|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 personality driven gaming videos, commentary, news and reviews, 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 website 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, Dan Ryckert, Jason Oestreicher 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 videos and written articles 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. 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 including Quick Looks, 20-60 minute unedited looks at recently released games.
- 1 History
- 2 Main features
- 3 Corporate affairs and culture
- 4 Usage
- 5 Development
- 6 Reception
- 7 Impact
- 8 References
- 9 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. Gerstmann was interviewed by GameSpot, appearing on the website for the first time in 4 years. 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.
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.
Davis, death and tribute, new hires and expansion (2013-2014)
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, days after his wedding to Anna Davis. Davis's father Richard Davis confirmed that the death was of natural causes.
The gaming industry paid tribute to Davis through social media, written articles and video. Gary Whitta, Michael Pachter, Sean Vanaman and Greg Miller were among the prominent names to voice their thoughts on Davis's death. During the recording of that week's episode of Bonus Round for Game Trailers, Geoff Keighley hosted a memorial episode dedicated to Davis's death along with guests Pachter, Jessica Chobot and Kyle Bosman.
Giant Bomb announced two opening vacancies in 2014 for senior editor and video producer positions. At the same time, Caravella announced that he was moving from San Francisco to his home-town in New York following the birth of his first child. In addition to the two new staff members, Caravella and Navarro would open a new studio in CBS Interactive's New York offices. The reasoning for expansion stemmed from having the two offices recording simultaneously to increase the variety of content and subsequently not competing for studio time and people, while also giving the opportunity for the new staff members to establish themselves and freshen up the content being made in San Francisco. The new hires were announced as Game Informer staff members Dan Ryckert and Jason Oestreicher, who had worked at Game Informer since 2009 and 2011 respectively.
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. Editorials and interviews by Klepek about gaming ethics, experiences and impact include the 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 from 1975 to 1979. 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. 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, Drew Scanlon and Jason Oestreicher. 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. This Ain't No Game (or TANG) was a weekly series throughout 2009 in which Davis would review movies based on video games, based on Davis' intention to, "challenge [himself] to watch and assess every video-game movie ever made." 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.
The Endurance Run was 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. In 2010 Gerstmann, Caravella, Davis and Shoemaker 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 2011 24-hour charity podcast (for Child's Play), Davis and Klepek revealed themselves as the players of the 3rd Endurance Run, playing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System release of Chrono Trigger.
Thursday Night Throwdown was a live weekly multiplayer show. Members of the editorial team played a game with and for users to watch and interact via Twitch.tv (formerly Justin.tv). Tim Schafer and Double Fine was in attendance for the episode featuring Trenched, now known as Iron Brigade. Preceding the release of the 2011 video game Bastion was the video diary series Building the Bastion, a collaboration with Giant Bomb and the creators of Bastion, Supergiant Games. Documented events featured include the in-house development of the game, public showings at PAX Prime 2011 and eventually gaining Warner Bros. as a publishing partner. Giant Bomb chose not to review 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.
The site regularly posts Quick Looks, videos showing unedited gameplay footage of a single game, featuring uncensored commentary from staff members playing the game, or simply watching another play. Video game YouTube celebrity John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, who modelled his own video series WTF is... after Quick Looks, describes this new video format as a mix of both entertainment and critique, combined with the essence of a Let's Play video. 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.
Bombin' the A.M. with Scoops and the Wolf
A morning discussion show presented by Klepek and Navarro on Mondays and Fridays with occasional guests, live-streamed via Twitch and archived in both video and podcast format. Discussions focus on industry news appearing on websites and popular culture in video games as it relates to its impact on social media website Twitter.
|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 Shoemaker, with weekly guests Gerstmann, Scanlon, and Ryckert as of 2014. 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. In 2011 the podcast was said to have over 100,000 listeners. It has been featured on the iTunes Store podcast section for video Games. Giant Bomb has a partnership with Midroll, a podcast advertisement company.
The Interview Dumptruck, created by Klepek is an audio interview series focused on unedited interviews taken with members of the video game industry.
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 acknowledges. 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.
- 2008 Grand Theft Auto IV
- 2009 Uncharted 2
- 2010 Mass Effect 2
- 2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- 2012 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- 2013 The Last of Us
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. In Quests users earned experience points and level up in a social gaming element that, "give users incentives to create more content."
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.
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.
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.
|Vincent "Vinny" Caravella||Video Producer (Giant Bomb New York)|
|Alexis Gallisá||Creative technical director|
|Patrick Klepek||Senior News Editor|
|Alex Navarro||Senior Editor (Giant Bomb New York)|
|Jason Oestreicher||Video Producer|
|Matthew Rorie||Product Manager|
|Dan Ryckert||Senior Editor|
|Drew Scanlon||Video Producer|
|Brad Shoemaker||Senior Editor|
Former members include founding member Ryan Davis (2008-2013) and former Product Manager, designer and Whiskey Media founding member Dave Snider (2008-2013).
Working for GameSpot as Editorial Director until 2007, Gerstmann, GameSpot and its parent company CNET was involved in a controversial incident when Gerstmann was fired for what was later revealed to be a stand off between GameSpot's editorial and management teams. Gerstmann would join Whiskey Media and launch Giant Bomb with Davis, Shoemaker and Caravella in 2008. Gerstmann is one of the members of the VGX awards advisory council responsible for nominating and deciding on winners.
|Born||Ryan Thomas Davis
June 4, 1979
|Died||July 3, 2013
|Occupation||Video game journalist, Internet personality|
|Notable credit(s)||GameSpot journalist (1996–2007)
Giant Bomb co-founder, editor (2008–2013)
(m. June 29, 2013–July 3, 2013)
Ryan Thomas "Taswell" Davis (June 4, 1979 – July 3, 2013) was an American video game journalist and Internet personality. He was formerly a journalist of the gaming website GameSpot and the co-founder and editor of the gaming website Giant Bomb.
Recruited by Jeff Gerstmann, Davis began working for GameSpot in 2000. Initially starting in tech support work, Davis joined the editorial team, writing reviews for the website, eventually becoming involved in its video and podcast content, working on shows like Time Trotters and On the Spot and the Hotspot podcast.
After the dismissal of Gerstmann in 2007, Davis departed GameSpot and joined Gerstmann under Whiskey Media to launch Giant Bomb. Becoming the primary host of Giant Bomb, Davis was the host of the Giant Bombcast as well as video content. Davis was described as having an ability to connect with viewers due to an "inherently genuine" on-screen presence.
Davis died on July 3, 2013, of natural causes, shortly after his wedding to Anna Davis. His death was revealed five days later on the Giant Bomb website. In addition to Anna Davis, Davis is survived by his father Richard Davis, mother Rebecca Davis, stepmother Anne Davis, brother Robin Davis and uncle Ron Felkner.
Co-worker Matthew Rorie said of Davis that, "for someone who could be so acerbic at times, and despite knowing him for almost a decade, I honestly don’t recall ever actually being mad at him. He had an unconventional type of kindness that expressed itself more strongly the longer one knew him, and despite his teasing nature, he always managed to make his close friends feel loved when his attention turned towards you."
Business practices, ethics and associations
The website had several interactions with Buckner & 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 & 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 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.
Quantcast lists Giant Bomb as reaching 2.2 million people monthly in 2012 having risen from 450,000 at the end of 2008 and 1.6 million in 2010. In July 2014 the website had 6.4 million visits.
Of the search engine results, 100% is listed as organic search, with the vast majority of search coming from Google Search, with a minute amount from Yahoo! Search and Bing. Of the referrals, the most referring websites are listed as Feedly, NeoGAF, Something Awful and sister-website GameFAQs. Of social media traffic 55.94% was from Reddit, 32.58% from Twitter and 8.44% from Facebook.
Whiskey Media Django build (2008-2011)
CBS Interactive PHP build (2012-2014)
With the sale of Whiskey Media and its publishing platform to BermanBraun in 2012 the Giant Bomb and Comic Vine websites, acquired by CBS Interactive, under went a PHP-based redesign by CBSi engineers which launched on February 12, 2013. Tools implemented in the remake include the Symfony web framework, the storage and retrieval database, NoSQL, and the Node.js framework. Website additions included histories, rollback functionality and upgrades to searching capabilities for the wiki-database, expanded forum moderation tools and API filtering and sorts. Redesigns included the user profiles with new activity stream feeds, the handling of on-site image galleries and new wiki-database editing tools including the ability to create new pages as users are editing existing ones. Davis and Gerstmann released a one-time relaunch public service announcement podcast with regards to any changes listeners would experience with the transition from the old RSS feed to the new rebuilt one.
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. The 2014 How to Build a Beast series provided the same function detailing the making of Caravella and Navarro's studio in New York.
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.
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. Giant Bomb content has been highlighted on the PlayStation Blog feature, PlayStation Around The Web: What We Read.
Giant Bomb is credited being an innovator within video game journalism, avoiding many of its downfalls and continuing growth where other companies in the medium have had to downsize or close down completely. As print-based gaming journalism was superseded by web-based gaming journalism, large websites such as IGN and GameSpot are now under threat from YouTube celebrities and video game players creating their own live-streaming channels on Twitch.
In the same month in 2012 in which CBS Interactive acquired Giant Bomb, Ziff Davis acquired IGN, immediately announcing lay-offs for the website, with further lay-offs in February 2013 along with the closure of 1UP.com, UGO Networks and GameSpy, the latter of which had just announced now Giant Bomb product manager Matthew Rorie as their new executive editor only a month earlier. Lay-offs and closures have continued through to 2014 with Game Trailers and Computer and Video Games having similar downsizing. In 2014 during the opening of two vacancies at Giant Bomb which would lead to the hiring of Dan Ryckert and Jason Oestreicher, CBS Interactive laid off the majority of GameSpot's writing staff, prompting discussion on Reddit as to whether Giant Bomb was outperforming GameSpot.
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