GameTrailers Bought by Defy Media, Half of Staff Reportedly Laid Off
Last week was a busy week for employees of the gaming arm of Viacom Media. On Monday, right as E3 was getting started with the E3 media briefings, Defy Media bought Viacom’s gaming-focused websites, including GameTrailers. Defy ended the week by laying off a number of GameTrailers staff one day after E3 came to a close.
Defy is a digital content distributor and network. Founded in 2013 after the merger of Allow Digital and Break Media, Defy’s brands claim 155 million unique viewers, 400 million monthly video views and 40 million YouTube subscribers. Prior to this purchase, Defy’s gaming portfolio included Smosh, The Escapist and Gamefront.
The deal for GameTrailers also saw Defy acquire two other Viacom gaming website, browser gaming sites Addicting Games and Shockwave. In exchange, Viacom got a minority stake in Defy. Money was said to be exchanges in the deal but how much and where it went wasn’t disclosed.
For Viacom, the deal is an opportunity for them to buy expertise in building a digital media presence, especially on YouTube. For Defy, it’s a chance to expand their portfolio and add some established and respected properties to their lineup.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops after the deal. On Friday, the day after E3 closed, a number of GameTrailers employees were let go.
According to Variety’s original report of the deal, only 20 Viacom employees from those three acquired sites were going to make the transition over to Defy. While firm numbers of employees at GT before the layoffs or the number laid off haven’t been reported, Polygon reports that anywhere from half to two-thirds of GT employees have been terminated as a result of the layoffs. No update has been given to the state of GTTV on Spike TV and no official release has been made by Defy, Viacom or GT.
While it’s sad to see a great part in the history of games media and video get gutted, you get the sneaking suspicion that these guys are going to bounce back. After all, the games industry is only growing and along with the democracy of the internet, you have to think they’ll find their way back to the business.