a hypocrite - people make mistakes, and I think quests of this type are indeed a mistake. And we don't know exactly how, and by whom, this decision was made.
 
But Jeff and Ryan especially have always been stalwart opponents of Marketing interfering with Editorial. Now, strictly speaking, that's not what's going on here - Giant Bomb isn't rendering an opinion on the products Best Buy is advertising. But this is a clear example of Marketing interfering with, or at least influencing, Content. Giant Bomb is more than just an Editorial site, a portal for Jeff and Ryan and Vinny and Brad to spit game about games. There's the Wiki. There are the Forums. And there are the Quests. All of which should be driven by the creative minds at Whiskey Media, and not anyone who has a fat enough stack of cash.
 
On the April 15, 2008 Giant Bombcast, Jeff blew up at the idea of an achievement in a Call of Duty game for watching a trailer for the next Call of Duty game. He said that it was bad enough that sponsored achievements existed, but this was an example of marketing teams co-opting everything that's good about games and ruining it. This feels like the same thing to me, and I would hope that Jeff would feel an even greater sense of outrage that this is happening on the site he helped found.
20 Comments
21 Comments
Posted by KensterFox
EDIT: Since this seems to be lost in the message, let me be clear that I'm all for Giant Bomb being an ad-supported site. Without a subscription system, there's really no other way for them to make money. And relying purely on a subscription system would mean locking out a lot of content to a lot of people, which isn't ideal and would hurt the site. So, yes, please, let there be ads on Giant Bomb. But there are different kinds of ads, and not all of them are OK. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.
 
Let me throw this out here first: Giant Bomb is not hurting for money. Or, at the very least, parent company Whiskey Media is not hurting for money. I don't know this for certain, but I'll surmise that it's the case based on the fact that they just moved into a new office because of constant expansion, and they just launched their fifth site (sixth, actually, but does PoliticalBase really even count?) in May. Since they are continuing to expand, one has to assume that their initial sites, at the very least Comic Vine and probably Giant Bomb, are profitable. Otherwise, they'd be taking a dramatic risk that could turn a bad situation into a catastrophic one. So, until I'm given any reason to think differently, I'm going to continue to assume that Giant Bomb is doing all right (as Jeff, Ryan, Brad, and Vinny have always insisted they are) and this was more of an experiment than necessary deal for desperately needed cash.
 
With that understood, I don't have much of a problem with this quest set, or future sponsored quests like it. It was a little jarring to see the Best Buy color scheme used for the quest graphics, and it's not ideal to be seeing their logosplashed up everywhere, but I want Giant Bomb to have money, whether they need it or not, and this isn't a horribly intrusive way to get that added income.
 
Except for the quest where they wanted me to view an advertisement to get experience points.
 
Now, you can look at my quest list and see that, when presented with the option to view an advertisement to complete the quest set, I did it. I confess. I did it mostly out of reflex, without really thinking about what I was doing. Now that I've had some time to think about it, though, it rather seems like something of a betrayal of the principles that the site was founded on two and a half years ago. Now, I'm not calling anyone a hypocrite - people make mistakes, and I think quests of this type are indeed a mistake. And we don't know exactly how, and by whom, this decision was made.
 
But Jeff and Ryan especially have always been stalwart opponents of Marketing interfering with Editorial. Now, strictly speaking, that's not what's going on here - Giant Bomb isn't rendering an opinion on the products Best Buy is advertising. But this is a clear example of Marketing interfering with, or at least influencing, Content. Giant Bomb is more than just an Editorial site, a portal for Jeff and Ryan and Vinny and Brad to spit game about games. There's the Wiki. There are the Forums. And there are the Quests. All of which should be driven by the creative minds at Whiskey Media, and not anyone who has a fat enough stack of cash.
 
On the April 15, 2008 Giant Bombcast, Jeff blew up at the idea of an achievement in a Call of Duty game for watching a trailer for the next Call of Duty game. He said that it was bad enough that sponsored achievements existed, but this was an example of marketing teams co-opting everything that's good about games and ruining it. This feels like the same thing to me, and I would hope that Jeff would feel an even greater sense of outrage that this is happening on the site he helped found.
Posted by wrecks

Not the same thing. Giantbomb is free. Ads generate revenue. If and when they go subscription, this argument would be valid for paying subscribers. Until then it's hot air. Sorry.

Posted by SumDeus

I see the hypocrisy, but I really don't give a damn. They get money and we can deal with free quest points. However, if this becomes a regular thing I can see myself getting annoyed...

Posted by natetodamax

They are just advertisments. I don't understand why a dozen threads are created whenever an ad is spotted on Giant Bomb. It's not the end of the friggin' world. Here's a question: Do you complain when you see billboards while driving down the highway? Do you complain this much when you see commercials on TV? No? So why is it such a big deal when you see Best Buy's logo on Giant Bomb? 
 
You people are like immature children when it comes to this stuff.

Posted by LiquidPrince

Giantbombers know what they are doing. Jeff specifically said this site would never end up being a site where a bunch of crappy, nonsensical ads would be thrown in for no apparent reason. They think every ad through, and present it in the most non intrusive way. So far that has been the case, and I'm sure it will continue to be the case. The Best Buy ad was perfect. I noticed it, clicked on it, but it didn\t bug me or jump in my way when I'm trying to watch a video. Giantbomb isn't Gametrailers.com, thankfully.

Posted by BD

I don't really mind the ad I'm actually in the market for a new laptop computer. IMO it would have been better if their was some discount/contest  type for a new comp, but overall I didn't mind. Also 
 lallygagging.

Posted by TomWhitbrook

i'm quite fond of that golden yellow, so it isn't an enormous inconvenience. Nor am I being advertised at in something I have already paid for, which does hack me off. If I were paying for GB, then yeah, I would be annoyed at having to view ads to use the quest system, but as its free it doesn't bother me. 
Also, and of course I don't really know, but I thought Whiskey had attracted a bunch of investment. This of course means it has investors, who will want a return on their money. 
Semi on topic, but Best Buy just arrived in the UK. What's it like, Americanos?

Posted by KensterFox
@natetodamax: 
I don't have a problem at all with banner ads, or even the occasional site skin, on Giant Bomb. I mean, sure, they've got to make money somehow. And if I have a problem with ads, then why would I say that "I don't have much of a problem with this quest set, or future sponsored quests like it"? It's right there in the second paragraph. My objection was with that one quest that traded an in-site reward (experience points) for viewing an ad. That's intrusive. The site should not be designed in such a way that I, the user, am penalized for choosing to ignore the site's advertising.
 
@SumDeus:
Nobody complaining about it now is how it becomes a regular thing later.
 
@wrecks:
Again, I'm not in the least against ads. But not all ads, or forms of ads, are created equal.
Posted by nintendmoe

I guess we were just spoiled by the ad-free content so far.  It would be unreasonable to expect them to stay that way forever, companies need to make money. 

Posted by bigsmoke77

Bestbuy has some relation to this site because they are selling laptops, it could be an Ad for Viagra and then you would have to go to there site. aasdsdgfdfggfjhjghf

Posted by MauveForest
@BD said:
" I don't really mind the ad I'm actually in the market for a new laptop computer. IMO it would have been better if their was some discount/contest  type for a new comp, but overall I didn't mind. Also   lallygagging. "
This. I do not mind adds for best buy, that I my opinion is a quality advertising partner and it is a store that many people from this site probably visit. As this site grows, adds will be the norm, and the more like this the better, as I think this is more creative from of advertising than most websites do. Though the quest could have been a little harder, or just better thought out.
Posted by Iceman2913

  sumptuary mate

Posted by supermike6

I don't see a problem. I think it's very smart of Best Buy because the crew have mentioned Best Buy tons of times in podcasts and videos, so it makes sense to make business deals.  People on GB seem like the kind of people who might need labtops, also. Yeah, you have to click to a page. Just click back to Giant Bomb afterwards. It's not that difficult. 

Posted by apollyonzorz
@nintendmoe:
I don't see the problem either.  If advertisements enable Jeff and the GB crew to keep making content so be it, its a necessary evil and is part of keeping GB in business.  The GB crew has to get paid somehow, i mean you think those retro arcade cabinets pay for themselves? 
Posted by Suicrat

I think you're totally fucking bonkers if you think a company consolidating their office space is index of excess profits. The move to new digs is not index of profitability; in fact, I doubt their corporate powers-that-be expect them to turn a profit till 2011 or 2012. Remember, the money they get are infusions of cash from venture capital: i.e., people with money willing to take a risk on them in the hopes that it will eventually bring them more money.
 
Moreover, if you've read any of the things Mike Tatum or the former CNET / current Whiskey CEO (whose name currently escapes me) have been saying, this is the precise model they've wanted to employ to generate revenues: i.e., community-focused marketing, that involves users. This is why you'll eventually see sponsorships for TNT, and incentive systems encouraging people to check out specific parts of the wiki (like what Giant Bomb did with the Halo page last year.)
 
Remember folks, this isn't giantbomb.org, they're in it to win it.

Posted by wrathofconn
@KensterFox: You're not really being penalized. Quest experience is just a fun little quirk of the site, it doesn't lock you out of other site features for not completing a quest. If they made you buy a laptop to get the experience, that would be something to get outraged about, but even then it's not much of a penalty.
 
@TomWhitbrook: It's a big-ass electronics store. The prices are decent I guess, but unless you guys across the pond have to pay sales tax when buying things online, that's still a better way to go in my opinion.
Posted by walruspete

Nothing wrong with getting the Whiskey Media folks some extra money, and this is a heck of a lot less obtrusive than regular-ass banner ads or anything like that.

Posted by KarlPilkington

Im fine with it, hmm long word, how about HMMMMMMMMMMM.

Edited by KensterFox
@Suicrat: 
They didn't exactly consolidate their office space, all but one of the WM sites was being run out of the Sausalito office anyway. They just moved somewhere bigger because they were now running five sites instead of just one or two. But, if you're Whiskey Media, why would you start up Tested and Screened if Comic Vine and Giant Bomb aren't at least on track to be profitable? Expanding one's businesses IS a sign of excess profit, or at least financial health.
 
And, AGAIN, sponsorships are not my big beef here. TNT brought to you by Sumo gaming furniture? Fine. Microsoft is going to give Giant Bomb points for editing/looking at Giant Bomb's Halo pages? Sure. Getting Giant Bomb points for viewing a Best Buy advertisement? Over the line - am I the only one who sees the difference?
Posted by Landon

I think it almost gets a pass because its something every Giant Bomber would be interested in. We all use computers and I'm sure all of us would at least enjoy having a laptop. I can only be thankful its not something that I wouldn't associate GB with.

Posted by Hamz

We already have a topic discussing this, please see here for a link to it.
 
Feel free to paste / resubmit your replies from here into that topic :)