Editorial: IGN Acquiring the Gamer Network Is Not a Good Thing

This recent purchase will result in mass layoffs and a further homogenizing of industry opinions.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 05/23/2024 14:54 Comment on this     ShareThis

IGN has purchased the Gamer Network. The Gamer Network, for those who don’t know, is comprised of a number of different outlets that many of you might actively read on a daily basis, including GamesIndustry.biz, Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, and Hookshot. Hookshot alone handles multiple sites that are, again, likely daily reads for most, including Nintendo Life and Time Extension. And now, all of these publications are under one umbrella.

As GIB notes, this acquisition has resulted in multiple redundancies across IGN parent company Ziff Davis. What does that mean? Layoffs, naturally. Site closures are possible, too. Nasty things that have been impacting the game industry itself will soon be spreading throughout the journalism side of the business. And while this alone is depressing news, I would argue the more nefarious issue at hand is the further homogenizing of thought in games journalism that is likely to arise from a move like this.


There are many who refer to mainstream news sites as access media because they’re outlets that have, well, access. Access to media companies that offer early access to games, movies, and TV shows, exclusive access to talent for things like interviews, and so on. And if you don’t play ball and report or react to the news the way these media companies want you to, all of a sudden that access can evaporate. Now imagine this paradigm in a world where instead of ten websites being run independently of one another, they’re all owned by a single entity. That’s not a comforting thought.

As games journalism shrinks, so too does the variety of opinions that readers are going to see. If a single entity can own a minimum of ten other news sites, as is the case now with Ziff Davis, it becomes hard to believe that corporate influence isn’t going to mitigate how freely writers will be to voice their opinions. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Ziff Davis of silencing anyone, I am simply saying that one entity ruling so much of the games journalism industry by its nature is limiting.


Just look at how this acquisition is being described as producing redundancies within Ziff Davis. It certainly doesn’t feel like a redundancy for readers looking to balance opinions about, say, a game review by looking at evaluations across multiple websites. If you’re a company that owns ten of those websites, however, there might begin to be questions about whether or not it’s financially necessary to have ten websites writing reviews on a single game when, perhaps, one or two would do. Which saves the corporation money by cutting operating costs, certainly, but in turn limits the variety of thought that readers are looking for.

It also doesn’t seem likely that people who will lose jobs as a result of these so-called redundancies are very appreciative of this homogenizing, either. Because in the eyes of a corporation, that’s the appropriate way to describe the situation of workers that are being laid off. They’re eliminating redundancies, they’re reimagining departments, they’re downsizing, they’re restructuring, and every other nauseating bit of corporate-speak they can think of to sugarcoat sending people to the unemployment line. While I certainly have qualms with some of the quality of writing I see in the industry, I will always prefer more opinions to less.


Even in a perfect world where outside influences never impact news coverage, it definitely becomes a lot harder to believe that sort of thing isn’t happening when information dissemination becomes so centralized. With things like bot farms being used to manipulate public narratives about all sorts of different topics, and the aforementioned possibility of access impacting the integrity of reporting, perception matters. And the perception I have of all these websites being under the purview of IGN is a negative one. I suspect I’m not alone.

While I hope for the best, I don’t see anything good coming from this deal in the long run. It is at this point a tale as old as time, where a big company swoops in, buys a bunch of smaller ones, and then starts consolidating. In an industry like games journalism, freedom of thought is paramount in order to keep narratives about games honest. Consumers have a right to know when games suck, when games are great, when companies are making decisions that go against consumer wishes, and on and on. If the industry keeps shrinking, instead, finding honesty is going to become harder and harder. In this day and age, where digital manipulation of public discourse is so common, that’s a frightening proposition.

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