GWJ Conference Call Episode 118

Conference Call

Quick Game Updates, Spelunky, Special Guest Philip Kollar of Rebel FM & Previously of 1Up.com, What Went Down at 1Up, What it All Means, Your Emails and more!

This week Phil Kollar joins us to talk about what went down at 1Up.com and how the future looks for the plucky, unemployed game journalists. We also delve into what this means for the industry as a whole and answer your email and voice questions. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:22:15
"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 1:02:08

Comments

If you're looking for a great look back at EGM's legacy (along with interviews from alums like Sushi X, Trickman Terry and Dan Shu) then visit Drunken Gamers Radio this week. They did a great job.

So I hear that Mr. Julian "Rabbit" Murdoch has an iPhone, and plays games on it. Can anyone confirm this?

This podcast was great, lots of fun. I hope that the 1up orphans get back on their feet. I have been frequenting both eat. sleep. game and the Geekbox and am looking forward to the new content. Although, it was hard to figure out where you guys are, so you should try to get the word out there on other sites.

First time I've actually made it completely through one! Loved it.

Wait, Elysium doesn't have anything new to say about the games he's been playing? Even that one game that I don't care about at all -- the one he's always talking about?

Rap of the Bitching or something?

Spaz wrote:

So I hear that Mr. Julian "Rabbit" Murdoch has an iPhone, and plays games on it. Can anyone confirm this?

Rabbit is very close to developing a tic where he just says "phone" after every use of the first person singular. His PSP and DS must feel very lonely right now. Maybe the DSi can win him back?

Nyles wrote:
Spaz wrote:

So I hear that Mr. Julian "Rabbit" Murdoch has an iPhone, and plays games on it. Can anyone confirm this?

Rabbit is very close to developing a tic where he just says "phone" after every use of the first person singular. His PSP and DS must feel very lonely right now. Maybe the DSi can win him back?

Only if Nintendo remains it iDS

I think if Braid had been an iPhone game yesterday's front-page article might have come out very different.

Dysplastic wrote:

I think if Braid had been an iPhone game yesterday's front-page article might have come out very different.

If Braid had been an iPhone game im not sure I could have finished it. But regardless, I hope you're wrong. I like to think you're wrong. But I can't prove it.

I have been dubbed a hopelessly optimistic, fourty year old hobbit whom the ladies love to love. Groovy. Together with the sound advice from the crew, I guess I need to keep on writing and keep on dreaming. We don't 'keep on truckin' in Scotland, but if I could, I would. Great podcast as always.

You know, after the podcast I felt really bad about our responses to your inquiry, because I feel like we came off unnecessarily negative. I'm not kidding, I was feeling a little bad about how we approached your question for most of the rest of the evening.

It's a tough market out there, no question, but talented writers still have lots of opportunities to find work. Don't be afraid to explore all kinds of avenues, including local markets. The truth is that one of the reasons I helped start GWJ is because I took the initiative on my writing and created my own market. Not a strong paying market, by any means, but it's been a foundation in helping me get work as a professional writer.

Stick with it!

Quick point in re to indepth discussion about games on a podcast and referencing the article. This is generally what gets me to read articles about games I wasn't too interested in before. However, there is certainly a saturation point about certain games. GTAIV comes to mind.

I may be far from the norm on this (you know, since I actually read the articles and not just look at scores), but most of the time the more knowledge I have about a game the more interested I am. Part of this is because I'm interested in story in all forms, which is one of the reasons I love(d) 1up because with the personalities being up front, I was better able to connect to what they were discussing.

But certainly, over saturation about games is a problem and if someone feels that they are getting enough info. from a podcast that doesn't generate money instead of from articles on the site, which presumably makes money, then perhaps in a business model the discussion of specific articles and reviews on a podcast is not a good idea . . . but I'm all for it.

Re: the whole "pay or not to pay" discussion about podcasts...

I think the one thing that the all but death of 1Up proves is that the "EVERYTHING MUST BE FREE ON THE INTERNET!!!" Model is not a sustainable one for the people producing the content. There simply isn't enough dollars in advertising, or sponsorship, or grant money to underwrite everything and provide the people that produce that content with a living wage.

I understand the attitude behind the people who say, "Well, I'll never pay for podcasts (or music, or movies, or games) and I don't think I should have to!" but to those people I say, Grow Up. The "Everything Must Be Free" mentality of the internet does not rise from some great high-mindedness about the freedom of information, it arises from the basic dislike everyone has for spending money. If someone can get it for free, they are going to keep getting it for free, and then come up with an intellectual reason to justify why they should keep getting it for free.

In any other industry there is an understood quid pro quo of Work, Get Paid for that Work. Except when it comes to Artists, Musicians, Podcasters, and Writers on the internet. There the quid pro quo is Work and Maybe I'll Pay You But Probably Not. And the people doing that work are supposed to be pleased with that arrangement. It is like a Starbucks where people can walk in and demand a free coffee, and get a free coffee, and Starbucks has to figure out a way to make money from people walking in demanding free coffee.

Everyone talks about how people and businesses that make and deliver content need to find a "new model" for making money. While some of that's true, the reality is that the culture of the Internet also has to change. Eventually we are going to have to get back to that basic quid pro quo of "getting paid for work" and "paying for things we like". Or we are going to end up in a world where the Artist and Creative becomes extinct as viable professions unless you are in the top 1% of your field.

98% of the podcasts I listen to have a donate button. Simple. And they haven't been shut down due to a lack of advertising.

People who think podcasts should be free are only listening to corporate sponsored podcasts (1up's were underwritten by Ziff Davis). Any "indie" podcast will have a donate button.

MLK's twitter is okay, but Rosa Parks' is hysterical.

Everything should be free.. I donated to GWJ for the key only... the podcast's and great people are just bonus that came with the key....

larrymadill wrote:

Re: the whole "pay or not to pay" discussion about podcasts...

lots of good points

The key (no pun intended) is the community. Witness GamersWithJobs. I think the community here feels invested enough in the site that when the call comes every year, we rally, so that the conference call crew can continue to live their jet set lifestyle with fabulous trips to the French Riviera, exotic sports cars, high-class escorts and gold teeth.

The 1up orphans have a lot of good will right now, I'll certainly be interested to see what shakes out of their attempts to continue podcasting.

larrymadill wrote:

I think the one thing that the all but death of 1Up proves is that the "EVERYTHING MUST BE FREE ON THE INTERNET!!!" Model is not a sustainable one for the people producing the content.

Over time, I've had a lot of discussions with folks about piracy and the effects that it has on various areas in the entertainment industry. What I've come to realize is that for most consumers-- not all, but most-- the intrinsic value of a thing is not defined by how useful it is, or how much work was put into its creation, but instead, by the lowest amount of money that you can pay to get it.

When a game comes out, it's worth $60, until such time as you see it on sale for $40. Most albums are worth about ten bucks each, until they pop up in Amazon's $5 daily download specials. Podcasts have it worse because the majority of podcasts are and have always been free of charge. Rebel FM is currently enjoying an outpouring of support because the shock of the 1Up layoffs is still fresh in the minds of the fans; but in the long term, very few would be willing to pay for the show, as Mr. Kollar said on this episode. Why bother, when there are so many other gaming podcasts out there that are free of charge, with more popping up all the time?

The new 1Up Show (the video one) is a little different, though. It's not an audio podcast-- it's a video one, and there haven't been that many video podcasts about gaming. And as long as they don't call this new venture something that has "The 1Up Show" in the name, consumers will think of it as a new thing. So it has an opportunity to define consumers' expectations to some degree, and that's a golden opportunity, provided that they make effective use of it. If I were in charge of it, here's what I'd do:

  • Do not offer any free version of the show. Ever. I've heard talk that they want to make a standard-def version of the show for free, hoping that consumers will pay for the value add of a hi-def version. This is a very bad idea partially because this type of content doesn't really justify an HD version, but mainly because consumers don't pay for value adds-- they pay for content. And speaking of value adds...
  • Invest in some seriously fast and stable download servers. Big video files still take a long time to download-- if your money will get you a faster, more consistent download speed than you'd get from a torrent site, that's a real value add.
  • Go to conventions. Lots of conventions. You're there for two reasons: 1) To sell merchandise pertaining to your show, like backpacks and DVDs; and 2) To help build your community by having live recordings at the show and throwing awesome after-show parties with lots of gaming and camaraderie. Since they're in California, they're uniquely positioned to do this without having to travel across the country, and it would help them to build the sort of loyal fanbase that just donated eleven grand to the Rebel FM guys.

Hmm... what else? Anyone got any suggestions?

It's odd that you mentioned people buying 360's for board games. It's true, that many board games are available, but Microsoft doesn't seem to advertise that very well. This could be a place where they could beat out the Wii as Nintendo drags its legs in getting its download service up to speed in the volume of content it allows to come out on a weekly basis.

I know the 360 has everything from Uno to Settlers of Catan available, and I'm sure there's a lot I don't know of since I know almost nothing more of that side of things than what I've heard from podcasts. The Wii, on the other hand, doesn't have any board games available for download that I'm aware of, but, well Jayhawker said it in another thread first:

Jayhawker wrote:

The Wii, on the other hand, is becoming the replacement board game for some people. The same friends of ours that used to come over to play board games (who also were never gamers) have now begun bringing Wii games. The Wii is a social platform, but it has not translated to online at all. But I don't know that it really matters to the bulk of the people buying these things.

I completely agree with what Jayhawker said, but after hearing what you guys (can't remember at all who it was) said on the podcast, it seems the Wii has missed that segment of games entirely, with the exception of a few retial releases.

Podcasts need DRM.

I'm was surprised at the suggestion to remake Psychonauts or Indigo Prophecy in NextGen. They are both relatively new as-is and are inherently singleplayer experiences. How about an XBLA Archon? I think that game would still have legs.

indy wrote:

...exotic sports cars, high-class escorts with gold teeth.

Fixed.

This is a very bad idea partially because this type of content doesn't really justify an HD version, but mainly because consumers don't pay for value adds-- they pay for content. And speaking of value adds...

Actually, I think high def versions of shows that show footage from games do have value, if you really want to get into that. The added bandwidth and equipment costs could be a good enough justifier for an increased (or even existing) cost. But it should only be one part of an overall value or service for people.

So I'm hoping you guys are working on getting Ryan Scott on for next week.

garion333 wrote:

98% of the podcasts I listen to have a donate button. Simple. And they haven't been shut down due to a lack of advertising.

True, although most indie podcasts are still money-losing propositions that are just kept going out of their interest in the hobby. This American Life is far and away one of, and arguably the most highly rated and most popular podcast out there in terms of listeners, and they don't even get close to enough donations to cover the monthly bandwidth costs, let alone any costs that have to do with producing the thing. When you're talking about the 1UP show guys making media-rich programming and trying to make a living out of it, offering it for free and asking for donations is extremely unlikely to succeed.

The key (no pun intended) is the community. Witness GamersWithJobs. I think the community here feels invested enough in the site that when the call comes every year, we rally, so that the conference call crew can continue to live their jet set lifestyle with fabulous trips to the French Riviera, exotic sports cars, high-class escorts and gold teeth.

Dammit, I knew they were holding out on me!

Irongut wrote:

How about an XBLA Archon? I think that game would still have legs.

Totally agree. I loved playing Archon on my Commodore 64 back in the day. I would definitely buy a (reasonably priced) HD remake of that game, as long as they don't change any of the game's mechanics.

Hey it was great to hear you all mention Spelunky in the podcast. It is seriously one of the most addictive games I've played in a long time. It has a ton of character and great platforming mechanics and near infinite replayability. Check out its thread for more info.

Elysium wrote:

Stick with it!

Yes, Sir! I felt suitably answered by the response and by the chat in the rest of the podcast. Anyway, the scientist in me is looking at all those who were dropped by 1up as case studies for finding work writing about games. Their Twitter feeds allow me to forgo the process of tagging and tracking them with darts and microchips. Heeding your advice, I may launch SWGWJ.com Students With Games Without Jobs, that'll do nicely.

Needs more e-mails and drunken voicemails. Otherwise, yet another fantastic episode. =)

I didn't get the sense that this topic was actually brought up in the podcast (I think because the talk was more on 1Up and podcasting/videocasts, which was cool), so regarding EGM: is there any reason to think that a magazine like EGM--so, not an official magazine (Nintendo Power), not pandering to one brand (the myriad of unofficial mags like they have here in the UK) and not supported by a megacorp (like with Game Informer-Gamestop)--will still be on shelves in even a couple of years?

As much as the ravaging of 1Up is huge news, I thought the bigger tragedy was the loss of EGM. And it doesn't sound like there's much hope right now for any magazine, really, to thrive these days (even without considering the economy).

I'm no luddite and enjoy web content like everybody else, but I very much enjoy picking up EGM and Edge once a month. Would be a shame if that personal ritual goes away.

Phil was a great guest.

Btw, I disagree about PoP's death penalties. You guys haven't played it enough yet but when the game gets "harder" later and when you "die", the enemy's health bar refills a lot. In fact, it refills all the way during the last third of the game which is the same as restarting a fight. It doesn't make the game any easier when they start deflecting almost all your moves either. Stop complaining about it and play more of it.