We’re Jeff Gerstmann, Vinny Caravella, and Dan Ryckert from giantbomb.com, an outfit devoted to covering video games and the culture that surrounds it. Between the three of us we’ve got something like 50 years of combined experience in this field, which is pretty ridiculous when you see it typed out like this.

We run a website and premium content business and can probably speak to some of that as well as whatever questions you might have about video games and the industry that surrounds it. It’s a weird business! Ask away!

Proof: https://twitter.com/giantbomb/status/846861852839596032

EDIT: OK, thanks everybody for all the questions. Sorry we couldn't get to all of them but it's kind of an overwhelming feed of stuff! Am I supposed to... plug stuff here? I keep seeing people plugging movies. You should see Tokyo Drift, it's a fantastic film, I'm proud to have been a part of it by seeing it on opening night and multiple times since then. Oh. Uh... also, go and... subscribe to our YouTube channel? It's youtube.com/giantbomb, OK? We've got some new shirts coming to the store soon and hey, if you like those videos on that there YouTube channel we also have a premium service that gets you EVEN MORE VIDEOS, an ad-free site, you get to watch the Giant Bombcast live, and more? You can see more about that over at https://www.giantbomb.com/upgrade/ if that's your thing. Cool, thanks again y'all!

Comments: 1806 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

gremie73288 karma

What was your reaction when Austin told you Vice had approached him to be the head of there gaming section?

jeffgerstmann717 karma

I more or less sprung into action to see if we could mount a counteroffer, if only to make sure the decision was a tough one for him.

Ultimately I was happy for him, because getting offered an EIC job is a big deal, especially when he more or less gets to build something new along the way. Those sorts of jobs don't just come along every day and I think he's doing some cool shit with Waypoint that no one else is currently doing.

MostlySilentObserver211 karma

Hey guys, I've been a subscriber since the first BLLSL. I have a couple questions about the business side of Giant Bomb.

1) How are you guys doing? As someone who listens to the podcasts, and watches videos, I have no idea how sustainable Giant Bomb is.

2) How much traffic does the Wiki do, compared to other content?

3) How's it been with CBSi? They appear to be pretty hands-off; is there any nasty behind-the-scenes business?

jeffgerstmann380 karma

1) We're doing quite well, actually. Last year was probably our best year to date, business-wise, and we're continuing in that same direction so far this year.

2) Not much. There's an audience that finds the site via searches that put them on the wiki, but the crossover between those people and our content is pretty low. The backend of the wiki is currently being rebuilt and it's my hope that, once we get it back into proper shape, we'll be able to showcase it in some cool ways and have some fun with all that weird data.

3) They mostly stay out of our way. That can cut both ways, depending on what our needs are at any given time, but we do have a level of freedom that we more or less require to do this sort of thing.

Telfo211 karma

The people demand a Persona 5 endurance run...MEETINGS BE DAMNED! what say you?

jeffgerstmann340 karma

Given the video restrictions around that game right now, I'm really glad that we never once entertained the idea of doing this. The entire game blocks the PS4 screenshot/stream share functionality, it's insane. It's almost like they don't want people playing this one on the internet or something.

Anyway, I never had any real interest in doing this. It was a magical time and a magical place, and attempting to re-create it like this would probably only lead to disappointment on all sides. I'd hate to tarnish the Persona 4 stuff we did along the way.

Brutic207 karma

How much do you die on the inside every time you have to answer a question about breaking into the games industry?

jeffgerstmann761 karma

No one asks anymore, they're all too busy streaming on Twitch.

giant_frying_pan202 karma

Are you a cop?

jeffgerstmann362 karma

Mia, I am a cop.

Turduckennn173 karma

How much do you blame the switch cartridge tasting epidemic on Forbes 30 Under 30 media luminary Griffin McElroy?

jeffgerstmann303 karma

I respect Trolls 2's Griffin McElroy too much to lay any of this nightmare at his feet.

Kattsumoto125 karma

Thank you for being a great source of insight & entertainment for me the last nine years. I truly appreciate it.

My Question:

The following are Giant Bomb's Game of the Year Award Winners (Runner-Up in Parenthesis):

2008 - GTA IV (N/A)

2009 - Uncharted 2 (Batman: Arkham Asylum)

2010 - Mass Effect 2 (Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)

2011 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Saints Row: The Third)

2012 - XCOM: Enemy Unknown (The Walking Dead)

2013 - The Last of Us (The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds)

2014 - Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Bayonetta 2)

2015 - Super Mario Maker (Metal Gear Solid V: TPP)

2016 - Hitman (DOOM)

My question is, of those nine (9) games, do any of those look wrong to you? Have any of those games further distanced themselves from the runner-up?

Luchamore96 karma

On the Bombcast they seem to have expressed regret for going with Skyrim over Saints Row: The Third

jeffgerstmann164 karma

Yeah, that's one I'd probably feel better about if it'd gone the other way, but I respect the discussion and we came to our decision as a group and all that.

vesteele122 karma

Is a calzone a sandwich?

jeffgerstmann417 karma

No, it's a pizza that someone folded in half for easier eating. Probably closer to a taco, really.

Prax150117 karma

Jeff, can you tell us what you held in your hands this past weekend?

jeffgerstmann351 karma

A hammer and some nails. I finally hung up my Tokyo Drift poster here at home.

draggingalake99 karma

Why doesn't Giant Bomb move out of San Fran to save money? Yeah, you all are close to devs, but with everything going digital and with the price of flying, is it worth the cost of living in San Fran? After hearing Dan's 2 bedroom apartment was around $2,000 a month, you could rent a full house in the midwest for like $1200 a month. It just seems like that location is a huge bummer to your personal lives, as you all seem to hate the city itself?

jeffgerstmann247 karma

Because the company already owns/leases the space we're using. Moving to a new spot would actually cost the company more, overall. So it's not really up to us.

Also, personally, this is where my family is. I would never want to live inside actual San Francisco, but the suburbs around it are fine. For now.

I pay significantly less than Dan does and I have a three-bedroom house. No shared walls, no big city crap. Living around here can be fine, unless you're hellbent on living in SF proper. That's just dumb.

JakleIsMe95 karma

Giant Bomb has always seemed like the largest games coverage site which stayed away from the hype around up-coming AAA titles; maintaining a partially skeptical, non-assuming position most of the time. Is this just from the nature of the employees, does it stem from your business model or is there an active attempt at having this position?

jeffgerstmann254 karma

I think this was something we helped foster back at GameSpot and it's something that naturally carried over. It's easy to see that a publisher's main job is to sell you something, regardless of quality. We're there to kinda sidestep that stuff and try to get down to what these games are really all about.

It's not about being unexcited about upcoming games. It's about maintaining some professional distance from that stuff and not misleading your audience by freaking out over trailers and announcements as if those final products will automatically be amazing.

Dagrabbits77 karma

With how busy you guys are on different coasts, how much content on the site that you're not directly involved in do you consume? For example, do you listen to each others podcasts?

jeffgerstmann454 karma

I try to listen to the Beastcast every week and I see things here and there.

Listening to the Beastcast is weird, though. They keep calling out my name and when I start to respond some other guy starts talking?

JerkStoreDude75 karma

Any plans to do any more energy drink taste tests? Also, what were your favorite and least favorite energy drinks?

jeffgerstmann245 karma

The energy drink boom feels like it's mostly over, so there are fewer new drinks and flavors popping up at the gas stations I usually stop at between home and work.

Right now I'm mostly a Rockstar guy, which I never expected. But the Pure Zero Punched, Lemonade, and Recovery Lemonade are all pretty solid.

I recently tried some organic energy drink from Whole Foods or Sprouts or something and it tasted like someone crammed an entire butt into a can, then doused said butt in rotten fruit juice.

Codename3C71 karma

How bad was the buckfast hangover in west from the bottles we sent over?

jeffgerstmann185 karma

I still have three bottles of Buckfast on my desk and it's like staring down the barrel of a loaded gun every day. Thanks.

zeal0069 karma

Why didn't you fire Dan on the spot when he said Terminator 2 was better than Terminator 1? And Terminator 3 being better than 1 as well?

If that isn't grounds for termination then what other depravity could possibly be the limit?

DanRyckert159 karma

I retract my statement about 3 being better than 1, but the 2>1 statement still holds true.

jeffgerstmann224 karma

This is so incorrect that it should be illegal.

warcrow68 karma

Do you guys think you will ever stop writing and move all production to video content?

jeffgerstmann142 karma

We've toyed with the idea of a news department in the past but it's not really our focus right now. I'll probably always want the ability to write when that's appropriate (and promote the stuff we've written on our homepage and such), but it's never really been our focus.

I have ideas about how I would build a news-focused product and what sort of people you'd need to run that and not just have it be a carbon copy of Kotaku or Polygon or any of the other sites out there hitting the news beat really hard, but... yeah. Not our focus right now, not really sure if the opportunity there is big enough for it to be worth our time.

whanch67 karma

Jeff, what is your wedding ring made from? I'm getting married in the fall and I really like the look of yours.

mailbox22547 karma

Im not Jeff, but I believe it is a tungsten ring.

jeffgerstmann195 karma

Yeah, pretty sure it's tungsten. I wanted something dark that'd stand out against my pasty flesh.

Mijati65 karma

When you came back to CBSi, how did you picture the collaborations with GameSpot? Is what you've done with them thus far what you envisioned or did you have grander plans (like that release show) that never happened? Do you have plans to do more with them going forward?

jeffgerstmann119 karma

I didn't really have any expectations one way or the other on that. It was a weird thing. I think the people who orchestrated the sale (who are long gone now) had some ideas about it might fit, but ultimately we've got different goals and different audiences. What works for that site usually wouldn't work for us and vice versa. Over time, I'd say that we've only gotten further apart on those things. We run a subscription business, for example.

We do stuff together where it makes sense to do so. We share a common publishing platform and product/engineering teams and stuff like that.

trumadburbank47 karma

Along these lines, I'd like to know if CBS has ever tried to merge the two sites.

jeffgerstmann124 karma

Nope. That'd be a bad business move that'd probably kill our entire subscription business along the way. No need to do it.

richlee0351 karma

What kind of advice could you give someone wanting to start their own podcast?

jeffgerstmann192 karma

Be consistent. I can't stand it when my days get over-scheduled, but hitting a consistent schedule with a podcast is still my #1 piece of advice for people looking to get into it.

Pick a day and stick to it.

MiGaOh46 karma

What do the Giant Bomb editors think of the future of media news and criticism in a world where most (not specifically the GB audience) people are increasingly allergic to reading large amounts of text (representing a great waste of time on written articles), want shallow product reviews i.e. "buy/rent/avoid" in video rather than in-depth analysis of themes and presentation (So is it a "good" game or not?), and where attention spans are such that no media holds their attention for any significant amount of time; jumping from TV to console game to mobile game to computer game depending on mood, few of them providing the satisfaction those media had in the past?

Bonus Stage 1: What is the end-game for the Giant Bomb wiki? Will it eventually merge with other databases (GameFAQs, etc.) so that release and other data automatically populates, or will it always rely on manual import of information? Any requests/bounties on especially incomplete or empty wiki pages other than Justice Beaver for the SNES?

Bonus Stage 2: What are the rough revenue percentages for Giant Bomb with respect to premium subscriptions, merch, website ads, and Bombcast/Beastcast advertisements? What keeps Giant Bomb afloat the most? The recent podcast ad survey seems like a move to tailor podcast ads to the audience to generate more revenue, what other tailored ad strategies might be explored?

jeffgerstmann121 karma

We have metrics that say that people watch a lot of our videos for long periods of time and listen to most, if not all of the podcast when they listen. I think a lot of the attention span stuff is a little off-base and we've pretty much banked on long-form audio and video as our key thing instead of just spitting out a zillion short, SEO-friendly articles and videos and trying to brute force our way into growth.

I'm happy to attract the sort of audience that cares a bit more deeply about this stuff and is willing to invest the time to know more about it (and hopefully have a pretty good time along the way).

I don't know the revenue split off the top of my head but on-site ads aren't really a huge priority. We're about to switch over to using the YouTube video player as the default for non-premium videos and, because we want to not serve ads to our premium members, we've turned off monetization on those YouTube embeds. We'll see how that goes. We hope that people like what they see and watch our stuff wherever they may be, be it on the site, on YouTube, or, increasingly, on any number of different set top boxes. If they like it, hopefully they'll sign up for a premium account someday.

As for the wiki, we have some loose back-end ties to the GameFAQs/GameSpot product database that may make it easier for users to import existing release and credit data from that db down the line. Not sure what form that'll take, we need to talk about it some more. It'd be easy to just hand all of product creation over to them, but I think that'd be kind of a bummer for our existing wiki users since creating a new game page is (for me, anyway) kind of a thrill.

bowlingdoughnuts33 karma

Would Giantbomb been a completely different thing had patreon existed back when you were let go from gamespot? Jeff, do you think you'd have gone that route back then if it was an option?

jeffgerstmann76 karma

I don't know that we would've gone that route, but things were very different when we were building the site back in early 2008. YouTube still had 10 minute limits on video uploads, for example. Hosting a video-oriented website back then meant something very different than it does now.

I think about it like this: if I was building a team right now, the very idea of building a meaningful website would be up in the air. People want (and can get) video wherever they are on a million different devices. The idea of hosting your own dot com domain and trying to drag people over to visit your own little kingdom instead of putting your stuff where the people already are seems crazy nowadays.

I'm surprised no one has come up with a great turnkey solution for Patreon people who need a place to securely host videos for their patrons. Maybe it exists and I just haven't encountered it yet or something, but that seems like it'd be a business to me!

If I was building a site today it'd probably be a bunch of links to all the offsite platforms we use for community, merch, video, audio, and all that stuff. There are plenty of great off-the-shelf solutions for most of that stuff these days.

semtex9432 karma

How often are you approached by companies that ask for good reviews in exchange for favors, and who usually offers them?

jeffgerstmann89 karma

I've been doing this professionally since 1996 and it's never happened once.

Lately, though, we do get spammy emails from companies that ask if we allow "guest posts," usually because they want to put a bunch of SEO-jacking crap up on the site that links off to whatever casino or porn thing they're pushing.

OneManArmyy31 karma

What's the subject line of the top email in your inbox?

jeffgerstmann82 karma

"Fwd: Feedback"

LEGSwhodoyoustandfor28 karma

If you had to describe your life in one video game what would it be?

jeffgerstmann66 karma

Shove It! ... The Warehouse Game

vandelay8725 karma

Favourite Beatles song?

jeffgerstmann85 karma

Poppa Large (East Coast Mix)

heavilyfrenchmc21 karma

Hey Jeff. You've been writing about games on the internet for a pretty long time. I think you have an incredible perspective on games/games journalism and you must have an incredible list of stories about your time doing this. My favorite moments from your site usually consist of you guys taking a peak behind the curtain.

Would you ever consider writing a book (or even just documenting this stuff on the website or online somewhere else) that chronicles what you've seen and done during your career?

jeffgerstmann37 karma

It's come up here and there. I'd like to do it, but it's not something I'm currently thinking about. I should probably write some stuff down before I start forgetting it, though!

thpthpthp20 karma

Once when the topic of your website came up, my guild leader in WoW mentioned that he used to be an "HTML monkey" at Gamespot, and that he carpooled with Jeff. He also said that Brad was an intern there at the time. I don't really want to dox him, but does this sound credible, or was my guildy talkin' nonsense?

jeffgerstmann46 karma

You're either talking about Jay or your guild leader is a filthy liar!

thpthpthp24 karma

Luke 11

Whatever that means.

jeffgerstmann38 karma

I very nearly said the exact same thing to you to tell to him, so... yeah.

l4wd0g19 karma

On a BombCast Jeff talked about publishers needing to ask permission to use a quote for an ad. I was wondering if metacritic need the same permission, and why publishers need to ask to use a quote?

jeffgerstmann54 karma

Metacritic asked us if we wanted to be listed on Metacritic, but they don't ask about each individual piece of content they link to.

Publishers often want to use our name and excerpts from our coverage in ads or press releases or trailers, and it's proper form for them to ask us if we're OK with that, especially if they're trying to massage a quote from the review to better fit whatever they're trying to promote.

I approach it from a "if we said it, we stand by it" angle and approve just about anything, unless they're misquoting us or taking quotes out of preview coverage and trying to use it in a review-like context. Apparently some publications in some other fields actually charge money for this, which seems kinda sleazy to me.

Gnardude18 karma

Do you have any links to videos of the band(s) Jeff and/or Alex were in please?

Draklawl18 karma

Hey guys, Huge fans. A few questions

Jeff: Every once in a while some GB content gets posted in various gaming subreddits (such things like your interview with Phil Spencer or the GOTY discussions). For a lot of people, this is their only real exposure to GB, and an impression that people seem to come away with is that you never seem excited about anything and are a grumpy guy who likes to hate on things that everyone else loves. I guess my question is do you have any reaction to that impression of you? And is there anything in the modern gaming industry that genuinely makes you excited?

Vinny: Some of my favorite content on the site is the back end "How does this all work" content that has been posted in the past. Is there any plans for more of this in the future? Also, what has been the hardest device to capture footage out of that you've had to deal with at GB?

Dan: You seem to have an unending amount of enthusiasm for games and obviously love what you do. You seem to be able to find even a little good in everything, even if you are disappointed in it. What is the biggest disappointment you've had in a game? (pre release hype vs. final reaction) Also, have you gotten all of those VR headsets yet? :P

jeffgerstmann70 karma

If I lived and died by what people who barely know me or my work thought of me I'd have died in 1997. I do me. If people can't see that without thinking it's "grumpy" or "jaded," then that's on them. I'm not going to suddenly start snapping into YouTube Reaction Face #7 just to try to attract an audience.

Dokaka16 karma

Hey duders, huge fan!

You guys were here before the time of social media, so you've all experience going from no following to getting instant feedback on pretty much everything you write on Twitter etc. How has social media affected you guys, not necessarily just in a gaming related sense? I must imagine always getting instant feedback to your "thinking out loud" and jokes must be somewhat addicting.

jeffgerstmann35 karma

It can be, but also Twitter also serves as a sort of content killer at times, too. Like... there have been ideas that I've had that would probably make for weird, dumb little videos that people would like, but that premise might also fit in 140 characters. So instead of doing the legwork and actually making a thing, the half-baked idea gets farted out onto Twitter and everyone moves on. I should probably try to maintain discipline and see some of those dumb things through a little more often.

I think a lot of social media has gotten pretty gross over the last few years and I find myself using Twitter way less frequently than I used to. It used to be that we could only get people popping a bunch of heinous crap at us via email. Now they can spew it right to your phone's lock screen, if you're crazy enough to leave all that stuff turned on. The future is now!

NancyDrewFan12310 karma

What Giant Bomber staff member would win in an arm wrestling tournament?

Followup: regular wrestling?

jeffgerstmann20 karma

Vinny.