Welcome to PodWatch! A series from writers who want to share their insight of the Video Game Podcasts industry. Got a podcast recommendation for us? Share them in the comments section below!
In the long, long time I’ve been listening to video game podcasts, I’m saddened to say not all made it. Not all of them are still alive and breathing today. Some fizzled, their uploads getting more and more sporadic until they dropped off, and some actually gave me closure and had a final episode explaining why and how. I still cried nonetheless.
Many years on, I still think about some of these long-lost podcasts, their voices ingrained in my psyche, their signature catchphrases or funny moments burned into my memory - and yet I can’t ever remember where I put my pilates socks.
So, wander down memory lane with me as I share the ones I still think about to this day.
Last seen in May 2018, with a Pax podcast and a message in the podcast description saying “We're not sure when a 100% regular schedule will resume but we'll keep you posted! In the meantime enjoy this episode, and thanks for listening!”.
Apparently ‘never’ is the answer to that question, however, the reasons are understandable, which I will cover in a moment.
Idle Thumbs was a fortnightly podcast hosted by Jake Rodkin, Chris Reemo, Sean Vanaman, Nick Breckon, and occasionally Steve Gaynor that always opened with the theme song they created and sung themselves which was unique.
The podcast followed traditional beats in terms of discussing the latest gaming news and what they were into. All of them had industry experience to draw on across games journalism, composing, and design which of course added credibility and depth to their discussions.
Due to Idle Thumbs being formed as a video game culture website, the podcast gathered a community following and after the site's first hiatus where they stopped being an editorial, the site then went on to be a platform that created shows and podcasts of other sizes and topics.
However, the marque podcast off the site, Idle Thumbs, seemed always doomed to fail having fallen in disrepute and revived on several occasions throughout the years
The final decline occurred when Chris and Jake, and Sean formed the video game studio Campo Santo. This occurring off the back of Telltale games going under.
The studio released Firewatch in 2016 and it was a critical success earning the team a plethora of news and coverage, and then in April 2018, the team announced that Campo Santo was purchased by Valve.
Since joining Valve the team hasn’t done anything for Idle thumbs and that seems to be where the podcast has perished. Since joining Valve all of the podcasters have withdrawn from the public eye quite considerably, with only Chris recently, in 2021, producing his own YouTube series around the New York Times Crossword, and World.
Rooster Teeth got its start with the infamously funny RedVsBlue, a YouTube comedy series set inside Halo. Rooster Teeth continued on making YouTube content for its fans pioneering the practice of subscription-based content and YouTube as a serious content hosting platform years before the rest of the industry caught up.
As Rooster Teeth quickly transformed into a content house podcasts became a common content stream, and boy did they make a lot of podcasts. To this date, the platform has started over twenty different podcasts.
Their flagship podcast, The Rooster Teeth Podcast, formally known as Drunk Tank podcast, started as a gaming podcast, even winning two Gaming Podcast Awards, but as the company’s content and personalities expanded so did the topics they covered and the show became more comedic and current events based.
In response to this, The Patch was launched in early 2013. It contained the same key personalities that made Rooster Teeth content so funny and enjoyable, like Gus, Bernie, and Ashley.
Given I talked about the Idle Thumbs intro, I think it apt to talk about the Patch’s intro, where a generic pixel 16-bit tune plays and ends with the Wilhelm Scream. Anytime I hear that scream in a movie I think of the Patch.
From memory, there wasn’t too much of a format to the show, just a running order of conversation topics and a purely organic way of talking. Given Rooster Teeth’s budget, the show had its own set and was recorded and streamed on video to its premium fans first.
Unfortunately in 2016 the show went on hiatus. It was replaced/rebranded as The Glitch shortly thereafter, which I also loved, however that too came to an end In 2019.
This seemed to be an all too common thing for the network. Their success meant that they were constantly shuffling the decks and having sub-brands which often meant things got left behind when other stuff became a priority. Based on that belief, I kinda gave their content a wide berth for some years out of fear they would cancel something else I love. Successful podcasts rarely end, this article has been hard to write as many of the podcasts I listen to are 5-700 episodes deep and keep going. So for a platform to keep killing podcasts I became attached to, it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Rooster Teeth is now a podcast platform publisher and now supports and manages some of the biggest podcast brands in the industry, Kinda Funny for example.
Off the back of the huge success of Giant Bomb and Giant Bombast, the company established a New York office (GB is based in San Francisco) as a way to increase content output and talent acquisition. Some key members of the Giant Bomb San Fran crew moved to New York to set it up and in doing so they set up a sister podcast, the Giant Beastcast. The name ‘beast’ refers to a mixing of ‘Giant Bomb East’ a reference to the fact that New York is on the east coast.
The split was perfect. We effectively got two Giant Bomb Casts, albeit the Beastcast being closer to the two-hour mark whilst the Bomb Cast was always a three-hour affair. With familiar voices on both sides of the country and the addition of new talent, the two podcasts worked in tandem, often joining forces for big events like E3 and Game of the Year. As the Beastcast found their footing they quickly became my favourite of the two.
For the lion's share of Giant Bomb's life and growth, they were owned by CBS Interactive. During the Pandemic Giant Bomb was sold to another company, Red Ventures and in response, several key figures in the team decided that this was the time to bow out as buyouts often bought with it uncertainty.
In May 2021, the core members of the Giant Beastcast, Vinny Caravella, Alex Navarro, and Brad Shoemaker, announced their departure signaling the end of the New York office. They later remarked that they had enjoyed their time at Giant Bomb, but the fun of making content was constantly being undermined by corporate pressure to sell more, meet KPIs, and get more engagement.
A month after their sudden departure the three popped up with their own Patreon-funded Podcast Nextlander. Whilst I do miss the Beastcast of yore, and what they contributed to the Giant Bomb formula, I am equally as chuffed that I can still listen to them, just under a different name.
Thank you for reading Podwatch, if you haven't already, check out the other articles in the series.
Got a podcast recommendation to share? Drop a comment below.
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