Video game marketing and media have been the underappreciated forward troops in the march towards a video-centric Web. Back in the day, news, review and preview sites like GameSpot, IGN, and UGO were among the first to fill our fattening pipes with streaming media. Game preview clips were crack for game addicts. All that luscious CGI and melodramatic cut scenes. Yum.
Some smart investors at the big media companies took notice, because now these three are owned by CBS, News Corp. and Hearst, respectively. These and other game sites were among the first to put their reviewers and editors on screen for regular video shows, voiceover-ed video reviews and newscasts and podcast series. The formula was as obvious as it was effective. Put three doughy guy geeks and the token female gamer editor in a few office cubes and have them argue with one another about the games they played. Novel variant: put them all on a couch with controllers in hand. Hell, low overhead and it works. At sites like 1Up, they even got creative with the formula and wove in story arcs involving office hijinks.
The sheer volume of games-related video out there from multiple sources cries out for a video-oriented aggregator, so Metacafe last week launched one. Following the company's ongoing mission to create sub-hubs of curated content around key entertainment verticals, Metacafe Video Games pulls together online video content around the hobby of gaming and adds some of its own home-brewed game-geeks-in-front-of-cameras programming to the mix.
Like the earlier Metacafe Movies hub, the gaming vertical gets its own dedicated editor in Doug Perry, the editorial programming director and former editor at IGN, and writer in pop culture critic Scott Pierce. The site is going beyond mere aggregation in creating its own franchises. A section of the site is dedicated to the emerging motion-gaming arena (Xbox Kinect, PS3 Move, Wii-mote). The regular MetaMinute has Doug and Scott front an update on new and upcoming games. And a video series Meta Arcade that recalls video games of the past. Nostalgia is a surprisingly important element in video gaming devotion. We identify games with times in our lives and relationships in much the same way music recalls the past.
Of course, the Metacafe gaming hub is a fine opportunity for games marketers to bolt their brands to the core audience. This week a prominent Tron: Evolution game promo sponsors the section, and Disney Interactive's Epic Mickey is in tight pre-roll rotation. The site organization lets the visitor drill into video content by gaming platform as well as media type (reviews, previews, cheats, etc. It aggregates video from sources like IGN, GamePro, the Jace Hall Shoe. Speaking as a gamer who has about seven or eight different bookmarks to cover the major editorial sites, I would like to see a wider range of sources, including GameSpot. There appears to be a heavy reliance on IGN video here. And we're not sure that pre-rolls (including a relentless T-Mobile :30-spot) in front of every clip is quite the right ad-to-content and frequency value exchange for clip aggregation. Nevertheless, video games media is video-centric enough at this point to merit a curated approach that shows some editorial direction and discrimination.