Today, I canceled my Giant Bomb Premium subscription.
I'd been a subscriber for over five years. In good times, that subscription seemed like a steal. In worse times, I felt I was at least supporting creators I trusted, and whose success I cared about. With the exit of Jeff Gerstmann, I'm sorry to say that it no longer is worth it, in my opinion.
So I apologize in advance. What follows may end up being a long-winded retrospective from a long-winded fan's perspective.
I've always been into video games. In late 2010, my hype for Star Wars: The Old Republic and Skyrim had recently led me to upgrade my old computer and immerse myself in the "journalism" side of the hobby. I wanted to know what was going on in the world of games, and get professional opinions on games I was curious about. I also had a job that required me to drive a pickup for nearly 12 hours overnight, and I lamented the fact that I couldn't read and drive at the same time. But I could listen, and while the term "podcast" still confused me (Did I need to own an iPod? Did they actually broadcast this using something called a "pod"?) I eventually downloaded an episode of the PC Gamer Podcast before leaving for work one afternoon, and listened to it that night.
I was amazed. There were other adults like me--intelligent, rational adults who were passionate about video games, and they made money doing it professionally. They talked about "the industry" of video games. They gave insightful commentary on the process of developing video games behind-the-scenes. And, of course, they talked about playing games. It made my hobby feel legitimate. That kinda sucks to say now, but it's true.
I replayed that episode like three times during my drive that night. Before leaving for work the next day, I downloaded the past month's worth of PC Gamer Podcasts, and went through them all that night. I needed more, and began searching for other podcasts. Longer podcasts, and maybe ones I vibed with a little more.
Enter the Giant Bombcast. I'm not sure if it was the very first episode I listened to, but I remember an early episode talking about a trip to California Extreme (CAX). It was so fucking funny, and the vibe was perfection as they seamlessly transitioned from jokes about weed, head-scratching about brands on Twitter, and the perils of owning and transporting arcade cabinets.
I had found my podcast.
I listened every week for years, binged Game of the Year during holiday travel every year, and eagerly awaited TNTs and UPFs (later on). Their output was so consistently fantastic that the biggest bummers were things like Ryan or Vinny missing a podcast here and there.
Then, in the summer of 2013, Ryan Davis tragically passed away. I left work early that day (different job) feigning illness. I remember being unable to communicate why I was so upset to anyone IRL, including my boss, coworkers, and even my girlfriend. None of them understood how I could be so sad about the death of someone I had never met, and who likely never knew I existed. My only comfort came from sharing these feelings and experiences with other community members, and the catharsis of that podcast.
While no one could ever replace Ryan, I think Giant Bomb bounced back in the best way possible by bringing on Dan Ryckert and Jason Oestricher. Giving Drew and Rorie more screen and podcast time was a great move as well. The vibe was definitely different, and a bit diminished, but I still loved it, and I still listened to the podcast (and watched, once it became an option). I was sad to see Patrick go, but I knew he'd be great in his new position at Vice. The east/west split happened shortly afterward, which was scary, but in the end resulted in some great content and ideas that might not have worked otherwise. Then came Austin Walker, who I personally vibed with better than anyone who wasn't Ryan, Vinny, Brad, or Jeff. It's a shame his stay was so brief, but I have enjoyed his Vice content over the years.
It was around this time I stopped listening to every podcast, but not because it was bad. It was more because my car trips became shorter as I got a new job that I was closer to and which was more permanent. There were also two weekly podcasts now, and I felt overwhelmed trying to keep up.
The next "era" was defined by the exit of Dan Ryckert, and the addition of Ben, Abby, and Jan. I was skeptical of Ben and Abby at first, but they grew on me very quickly. I loved Jan from the start, and he's maybe the most wholesome dude on the internet.
It was devastating to hear that Vinny, Brad, and Alex were all leaving. I still don't know if all the details are public, but it felt a little weird the few times I checked out Nextlander. I stuck by Giant Bomb and Jeff financially, since it was his brainchild originally, and maybe he could take it back to where it came from at some point. But the truth was that Giant Bomb had lost something in the pandemic. Their personality-driven content just didn't work as well when they weren't all in the same room. I had already been getting most of my gaming-related content from YouTube and Twitch for over a year by the time they announced in January that they wouldn't be returning to the office. Another big blow, but I still supported Jeff and his ability to lead.
But now Jeff's gone. The vibe will never be what it was again. That's not a bad thing objectively. I just feel I could use the subscription fee in ways that support content that's more my style.
That's not to say I have any issues with anyone currently working for Giant Bomb. On the contrary, I wish them all nothing but the best. To wit, I think bringing Dan back was a great move, and Jason, Jan, and Rorie have my support always. I'm just not as well-acquainted with the rest of the crew, that's all. And the kind of content they're creating now isn't much different than most Twitch content, so I'm not super interested in getting used to new people and new content just because it happens to be branded Giant Bomb.
I'm sure I'll see the Giant Bomb name referenced here and there, but my reaction won't be one of bitterness or sadness. Instead, it'll be more like "Hey, good for them. Glad they're doing well." Though it will likely take some time to disassociate the name from Jeff, and from the hopes I had for the site.
Anyway, that's about all I had to say. Just felt a little odd to leave without acknowledging how much I've appreciated the content over the past decade-plus, and without explaining why.
Peace Out, Duders.