Too many podcasts?

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Sargon

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More than a year into the pandemic and the new normal of remote work, I am increasingly of the opinion that the Giant Bomb podcast content is becoming a bit redundant. Some of the unique voices on each of the flagship shows are gone, and as a result the shows themselves feel more similar than they did before. Add in the HotSpot, and we have another show where some of the same topics are discussed again, albeit with a slightly different combination of hosts. I'm never going to tell them to produce less content, but I do wonder whether recording three separate podcasts each week is the best use of their time.

In a world where everyone is working remotely, does it still even make sense to have both of Bombcast and a Beastcast? Realistically speaking, will the Giant Bomb/Beast employees ever return to offices? I feel like the three podcasts could easily be consolidated down into two, with a bit more of a distinct focus for each one. For example, Giant Bomb is more modern gaming focused, while HotSpot could focus on retro or other hobby discussions. I'm not saying that is the right format, but to me it makes sense to have more of a unique identity for each show.

I support the site and will keep listening regardless, but as time goes on the division between Giant Bomb and Giant Beast is feeling more and more arbitrary and unnecessary.

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CurseOfTheWise

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#2  Edited By CurseOfTheWise

The simple fix would seemingly be: only listen to whichever one you like?

A reduction of content right now doesn't really suit the site, they just had a giant move and people are still under lockdown with not a great deal to do, so I'm sure there are a ton of people who appreciate the glut of podcasts every week.

For my money, I find The HotSpot to be a bit redundant, so I don't exactly miss it. But there are thousands of listeners who don't engage with anything else on the website other than the podcasts, so...

Not gonna happen anytime soon, unless there's a MASSIVE staff shakeup.

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dunbar256

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It's a great question and I think is also related to enormous growth of podcasts in general. I have more podcasts on video games, politics, cooking than I know what to do with :)

I personally listen to all three religiously and enjoy the differences between the three. For example, I like how Jeff and Vinny play off of one another during the HotSpot.

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Ryan3370

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#4  Edited By Ryan3370

As someone who primarily consumes giant bomb content during my drive to/from work, there's never enough podcasts. I don't have time to sit through a UPF or some of the longer streams so I usually glance at which games are on there and move on.

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bigsocrates

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No?

The Giant Bombcast would be either 4 hours long or super overstuffed or both if you added Alex and Vinny and maybe Jeff Bakalar.

The Hotspot is ALREADY a different kind of podcast. I don't know what Hotspot you've been listening to but the one that I listen to every week has very little overlap with the Bombcast. It's about the MISTer and game storage and a lot of more personal less games related stuff. It doesn't really follow the "Games, news, user email" pattern that drives the Bombcast. Sure there's some overlap, but it's not a lot.

There used to be even more podcasts.

Am I the only one who remembers Bombin' The A.M. With Scoops And the Wolf?

I think what we really need is the return of the Nintendownload Xpress.

The Nintendownload Xpress is the most Jeff thing this site has ever done. It's like, maximum levels of Jeffness. Bring it back!

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ajamafalous

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Why would you not just listen to the ones that you're actually interested in?

I haven't listened to the Bombcast in years, but I've listened to every Hotspot and a majority of the Beastcasts. Everyone has different preferences and the shows have different audiences.

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Ryan3370

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@ajamafalous: he's probably implying that if there is less podcasts it will translate into more video content

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brian_

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I'd be curious to see what consolidating the bombcast and beastcast into one podcast, with a rotating cast of 3-5 different people each week, would do to free up some time for people to use elsewhere and what that might look like. Of course, I have no idea what's more profitable, two podcasts worth of ads, or potential new content. Might not be worth ditching one of them.

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Humanity

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I think people are missing the point in that the argument is that the podcasts are beginning to overlap in content. With working remote from home they could have just a regular Bombcast with everyone on it and then the Hot Spot on Fridays to cover the arbitrary and often retro topics that show entails. Adding Alex and Vinny to the Bombcast wouldn't make it overstuffed and in fact it would be beneficial to have a bigger roundtable for discussing games that came out during the week. The Beastcast more often than not only has Vinny and Alex discussing games and often times they aren't covering the same games so you get very one sided first impressions. In the past the Bombcast was Jeff, Ryan, Brad, Vinny, Patrick and Drew. It was great because multiple people were playing the same titles and you could have a serious abck and forth about it's pros and cons. I actually think consolidating the Bombcast and Beastcast together for the time being when they haven't hired new people for the East Coast would be an excellent idea. It would also lighten Vinny's workload quite a bit as he's basically the only production person on the East Coast and he has to edit the Beastcast and every other piece of content they do and play new games for discussion purposes. It really would be beneficial to everyone involved.

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ajamafalous

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@humanity said:

I think people are missing the point in that the argument is that the podcasts are beginning to overlap in content. With working remote from home they could have just a regular Bombcast with everyone on it and then the Hot Spot on Fridays to cover the arbitrary and often retro topics that show entails. Adding Alex and Vinny to the Bombcast wouldn't make it overstuffed and in fact it would be beneficial to have a bigger roundtable for discussing games that came out during the week. The Beastcast more often than not only has Vinny and Alex discussing games and often times they aren't covering the same games so you get very one sided first impressions. In the past the Bombcast was Jeff, Ryan, Brad, Vinny, Patrick and Drew. It was great because multiple people were playing the same titles and you could have a serious abck and forth about it's pros and cons. I actually think consolidating the Bombcast and Beastcast together for the time being when they haven't hired new people for the East Coast would be an excellent idea. It would also lighten Vinny's workload quite a bit as he's basically the only production person on the East Coast and he has to edit the Beastcast and every other piece of content they do and play new games for discussion purposes. It really would be beneficial to everyone involved.

The huge cast/'roundtable' was specifically one of the reasons that I stopped listening to the Bombcast, and why I skipped several years of the Beastcast as well. The Bombcast, the last few times I've checked in on it, has felt very 'crowded' and 'clinical' by comparison. Again, I am sure there are plenty of people who love the Bombcast and not the Beastcast, but they have different vibes and quirks. To move it one layer up, it'd be the same as someone saying 'why not just combine Giant Bomb and Gamespot?' Different people are gonna like different things and they serve different audiences. The last thing we need is more consolidation.

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BisonHero

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Completely ignoring OP's suggesting of merging Bombcast and Beastcast, I wouldn't mind them dissolving the Hotspot and reallocating Friday staff time to almost anything else.

The Hotspot is a fun hangout listen, and they have a lot of games industry knowledge to share and reminisce on and whatever (which is seemingly the point of the podcast), but it feels inessential. I don't hate it, but I could live without it. The Hotspot was nice to have when there was no Friday show, but I feel like *most* of the Hotspot discussion can really just happen on the Friday show now.

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swthompson

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I love the Bombcast and Hotspot as they exist now. I'll be sad when things go back to normal and the Hotspot is put back in the closet.

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bigsocrates

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@humanity: The podcasts have always overlapped in content.

I think everyone understands that the Beastcast is a little understaffed at the moment because GB East lost half its staff. The Bombcast, on the other hand, has added Danny O'Dwyer as a seemingly semipermanent member (and a good one) and has Jeff, Brad, Jan, Jason and Danny, plus @rorie if they need a closer to help them pop a rating.

Adding two more would be bigger than the cast has been, and at a time when big casts are harder to manage because of the tech issue.

Before the world ended a lot of podcasts were done by Skype, but not a lot of podcasts with a lot of members were done via telecommunication, and more importantly not a lot of GOOD podcasts were done that way. There's a delay that makes it hard to manage large group conversations and you don't have natural body language cues to help know when to let people break in.

I think the real issue is that GB East is currently understaffed and the kinds of free flowing conversation we all love from the Bombcast is hard to do remotely. Those aren't solvable problems at the moment, but killing the Beastcast and expanding the Bombcast membership won't fix either.

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hatking

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It's definitely a lot. I think Hotspot is pretty inessential, I guess I'll leave it at that.

Personally, I'd rather see that time spent covering games. Smaller games that don't get a ton of eyes would be cool. Playthroughs of old games always make for great series. Hell, launch Steam and just play random trash that came out that day.

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goosemunch

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The Hotspot is the only outlet for GB crew to discuss/explore any one particular topic in depth, so I think it serves a valuable role. We never get to hear them express their opinions about something unless some relevant news or e-mail question pops up, but then they have to hustle and there's barely enough time to collect the thoughts.

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frytup

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Personally, I think the Hotspot is great and the last thing GB needs is more random play live streams. Start talking about a weekly long play series and you've got my attention.

Opinions, eh? Decoding what the audience wants is the "fun" part of running a site like this.

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ghost_cat

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I like all three podcasts as they are, since it allows the ones who talk the most have more room to speak and shine. But the Beastcast does need an extra person or two on staff. Really missing Abby, since she was more unique in terms of being a very casual gamer, and was very (hysterically) blunt about her views and opinions and didn't back down. Miss that bite.

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schindigg

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The podcasts are fine they just need to produce more video content, the number of QL has gone down significantly over the last year.

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Humanity

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#20  Edited By Humanity

@bigsocrates: Telecommunication has proven to not be an issue since they all call in to connect regardless with Danny being a complete outsider to the production and still doing just fine. People have understandably adjusted both on the producing side and the listening side as we have come to expect the longer pauses and breaks that people give themselves a buffer.

Size similarly would not be an issue as you purport as it would still be Jeff, Brad, Vinny, Alex, Bakalar and Jan producing. Jason is in and out and to be perfectly honest he typically stays quiet for 90% of the podcasts when he is there. Danny is a guest and is not a permanent fixture although his presence has been great. The site was built on a large podcast that was 4 hours long - this is business as usual.

The only reason for the overlap is because of the necessity to split the site into the two coasts. This used to understandably not exist when the website functioned as one unit. So no one is saying to kill the Beastcast but instead put it on hiatus until they can get more people on-board and both alleviate the East workload while minimize double coverage of the same topics. Of course I realize this will never happen even though it’s a perfectly logical move for the time being and I realize this.

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bigsocrates

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@humanity: I don't think that telecommunication has proven "not to be an issue" and in fact Danny has had some production issues with his sound. There's also the issue that the delay and connection can be worst going coast to coast, but it's really a matter of having more people which degrades the stream, increases delays, makes it harder to read social cues etc... I can't think of a single good podcast that has a ton of people and does it remotely.

But we can go back and forth on the ideal podcast size forever. For what it's worth the original podcast size was 4-5 (2-3 for Arrow Pointing Down if you recall those very early days) and while the cast has been a little bigger from time to time, I don't think that's always been to its benefit and that was always when people were in a room together.

More importantly, though...putting the Beastcast on hiatus would be a big business risk. Jeff has said repeatedly that the podcast and site audiences overlap but are distinct, and if you take the Beastcast off the air for 6-12-18 months or however long it takes, you're going to have to rebuild that audience when you come back. Not to mention renegotiate deals with sponsors etc... upon its return.

Even if it were creatively the right decision to temporarily consolidate (and I don't think it is) it would be very difficult from a business perspective.

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mellotronrules

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#22  Edited By mellotronrules

overlap is defo the word i would use to describe a lot of the GB content these days- not that i'm not enjoying it, but now that the novelty of COVID-era production has worn off fully, and the group has contracted and is intrinsically less varied by function of their numbers- it's times like this i think the audience feels the absence of the creative engines like abby, ben and dan. jan is putting in work, i love his stuff. but i'd love for GB to look at their slate, podcasts included, and brainstorm some new spots. if that necessitates consolidation of effort- i'm all for it.

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ghost_cat

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@mellotronrules: I say it's time for new young blood. Jan is the only one left who's a kid compare to the rest.

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Toparaman

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#24  Edited By Toparaman

I'm fine with keeping the westcoast and eastcoast separate for the most part, but I do like the idea of a having a combined episode (posted on both feeds) once a month.

Also, I've already said it somewhere, but the format of both pods has gotten really stale. At least change the order (what-you-playing/news/emails) up every once in a while.

@zoofame said:

I agree with the feeling that the Bombcast and Beastcast feel redundant, though my solution would be to go back to their respective golden age formats, i.e. 2013-2016 for the Bombcast and 2015-2018 for the Beastcast.

Wow, those are almost exactly the same years I'd pick. And I've been listening to the Bombcast since the very beginning.

Also completely agree with emails. I don't know if they just don't get good emails anymore, or they just don't pick them, but it's been repeating itself for years.

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AV_Gamer

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I both agree and disagree.

I agree that the Bombcast and the Beastcast can sound redundant, because both talk about mostly the same games, the same news and read the emails. However, the whole point of both podcast is that you're getting the members opinions on these topics based on the West Coast location and the East Coast location of GiantBomb . Want to know what Jeff, Brad, Jason and Jan think on the West Coast? Listen to the Bombcast. Want to know what Vinny, Alex, Pinball Jeff, and I guess Danny now think on the East Coast? Listen to the Beastcast. And like others have said, the Hotspot is a thing on its own. It's like an Unprofessional Friday's version of a podcast where both coast get together and talk about whatever they feel like talking about. I like this setup and look forward to listening to them every week.

What I believe GB should be doing more of is game reviews, insightful articles, uploading trailers and more video content that is not just playing a game on stream. I know what they can do now is limited because of the pandemic, but if things ever get back to normal, hopefully they will start doing more things at the new office. And I believe Monday's should have some type of content, instead of it being an extra day off. Yeah, I know they are behind the scenes preparing for the week, but that's beside the point. They could use Monday's to talk about movies, wrestling or something, but make the day count.

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ToughShed

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Strong agree with the OP on this one.

That plus a lack of creative energy has been a bit of a bummer.

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krelmoon

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I know everyone is kinda bummed that people have left that haven’t been replaced and by the general lack of QL content but there is a pandemic going on that’s affecting everyone and everything. You don’t have to be patient but it would make things easier for everyone including yourself if you could try a little longer. I don’t expect things to really get back to normal till next year. Jeff isn’t cleaning out his garage just to go back to an office next month. He has all but said he doing it to be able to make more content from home. These podcasts and videos have been a lifeline for me. And for people who crave more content, unless you’ve been here from the beginning there is 10+ years of backlogged content to sift through. If you haven’t watched the whole P4 endurance run I would recommend that. Or the era of Wii and Kinect shovel ware is pretty good too. These are unprecedented times and the crew is doing their best. I’m not really angry at any of you for loosing your patience. I’m just asking you to hold out just a little bit more. If it’s any consolation the same things are happening to the games industry so great games dessert of 2021 is about to begin in earnest. the lack of quick looks will line up perfectly with the lack of games to cover. It will all eventually work out. Or it won’t and too many podcasts will be the last thing on your mind

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csl316

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Since they all offer something different, I'm cool with the weekly shows.

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Casse1berry

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For me the podcasts are what keep me coming back to the website now. I feel like their other content has taken a huge dive the last couple months. It's a combination of a lot though. Losing Ben and Abby and the lack of new big games coming out is a big part. Looking at the latest videos they have done, there is definitely some content.... but I just don't have any interest in a lot of stuff they have covered lately.

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glots

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I’d actually like there to be 2-3 more, since I always run out of fresh GB podcasts at work.

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Brendan

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#31  Edited By Brendan

I agree that The HotSpot is a little superfluous. At first the Core Four was a fun throwback feeling and a couple shows have had interesting hooks that delve into the groups history or old Gamespot stuff by way of a focused topic but a lot of the time I've felt like there isn't much there.

I'm a bad audience for them choosing something different though because these days my screen time is all playing video games so I mostly soak up GB via podcasts and probably wouldn't watch more video content.

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MagnetPhonics

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IMHO they are missing Interviews/Giantbomb Presents/niche Premium podcasts the most. Can you imagine today's giantbomb having a deep dive into match fixing in the FGC? Or a thorough analysis and deconstruction of the movie "Pixels"?

I think GB have made a few big bets on editorial direction that went slightly bad, (E3 is dead, GOTY had to be massively scaled back, Other sites that drive discussion have massively cut back their content, etc.) and being hit by Covid and corporate restructuring just exacerbated that.

Mostly though, I think of a comment Jeff often makes when referring to the release of WOW, that it was a game that needed dedicated sites of its own to cover it effectively. And how there have become more and more huge regularly updated games and niche communities like that. I don't think many have noticed the extent to which Giantbomb (and other major games sites) has become one of those niche websites for a loose alliance of Console sellers, XBox Gamepass and permitted ""indies"".

That said, I still listen to and enjoy all the main podcasts and don't really have a problem with the podcast content as it exists, other than mild annoyance at some overlap*. The Hotspot is definitely my favourite though, even when it isn't necessarily a fascinating topic the discussion is always entertaining as long as Vinny is on "focused" rather than "directed" mode as host.

*they should however repeat more emails on both podcasts, as the disproportionate outrage towards that makes it a moral duty.

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Regal

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Slightly off topic but I love that there is so much podcast content because I -- and I suspect many others -- use the podcasts as a more 'affable' / "positive affect" alternative to a noise machine. I use it to wake up, make and drink coffee before heading to work. When there is nothing available the morning feels more grey and dull to me.

I think these podcasts are so perfect because there's no "storyline" where you have to follow the plot. A lot of podcast either have that or some kind of educational / self-help angle that makes you feel like you should be paying attention. And you certainly don't want wake up to people talking about COVID and whatever's wrong with the world.

I just want to hear someone I've "known" since like 2003 talk about all the crap he has accumulated in his garage while I make a pot of coffee. That's always been the secret and true strength Giant Bomb to me.

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stantongrouse

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@regal: I came here to basically write the same - so thanks. I've struggled with my mental health all my life, but the last 18 months have been the worst for me in that regard in my 41 years. Those podcasts have been a fantastic source of getting myself up and going fuel, and feeling a part of casual conversation, which I've basically missed since last March.

I realise me saying "the status quo is fine by me" isn't much help to those that don't like it but I can't thank the team enough for what I think has been an exceptional output given the circumstances the world finds itself in.

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sombre

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It's basically the only content available to non subs nowadays, for what its worth.

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Pezen

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The way my life looks, they could make 5 podcasts per week and I still would have podcast time left over. That being said though, my only 'gripe' and I say that lightly, would be perhaps to look over if it's necessary to cover the same news. I don't know how big the their unique audiences vs overlapping audiences look like, so maybe double news is fine. But for me that listens to both (I'll get to the hotspot once I got my premium back), it feels a bit redundant. But I wouldn't say the shows feel reduntant overall. Also the idea floated in here of putting their funniest podcast (Beastcast) on hiatus seems like crazy talk to me.

Here's an idea though; mix them up a little but keep their distinct styles. Because I think there are combinations of folks that could bring out interesting talk in certain areas that now mostly end up as monolgues with very little back and forth.

But also, I feel like discussing this like they haven't already considered all of this kind of feels like arguing design decisions in games like developers have not already considered that idea and voted against it for reasons we don't know.

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StaticFrog

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@sombre said:

It's basically the only content available to non subs nowadays, for what its worth.

don't worry, you're not missing much content by not subbing.

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Dodongo

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I've been thinking the same thing as the OP for a while. I've also found myself agreeing with both sides of the "argument" in this thread.

Personally, I think the larger issue is just that GB has felt a little...stale recently. Which, isn't the end of the world, everything goes through ups and downs. Plus, I think there's good reasons both internal and external for that.

Obviously they've lost staff but hopefully they're working on that? As people have said, they are missing those creative catalysts they previous had.

The idea that they can recapture the "golden" days of a particular podcast is folly. Those stories have already been told and the crew is in a different place where maybe they don't want to share their personal life stories (because you'll notice all the reasons those were considered the "golden" days aren't related to gaming).

The industry certainly feels like it's in, and will continue to be in, a dry spell. So the question is, how do you (GB) respond to that? Do you get creative and bring some new ideas to the table or even bring back again some old ideas (Game Tapes, Load our Last Souls, etc.)? Or do you just slog along putting out the same content as always but which is suffering because there's a paucity of new, big games to talk about?

I should also say that, well, there IS life in gaming (and otherwise) beyond GiantBomb. It's okay to take a personal hiatus from the site or specific content for a while if you're not digging it. There's a TON of content out there to either supplement or replace GiantBomb. I listen to Waypoint because I missed the opinions and insights of Patrick and Austin but I understand their politics might not be to everyone's tastes. Dan's got that new Fire Escape Cast or whatever it is. There's a lot of other gaming podcasts I have no idea about! Point being that if you're looking for new/different sometimes it's on you to go seek it out.

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AlmostSwedish

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The Beastcast could use some fresh blood. I like Bakalar and all, but considering every hire GB has ever made has been rock solid and always a breath of fresh air so by comparison the current line up is a bit stale.

On the other hand I think the Bombcast has been pretty good with Danny on it.

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Nodima

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I couldn't feel more differently, I guess? The Bombcast, for better or worse, is the serious gaming news show that gets the week started and then the Beastcast is the improv comedy troupe that rounds the week out, with the Hotspot slotting in the middle with a bunch of nostalgia for the old days. The three pods feel quite distinct to me, and since I like everyone on them I've got nothing to complain about other than missing the people that have left, but what can I/they do about that?

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cikame

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I don't listen to them for the news as much as hearing their opinions on the news, they cover some of the same topics sure, but i want to see what each group thinks about it, as well as life discussions in their corners of America, trying to cram all that into one show would be too much, there'd be less room for everyone to speak and it would be harder to slide guests in without one or more people ducking out. If they're too similar for you i'd recommend dropping one of them, there's an infinite world of podcasts out there.
The Hotspot became my favourite because it's like a pocket dimension.

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ToughShed

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#42  Edited By ToughShed

@casse1berry said:

It's a combination of a lot though. Losing Ben and Abby and the lack of new big games coming out is a big part.

Yes to the first part, but I dont buy the second at all. Monster Hunter is out, Valheim they played a few times then dropped. They hardly did anything with Hitman 3. There's plenty they could do. There is nothing about this related to there not being games to play.

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beyblades99

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they should just combine them they barely have enough staff

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HibikiRush

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I think GB should hire some younger talent that is up for doing random evening streams. With so much Twitch competition out there GB's content seems a bit too scheduled now. There's many times where on one of the shows someone wil go "oh well we should probably wrap up it's almost 6."

I feel like having them work from their homes made them realize that there are other things that need to get done which is understandable and longer series like endurance runs take a back seat. Surely when you're at the office for 8 hours that's all you're going to do is work on videos.

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splodge

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There should be twice as many podcasts

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superslidetail

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It's felt a little stale for a while now, possibly before covid even happened but has only been exacerbated by the pandemic plus Ben, Abby and Dan leaving. I'm still optimistic once we're all passed the pandemic and they are back in the office and some new hires at some point that the energy here will be renewed.

Though, I think a part of the issue is myself, I only play a small fraction of the games the staff play as I don't have an interest in playing a lot of them. I do like hearing about them and seeing the staff play them generally but a lot of the games in the past couple years have not interested me enough to buy them.

I'll still listen to all the podcasts they offer no matter who the cast ends up being or what the format is as I like the familiarity of GB, I've been here since 2013, heck 3 months before Ryan passed away I joined the site. I followed Jeff and Alex since GameSpot. Ok enough rambling.

One request though, can we please go back to emails being about games again? I'm tired of all the food emails lol.

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hugador

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I just want podcast be longer. When I see the length of a podcast in the 2 hrs and 40min length I'll be like YES! It is like finding those extra french fries in the bag that had fallen off lol. I listen to them at work because it turns out I can listen to something while working.

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MankMachinery

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@bigsocrates:

Pretty sure Jeff said they stopped sending out those Nintendownload emails a long time ago. That was some of the best moments of the Bombcast though.

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bigsocrates

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@mankmachinery: Yeah the emails stopped coming and also there's less insane weird copy in Nintendo Eshop games anyway. Plus fewer true shovelware apps like 8 different apps called My Notebook that just have different colors.

But the Bombcast could definitely use an injection of that kind of insanity and commitment to the bit these days. I think the circumstances in the world are having everyone feel a little less goofy. People keep saying the site needs new blood, but we don't know who came up with cool goofy ideas like "Ranking of Fighters." I hope they make new hires just to expand the team back to the size it once was, but I think the older dudes are still capable of bringing it, it's just hard to bring it on a comedy site when you're feeling harried and exhausted from the world around you.

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taylorwmartin

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Yeah the podcast quality has been dropping week after week. The shows lack energy and enthusiasm. Sucks to say but I’m losing interest in GB.