This has felt like a problem to me at least since Drew left, maybe earlier when Austin left. The new format for Game of the Year was one thing, but the overall lack of argument over the top 10 list seems symptomatic of what I've been feeling for a while. It's not that they need to argue about games to be entertaining, but they all seem to have so nearly the exact same tastes as one another. A staff of 10 people who all at least sampled Death Stranding entirely came away with negative opinions of the game that earned the #8 slot in GB's community rankings. It's not a problem that any one or two or three of them disliked the game, or that they disliked it so strongly, but it's crazy to me that they're in this bubble that doesn't understand what other people liked about the game, or that there was no situation like Austin going to bat for Invisible, Inc. held by even one person. Strangely enough, the closest thing fitting that description this past year was Ben with Disco Elysium, a pretty unique game that's nearly unanimously praised outside of Giant Bomb.
Abby and Jan have been excellent hires, and even though I don't have any interest in these games myself, Pokemonday Night Combat and most of Abby's Sims shows have been really fun to watch. More so than the rest of the staff, their interests do seem to diverge from the pack, but not exactly up my alley; in the case of Jan, it seems like he doesn't get to bring the weird games that only he's into on a Quick Look as often either. It feels like we're missing an entire swath of those strategic/tactical/wholly unique games that Austin and Drew would play, and Vinny would play more of those types of games before he had kids too. Some highlights of games that scratched this itch for me that GB either ignored entirely or were so negative on that it baffled me:
- Fantasy Strike
- Streets of Rogue
- Them's Fightin' Herds
- Total War: Three Kingdoms
Some of them appear in a Steam Request Live or a UPF for a few minutes, and then they're never to be discussed again; or Streets of Rogue will get a Quick Look, Alex hates its humor, and then it doesn't even get a mention from Dan during GOTY; or Fantasy Strike will do something really clever in simplifying the genre while preserving depth, but all three of our fighting game scientists bounce off of it; or Robocraft, a game I enjoyed immensely at the time and was once one of Steam's top 10 most-played games, is completely unknown by the Giant Bomb staff when it's announced for Xbox One. Again, a handful of these things are acceptable and understandable; way too many games come out for them to keep track of and cover everything. But, as one specific example, there are 30 long videos of Apex Legends on the site, a game that every other site is covering extensively too, and only a few minutes of Vagante (maybe one of the greatest co-op games I've ever played). And though GB staff have claimed they have the freedom to play whatever they like for as long as they like without having to be dependent on covering the hot, new thing, we still end up with Jeff playing Metal Gear Survive or Fallout 76 long after he knew he didn't like those games. Maybe he could have discovered some other games in that time that aren't the ones getting all the big headlines? (Not intending to single you out, Jeff.)
Anyway, sorry for the wall of text, but it's getting harder to stick with GB when most of the coverage is for games that are just not appealing to me these days. Hopefully whenever a new hire comes in to fill in for Dan, GB can cover some of those gaps...or perhaps Rorie can find time in his duties to play and cover more than four games per year, because he'll definitely pick up a gem like Mr. Shifty, Shadow Tactics, or Door Kickers.