Paid membership update: the basics and a video test

Avatar image for snide
Posted by snide (2690 posts) -

It should come as little surprise to most of you that the engineering team here has been working on a paid membership product for Whiskey Media over the last couple of weeks. While I'm gonna wait for each of the sites to make formal announcements about what it includes I figured we're far enough along at this point to start talking roughly about our plan and get some feedback from everyone. I'll be releasing more details over the next couple weeks as we adjust with your feedback.
  
First, why are we doing this? 
 
It's easier for us to build towards what our users want, than what random visitors off Google require. We can either build a better product than our competitors and rely on our small, hardcore userbase to partially support us (that's right, you're now a pie slice!), or we can go for quantity as a content farm and build everybody-eats-it-but-nobody-likes-it web sites like our competitors. We like being able to be proud of our work, so door number one it is!
 
What am I going to lose if I don't buy any of this? 
 
Sorry, you must be thinking about someone else. We're in the not pissing off the Internet business. The site as you see it right now will remain largely unchanged.

What's this about unified Whiskey Media accounts? 
 
First off, we're going to create a unified Whiskey Media account system tied to your email that will work on any of our sites. You don't need to pay for that, everyone will just get it for free on day one after jumping through a couple account-linking hoops. Yes, you'll be able to retain different usernames across sites, but you'll only be able to link one account per site to your umbrella email account. If you end up deciding to upgrade to a paid account you'll earn the benefits across the entire network so no worries about us trying to make you pay more than once. 

 The mobile version.
 The mobile version.
Dude, just give me some details already. 
 
OK, so it wasn't hard to figure out the nuts and bolts stuff  you guys wanted... HD Video, mobile / iPad support and no ads. Fine. Done. So without further ado lets list out the first 3 confirmed features... 
 

  • Stream and Download HD Video at 720p (we shoot and receive most source material in 720, 1080 would just be upscale). Here are a couple tests, let me know how they look (Wargames, Portal 2). We plan on doing this for our entire back catalog, but obviously the newer stuff will look better.
  • A completely redesigned mobile site built in HTML 5 with video-watching, commenting and profiles built into it from the start. It will work on any smartphone with a web browser (iphone, android...etc). The site will continue to work as is for everyone else. Our iPhone app from last year is still free.
  • No ads (if you go for yearly billing). Sorry but we need to be able to make reasonable guesses against our ad inventory, and we can't do that unless we know for sure what portion of our audience is in it for the long haul.
 
Dude, that's it? 
 
Nope, not even the start. That's just the stuff you could have guessed. I'll talk about the rest in the next couple weeks and I'm sure the various editorial teams will start talking about this stuff pretty soon. For now I just wanted to say... yes, this is a thing, it's happening in September and don't worry, we're trying to be smart about all this.
 
 Unified accounts are free.
 Unified accounts are free.
What definitely won't be in the plan? 
 
  • Paid message boards. I just don't like segregating audiences.
  • Anything that involves the wiki. Sorry, that's something we all built together and I couldn't ask anyone to pay for premium access or features there. We'll be rebuilding/redesigning all our wiki and API tools quite soon, but that has nothing to do with this. As far as the wiki goes, everyone is equal.
  • Calendars of anime chicks?
  • Free games from five years ago?
  • Any sort of in-your-face hard sell. I've got the feeling most of you just want to support us and could care less about the features. That's great, we'll respect you back in the same way with not trying to do anything stupid when it comes to convincing you to make that decision.
 
What will this cost?   

We're still figuring that out.  If I mentioned anything that wasn't concrete I think our BizDev guy might have a heart attack. I can say there will be a monthly and yearly option. Along with no ads we're considering giving T-Shirts to anyone who signs up for the yearly plan. Does that sound like a good idea, what would you want to see on the T-Shirt? We'd likely have to add $10 to anyone outside the US to pay for shipping if we end up going that route. 
 
Will you support paypal? 
 
Right now we're thinking about going only with credit / debit card processing. If there is wild outrage that paypal isn't an option I'd like to hear it.
 
Duder, I've got an idea! 

I'd love to hear it. Let us know what you think below.
Avatar image for snide
#1 Edited by snide (2690 posts) -

It should come as little surprise to most of you that the engineering team here has been working on a paid membership product for Whiskey Media over the last couple of weeks. While I'm gonna wait for each of the sites to make formal announcements about what it includes I figured we're far enough along at this point to start talking roughly about our plan and get some feedback from everyone. I'll be releasing more details over the next couple weeks as we adjust with your feedback.
  
First, why are we doing this? 
 
It's easier for us to build towards what our users want, than what random visitors off Google require. We can either build a better product than our competitors and rely on our small, hardcore userbase to partially support us (that's right, you're now a pie slice!), or we can go for quantity as a content farm and build everybody-eats-it-but-nobody-likes-it web sites like our competitors. We like being able to be proud of our work, so door number one it is!
 
What am I going to lose if I don't buy any of this? 
 
Sorry, you must be thinking about someone else. We're in the not pissing off the Internet business. The site as you see it right now will remain largely unchanged.

What's this about unified Whiskey Media accounts? 
 
First off, we're going to create a unified Whiskey Media account system tied to your email that will work on any of our sites. You don't need to pay for that, everyone will just get it for free on day one after jumping through a couple account-linking hoops. Yes, you'll be able to retain different usernames across sites, but you'll only be able to link one account per site to your umbrella email account. If you end up deciding to upgrade to a paid account you'll earn the benefits across the entire network so no worries about us trying to make you pay more than once. 

 The mobile version.
 The mobile version.
Dude, just give me some details already. 
 
OK, so it wasn't hard to figure out the nuts and bolts stuff  you guys wanted... HD Video, mobile / iPad support and no ads. Fine. Done. So without further ado lets list out the first 3 confirmed features... 
 

  • Stream and Download HD Video at 720p (we shoot and receive most source material in 720, 1080 would just be upscale). Here are a couple tests, let me know how they look (Wargames, Portal 2). We plan on doing this for our entire back catalog, but obviously the newer stuff will look better.
  • A completely redesigned mobile site built in HTML 5 with video-watching, commenting and profiles built into it from the start. It will work on any smartphone with a web browser (iphone, android...etc). The site will continue to work as is for everyone else. Our iPhone app from last year is still free.
  • No ads (if you go for yearly billing). Sorry but we need to be able to make reasonable guesses against our ad inventory, and we can't do that unless we know for sure what portion of our audience is in it for the long haul.
 
Dude, that's it? 
 
Nope, not even the start. That's just the stuff you could have guessed. I'll talk about the rest in the next couple weeks and I'm sure the various editorial teams will start talking about this stuff pretty soon. For now I just wanted to say... yes, this is a thing, it's happening in September and don't worry, we're trying to be smart about all this.
 
 Unified accounts are free.
 Unified accounts are free.
What definitely won't be in the plan? 
 
  • Paid message boards. I just don't like segregating audiences.
  • Anything that involves the wiki. Sorry, that's something we all built together and I couldn't ask anyone to pay for premium access or features there. We'll be rebuilding/redesigning all our wiki and API tools quite soon, but that has nothing to do with this. As far as the wiki goes, everyone is equal.
  • Calendars of anime chicks?
  • Free games from five years ago?
  • Any sort of in-your-face hard sell. I've got the feeling most of you just want to support us and could care less about the features. That's great, we'll respect you back in the same way with not trying to do anything stupid when it comes to convincing you to make that decision.
 
What will this cost?   

We're still figuring that out.  If I mentioned anything that wasn't concrete I think our BizDev guy might have a heart attack. I can say there will be a monthly and yearly option. Along with no ads we're considering giving T-Shirts to anyone who signs up for the yearly plan. Does that sound like a good idea, what would you want to see on the T-Shirt? We'd likely have to add $10 to anyone outside the US to pay for shipping if we end up going that route. 
 
Will you support paypal? 
 
Right now we're thinking about going only with credit / debit card processing. If there is wild outrage that paypal isn't an option I'd like to hear it.
 
Duder, I've got an idea! 

I'd love to hear it. Let us know what you think below.
Avatar image for fluxwavez
#2 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19845 posts) -
@snide said:
"Will you support paypal? 
 
Right now we're thinking about going only with credit card processing. If there is wild outrage that paypal is an option I'd like to hear it."
OH.  SHIT.  You better support Paypal. >:(
Avatar image for video_game_king
#3 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

Please, don't make me pay for quests. That would be ridiculously cheap, and yes, I realize the irony in wording it like that.

Avatar image for captaintightpants
#4 Posted by CaptainTightPants (2838 posts) -

I expect that people will want Giant Bomb Memes on the shirts.

Avatar image for snide
#5 Posted by snide (2690 posts) -
@Video_Game_King said:
" Please, don't make me pay for quests. That would be ridiculously cheap, and yes, I realize the irony in wording it like that. "
You will not pay for quests. Conversely, any ad supported quests will still exist for paid members.
Avatar image for thoseposers
#6 Posted by Thoseposers (974 posts) -

as someone who has helped build a mobile formatted website, that looks amazing

Avatar image for fwylo
#7 Posted by fwylo (3571 posts) -

Hell yes good sir.  
 
All I want on a t-shirt is a Giant Luchadeer on the back. 
 
Everything else sounds great so far though.

Avatar image for starfoxa
#8 Posted by StarFoxA (5261 posts) -

I really like the direction that Whiskey Media is taking with paid subscriptions. Very professional and upfront about it. A great policy. Looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with, and it's great news that the wiki tool is being revised.

Avatar image for daryl
#9 Posted by Daryl (1776 posts) -

Needs more lumbar support. 

Avatar image for considereddead
#10 Posted by ConsideredDead (34 posts) -

Sounds all right.  A low-key and non-flashy t-shirt would be cool.

Avatar image for wickedcestus
#11 Posted by WickedCestus (3781 posts) -

I would like to be able to post on the forums from my iPhone. And a shirt.  
I'll give you $600!

Avatar image for mosdl
#12 Posted by mosdl (3422 posts) -

Will 720p content include older content (say endurance runs, quicklooks on GB) or only new content?
 
As for T-shirts - simply sell them to everyone and let paid members get one free (only pay s/h).

Avatar image for turambar
#13 Posted by Turambar (8251 posts) -

No calenders of anime chicks?  No sell!

Avatar image for vicrattlehead
#14 Posted by VicRattlehead (1417 posts) -

yeh not using paypal will prob mean ill not sign up.... i only have a debit card sadly :'(

Avatar image for thehbk
#15 Posted by TheHBK (5672 posts) -

Fuck paypal.  I sell something on ebay, get paid through paypal.  Then to get my money, paypal charges me, even though Ebay already charged me for selling something?  And paypal is owned by ebay?  Bullshit.  Don't go to paypal, don't give them the business. 
I am fine with using a credit card online like every other normal person who makes purchases online.
Avatar image for beachthunder
#16 Posted by BeachThunder (15167 posts) -

Sounds fine to me.

Avatar image for turboman
#17 Posted by turboman (9924 posts) -

I'd love a t-shirt.. maybe a different color for my name (Where it says: "Post by: TurboMan") 
 
... I want that Gold for some reason.

Avatar image for kingofpeanuts
#18 Posted by kingofpeanuts (566 posts) -

All right good buddy.

Avatar image for natetodamax
#19 Posted by natetodamax (19466 posts) -

Please support Paypal. A yearly charge sounds like something I would pay for, but credit card is out of the question for me.

Avatar image for cooldrmoney
#20 Posted by CoolDrMoney (2018 posts) -
@Resident4t said:
" I expect that people will want Giant Bomb Memes on the shirts. "
Please find out who these people are, and ban their accounts immediately.
Avatar image for natetodamax
#21 Posted by natetodamax (19466 posts) -
@supermike6 said:
" I would like to be able to post on the forums from my iPhone. And a shirt.  I'll give you $600! "
There is a way to post on the forums using iPhone/iPod Touch right now.
Avatar image for epicsteve
#22 Edited by EpicSteve (6908 posts) -

It doesn't sound like it's enough. i feel like a dirt bag for criticizing without coming up with a creative solution, but paid web services are always weird. I would want specific features, not just minor upgrades to what i get for free. I would like a GiantBomb shirt that's not black and it would have to involve Lincoln and Luchdeer in some way. Perhaps throw a Tank in there?

Avatar image for viggo123
#23 Posted by VIGGO123 (582 posts) -

Would gladly pay for supporting you awesome guys anyways, extra features is just a plus :)

Avatar image for buzz_killington
#24 Posted by buzz_killington (3659 posts) -

How about a super secret, exclusive Bombcast that goes up on Fridays???
 
Just kidding. I just want to say that I think there is a lot of demand in the community for GB merchandise, whether it be bottle cozies, chain keys, or t-shirts. I know I'd buy 'em. So it's not really related to the paid membership stuff, but I would love to see a robust and diverse GB store.

Avatar image for fluxwavez
#25 Edited by FluxWaveZ (19845 posts) -
@TheHBK said:

" I am fine with using a credit card online like every other normal person who makes purchases online. "

There's always a percentage of people who can't (or won't) use Paypal because of any number of particular reasons.  I'm one of them.  Not supporting Paypal would simply limit the number of people capable of paying for this and wouldn't achieve anything else.  Besides, we're not talking about Ebay here; we're not selling anything via that payment method or anything like that on this site.
Avatar image for mrklorox
#26 Posted by MrKlorox (11188 posts) -

Will the universal logins combine private messages so I can be notified of replies to my GB threads while browsing Tested, for example? Will there be any forum combining aspects other than linking usernames to a master account?

Avatar image for CoinMatze
#27 Posted by CoinMatze (565 posts) -

I need that paypal. Out of all the people I know only two have credit cards and I'm not one of them.

Avatar image for thephantomnaut
#28 Edited by ThePhantomnaut (6423 posts) -

Great stuff. I hope the prices are affordable.

Avatar image for rj
#29 Posted by RJ (159 posts) -

Sounds reasonable so far, not too many sites I'd be as willing to fork over cash for but the content and features sound like they are worth it (plus I'd like to support WM  anyway). T-shirts would be cool, a Whiskey Media shirt would be ok with me.

Avatar image for ajayraz
#30 Posted by AjayRaz (12905 posts) -

this is great to hear. while these are not features that i exactly need, it's nice to hear that you won't be slicing the site in half with this stuff. 

Avatar image for cookiemonster
#31 Posted by CookieMonster (2543 posts) -

 If I am going to be a part of this paid membership, I at least expect videos of the staff rolling around in the money.

Avatar image for sweep
#32 Posted by Sweep (10609 posts) -

US to EU shipping is $9 for shirts (I frequently buy from threadless and that's what they charge anyway) which I would gladly pay if you were willing to ship us some damn shirts here in the EU. As for what goes on the shirts, isn't that what Buzz_Clik lives for? Get his ass to work! 
 
I'm pretty comfortable with the changes you guys are looking to make, though i'm not going to commit until I know how much this is going to cost. 
 
As for additional features -  

  • would it be possible to reserve my name on any new websites Whiskey decides to build? That way I don't have to rush out and create one on day one.
  • more content featuring sean coonce
  • alcohol!
  • er...... I tend to forget stuff after alcohol.
 
 
woop!
Moderator
Avatar image for finstern
#33 Posted by Finstern (791 posts) -

Just the GB logo on the shirt would do it for me, maybe a bit of card sewn in with brad photobombing me over the shoulder? No? Ah well, I can add that myself...

Avatar image for alistercat
#34 Posted by AlisterCat (8094 posts) -

Paypal support is a must I feel. Also, that portal 2 video felt slightly too compressed, higher quality would be much more welcome.

Avatar image for captainobvious
#35 Posted by CaptainObvious (2993 posts) -

How about some extra titles for premium members? For example: 
 
- Pimp King of NYC 
- Lord of the Streets 
- High Baller

Avatar image for wickedcestus
#36 Posted by WickedCestus (3781 posts) -
@natetodamax said:
" @supermike6 said:
" I would like to be able to post on the forums from my iPhone. And a shirt.  I'll give you $600! "
There is a way to post on the forums using iPhone/iPod Touch right now. "
Really? How? 
I'll still give them $600 for a shirt.
Avatar image for djeffers03
#37 Posted by Djeffers03 (2537 posts) -

Im not saying Im against this but Im certainly not going to pay for anything. If I had my own credit card it may be a different story but Im not exactly going to ask my parents for their details for something that I don't really care about and doesn't really change anything of importance to me.  
 
Of course I hope this works out for you guys and will always be a Whiskey Media fan.

Avatar image for guyzea
#38 Posted by Guyzea (805 posts) -

As long as I don't have to pay for Quick Looks or the Bombcast then I'm OK with a paid membership.

Avatar image for natetodamax
#39 Posted by natetodamax (19466 posts) -
@CaptainObvious said:
" How about some extra titles for premium members?
I am heavily against anything that makes subscribers stand out amongst the community. 
Avatar image for red12b
#40 Posted by Red12b (9362 posts) -

Watching those videos I said oooooooooo very nice 
 
 
 
That is brilliant, love the established tags, class. 

Avatar image for supermarius
#41 Posted by Supermarius (1223 posts) -
@snide:  can you confirm for us that early or exclusive access to new audio or video content will not be part of a paid membership? Until this is clarified i'm still really worried and your failure to mention it in you post is currently making me more worried. Paid message boards would potentially split the community.  Paywalled content would definitely split the community.
Avatar image for beachthunder
#42 Posted by BeachThunder (15167 posts) -

A few ideas for paid features:
 

  • limitless flags
  • no mod consent on wiki edits even if you're <1000 points
  • a 10% or so increase in XP
Avatar image for ajayraz
#43 Posted by AjayRaz (12905 posts) -
@BeachThunder said:
" A few ideas for paid features:
 
  • limitless flags
  • no mod consent on wiki edits even if you're <1000 points
  • a 10% or so increase in XP
"
he said nothing involving the wiki would be included with it :P 
Avatar image for natetodamax
#44 Posted by natetodamax (19466 posts) -
@BeachThunder said:
" A few ideas for paid features:
 
  • no mod consent on wiki edits even if you're <1000 points
"
NO! NO. NO. NO. 
 
No no no no no no no. 
 
Never. Never.
Avatar image for deactivated-5c5cdba6e0b96
#45 Posted by deactivated-5c5cdba6e0b96 (8259 posts) -

I'd love to support you guys, this is my go to gaming palace.
 
 I just need Paypal support.

Avatar image for kuribosshoe
#46 Posted by KuribosShoe (694 posts) -

I would just like to say that, no matter what you give us or do not give us, no matter how much it costs, I will pay to support this site.  I give no fuck.  You guys rule and I want you to continue to rule.

Avatar image for red12b
#47 Posted by Red12b (9362 posts) -
@EpicSteve said:
" It doesn't sound like it's enough. i feel like a dirt bag for criticizing without coming up with a creative solution, but paid web services are always weird. I would want specific features, not just minor upgrades to what i get for free. I would like a GiantBomb shit that's not black and it would have to involve Lincoln and Luchdeer in some way. Perhaps throw a Tank in there? "
You're in the army, isn't it enough? what the hell would you do with one? where would you put it?  
Think of the logistics required!  
 
Kids these days...never think things through...
Avatar image for beachthunder
#48 Posted by BeachThunder (15167 posts) -
@natetodamax said:
" @BeachThunder said:
" A few ideas for paid features:
 
  • no mod consent on wiki edits even if you're <1000 points
"
NO! NO. NO. NO. 
 
No no no no no no no. 
 
Never. Never. "
Hm, convincing argument. 
 
Actually now that I think about it, it probably is a bad idea. It would mean people could just pay to mess up the wiki D:
Avatar image for flappyhands
#49 Posted by FlappyHands (3047 posts) -

That sounds good to me. Paypal support would be cool, but I could probably go either way. Stoked for what the future may bring!

Avatar image for andrela
#50 Posted by Andrela (595 posts) -

Seems like you're taking the right mindset into implementing premium accounts. 
 
I was wondering why there were no new t-shirts in the store for a long long time, given the huge outcry in the community for new ones. Packing in a shirt with the premium account is a smart business move ;)
 
I want a t-shirt of Abe Lincoln wrestling Luchadeer on the moon while eating a durger.