GameTrailers.com You Will Be Missed
As many of you may already know, Game Trailers has somewhat suddenly shut down. At the time this article was written, the website is still active and almost comically makes no mention of the sudden shut down, but if you are unfamiliar with the site now is the time to go check it out before it vanishes from the internet. Game Trailers was launched back in 2002 just as games media was starting to make the shift from the written word to more visually geared formats. For many of us it was our first introductions to Stuttering Craig and the rest of ScrewAttack, The Angry Video Game Nerd, Annoyed Gamer, the also now gone Epic Battle Cry, and also where we went to actually see video game trailers. Remember, this was roughly three years before YouTube and at the time finding any video footage of an upcoming game often either meant a trip to a game store to watch some promo media they had running or a nightmarish trip through the internet to spend several minutes downloading a file that might not even work correctly. Suffice to say, it was a different time.
I am sure Stephen Krusel will cover this story more in his weekly news roundup after more information has emerged, so I will refrain from speculating in this piece on what I think went down. What I would like to talk about is the thirteen year run of Game Trailers. Over the years Game Trailers has been many things. Initially it was literally just a collection of videogame trailers and was a weird source for what at the time passed for breaking news. This was my favorite form of the website. It was an era before Let’s Players and YouTube personalities, and in a weird way was the most honest form of games journalism. Not to sound too cliche’ but it was a simpler time when gamers just wanted to see cool videos of things we were eventually going to buy.
On January 14 2005 GameTrailers TV launched on Spike and in many ways that marks the first shift in how Game Trailers operated. In some ways, GameTrailers became the equivalent of what we now think of as a gaming YouTube channel. They had a lineup of weekly shows in addition to the GameTrailers TV show, and developed quite the slew of personalities. In a lot of ways, GameTrailers helped put a variety of faces on the gaming industry and paved the way for the idea of gaming celebrities. While not solely responsible for the evolution of the public’s perception of games media, GameTrailers was a force to be reckoned with.
It may be unfair to point to the site relaunch as the beginning of the end for GameTrailers, but some (most definitely me) might say that the site redesign that premiered on June 27 2012 was a harbinger of sorts for things to come. By this point in time, GameTrailers had shifted away from its early roots as just a place to watch trailers and fully embraced the idea that it was essentially a YouTube channel that was not on YouTube. A few years later in June 2014 GameTrailers was purchases by Defy Media, who then proceeded to fire the senior staff members. While not quite a death blow, things did continually get worse and worse from that point on.
Before its shutdown, GameTrailers had in many sad ways become a parody of itself. In addition to posting content on GameTrailers using it’s own and increasingly problematic media players, almost all content also showed up on the GameTrailers’ YouTube page in many ways rendering the website that started it all pointless. What had started as a trailer library and then peaked as a precursor to modern YouTube gaming, was now reduced to a collection of generic personalities that desperately tried to capture YouTube success all the white moving away from any reason for the original website to continue existing.
Even as a small time/up and coming YouTuber, it was painful to watch the last few years of GameTrailers. To me it felt like like it had become the hipster equivalent of a gaming channel. Every video felt by the numbers, and increasingly the editorial/critical undertones the site had always had faded away leaving generic videos full of forced laughter, bad jokes, and hackey sound effects. Over the span of roughly four years GameTrailers transformed itself into a walking husk of it’s former self that was so beyond gone it was incapable of realizing it’s time had long passed.
While it has been a long time since I last cared about GameTrailers, I am sad to see it’s thirteen year run so abruptly brought to an end. I have very found memories of scrolling through it’s seemingly endless collection of game trailers, and it was the first place I ever followed E3 at it. In many ways, it was the place I learned to be critical about games, and for many years was the critical voice I trusted the most. While I cannot say that a part of me is not at least a little bit happy to see the long languishing media outlet finally shut down, I will certainly miss GameTrailers. Hopefully GameTrailers will return in some new form, but if it does not, thank for you thirteen years of game coverage GameTrailers, you will be missed.