Could VGX’s Negative Reviews Hurt the Future of Gaming on TV?

Gaming is extremely popular on the internet. Gamers on Youtube have some of the highest subscriber and view counts than any other channels on the website. The advent of Twitch and the next-gen ability to Stream everything, these channels take in enough money to make full time paying jobs out of gaming. So Spike/Viacom wasn’t entirely in the wrong to target that audience. It’s more or less the attempt of it that may have ruined it. Instead of giving it air time on Spike TV (as in years prior), the entire show was broadcasted online; streamed like your standard video game website content you see every day.

Having the audience have live interaction with the show was a fantastic idea. Users could live Tweet things to vote for games or studios, and even help “unlock content.” This is something I’ve wanted previous gaming related shows to incorporate. After all, as gamers we are rather technology inclined right? The good ideas pretty much stop there though. No fancy hosts, no major game reveals (where was Naughty Dog!) and overall it was a sideshow of disrespect to gamers in general.

You may have to dig down and see why Spike TV gave up faith on the project. The first place to look is at the ratings. Spike has seen an up and down slide in ratings over the past several years. For a while the ratings were dipping down into the low 600k range, and at hits highest the show was bringing in over a million viewers. That’s a good number right? Wrong, let’s compare it to other shows. The series Breaking Bad brought in over 5 million views an episode, with 6.6 million viewers during the finale. The Walking Dead, a gamer fan favorite, brings in similar numbers. Now we compare it to another award show, The Emmy Awards, and you see them bring in over 17 million people while not only competing with Breaking Bad, but Sunday Night Football.

Spike TV on its own normally has ratings around 400k daily throughout the week. A majority of Spike’s original shows, that I could find information on, were ranging from 400-500k. The only show that really seems to be breaking that trend for them is Bar Rescue, a decent show about saving some run down bars.

You would think that Bar Rescue doing well would send some key messages to Spike. Perhaps the over the top stupidity that they think your average drunk male loves is not working? Yet instead of taking that message, they took what little maturity GOTY Awards had and tossed it. In it’s place we got basically 3 hours of insults to our intelligence as gamers. At one point of the show they had two guys in front of a bad green screen screaming at us while the camera guy plays with the zoom button, Mega64 could have done so much better. Another time, as they were advertising the terrible GTA concert non-stop, they had a group of “rappers” putting on a show for pre-school children, expecting us to laugh at them. They were literally just yelling random words into a microphone and giggling. Perhaps I missed the memo that everyone needed to be high to enjoy this 3 hour…. What exactly did I watch?

To add even more salt in the wound, normally the GOTY awards at least tease us about something epic. Naughty Dog has a trend of showcasing hot new games there, and we have yet to see what they are cooking. Yet Naughty Dog stole the show, and it wasn’t with a hot new title. Instead it was sprite making fun of pop culture. The show was so un-funny that a game studio had to save it. Thank god for Naughty Dog.

They had nothing to show, but hyped it up like they had tons to show. Instead of hot new titles and exclusives, we got one mind blowing looking title that everyone wanted more of. This game didn’t come from a major studio, didn’t have lots of people behind it, and was made by 4 guys. A friggin Indie studio had to save the day!

Why does all this matter about the future of gaming? Well it’s simple. Ratings suck as is because networks like Spike don’t like to run the risk of putting gaming in the spotlight. That’s why GTTV comes on at midnight, that’s why GOTY was pushed to the internet (while a marathon of Jail took its place….) and why gaming shows never get much support.

Well now you just destroyed what little you had left. People at least tuned in to GOTY to see new titles from the future. It was actually becoming rather popular online, ratings were not getting terrible, and it had room to grow. With the epic fail of VGX, it will be rather hard to sell it again anytime soon. Any hype will be pushed aside, and people don’t want to tune in to a program that just makes fun of their culture. Sorry Spike, we are not stupid.

The question is will they look at it and see what made it so horrible and try to give it another chance? Answer so far seems to be a big no. They are already following the crowd in blaming the host Joel for a terrible performance, but why? After watching it myself he pretty much knew the production of the show was crap, so he treated it as such. They couldn’t even air this on TV. It’s rather hard to think up snarky remarks and be funny on the spot with no help from anyone. Every awards show has people reading off Teleprompters, and according to his remarks, his was either not working or had interns writing the script.

Overall though, this is just Hollywood stepping in too early again with a new industry. They did the same thing with comic books decades ago. Made fun of it, thought they would go nowhere, and now they rely on them for the biggest movies every year. Perhaps it’s a good idea to let GOTY go, let networks step away, and wait for an actual gamer to get in a position to produce such content? That’s what it took for comic books….