Waypoint |OT| video games...are good

Oct 28, 2017
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I just think Vice as a format is kind of anathema to the type of experimentation involved in forming a critical oriented game streaming site. I suppose they let them fuck around for a couple years before they shut it all down, but the thing with formats like this is that they kind of ebb and flow and twist around a fair bit, never completely settling. Which is why a Giant Bomb sub model lends itself better, they are a site that has gone through a fair bit of change and format evolution but don't have a standardized corporate aesthetic breathing down their neck.

I'm pretty forgiving of Austin and don't really fault him that much for this all not working out as well as anyone may have wanted it to. I mean, he kind of had to take this chance or opportunity to start a team. If anything, it's at least raised his and others profile for any future endeavours.
Honestly, if Waypoint adhered more closely to Vice’s journalism style - particularly some pretty good short-form documentaries - it might have connected with more people. In fact that was something I expected when I heard about Waypoint to begin with. I think they honestly indulged the editors’ passion for writing and supporting freelancers when in reality that stuff is a very well established loss-leader for all but the most crass top ten lists or basic facts news coverage. It might have been a mistake hiring writers instead of video producers. They’ve had to keep pivoting because the idea was wrong going in, that’s my Monday morning quarterbacking opinion of it.

I don’t really see what Waypoint have done as being terribly reflective of my admittedly limited exposure to other Vice properties besides the fact it’s obviously left-leaning politically.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Honestly, if Waypoint adhered more closely to Vice’s journalism style - particularly some pretty good short-form documentaries - it might have connected with more people. In fact that was something I expected when I heard about Waypoint to begin with. I think they honestly indulged the editors’ passion for writing and supporting freelancers when in reality that stuff is a very well established loss-leader in all but the most crass top ten lists or basic facts news coverage. It might have been a mistake hiring writers instead of video producers.
I would have loved if they had gone this route, but it is so demanding and expensive to do. The content well would get dry pretty often.
 
Oct 28, 2017
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I would have loved if they had gone this route, but it is so demanding and expensive to do. The content well would get dry pretty often.
Yeah, it obviously would be fraught with it’s own risks. But what we got ended up being an under-staffed albeit talented set of writers trying to cover a huge industry and rarely having the time to produce anything but the hottest of hot takes, which can lead to plenty of problems itself. That’s less a function of Vice and more the fact to remain relevant you tend to need to be topical. Even Giant Bomb feels those pressures when they’re releasing five hours of RDR2 content on launch day.

There’s something in Waypoint’s more empathetic and justice-seeking approach that’s great but it’s a rough diamond.
 

mnz

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Oct 25, 2017
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They did kinda start that way, with the Hyper Light Drifter stuff. I expected more like that but I don't think we ever got anything like that again.

edit: Wait, we totally got the EVO video and one about speedcubers.
BUT! Their most popular videos are, by far, two daily Fortnite archives lol
 
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Nov 7, 2017
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The thing with the Vice documentary style stuff is that they don't really need Austin and his team for that. I don't even know how they'd mix Austin's critical style with getting the kinds of studio access they would need and want (at least for bigger games)while talking about the game. I think Austin's talents would be kinda wasted doing the semi passive documentarian kind of thing.

I could see video essays using game footage and narration/voiceover from Austin and co delving in with critical insight, but then you may as well take the more free form of streaming.

The thing with Vice and what they do is that they've formed a pretty rigid and rote format through their article and video content, which isn't really open to creative criticality. They're just like pretty much any content farm, just with a corporatized edge aesthetic that has put in the years.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Also, while I certainly have contributed to it, this thread is really sad to look at when you start from Page one. It goes from people generally excited, and then people (rightfully) freaking out about the missteps that they had with their Holiday Fanfiction stuff (including Austin's appology), to then people talking about "where are the streams?", to now the last dozen pages are "boy, Waypoint is dying, lets start the early autopsy"
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Also, while I certainly have contributed to it, this thread is really sad to look at when you start from Page one. It goes from people generally excited, and then people (rightfully) freaking out about the missteps that they had with their Holiday Fanfiction stuff (including Austin's appology), to then people talking about "where are the streams?", to now the last dozen pages are "boy, Waypoint is dying, lets start the early autopsy"
That Holiday Fanfiction stuff is still awful, lol
 
Oct 25, 2017
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That Holiday Fanfiction stuff is still awful, lol
Year one it was "writing Twee fanfiction while your company is dealing with massive sexual harrasment alligations is just a bad look", and then last year it was "actually, this is really harmful to transgender individuals and the fact that no one caught this before it went up is a clear sign that maybe your site isn't capable of handling this type of content"
 
Oct 28, 2017
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The thing with the Vice documentary style stuff is that they don't really need Austin and his team for that. I don't even know how they'd mix Austin's critical style with getting the kinds of studio access they would need and want (at least for bigger games)while talking about the game. I think Austin's talents would be kinda wasted doing the semi passive documentarian kind of thing.

I could see video essays using game footage and narration/voiceover from Austin and co delving in with critical insight, but then you may as well take the more free form of streaming.

The thing with Vice and what they do is that they've formed a pretty rigid and rote format through their article and video content, which isn't really open to creative criticality. They're just like pretty much any content farm, just with a corporatized edge aesthetic that has put in the years.
Truth be told, even though it obviously was less his passion than the sort of stuff he does on Waypoint, Austin’s talents were very well used when he was on Giant Bomb. It’s not that he’s bad when talking about serious stuff - I think he’s mostly great - but he can also be incredibly fun and witty and we rarely get that on Waypoint, and it certainly feels much more forced than it was when he was at GB.

Being News Editor at Giant Bomb was actually a nearly perfect use of Austin. Less time constraints on his writing, a podcast that can get serious when it needed to and a load of fun streams. I think Waypoint tried to take pointers from GB in a lot of regards but honestly it just highlighted how hard that format is to do right.

In my imaginary world Austin is doing Nerdwriter-style videos better than Nerdwriter and is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Austin was so good at Beast because he was more constrained by the format imho. He wasn't top dog and that meant he couldn't indulge in his flights of fancy unless at least one or two other people were into it as well.

Also Dan/Austin content was so good (but so rare) because he always fell into a teacher role and trying to teach by slipping past Dan Rykert's automatic "This is stupid" defences is incredibly entertaining
 
Oct 25, 2017
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I am not going to say anything bad about Austin leaving to start waypoint- it was his chance to be EiC of a website with major backing to build to his liking- focusing on inclusivity in both the stories it wrote and the people he hired, and getting to do the type of content that he wanted- freelance writers with interesting stories, no reviews, no clickbait, no video for the sake of having video content, and giving pay and exposure to kinds of content that normally doesn't get either (the Fanfiction stuff, the art stuff). The fact that Waypoint has basically had to restructure- hey they don't really do freelance anymore, they now do reviews, the creative-type stuff is gone, they now do a billion podcasts a week because it pays the bills- is only a failure on Austins part in that his vision for the website clearly did not work well enough as constructed to avoid this corporate meddeling.

Look how much everyone likes Giant Bomb, and Jeff has said multiple times that the website would be dead if they hadn't switched to a premium model. Sometimes stuff just doesnt work, and you have to adjust.
 
May 29, 2018
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I agree with whoever earlier said that it's a bit early to do the autopsy. I'm hoping that the Waypoint team themselves are a small enough crew that there's not much in the way of redundancies if axes start falling. Otherwise, I really hope they manage to stick together and strike out on their own, because I really like their podcasts and would glad toss money at a Patreon if that's the route they end up taking.

Does anyone know what the staff from the other Vice divisions are saying about the current situation?

Pivot? Motherboard have been doing gaming articles since even before Waypoint existed IIRC.
To this day I still believe that Waypoint exists because Vice saw what Vox was doing with The Verge and Polygon and had to do something similar. I don't have any reason to think that's actually what happened though.

I think beyond a bad layout Vice aren’t particularly the reason Waypoint don’t seem to be connecting. I think the idea there’s enough of a demand for this type of content to support it by ads alone is a flawed one. That’s as much on Austin and his direct managers as it is on Vice as an entity.
It amazes me that organizations still chase this particular white whale. It feels like it's been proven time and again, especially in gaming, that the audience just isn't there at the size you need for it to be profitable let alone break even.
 
Oct 26, 2017
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Having a videogame website in 2018 is just hard. Especially purely ad based.

I don't think there's a magic formula for Waypoint to find. It's never going to be easy to do what they do.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
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Having a videogame website in 2018 is just hard. Especially purely ad based.

I don't think there's a magic formula for Waypoint to find. It's never going to be easy to do what they do.
And if their is a formula, it sure as hell doesn't include "having staff and offices in NYC or SF, the 2 most expensive places in America to live"
Part of the reason I think that US Gamer has managed to survive so long is that they don't have a physical office, and thus their staff can live all through North America. There probably is some model where you can be sustainable paying your employees $45-50K (plus another 20-30K in Fringe) each year and they work from their homes, but that doesn't work when your rent is $2000+ a month for a studio apartment in NYC or SF, plus the cost of office space
 
Oct 25, 2017
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And if their is a formula, it sure as hell doesn't include "having staff and offices in NYC or SF, the 2 most expensive places in America to live"
Part of the reason I think that US Gamer has managed to survive so long is that they don't have a physical office, and thus their staff can live all through North America. There probably is some model where you can be sustainable paying your employees $45-50K (plus another 20-30K in Fringe) each year and they work from their homes, but that doesn't work when your rent is $2000+ a month for a studio apartment in NYC or SF, plus the cost of office space
Move Waypoint to the corn fields of Iowa or maybe Minnesota, enjoy the low cost of living and work happily
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Move Waypoint to the corn fields of Iowa or maybe Minnesota, enjoy the low cost of living and work happily
It's not even "move to rural america". Jeremy Parrish moved to North Carolina. Danny O'Dwyer moved to Maryland. There are plenty of places to live in this country that are in the middle of "expensive city" and "bumfuck ohio"
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Like,w hat's the actual benefit of running a gaming business in one of those two huge cities? In-person contacts? Is that even relevant anymore? (I'm seriously asking, it doesn't seem like much of an upside these days)
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Like,w hat's the actual benefit of running a gaming business in one of those two huge cities? In-person contacts? Is that even relevant anymore? (I'm seriously asking, it doesn't seem like much of an upside these days)
As far as SF goes, its because there are a lot of studios in the area, which means you can go to more review events easier/you can be visited by devs showing their game easier. Also, it makes traveling to industry events like Dice and E3 easier, as its a short flight instead of a cross-country one. Game Informer has always been the weird outlier, where they get the big reveals for their cover stories, but that means their writers have to always fly out to see the stuff, and Devs can't really come to the office to show their stuff.
I don't think there is a specific reason for NY, other than it is just a gigantic media market historically.

I’m sorta confused why we’re talking about their office like it’s not the entire Vice office? Same applies to GB, Polygon, etc.
I am just approaching this as a thought experiment, if the idea of a big gaming website focused on writing can even work in 2018 based on how ad sales have gone the last decade.
 

mnz

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Oct 25, 2017
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It is interesting that the internet hasn't made location less important for such outlets. US media is still largely centered around the coasts. I guess if you want to find the talent then you'll have an easier time doing it there.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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It is interesting that the internet hasn't made location less important for such outlets. US media is still largely centered around the coasts. I guess if you want to find the talent then you'll have an easier time doing it there.
It is weird. Even then, everything can and should be handled remotely. Distance shouldn't be a barrier. I work in entertainment/real estate. When I got in, people were still going to an office. Now, a physical office is just a formality. Everyone is capable of running EVERYTHING from anywhere. I know it's somewhat different, but we have tools to make all this work.
 
Oct 26, 2017
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It is interesting that the internet hasn't made location less important for such outlets. US media is still largely centered around the coasts. I guess if you want to find the talent then you'll have an easier time doing it there.
It is weird. Even then, everything can and should be handled remotely. Distance shouldn't be a barrier. I work in entertainment/real estate. When I got in, people were still going to an office. Now, a physical office is just a formality. Everyone is capable of running EVERYTHING from anywhere. I know it's somewhat different, but we have tools to make all this work.
Part of the difference here with games is that publishers can't be sending out super early builds of games all over the place. That shit would get mad leaked, or people would scrape open FTPs, etc. I at least understand having PCs you bring with you with early builds.

To be fair, though, the industry is far too secretive in general (this is part of the problem with everyone's relation to Bethesda) but if they're gonna be this secretive, they kinda have to keep code locked down physically, don't they?
 
Oct 25, 2017
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I wonder why they're doing this. Does it cost so much more to do streams? I know podcasts are probably a fair bit cheaper to produce, but I didn't know it was that big of a difference.

I think they're close to done for though. If their steaming wasn't pulling in enough audience to keep it going, I don't see how podcasts are going to expand their audience. Waypoint is already pretty niche, I don't know if completely moving away from the entertainment side of what they were doing will do anything but entrench them deeper in that niche.
Judging by their YouTube and Twitch statistics, I gotta assume their podcasts have a way larger audience. Plus ad deals!
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Part of the difference here with games is that publishers can't be sending out super early builds of games all over the place. That shit would get mad leaked, or people would scrape open FTPs, etc. I at least understand having PCs you bring with you with early builds.

To be fair, though, the industry is far too secretive in general (this is part of the problem with everyone's relation to Bethesda) but if they're gonna be this secretive, they kinda have to keep code locked down physically, don't they?
Well, beyond secrecy it also just lowers the traveling for whoever’s showing the games. Sending someone to NYC means you can visit multiple places in one trip, or just hold an event there and have everyone in the city come to that.

Judging by their YouTube and Twitch statistics, I gotta assume their podcasts have a way larger audience. Plus ad deals!
I don’t think anyone here actually brought it up, but Austin replied further to that tweet that was posted here about the change away from streaming and it does essentially say that.

 
Oct 25, 2017
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On the topic of remote versus office, I think it would be a MASSIVE bummer for a video-focused game site to not have an office. Skype podcasts are rough enough, but Skype gameplay streams are kinda the worst compared to being in the same room. There’s a reason most game sites try and do stuff in an office.

Now, should these offices be in stupid expensive cities is maybe another question.
 
Oct 28, 2017
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Honestly one of the stupidest things Giant Bomb does is shy away from cross-coast video content. Remote podcasts and video streams can be done right and wrong just like everything else. I just don’t think the dynamic has ever been particularly pinpoint on Waypoint barring the A Way Out streams Austin and Patrick did. Sometimes even a bunch of cool people just don’t gel well.
 
Oct 27, 2017
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I wonder. Giant Bomb’s videos are produced, so going Cross-Coast probably means you need to tie up two producers on a show instead of just one. And from an organization and scheduling standpoint it’s probably just easier to have Jeff run one team and Vinny run the other.

But yeah there are some obvious cross-coast dynamics they could probably take advantage of. Jeff-Dan on All Systems Goku is great. I’d like more Ben-Abby content, too. I’d kill for some Alex-Jason sardonic critical mass, too.
 

Rez

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Oct 25, 2017
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I really wish we had better ways of measuring podcast reach than raw download numbers. In the age of auto download and “delete oldest” podcast apps, there’s no good way of working out who’s listening to what and how far they get into every episode. It’s hard to respond and improve.
 
Oct 26, 2017
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I really wish we had better ways of measuring podcast reach than raw download numbers. In the age of auto download and “delete oldest” podcast apps, there’s no good way of working out who’s listening to what and how far they get into every episode. It’s hard to respond and improve.
I'm sure it's less obvious to implement than it seems, but I'm surprised that all the major podcasting platforms don't have clear metrics that you can have sent to you if your podcast is accessible through their app. How many people straight up use the RSS feeds raw anymore?
 
Oct 27, 2017
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If it's from acast, I imagine that they can tell the exact number of folks hitting the ads, because the ad is a separate audio file (with a separate player) stitched into the pod.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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I'm sure it's less obvious to implement than it seems, but I'm surprised that all the major podcasting platforms don't have clear metrics that you can have sent to you if your podcast is accessible through their app. How many people straight up use the RSS feeds raw anymore?
I know that iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc all have ways to report downloads.. but if i'm getting my Podcasts on Downcast or Pocket Casts, how is that being tracked?
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Honestly one of the stupidest things Giant Bomb does is shy away from cross-coast video content.
They do that every now and then, but there's no need to go through the logistic hurdle of recording a video with someone in the other side of the country when you could do videos with the people next to you, especially with the 3 recent hires. Not to say that I wouldn't want more Jeff and Vinny stuff, but each coast works well by themselves.

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They could start talking about music on Waypoints, but though I like the crew it's not at a level I'd be willing to hear them talk about anything they're listening to at the moment unless that aligns to my taste, which is why I have been mostly not listening to wed's pods.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
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why havent waypoint done a music podcast

that kanye thing doesn't really count, talk about ugh
Yeah there hasn't been an episode of One Song Only in over two months so I dunno what's going on there. tbh I would'n't blame them if they just quietly dropped it given how much of a mess Kanye West is now. On one of the early episodes they joked about doing the same thing with Outkast and I'd be all over that.
 

SpartyCrunch

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Not sure if you guys saw it but Austin posted a great summary of the last year over on the Waypoint forums:

https://forum.waypoint.vice.com/t/disconnect-between-forum-and-site/18144/20?u=spartycrunch

It's worth reading in its entirety so I'm not going to quote portions here. But long story short, they've been intentionally experimenting with different formats over the last year, and it's been rewarding for them to do so, and that he's optimistic about its sustainability.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Not sure if you guys saw it but Austin posted a great summary of the last year over on the Waypoint forums:

https://forum.waypoint.vice.com/t/disconnect-between-forum-and-site/18144/20?u=spartycrunch

It's worth reading in its entirety so I'm not going to quote portions here. But long story short, they've been intentionally experimenting with different formats over the last year, and it's been rewarding for them to do so, and that he's optimistic about its sustainability.
I can't help but think "it took actual MONTHS to get an archive of the launch stream" when reading this.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Interesting to see him confirm they were (are?) considering a subscription service. I’m gusssing it’s even more complicated because that would be a first for a Vice site.
 
Oct 25, 2017
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Ah, I’d seen that forum thread and was wondering (in a good way) what the response would be. Good to see something pretty detailed.

Probably a relevant bit for some of the discussion here:

Austin said:
The good news about this is that it’s incredibly rewarding as a creative team to be able to try new things and to have a ton of flexibility in our coverage style. For a quick peek behind the curtain: Since the bulk of our focus is on podcasts right now, that means that’s also where the bulk of our growth goals are. Which means that so long as we’re continuing to grow and thrive there, then it’s easy for me as EIC to do things like tell Patrick that, yes, it’s okay to spend a week figuring out how shotguns let Spelunky players re-write reality itself 5 or to commission something like Jack de Quidt’s wonderful interview with Swedish sci-fi artist Simon Stalenhag 6 instead of chasing hits with a bunch of little news articles. (And it means that, when we know we have a little extra time in any given week, we can also sneak in a stream here or there.)
 
Oct 28, 2017
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Those impending Vice cuts still hang like a sword over the neck of Waypoint, though. You’d have to assume they haven’t confirmed to them they’re one of the verticals that’s going to be cut or Austin wouldn’t be talking so openly about growth goals.

I just think looking at Vice cooly as business and accepting that Motherboard is more popular and eating Waypoint’s lunch that they’ve got to be one of the verticals management is seriously looking at ending.

They could pull a rabbit out of the hat but prepare for the worst and hope for the best is what I’d say.