Kinda Funny (Greg Miller + Co.) is bigger than I thought. Made me wonder about GB's business model

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Castiel

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#1  Edited By Castiel

First of all: Sorry for the long post and any potential grammatical or spelling errors.

I'm not really the biggest fan of Greg Miller but he has obviously done very well for himself and worked extremely hard to get to where he is today which I can only respect. I just didn't know how well Kinda Funny must be doing because their youtube channel recently uploaded a video from a Kinda Funny (from now on KF) live event and the production blew me away. I'm posting the video below so you can see it for yourselves. Obviously KF can't pull these events off regularly because it looks expensive as shit and the production value is insanely high but that they can even pull such an event off to begin with is crazy. I can't imagine that GB could ever have the budget to do something like this the way their business is today.

It's extra crazy to me because KF isn't that old and it's already gotten insanely huge. Now Greg Miller, Colin Moriaty and the rest of the KF crew obviously had an advantage in IGN. They spent years making a name of themselves in the gaming community through their time at IGN and they could build upon that "fame" so to speak, and create something like KF because of their previous work. In that way I find KF and GB kinda similiar. Jeff was a well known gaming personality at a big gaming site before he started his own thing. The big difference is of course that Jeff didn't have a choice where Greg choose to stop at IGN. But other than that I find the creation and mentality behind KF and GB slightly similiar. It's a more personal and personality driven site/youtube channel. You follow GB because of Jeff, Vinny, Brad, Dan etc. Just like I presume people follow KF because they really like the people behind it.

But the biggest difference is perhaps Patreon. Patreon wasn't a thing when GB got started but both KF and Danny O'Dwyer with Noclip has shown that you can be very succesful and have more control over the content you create and put out when you go the crowdfunding route. And I seem to recall seeing a KF video with Jeff where he said something along the lines of that he would really serious consider going the crowdfunding route if that had been a viable option back when GB started.

I'm sure GB is doing okay financially but after seeing how well for example KF and Noclip is doing I can't help but wonder if GB's current financial situation is the most efficient and/or sustainable one for GB. If GB were to launch today I think they might have gone the Patreon route. It worries me because more and more company owned gaming sites like Gamespot have become less and less about games and personality driven content. Now it's more about who can get the most clicks. That's why more and more video game sites also writes about movies and TV shows besides gaming. I just can't help but wonder if there is pressure from higher places to make Giant Bomb more broadly appealing by covering a wider aspect of content that really isn't in GB's interest.

GB do of course have their own kind of crowdfunding with paid memberships but I can't help but wonder if they would be more succesfull just going the Patreon route. It would also give GB more control over their content and remove some of the pressure that might, or maybe might not, be when you're part of a big company.

With all this said I'll just make it clear that I love GB and the work they do. Otherwise I wouldn't support the site and in the end I think GB is going to be fine. But there is no denying that video game culture and the coverage of video games have changed a lot in these last few years partly because of crowdfunding. It made me wonder if GB would be a crowdfunded youtube channel if they were to launch today.

What's your thought's on this subject?

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DookieRope

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#2  Edited By DookieRope

I think Greg is younger than the giant bomb guys. He's embraced the YouTube bullshit reaction videos and all. I don't think the Bomb crew could stomach that racket. Especially as a strong social media presence is a requirement and social media is fucking gross at this point. That and being employed by a giant corporation when your older and want to have a stable life and has many benefits like health insurance and paid vacation. They also don't have to follow whatever #trends that the teens on YouTube are into in order to get those sweet views.

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forteexe21

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Its cause they are sellouts and shills and paid by Sony! /s Now tell me when GB announces Taco Bell Presents: Big Live Live Show Live from [insert sponsor venue]!

Anyway, I dont really follow KF so i cant really compare the two but I'm still amazed on how much GB technically has. The wiki is robust, it also has its own video player, chat, forums, content, merch, etc. And if they go independent, i wonder how much they have to spend on bandwidth alone as they definitely wont be seeing 40 hours of Mario Party in HD as cheap especially with the move to 1080p60.

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bigsocrates

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I think Greg is younger than the giant bomb guys. He's embraced the YouTube bullshit reaction videos and all. I don't think the Bomb crew could stomach that racket. Especially as a strong social media presence is a requirement and social media is fucking gross at this point.

The other thing they've embraced is sponsored content, which they do a lot of, although they will happily tell you that doing so has no effect on their editorial independence, even as they take large paydays to emcee events for various publishers.

I also doubt their patreons pull in as much as GB's subscriptions just based on some rough math. They have fewer employees and a much "thinner" operation (Giant Bomb is a whole website with a ton of engineering and its own video player, for example, while they just upload stuff on Youtube. Their videos also aren't nearly as well produced as Giant Bomb's, with none of the cool effects, wipes, or other stuff that the GBoys get up to.)

But in the end, who cares? It's not a competition. Jeff has said that the site is profitable and growing, and its doing the editorial stuff that it wants to do. There will always be bigger or more popular sites, but as long as what GB is doing is what they WANT to be doing, and is working as a business, why does it matter what anyone else is doing?

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BrunoTheThird

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#5  Edited By BrunoTheThird

I'm getting so much cringe from that video, but there's a lot going on that ain't super cheap for sure that is impressive. Has the production values of something more like a TED Talk or like a PAX panel with a little more money pumped into it and a dollop of sheen.

I think the guys really wouldn't be comfortable with it, but what do I know. They're more like the seasoned vets who don't got time for that.

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BabyChooChoo

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I don't really have any thoughts except that I wish Giant Bomb embraced Twitch like other entities do. Much like Youtube, it seems like a great way to reach people since so many people are on the site all the time. That said, I obviously don't have the full picture so I'm kinda talking entirely outta my ass here. I can only assume they have a good reason.

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deactivated-5e6e407163fd7

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That intro video was brutal to watch.

I don't think there is much to worry about with GB being forced to do content to get clicks. I think Jeff would've been smart enough to make sure that shit wouldn't fly while signing the CBS deal.

Jeff has also said there are downsides to the crowdfunding model. Having all your revenue coming in through a 3rd party is risky. What if Patreon goes under or changes something? What if all you know is how to do youtube and then youtube changes to where you can support yourself anymore? There's no right answer to any of it. CBS gives them some freedom by relieving the pressure of having to be self-reliant while simultaneously being totally reliant on these third party companies.

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Castiel

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#8  Edited By Castiel

Well I agree with you completely when you say that the only thing that really matters is that GB do what they want to do. And that it is viable for them as a business.

I think the reason why I posted this was because I don't really follow KF that much, but knew a little of the history behind it and I thought there was some similarities to GB. But GB and KF choose to go two completely different ways in achieving their goal and thought that was interesting. But seeing some of this live event just took me by surprise. Just seeing how big they have actually become was crazy to me and put things into perspective in a way I haven't thoguht it before. It just made me wonder if GB would have been a very different beast if they were to launch today. Seeing that video just made me realize just how much you can actually achieve by going the crowdfunded way.

In the end I like GB as it is and if it's succesfull for them and they can slowly keep growing as a business without compromising their vision for the site they should obviously continue as they do. The video just made me realize just how much much things have changed these past few years and how more and more big video game sites have lost a lot of their charm and personality in order to appeal to a broader audience. It's at least good to hear that the latter doesn't seem to be a thing that would happen to GB in the foreseeable future. Hopefully GB can keep growing and keep having creative control over their own website.

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aktivity

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#9  Edited By aktivity

@bigsocrates: I'm curious what the viewing numbers are on the video player vs YouTube. I tend to default to YouTube/Twitch whenever possible, because it makes for a more hassle-free viewing on my tv. I 'm sure they crunched the numbers, but from the outside looking in it really makes you wonder if the added costs really balance out that well.

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stordoff

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@castiel said:

Obviously KF can't pull these events off regularly because it looks expensive as shit and the production value is insanely high but that they can even pull such an event off to begin with is crazy.

[...]

It made me wonder if GB would be a crowdfunded youtube channel if they were to launch today.

Honestly, I kinda like the fact that GB don't go for that sort of scope in their events - I think part of GB's charm is that it feels like half of it is on fire at any given time :p

If they were to launch today, a crowdfunded YouTube channel might be a part of it, but there is so much more to GB than that would cover - the wiki, forums, chat etc. are pretty much integral to GB IMO. I also don't think they'd follow the KF route of doing sponsored events and YouTube trends; one of GB's biggest strengths is that it is a small team doing pretty much only the stuff they want to do, and as a result it feels cohesive and it is meaningful to say "I am a fan of GB". That's part of what drove me away from Rooster Teeth a few years ago - they started doing so much varied stuff (of varying quality....) that they lost their core identity. "Rooster Teeth" became more of an umbrella brand, and it no longer makes as much sense to say "I am a Rooster Teeth fan".

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bigsocrates

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@aktivity said:

@bigsocrates: I'm curious what the viewing numbers are on the video player vs YouTube. I tend to default to YouTube/Twitch whenever possible, because it makes for a more hassle-free viewing on my tv. I 'm sure they crunched the numbers, but from the outside looking in it really makes you wonder if the added costs really balance out that well.

I have no idea what the numbers are, obviously, though I would say that I think the big advantage of the video player is that they can keep some videos premium (paywall) AND control their encoding so they serve up high quality streams vs. Youtube or other places.

But Giantbomb was built in 2009 when Youtube was a very different site and Twitch didn't exist, so what they did made sense at the time. They can't drop the video player now for various reasons, and it does have advantages, but double posting on Youtube is probably also a smart idea.

I will say that I actually think the GB video player works pretty well on my TV. I watch stuff through my Xbox One Microsoft Edge browser and the HTML video works perfectly 99% of the time. I don't remember if you can do that as a non-premium member these days though, since I know the video player at least used to be built on flash, which wouldn't work on a phone or a console.

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OurSin_360

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#12  Edited By OurSin_360

Not just patreon or kickstarter, but Youtube wasn't what it is today either when GB started. GB was probably the first site to truly focus on personality 100% instead of reviews and articles and getting the "big scoop". Sure they do some of that but they were doing the personality thing before youtube/twitch and all that stuff, obviously expanding off what gamespot was trying to do but still nothing was really like it before. Giantbomb has it's niche audience and does (I assume) pretty well for itself, kinda funny and all that youtube stuff really goes for the broad mainstream crowd instead which makes it all seem a little bit less genuine and click baity(not saying they are but just how it seems as someone who doesn't follow any of it).

It also makes for a much better community to be involved with as well, which i appreciate (obviously the mods do a lot for that as well)

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liquiddragon

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Maybe we have different povs but GB seems way more sustainable to me. At the end of the day, we're all doing sketchy math in our heads but I'd take the subscription numbers at GB over Patreon any day of the week.

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ArtisanBreads

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#14  Edited By ArtisanBreads

KF does straight up ads for games and hosts events for publishers. They are making money by doing things GB is completely against and would never do.

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deactivated-5b85a38d6c493

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Isn't Kinda Funny associated with Rooster Teeth now? Which is a really successful and big company.

I mean, Kinda Funny has its own store on RT's website.

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OMGFather

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I will never get how they're so popular. I guess same with people like PewDiePie though.

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takayamasama

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I think the GB method is far superior and more respectable. The KF method is to chase the trends. And the audience of those trends, much like the trends themselves, can change on a dime and bring it all down. GB just feels more down to earth, I feel like I can 100% trust the views of all the staff, and I like having a place that isn't just doing the same thing as every other website/streamer and only applying it's own "color" to it.

I also think it's fair to say that GB led the way for a lot of these things to exist, and I think a lot of the people out doing their thing in games media today would agree. 9 years ago was a very different time and to think a website could pop up and stay alive just on the premise of personality and doing whatever comes to mind, relying on members subscriptions instead of heavy advertisement, was largely unheard of.

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MindBullet

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I think some people have touched on it, but Kinda Funny and Giant Bomb are too very different things. Sure, GB COULD theoretically go the Youtube/Twitch route, and they would probably do pretty okay for themselves. However, the way those platforms work in regards to making an actual profit would mean some DRASTIC changes would need to take place that would leave Giant Bomb almost unrecognizable.

GB is what it is precisely because they don't have to do a lot of the stuff that comes from using a platform like Youtube, and changing that might get them a wider audience, but it'd also destroy the... Well, for a lack of a better word, the brand.

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Milkman

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I can't imagine really anyone from GB doing the shilling bullshit that KF does. The whole point of GB's founding was to get away from that kind of stuff. I'm sure they're fine where they're at.

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ArtisanBreads

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ThePS2Collector

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Crowdfunding is amazing because it is empowering creative people to do all kinds of things that wouldn't be financially viable for them otherwise.

One thing I found interesting is that this Kinda Funny event is actually not as huge as it seems from most of the camera work. This shot shows that it's a much more tightly packed, but seemingly smaller venue then the PAX Giant Bomb shows are in now. So, maybe the strongest fanbase between KF and GB is pretty similar in scope.

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monkeyking1969

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#22  Edited By monkeyking1969

I like Greg, and I find Colin Colin Moriaty entertaining. But let us be clear, they ain't going anywhere and they are on the road to empire if they get a good lawyer and a good management team in place. They spin their own brand of "straw nerdiness" into gold. They have two Patrions that haul in a "ridiculous" amount of money. But, they key they have is that money comes from a huge pool of contributors. There are channels that bring in more money I'm sure, but it not spread between so many people. With such a wide base of donors their income base is stable for Patrion.

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I don't think I ever expected something like a "Penny Arcade sized empire" to happen again, but I think Greg and Colin could easily reach that level.

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BojackHorseman

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What the heeeell. It looks like a cult.

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deactivated-5b85a38d6c493

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@bojackhorseman: I was going to reply with a "what are you talking about", but then I actually watched the video and the whole introduction with the guys explaining what KF is, projected on a huge screen with somber background music totally reminds me of those orientation videos that "happy life" cults usually have.
And then Burnie Burns comes out with a microphone and starts talking about building an empire.


Obviously not completely serious with this comparison, but it is kinda funny.

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shorap

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@brunothethird: Completely in agreement. I decided to watch the intro and the beginning part wasn't too offensive but when it got to, "Kinda Funny is..." woo-boy, I just felt sorry for anyone who got pumped from that. To each their own I guess.

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BojackHorseman

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@magmamud said:

@bojackhorseman: I was going to reply with a "what are you talking about", but then I actually watched the video and the whole introduction with the guys explaining what KF is, projected on a huge screen with somber background music totally reminds me of those orientation videos that "happy life" cults usually have.

And then Burnie Burns comes out with a microphone and starts talking about building an empire.

Obviously not completely serious with this comparison, but it is kinda funny.

Pun intended?

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deactivated-5b85a38d6c493

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@bojackhorseman: Not initially when I wrote it, but then I realized what I had done and kept it.

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sammo21

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#28  Edited By sammo21

I cracked wise when they had two different Patreon accounts but now they have sizeable YT income, 2 Patreon (which still seems weird), AND sponsored content so they are doing just fine without me tuning in. I personally don't like their dynamic, but that's me. I like them all individually just fine but not enough to even really sit through their YT stuff on a consistent basis and the sponsored content comes off like the worst, cliche YT stuff out there. Then again, I feel the same way when it comes to stuff like Rooster Teeth, Yogcast, etc...just not my thing but not a fan of 90% of what they do.

Giant Bomb could definitely do that if they wanted to put effort into being that shilly.

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WynnDuffy

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I don't like Greg and Kinda Funny is like the worst name ever, it's even worse than Easy Allies (who are very likeable)

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deactivated-5d056614f191a

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I cant stand Greg and Colin.

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bombedyermom

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I like Greg, and ya'll should listen to his guest appearance on Danswers if you haven't already. It's incredible. That being said, the cheese factor in this video is high. Not my cup of tea, but I wouldn't hate on anyone who does enjoy it. I get the impression Giant Bomb is doing well, and I'm sure they'd love to cook up their own version of something like this. You know, with less figurative cheese and more nacho cheese.

I wouldn't worry too much about GB's perceived success against other gaming sites. Bigger isn't always better.

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turboman

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#32 turboman  Staff

If GB went on Patreon, the website's business model would be pretty much the same except for them having to pay a percentage of their subscription money to Patreon.

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clagnaught

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#33 clagnaught  Online

I haven't been following Kinda Funny or Greg and Colin for a long time. I was already on the way out before they announced they were leaving IGN and basically only listened to the podcast explaining why they were leaving. So granted my perception may be off from what is currently going on with Kinda Funny.

Generally speaking, Patreon and other crowdfunding platforms are kinda amazing. I've backed a number of games and projects on Kickstarter and am supporting two Patreons--Every Frame a Painting and NoClip. Overall I'm happy with my support (it has either lead to something I really enjoyed or it actually lead to a thing; the games I've backed have or seem to be turning into actual video games that don't end halfway through). But then, you get to the "Give us $5,000 and we'll give you a leather jacket" territory. Or in the case of Kinda Funny, "Give us $3,000 to be a co-host on a podcast and we'll take you out to dinner". Do whatever you want with your money, especially if you have a boat load of it, but $3,000 for basically chatting with people and going out to dinner is ridiculous. This isn't anything directed at Kinda Funny. I think it's just as ridiculous when movies have a "Give us $12,000 and you can attend our world premiere and then have dinner with us (But you have to pay for your travel and lodging)" rewards. Or, the "Give us $2,000 and we'll design a side mission for you" rewards. I know this is a fine line, but there's something I find sleazy about those bigger rewards, especially ones that boil down to if you give these guys money, we'll talk with you like you're one of the boys. (Not to say Kinda Funny does that or they pretend to enjoy talking with their fans. I'm sure they do. This is just how it comes across to me on paper.)

Also, Giant Bomb is company. They have health insurance. They have a 401k. They have paid time off. Most, if not all, of the gang has enrolled in life insurance, AD&D, and short and/or long term medical leave. They have HR. Jeff worked with a recruiter from CBSi to create and post the job opening for San Francisco. There are engineers working to make sure the site works. There's a lot more stuff involved than clicking the stream to Twitch button. Rorie handles support cases and general brand management. When they go to E3, they have to fill out an expense report to get reimbursed. They may even have a corporate credit card to pay for expenses like that. That Kinda Funny E3 stage show that was hosted by GameSpot a year or two ago? That was originally supposed to be a Giant Bomb stage show somebody at CBSi booked for them that Jeff didn't want, since Giant Bomb does the night shows; not E3 stage demos/interviews. They don't have to host Final Fantasy XV live streams to make ends meet or to get extra money in the bank. While Kinda Funny bringing in over $56,000 a month is impressive, there's no way the cost of Kinda Funny or Kinda Funny Live compares with the cost of the two Giant Bomb studios, the 8+ people working under CBSi, their E3 live shows, them going to PAX, their benefits, etc.

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TheManWithNoPlan

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#34  Edited By TheManWithNoPlan

I think both KF and GB are doing very well doing different things. They are in very different financial spots, so how they have to handle their business is of course going to be different. Which is perfectly fine. I really like them both for different reasons, and won't try to persuade anyone to feel otherwise. But seriously, I would have never expected to see the bitter/negative tone this thread is giving off from our community. You can not like something without being rude.

I understand they have an abrasive leadman and hit or miss personalities on staff (Colin and tim). I understand there are those that don't care for how they make money on ads/patreon. I understand we exist in a bastion of transparency on Giant Bomb. They aren't for everyone. That is fine.

I will agree, some of that stuff in the video is a little cringy at times. But hey, it's exciting and fun for the community that has been following them for (now) years. Be cool duders.

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beanswater

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I trust everyone involved (GB, KF, anywhere else) to manage themselves and their business to the degree I never think about it. Also if I tried to give advice to any one of those people I imagine their first question back to me would be "Well smart ass why don't you have your taxes done yet"

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Superkenon

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It's different, that's for sure. Kind of an apples and oranges situations, so I don't know if they can really be compared.

What's clear though is that Giant Bomb's model is working quite fine for them. The crew seems to be well taken care of, and the business as a whole is apparently doing good enough for more hires to be brought on in the near future.

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deactivated-5a4ea8fdbe490

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I love Kinda Funny. They are the only dudes beside Giant Bomb I follow. The thing that is interesting is they openLy discuss things they do that work and don't work. Where their attention is and acknowledge what fans are asking for. It's very fascinating when they get a bit transparent. I actually get a Giant Bomb feel from them really often, when their show is just going off the rails and has me laughing my ass off.

I've always loved Greg, he just seems like a nerd who knew what he wanted, and went and got it, and he really seems to care about his fan base. Colin I used to go back and forth on, but these days I think he might be my favorite of the KF crew. Especially with politics, because he's a very honest, level headed dude who tells it like it is with no ****s given.

I definitely think KF is worth checking out. They're cool dudes who are still figuring things out, but it's a fun ride.

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civid

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I don't know Kinda Funny that well, I pretty quickly got fed up with their general style, but I don't believe they have the kind of budget GB has. It's easy to still see GB as kind of scrappy because of their small staff and general 'Let's play'-style of videos, but their servers aren't hosted by Youtube (they are, but not primarely), they have TWO offices and their equipment is super advanced. I don't believe GB would be able to as big as it is today with "just" patreon-money, but I might be completely wrong.

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#39  Edited By dafdiego777

@superkenon: yeah - it's actually gotten to the point where Jeff has mentioned that they probably won't add too many more personalities to the site (at least once both sides of the country hire a person). I also think he's mentioned that every E3 they've been growing like crazy for such a lean production.

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Bill_P

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#41  Edited By Bill_P

Well done, Greg. I used to like his PlayStation podcast on IGN, but I never thought he'd be able to go from that to this. Also the age of the guys in the crowd surprised me because their humor isn't particularly mature and they aren't that knowledgeable. Still, good for them.

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Slag

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I'm glad GB never went down the Rooster Teeth/Kinda Funny route.

I'm sure those guys do alright for themselves, but when you start doing sponsored content your utility to me as a game critic is pretty much done. I've got zero interest in anything KF or RT puts out. More power to them if ppl like that stuff.

I also think patreon etc may not be as stable in the longrun as one might think. Plus I'd imagine they might have to pay two middlemen (patreon+credit card processing) instead of one when it comes to transactions (credit card processing).

So it's not a free money parade as it might seem.

I do think GB could maximize their profitability by narrowing their focus into podcasts and videos only (do they even really need the website at all anymore?), but that would mean cutting the cord with the stuff I personally like about the site. So I hope they don't.

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BrunoTheThird

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#43  Edited By BrunoTheThird

Making people happy is lovely, and I wish them success, and fulfillment in their lives. I will say that one example that just shows the two entertainment models fundamentally differ on some level is when Greg appeared on GB's E3 panel -- you know, when he got drunk and topless and knocked his shame-pile of beers on the floor. It was awkward and clashed with the vibe based on the reactions he was getting, but whatever, that's his personality. I'm just saying that's an example where you can actually see the difference in their styles (knowledgeable gamers with a great sense of humour owned by CBS VS. completely free crowdfunded internet personalities), not that one is viable and one isn't. It's nice to see people being themselves and not being influenced by powers that be, and they both already are that, and should probably continue to exist in their own ways. I think GB can still grow without needing to adopt kinda radical new ways of supplying their content. If it was one event on that kind of scale now and then, though, I see that being totally fine and kinda fun-- kinda cool... But then their PAX stuff fills that space.

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Trilogy

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What the heeeell. It looks like a cult.

It's really not that far off GB pax panels.

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Castiel

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#45  Edited By Castiel

@bojackhorseman said:

What the heeeell. It looks like a cult.

Now that you mention it. It does seem a little cult'ish. Especially the first few minutes.

Edit: Oh boy. I just wanted to see how this show ended and... this is a strange thing. It ends with a goddamn marriage proposal.

That's a bit too much for me. I think it's weird to mix your private life and your fandom together in such a way. It's cool that the KF guys enjoys what they are doing and it's great that they made it work for them financially but that's just too weird for me.

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Lv4Monk

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#46  Edited By Lv4Monk

Next to Giant Bomb KF feels like a packaged product that's labeled, branded, and ready for consumption.

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Jaymii

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I believe this is all best summed up by the fact Greg has seven times the followers of Jeff. Greg now has a massive audience entirely outside of gaming. Jeff is still game industry throughout, and that's by design.

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The_Tribunal

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@castiel: yeah. they've embraced their personality-based approach in a way that kind of pushes me away.

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BojackHorseman

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@trilogy said:
@bojackhorseman said:

What the heeeell. It looks like a cult.

It's really not that far off GB pax panels.

I don't think we've been watching the same panels then, haha.

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jakob187

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The difference between Kinda Funny and Giant Bomb, for me at least, is that I don't care about going to any gaming sites other than Giant Bomb anyways.