GameTrailers Closes After 13 Years
After thirteen years, the internet’s oldest and longest running video-focused video game news site has come to a close. On Monday, GameTrailers announced via its Facebook page that it would be closing up shop with immediate effect.
The announcement means that all remaining staff members at GameTrailers have lost their jobs. In June 2014, Defy Media acquired GameTrailers (along with browser gaming sites Addicting Games and Shockwave) from Viacom and was said to have laid off all but 20 staff. The number of people affected by the closure of GT isn’t known but 20 is probably a likely approximate number.
According to GameTrailers associate editor Ben Moore, the staff was only informed of GT’s closing only a few hours before the official announcement.
Launched in 2002, GameTrailers was launched as one of the original places on the internet to see videos of games, including video game trailers. Since then, GT was overtaken by YouTube as the primary host of video content about games, especially trailers. When YouTube became the home of gaming video content, GT tried to become more personality-driven to limited success.
According to Jim Sterling, the pressure for financial success at GameTrailers was what drive the sale of the site from Viacom to Defy Media. Despite running with what staffers felt was a skeleton crew, Viacom’s Spike Digital Entertainment division (GT’s home in the Viacom umbrella) felt that the company was underperforming. The internal plans were to either sell GameTrailers or shut it down. They sold it only for Defy to shut GT down some 20 months after buying it.
It’s interesting how the company that really pioneered video content about video games, not just trailers, was so quickly passed by when YouTube became the home of trailers, reviews let’s plays, vlogging about games and other miscellaneous gaming content. Unfortunately for GameTrailers, while they pioneered the format and the format didn’t really pass them by, the internet did pass them by. With more content creators going on YouTube, people left them for the convenience of YouTube. GT eventually brought a video per day to YouTube but so many more shows remained only on their website, undiscovered and not earning them enough money.
I suppose that’s the difference between YouTube let’s players and vloggers and GameTrailers. GT has to support not only a staff but the bandwidth costs from hosting its own site and video player. Those are overhead costs that YouTubers don’t have which is why there are so many people there and so few major gaming news sites. In an age of ad-blocking and the democratization of coverage, I think that GameTrailers’s demise won’t be the exception but the norm.