||It has been suggested that Ryan Davis (video game journalist) be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2013.|
|Type of site||Gaming wiki and video game journalism|
|Registration||Optional (free and paid)|
|Created by||Jeff Gerstmann
|Launched||March 6, 2008 (blog)
July 21, 2008 (full website)
|Alexa rank||4,779 (April 2014[update])|
Giant Bomb is an American video game website and wiki that includes gaming news, reviews, commentary, and video, created by former GameSpot editors Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis in collaboration with Whiskey Media. The website was voted by Time magazine as one of the Top 50 websites of 2011. The site was acquired by CBS Interactive in March 2012.
After being controversially fired from his position as Editorial Director of GameSpot, Gerstmann began working with a team of web engineers to create a new video game website. His intent was to create "a fun video game website" that would not heavily cover the business side of the game industry. The site's core editorial staff includes former GameSpot editors Gerstmann, Alex Navarro, Brad Shoemaker and Vinny Caravella as well as Patrick Klepek, formerly of G4, Drew Scanlon, and Ryan Davis until his death in 2013. Giant Bomb was unveiled on March 6, 2008 as a blog; the full site launched on July 21, 2008. The Giant Bomb offices were originally located in Sausalito, California and as of June 26, 2010, they relocated to San Francisco.
Content on Giant Bomb is split between its small staff providing written articles and videos in a video game journalism editorial capacity and its community expanding upon it by creating and interacting with the website's socially progressive tools and functions, namely a video game wiki-database, open to editing by all registered users in which they create content, and a Quest system in which they then earn points in a social gaming element. The Giant Bomb staff reports on video game news and reviews new releases. Their weekly podcast, the Giant Bombcast, is posted on Tuesdays and covers recent news and releases in the video game industry, as well as happenings around the office. Giant Bomb produces a number of regular video series, most notably Quick Looks, 20-60 minute unedited looks at recently released games, the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Endurance Run, which ran for 155 weekday episodes over eight months and This Ain't No Game, a weekly series produced by Davis, in which he reviewed movies based on video games.
- 1 History
- 2 Main features
- 2.1 Editorial content
- 2.2 Community content
- 2.3 Paid subscription service
- 3 Corporate affairs and culture
- 4 Development
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 External links
GameSpot departures, origins under Whiskey Media (2007-2011)
Jeff Gerstmann was terminated from his position as the Editorial Director of GameSpot on November 28, 2007. Immediately after his termination, rumors began to circulate around the Internet that his dismissal was a result of external pressure from Eidos Interactive, the publisher behind the video game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Gerstmann had given the game a negative review while Eidos had Kane & Lynch: Dead Men advertising on the website. Both GameSpot and their parent company CNET Networks stated that his dismissal was unrelated to the review. In what was labelled as the 'GameSpot Exodus' by Joystiq, Alex Navarro, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker and Vinny Caravella all left GameSpot. Davis announced his departure from GameSpot in February 2008, citing Gerstmann's firing as one of his reasons for leaving.
Gerstmann ultimately decided he did not wish to work in game development or public relations and began to work with Shelby Bonnie's Whiskey Media to begin developing a new site. Talking with Tyler Wilde of GamesRadar, Gerstmann said that their intent was not to make a site that would compete with GameSpot, but rather create "a really great and fun video game website…that we like and that we would use, and that users will have a blast using as well." In the process of deciding on the name for the website, over seventy different domain names were considered. Gerstmann wanted the website name to be catchy and original, saying there were too many video game websites with the word "game" in them. In addition to Davis, who recorded early episodes of the site's podcast, the Giant Bombcast with Gerstmann, former GameSpot editors Shoemaker and Caravella joined the site in June 2008. Navarro left his post as Community manager for Harmonix Music Systems to join Giant Bomb and its sister-site Screened in May 2010. Giant Bomb started as a WordPress blog, which opened on March 5, 2008. The full site launched on July 20, 2008.
Unlike most video game websites, Giant Bomb does not heavily cover industry news from a business perspective. During an interview on X-Play, Gerstmann said that he thought video game websites had become too focused on the business side of games, and that game news had become "stale" in the process. "We want to get out there and talk about games, because we like games…and it seems like there's an audience out there, and they like games... and their needs aren't being met by what's out there right now."
In 2011, Gerstmann commented that the industry was now "not getting as much news from the news sites as [it] used to, but the post count from these sites just seems to go higher and higher." In order to establish its own brand of "honest, original reporting" news, Giant Bomb hired Patrick Klepek as News Editor. Klepek, known for breaking the story of the 2010 employee firings, departures and lawsuits between Infinity Ward and Activision began working for Giant Bomb in April, 2011.
Acquisition by CBS Interactive (2012)
March 2012 saw Shelby Bonnie sell Whiskey Media in 2 deals, splitting the company's websites. While Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun's BermanBraun bought the company and its publishing platform (including Tested, Screened and Anime Vice), Giant Bomb and its comic-book sister-site Comic Vine were sold separately to CBS Interactive, the owners of GameSpot and its parent company CNET. Gerstmann explained that behind the scenes Giant Bomb had been looking for new ownership in order to facilitate the website's growth and that talks between themselves and CBS Interactive had started as far back as December 2011. Staying in San Francisco, the Giant Bomb and Comic Vine editorial staff (along with designers Dave Snider and Alexis Gallisá) moved to the CBS Interactive building where Gerstmann, Davis, Shoemaker and Caravella had worked for GameSpot.
As part of the new deal, the non-disparagement agreement between Gerstmann and CNET was nullified, allowing Gerstmann to openly talk about the reason why he was fired from GameSpot in 2007. Appearing on GameSpot for the first time in 4 years, Gerstmann was interviewed by CBS Interactive vice president of games programming John Davison. Rather than simply being fired for his Kane & Lynch: Dead Men review, Gerstmann revealed that the firing was a result of a much longer stand-off between GameSpot's then-management division and its editorial staff. Gerstmann had been "called into a room" three times between October 23, 2007 and November 29, 2007. The first time concerned one of Gerstmann's reviewer's scoring of 7.5 for Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction - for which Sony Computer Entertainment America had threatened to pull advertising money. The second concerned Gerstmann's infamous 6.0 Kane & Lynch: Dead Men review - which provoked further threats by Eidos Interactive. On the third call, some time after the release of the review, Gerstmann was informed that his contract was terminated.
After commenting on the need to support one's editorial team which hadn't been done by the former management team, Gerstmann and Davison, who worked for 1UP.com at the time, stated that they hoped that now the incident could be put to rest. The interview ended on a reassuring note for users of Giant Bomb and GameSpot that the two websites won't be merging or changing their respective styles of video game coverage.
In July 2013, the site revealed that co-founder and long-time fixture of the website, Ryan Davis, died July 3, 2013 at age 34.
Quantcast lists Giant Bomb as currently reaching 2.2 million people monthly having risen from 450,000 at the end of 2008 and 1.6 million in 2010. As of February 2012 Giant Bomb has an Alexa Internet ranking of 4,838.
Giant Bomb's news is written by News Editor Klepek and writer Navarro. Articles produced aren't limited to general gaming news, they include investigative journalistic pieces about the industry, such as the controversy surrounding Team Bondi (developers of LA Noire) and its work practices. Additional editorials and interviews by Klepek about gaming ethics, experiences and impact include the noteworthy story of one person who detailed the mental processes of Asperger syndrome and how his time playing video games differs from the average gamer. An article in July 2011 about the 'Game Trekking' concept (world travel-influenced game creation), featured an interview with founder Jordan Magnuson and his "notgame", The Killer. The Killer was based on his travels in Cambodia and his observations of a nation still recovering from its time as the Democratic Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot over 30 years ago. Following the 2011 Evo Championship Series in which Rising Star award winner, 8 year-old Noah Solis made the top 48 players in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Klepek interviewed Solis and his father Moises Solis who praised video games alongside education in avoiding Los Angeles organized crime.
Video games on Giant Bomb are rated on a scale of one to five stars, with five stars being the highest rating a game can receive and one star the lowest. Video reviews were first introduced on Giant Bomb on June 20, 2008 with Shoemaker's review of the PlayStation 3 title Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Metacritic lists Giant Bomb as having over 830 reviews in its records, with more than 450 of them positive, more than 250 being mixed and over 100 of them being negative. Of those reviews, 30% are higher than the average critic, 3% the same and 67% are lower. In contrast to their time working for GameSpot, Davis had said that reviews are not representative of Giant Bomb as an entity but are very personalised saying that, "as far as the review process goes, we're being very open about a review being that person's perspective. When a review has to represent an entire organization's perspective on a game, that's where you can run into trouble."
Giant Bomb videos are produced by Caravella and Drew Scanlon. Videos are hosted on YouTube and are embedded into the website. Videos are also available as a free channel on digital media streaming devices such as the Roku.
The site regularly posts Quick Looks (also known as Quick Look EX or Quick Look Road Show in cases where developers participate or when filmed on-location), videos showing unedited gameplay footage of a single game, featuring commentary from staff members playing the game, or simply watching another play. The feature has been used to profile highly anticipated games, give mention to lesser-known games, or to intentionally showcase bad games for humorous purposes. Quick Looks by Giant Bomb of lesser-known games are often more publicized by their respective developers or communities, such as the fighting game community, as a sign of mainstream recognition.
This Ain't No Game
This Ain't No Game (or TANG) was a weekly series in which Davis reviews movies based on video games, based on Davis' intention to, "challenge [himself] to watch and assess every video-game movie ever made." To assess each title, Davis considers both how it stands on its own as a film, and how well it "evoke[s] the spirit of the game it's based on". The title of the series is derived from a slogan used to promote the game-based movie Super Mario Bros.: "This ain't no game, it's a live-action thrill ride!" The first episode of TANG, which covered Double Dragon, was released on February 11, 2009. Despite TANG criticizing the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation film, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon said the episode in question was kind to it, considering its critical response. TANG received a short-lived spin-off in 2010, The Wonderful Universe of This Ain't No Game, named both to satirize the Walt Disney anthology series The Wonderful World of Disney and to make the acronym for the series "WUTANG", in honour of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. WUTANG ran in a similar format to TANG, but instead focused on movies which were not specifically based on any existing video game, but in which video game elements played a significant role in the plot, such as WarGames or The Last Starfighter.
The Endurance Run is a daily video feature in which Caravella and Gerstmann played the PlayStation 2 role-playing game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 in real time, with their own commentary over the video. The idea for the Endurance Run stemmed from Gerstmann and Caravella's own interest in playing Persona 4, a game they were both curious about but didn't have time to play. The series' fiftieth episode was commemorated with a behind-the-scenes video discussing the origins of the series. Gerstmann and Caravella completed the game in over one hundred hours, although the last saved game time counter read 99:59 hours, not counting time lost due to deaths.
Dual Endurance Runs began in April and ran through to end of May, 2010, when Gerstmann and Caravella (referred to as "Team VJ") and Davis and Shoemaker ("Team BR") played the Xbox 360 budget action-adventure game Deadly Premonition. After the show ended, Deadly Premonition creator Hidetaka "SWERY" Suehiro visited Giant Bomb.
Speaking at sister-site Tested.com's 24-hour charity podcast (for Child's Play), Davis and Klepek revealed themselves as the players of the 3rd Endurance Run and that they would be playing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System release of Chrono Trigger.
Thursday Night Throwdown
Members of the editorial team (along with occasional guests related to the video game industry; such as Michael Pachter, Gary Whitta and Dino Ignacio) play a game for users to watch and interact via Twitch.tv (formerly Justin.tv). Players are encouraged to add "GBTNT" to their PlayStation Network and Xbox Live accounts to play multi-player with them. In the case of recently released games, developers may appear on the show, such as Uber Entertainment during the Monday Night Combat episode, who participated after learning of it through Twitter. Double Fine appeared at the Giant Bomb studio at the Whiskey Media offices for the North American release episode of Trenched, now known as Iron Brigade.
Building the Bastion
Preceding the release of the 2011 video game Bastion was Building the Bastion, a collaboration with Giant Bomb and the creators of Bastion, Supergiant Games. The developers, including former GameSpot Editor-in-Chief Greg Kasavin, would document the game's development in video diaries. These videos would be broadcast live monthly on Giant Bomb and would follow with an interview with Davis, talking about the game and demonstrating it at various stages of its development. The show began in October 2010 and ended in May 2011, two months before the game's release on Xbox 360. Documented events featured include the in-house development and designing of the game as well as Supergiant Games showing it to the public for the first time at PAX Prime 2011, PAX East 2011 and eventually gaining Warner Bros. as a publishing partner.
In reference to potentially reviewing the game, Gerstmann announced that, "As soon as we went ahead with Building the Bastion, I knew we'd end up seeing too much of that game and that running an actual, scored review would be right out of the question. Rather than hem and haw about that end of the coverage, I said up front that we wouldn't review the game."
In July 2009 and January 2010, Giant Bomb ran two MMORPG shows, Not Like This (a quote from the first Matrix movie, the final words of the character Switch before she is killed), which explored the final hours of the MMORPG The Matrix Online, and Set Phasers to Fun, a playthrough of the Star Trek Online beta. The shows featured real-time comments of both game's qualities, humorous glitches and discussions of the Star Trek and The Matrix franchises. The final episodes, which featured the 'end of the world' when the MxO servers were shut down and the end of Star Trek Online testing before the game's release, were broadcast in live streams on Justin.tv. Their positive outlook of the Star Trek Online beta in particular led to Gerstmann purchasing a lifetime subscription of the game.
In December 2011, prior to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the website streamed Star Wars Galaxies during its final 5 hours before being shut down. Kotaku reported events as they happened on the Giant Bomb stream, including a Player versus player event between the Star Wars factions the Galactic Empire and The Rebels, as well as an appearance from the Force Ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi as depicted in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
|Length||Approx. 150 min.|
|Debut||March 11, 2008|
|The opening and closing theme of the Giant Bombcast|
The Giant Bombcast is Giant Bomb's weekly podcast, released on Tuesdays. The show is hosted by Gerstmann, with weekly guests Caravella, Shoemaker, and Scanlon as of 2013. Nicholson Baker of The New Yorker described the podcast as "charmingly garrulous" and compared it with Car Talk, with The A.V Club also commenting on it during its review as "resembling a conversation among gaming enthusiasts listeners are overhearing."
The show's weekly format includes discussion of games played over the weekend, industry news, recently released games, and e-mails sent in by listeners. The site's staff have also recorded shows in Tokyo, Japan for the Tokyo Game Show, as well as during the Electronic Entertainment Expo and the Penny Arcade Expo. The podcast has over 100,000 listeners and is in the iTunes Store Top 10 Podcasts for Games and Hobbies in various countries.
Game of the year awards
The annual game of the year awards features multiple podcasts which are live-recordings of the staff's deliberations. Additional comical awards created by Giant Bomb include the Best Use of Nolan North, otherwise known as The Northies, an award North himself joked about in an interview with Davis and Klepek in December 2011. During the awards week, top 10 games of the year videos are posted from each staff member.
In 2011, the decision was made to abandon awards based on which console they were released on and to choose the game of the year from a Top 10, derived from the games picked in each staff members personal Top 10 video.
Users on Giant Bomb have the ability to create blogs, keep track of their game collections, and add information to game entries. Additionally, the site has message boards, saying that "building a community of people...is a big part of what Giant Bomb is all about". There are also General, Bombcast and Off-Topic boards plus several related to site maintenance. Giant Bomb allows all users to write and edit creative common licensed guides which include, but are not limited to, FAQS, walkthoughs and archives. Users have access to dynamic tables of contents, as well as image inserting, YouTube video embedding and other HTML code.
The Giant Bomb video game wiki-database, which opened with the full site launched in July 2008, is editable by registered users of the site. Its design has been described as built around the interactivity of video games in contrast to existing wiki models. Users with more than 1000 "wiki points" may submit changes to the wiki without moderator approval, and users with more than 5000 points are able to create new pages without moderator approval. There are eight types of wiki pages: games, franchises, characters, locations, objects, concepts, people, and companies. "Concept" is considered a miscellaneous category, containing gameplay concepts, species, or character abilities.
Users earn experience points and level up in a social gaming element that, "give users incentives to create more content," by doing things as simple as posting a blog or making a list. The quests with a larger amount of points give hints towards wiki-database pages that users must find like "goofy scavenger hunt tasks."
Paid subscription service
Initially included in the service was the ability to view videos in 720p HD and download them, a mobile version of the site in HTML 5, and an extra weekly live stream show, the Whiskey Media Happy Hour.
The primary form of promoting the service is Whiskey Media's annual Big Live Live Show: Live, an 8 hour live-stream event featuring all of Whiskey Media's websites. Previous guests on the Giant Bomb segments have included Double Fine Productions who announced the global rebrand of their video game Trenched, to Iron Brigade. Capcom's Seth Killian brought a version of the then unreleased Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for a live Quick Look and then commentated on matches which featured 8-year-old fighting game player Noah Solis. Harmonix have appeared two years in a row, demoing Dance Central and Dance Central 2.
Corporate affairs and culture
Giant Bomb is known for its alternate method of video game journalism, described as, "not looking to take over the world, they've got a very small editorial team that's very focused on covering the things they want covered and that's it." This concept is based on focused, personalised coverage and wanting "the byline to matter," as opposed to the accepted industry coverage that generally exists. Gerstmann has described their approach of competing with large established gaming websites as focusing on the top percentage of games editorially while functioning in a curator role to direct users to lesser known games through video features and the wiki-database pages.
The website had several interactions with Buckner and Garcia, creators of "Pac-Man Fever" in 2011, starting in June when Giant Bomb ran an in-office Pac-Man tournament on Thursday Night Throwdown. The show featured an interview with Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia who were promoting their first set of Pac-Man Fever songs releasing on the Rock Band Network via Ozone Entertainment. Davis would later joke about wanting "Buckner and Garcia to write a song about this stupid website," the following week on the Giant Bombcast. Found me the Bomb, written and performed by Buckner and Garcia, would release as a new track with the 2nd set of Pac-Man Fever songs in September. This would be the final song the duo would create with the death of Gary Garcia on November 17, 2011.
January 18, 2012 was the Protests against SOPA and PIPA, a collective effort against the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act. Many websites including the English Wikipedia went on a 24-hour long blackout against the two proposed laws. FleshEatingZipper reported that Giant Bomb was also in opposition against SOPA and PIPA and ran an impromptu comedy show that day.
Molyjam or What Would MolyDeux? was a worldwide 48-hour game jam in March through to April 2012, founded by Double Fine Productions' Anna Kipnis, Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek and Idle Thumbs' Chris Remo. Based on a parody account of known video game developer Peter Molyneux on social media website Twitter, both professional and amateur game designers and developers in over 30 cities created games based on the parody account's comedic "emotional" and "innovative" tweets. While Kipnis, Klepek and Remo ran the main game jam at the Giant Bomb and GameSpot CBS Interactive offices in San Francisco, USA, Molyneux himself visited the London, UK game jam. Various video game journalism websites reported that almost 300 games were created.
In April 2012, video game localization company 8-4 announced that they would be entering a partnership with Giant Bomb in which the website would become the new host for the bi-weekly 8-4 podcast.
In September 2012 at the Giant Bomb Penny Arcade Expo Prime 2012 panel, party game Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin and Ryan Davis announced a Giant Bomb-themed Cards Against Humanity expansion.
Giant Bomb videos are produced using Final Cut Pro. In the months leading up to the launch of the full site, the How to Build a Bomb video series followed the staff during the pre-launch development phase of the website.
In voting the website into its Top 50 websites of 2011, Harry McCracken of Time Magazine described Giant Bomb as having, "news, reviews and video — all looser, funnier and more opinionated than much of the stuff on game sites owned by larger media companies." Complex magazine shared the sentiment when adding Gerstmann into their top 25 celebrities of video games, mentioning Giant Bomb as "one of the best [video game websites] around." In January 2012 it was announced that Vox Media had hired several names from gaming journalism to launch Polygon including Editor-in-Chiefs of Joystiq and Kotaku, Chris Grant and Brian Crecente. When asked why he thought there was room for another video game website, Grant said that, "The only site I would really look at and say they have enviable technology is Giant Bomb; nothing else out there has anything that's really attractive." Review aggregate scores website Metacritic acknowledges Giant Bomb as a regarded website in video gaming, including it in its group of publications used to make its aggregate scores. Initially plans were made to split the Giant Bombcast in half with non-paid subscription members only listening to the second half a week later after its release. This decision was reversed after fans cited an article by Giant Bomb designer Dave Snider which had said that no content that was currently free would become paid content.
Sky News referenced Giant Bomb in 2009 when reporting about the Japanese "molestation simulation" video game, RapeLay after Amazon.com banned it from being sold on its website. The Battle.net website ran a Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty news story when Shoemaker and video producer Drew Scanlon visited South Korea during the GOMTV Global Starcraft II League Finals in November 2010. Shoemaker and Scanlon recorded footage on the studio in which the broadcast finals took place and interviewed the English "shoutcasters" and the tournament winner NesTea. An additional video featured a tour of the oGs and Team Liquid's living quarters and interviews with its players. Giant Bomb content is frequently highlighted on the PlayStation Blog feature, PlayStation Around The Web: What We Read.
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