By Liz Shannon Miller
Up until December 2012, I was a writer at G4, a cable network owned by NBCUniversal and one of the few places on television where video game fans could count on finding content focused on gamer news and culture.
In December 2012, though, G4’s on-air original programming was canceled, leaving a hole that web video was already well on the way to filling with companies like GameTrailers, Revision3, and Machinima. All of these companies existed well before G4’s demise — and all of them, as a matter of trivia, happen to employ ex-G4 staffers.
As a case study, let’s look at how each covered last weekend’s PAX Prime, one of the gaming industry’s biggest conferences. For each is a different company with a different approach to its coverage, and it’s interesting to look at how each differs.
GameTrailers, owned by Viacom/Spike, brought all its PAX coverage together into one special section, and kicked things off with some pre-shot sketches about the staff’s preparations for the convention.
But then, true to the site’s name, the emphasis of its video coverage turned to trailers: Literally all the trailers, every day, as well as assorted clips.
That was during the convention, anyway — this week, some original content has surfaced, ranging from an interview and gameplay footage from the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition” to a complete video of the official GameTrailers PAX panel.
But in the conference’s aftermath, GT is still updating its PAX coverage with many additional videos: the bulk of it organized by game, not internal brand.
Video games have been a fundamental part of Rev3’s coverage since its early days, and PAX coverage from its team of Adam Sessler, Max Scoville, and Tara Long included daily wrap-ups from the convention floor, plus interviews and gameplay footage. Rev3 shows Destructoid and Casual Friday had new PAX-related episodes, as well.
There was no specific PAX landing page for Rev3’s coverage, but everything could be found on the Rev3Games subsite. Rev3’s coverage included significantly more on-the-ground analysis than GT, but had less content by volume, including far less actual footage that premiered at the convention. Post-convention, PAX-related videos continue to trickle out.
A video game fan just interested in clips and trailers would probably be best served by GameTrailers’s expansive coverage — but Rev3’s emphasis on editorial offers a more focused perspective.
Machinima’s YouTube presence in general is a sprawling collection of channels that focus on everything from sports to pop culture to original drama content.
Given how tied Machinima is to its YouTube presence, it was easy to assume that the bulk of the gaming giant’s coverage of PAX this year would be grouped under the PAX Prime 2013 playlist.
However, only a few of the videos there — including a cosplay round-up — actually related to the conference; the home base for its coverage is found as a blog post on the Inside Gaming Daily website. (Inside Gaming is Machinima’s gaming-news-and-commentary-focused channel.)
There, links to blog posts and videos covering specific games in extreme detail can be found — some are text-only, but others include trailers from the MachinimaTrailer channel. While Machinima content tends to be spread out, they still manage to find a way to bring it together.
Ultimately, each approach not only speaks to differing levels of staff and budget (Revision3 brought the most on-air talent to the conference and was faster with packaged content on site) but different strategies to each company’s coverage. It’s this uniqueness that gives each company its flavor. If taken as a whole, the coverage from GameTrailers, Revision3, and Machinima provide a complete look at PAX Prime. This is almost an improvement over the G4 days — a diversity of opinion isn’t just good for fans, but good for the industry being covered.