I’m actually pretty broken up about this. Besides Waypoint, Fanbyte was one of the last few game news websites that actually had a strong left perspective. Leftist zines are good but infrequent (new Heterotopias just dropped btw). Having a tremendously talented staff didn’t hurt either (including Waypoint’s own Danielle Riendeau!). I’ve been a looooongtime reader of Polygon, which still puts out good leftish work, but as it’s gotten more mainstream, I find myself spending more and more time fighting with chuds in the comments.
Anyway, just looking for a place to vent and pour one out for a real one. Cogent and critical games media is a dying breed. USgamer folded last year too.
Yeah this was pretty bummer news to realise slowly across twitter as I saw more and more staff post “I just got laid off”, I very much liked Fanbyte, they had fantastic podcast content, worth revisiting if you haven’t already.
Hope they land on their feet somewhere good, I will miss their voices if not.
The layoffs this week are bad no matter the outlet, I don’t want to detract from that, but Fanbyte in particular was incredibly depressing to me for several reasons. As @axemtitanium noted it had a perspective that meshed well with Waypoint - not only was Danielle Riendeau at Fanbyte but Waypoint’s Ren got her start there and I believe Natalie Flores guested on a Waypoint pod not so long ago. It especially sucks because they had such a diverse staff representing a lot of marginalised folks and a lot of the layoffs hit them in particular. They were also the first place that paid me for my games writing, with merritt k as my first editor.
On top of everything though they just seemed like a happy team with a great hangout vibe: their podcasts are pretty much the only ones I listened to every week alongside Waypoint. It’s awful that the site has been so unceremoniously gutted in such a cruel way (among the lowlights, firing news editor Imran Khan while he was asleep in Tokyo while covering TGS for Fanbyte and unnecessarily firing their summer intern literally the day before his last day).
I hope everyone lands on their feet. In the meantime I’ll shout out If You’re Driving, the new podcast from ex-Friends Reunion crew John, LB, and Niki. If you’ve been following Fanbyte for a while you’ll know there were rumblings of this coming when a lot of “non-games” content was cut a little while back, including Friends Reunion, so it sounds like they were planning this new podcast anyway, but the unexpected mass layoffs/effective closure of the site as it was has brought it forward.
You reminded me that I have to shout out Natalie Weiner and Colette Arrand for their respective columns about sports and wrestling—two topics I have very little interest in—whose writing are must-read every time. I think these are my favorite from each:
Fanbyte has top-notch guides (they were instrumental in getting me through some of the Lost Judgment side content) but the reason to read them is because they’re basically Waypoint’s first cousins. The media business always appears from the outside like a Saw movie about economics.
Sadly I don’t think there’s a space for the kind of work we want out here unless somebody makes Video Games Defector. Otherwise it’s just the same shuffle of sites, with a few staff members making the jump to the next space, a few retiring from the industry forever, and countless pieces of good work lost forever.
Right. Like, I get that guides make up a large portion of the traffic for gaming sites these days, but why would someone look at a Fanbyte guide over a guide from IGN or Polygon or any of the hundred or so SEO farming sites? Because they have a relationship with Fanbyte from reading their other content! Whoever’s running the show there clearly doesn’t understand this and hasn’t bothered to think past the site analytics.
Yeah, you can’t really put a relationship in a spreadsheet (you can approximate it, but that’s not the point), which gets back to @BlueHighwind’s point: if you want something that isn’t subject to the prevailing winds of the media industry, you’re going to have to make Video Game Defector. Giant Bomb gives the outer impression of Being Kinda That but even then they’re still buffeted by the sea of acquisitions and sales like every other site out there.
GiantBomb has had massive disruptions, somehow that’s a place that can’t fit Jeff Gerstmann anymore. I don’t know what or why that happened, but it’s truly horrifying that one of the oldest and most knowledgeable voices in the industry can’t fit in the very company he co-founded.
Waypoint also has that huge side of fan direct support, which is probably keeping the lights on, but it still isn’t exactly what we’re looking at either, because again, they’re beholden to Vice like GiantBomb is beholden to whatever weird anonymous start-up bought them. And frankly it is incredible Waypoint has lasted this long.
I dunno, I liked Fanbyte and all, but when I’m stuck in a game all I’m doing is punching in a description into Google and clicking on the first site that looks to solve my dilemma. Expediency is usually the biggest criteria for me when using a guide, and I don’t think having a robust editorial side is going to swing my decision.