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Gaming Podcasts: A Thread about Listening to Others

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2 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Dang, is this why he seemed so loose lately?

No, I don't think the retirement is connected to that at all. His infant son was suddenly taken ill a few weeks ago so he's been on compassionate leave, its just a coincidence that it happened in the lead up to this announcement. 

I'll definitely be sad to see him go, he's been a great host of the podcast since Kyle left, it'll be weird seeing the dynamic shift again so soon after Kyle's departure. 

Their patreon has been on the slide for a while so they're long overdue for a shake up, hopefully things can pick up again but Jones leaving doesn't bode well - even if he's going to continue to do some voice over, his loss in front of the camera and behind the scenes will be huge. Personally my interest in their stuff has gradually declined, I used to watch a huge chunk of their output and I still watch the podcast every Friday, checking out the occasional review or preview but I haven't watched Frame Trap or any streams for a while. Unfortunately their EZX announcements don't really do anything to win me back, although I guess it'll be nice to hear more a personal side to some of their reviews. 

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15 hours ago, Julius said:

End of an era: Brandon Jones of Easy Allies is retiring from games journalism at the start of May. 

Good for him.

Married Men Are Lame | SBM

:hehe:

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11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

I mean, as far as career ends go, going out on your own terms to be a full-time family man is probably the happiest, most wholesome one. I'm happy for him... but I'll miss him a lot. Loved hearing his take on things

Yep, totally agree. While it's not the sole reason for him leaving and it seems like it's been on his mind for a while, spending more time with his son in light of the chaos that's been going on the last few weeks (he mentioned in Cup of Jones this week that beyond his son's health scare that he's also lost a few close friends) is an outcome I couldn't be happier about. 

It took a while for me to warm up to him as host of the main podcast (I still think he was better as a co-moderator to Kyle, but to be fair, that chemistry purely from a podcast host/co-moderator perspective goes back to GT Time) but he definitely grew into it, which is hard to do considering how vastly different the roles are. 

Looking back, him banging on about wanting to go to The Game Awards last year in-person makes so much sense if he always had an eye on retiring on the 20th anniversary of the start of GT, and with an in-person E3 nowhere in sight: it was one last goodbye to the industry as someone working in it. 

9 hours ago, killthenet said:

Their patreon has been on the slide for a while so they're long overdue for a shake up, hopefully things can pick up again but Jones leaving doesn't bode well - even if he's going to continue to do some voice over, his loss in front of the camera and behind the scenes will be huge. Personally my interest in their stuff has gradually declined, I used to watch a huge chunk of their output and I still watch the podcast every Friday, checking out the occasional review or preview but I haven't watched Frame Trap or any streams for a while. Unfortunately their EZX announcements don't really do anything to win me back, although I guess it'll be nice to hear more a personal side to some of their reviews. 

Yep, they've been on the rocks for a while, and to be honest, I think the next 12 months of Easy Allies is going to decide whether this company stands a chance in the long run, and that's pretty crazy to say 6 years into a company's life. 

I think they've been facing a bit of an identity crisis ever since Kyle left, and with Jones now leaving, I think you've lost two of the three faces of Easy Allies which would have been the biggest draw coming from GT: Kyle was host of GT Time and Final Bosman, Brandon obviously offered his distinct voice to most of their edited content at GT, and the only one left is Huber, the poster child of reactions for E3 2015, which I think massively set the tone for and helped bring Easy Allies into being. That's not to discredit the others at all, but at the time, I'd say that these three were probably the most recognisable, through their content or appearances, at GT, as everyone else was typically in a more behind-the-scenes role. 

I can see them hitting $40k and staying there for a while on Patreon...but I'm not sure how long that will last. We'll have to wait and see how these changes pan out, but short of Kyle returning, I think they've got an uphill battle ahead of them. 

Like you, there wasn't much to get me truly excited about the changes in the EZX announcements only video -- the only thing which really made my ears perk up was Ben being made an editor alongside Blood, which is long overdue considering the quality of his writing in reviews, and just how much all of the other writers on the team respect the quality of his output. But even then, and even with them saying that they'll trial providing their own VO for reviews, I think it's clear that they're still stuck between the old and new ways of doing things. I genuinely think they put out the best traditional game reviews at the moment, but at the same time, that's a whole lot of time and effort for a 5-10 minute video in which they aren't really selling themselves and their interactions, which I think is the most appealing thing about the Allies.

It might be a struggle considering how I'd say they're a bit more hardcore than Kinda Funny when it comes to gaming (in tastes and in the sheer volume and variety of what they all play), but I genuinely think a review podcast similar to what Kinda Funny has now would be a great middle ground, and while it'd be a shame to lose out on their written reviews, it would also free them up from the shackles of writing, editing, and cutting reviews, which in turn would mean more time and availability for more edited content. 

Not to undermine their streaming, but they don't pull in massive numbers, and so I think their focus on wanting to stream more has always been a bit at odds with their other roles. 

We'll see what happens. I want to be cautiously optimistic, but part of me worries that this is too little and far too late, and I'm also not a fan of the new logo (especially on a black background - if you check out their YouTube channel the profile picture looks like it's missing the 'Z'!).

Fingers crossed it works out :peace:

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18 hours ago, killthenet said:

No, I don't think the retirement is connected to that at all. His infant son was suddenly taken ill a few weeks ago so he's been on compassionate leave, its just a coincidence that it happened in the lead up to this announcement. 

I didn't mean his current absence, I meant that he felt particularly chipper and more relaxed (hence "looser") around December/January. I could swear I made that comment in this thread at the time, but I can't find it right now :heh:

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So, a few semi-famous internet personalities (those being Maximillian Dood, Matt "Wha Happun?" McMuscles, and the MvC2 savant himself, Justin Wong) decided to start a fighting game podcast recently, called Triple K.O.

Each week they pick a general theme regarding fighting games and talk about it. It usually amounts to a lot of gushing about favourite games, characters, mechanics, or memories (like in their KOF episode), but there's plenty of discussion on what has worked and hasn't in specific titles (like in their Street Fighter episodes), as well as educated guesses for what the future could hold.

I've already binged their previous episodes, it's a great listen in any case (their Street Fighter 6 episode being a highlight for me). Here's a link to the playlist (though the account exists exclusively for these videos anyway).

If nothing else, I definitely recommend the 6th (also latest) episode, as it's a relevant question to the industry as a whole: what kind of free-to-play model could work in a fighting game? They give a fair shake to plenty of stuff that gaming circles usually ignore (like the upcoming Multiversus, that mobile Tekken game, and even League of Legends), while still talking about more desirable examples like Killer Instinct and Virtua Fighter 5.

 

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Posted (edited)

Well it's just been announced that Jeff Gerstmann is leaving Giant Bomb. Not a surprise given the site has been on life support since the pandemic hit but still the end of an era. There were many years where that site was my favourite thing in the world. Interesting though that this was exactly what some people predicted when Brad, Vinny & Alex created Nextlander last year, saying they expected Jeff to have a year long talent contract that was part of the Giant Bomb buyout. It'll be interesting to see what he does next but whatever it is I hope it revitalises him. Foe the past few years he's been very jaded but when Jeff is invested in something he's still one of the best out there in gaming.

Edited by Happenstance
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Yeah, it was always going to happen. Seems a shame that he has parted ways with his creation but I suppose he wasn't going to be around forever. In recent years it seems like Jeff has just faded into the background, with other podcasters/youtubers becoming bigger than what he is. It just seems like he has lost the passion for gaming. It's weird, I still remember Jeff being a big player on Invisible Walls back during the GameTrailer days. 

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He's doing a livestream from his personal Twitch today to talk about stuff so it'll be interesting to see what's said. He's too professional to dump on Red Ventures but the very corporate statement GB put out on him leaving along with the fact it happened day of with no goodbye stream etc does have people wondering if there's more to all of this.

Vinny was talking on a stream last week about the differences between Nextlander and Giant Bomb. He mentioned that one of the things he wasn't happy with at GB after Red Ventures took over was that they kept having meetings to go over their plans for the future but refused to take any time to work on the stuff that needing fixing in the current product. I can see that causing issues for Jeff as well, especially with all their new ideas basically turning out to be aiming at a younger demographic.

I don't think GB will last past a few more years now. They had a very loyal fan base and one of the original premium subscription models which brought in a lot of money but the loss of all the original crew along with sets for their shows has just turned the site into every other twitch streamer.

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Posted (edited)

Well it looks like one of the announcements on the Giant Bomb side is that Dan Rykert is rejoining as a full employee. Not something that would draw me back personally but good for his fans I guess. Wonder if he lost his job with WWE or quit.

EDIT: The full staff list now:

Jeff Bakalar
Jeff Grubb
Tamoor Hussain
Dan Ryckert
Lucy James
Jess O'Brien
Jan Ochoa
Matthew Rorie
Jason Oestreicher

Edited by Happenstance
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Posted (edited)

Jeff's stream now running. He's starting a weekly podcast and a patreon. He's actually sounding really positive about wanting to stay in the industry so I hope it all works out well for him.

EDIT: Interesting though, he's saying he wants to move onward and upward but keeps stopping short of saying there was nothing dodgy about the way he's left GB.

Edited by Happenstance
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Easy Allies have completed their search for a community manager:

(if you want to save a click, it's going to be Gabby Montoute, who has appeared here and there as a guest, mostly on things Isla has worked on)

Long needed, hopefully it has the impact they're hoping for :peace:

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Posted (edited)

Ben Moore is leaving Easy Allies at the start of July, it's just been announced during tonight's group stream :( his wife got an opportunity to move on to a better job back in Iowa, and she'll be taking that opportunity and Ben with her, no hidden beef or anything like that. 

From the Easy Allies Patreon:

Quote

A Farewell Message from Ben

Hey everyone,

My last day at Easy Allies will be July 1. Part of the reason I'm leaving is my wife got a new job which requires us to move back to Iowa. We've been talking about moving back home for a long time now. I think we're at a point in our marriage where we're ready to advance to the next stage in our lives. Neither of us have any family in California, so moving back will allow us to spend more quality time with loved ones, something that is important to both of us.

Joining GameTrailers and then eventually Easy Allies was truly a dream come true for me. I loved games so much and worked hard to share that passion with the world. There are many things I look back fondly on, but I'm particularly proud of Frame Trap, something that I feel became a core part of what Easy Allies is.

I've been working in games for roughly 10 years now and I'm excited to tackle something new. I want to see what other challenges are out there while also attempting to not devote quite as much mental energy solely to work. I still love games as much as I always have, so even with the huge change, I don't think I'm physically able to stop playing. After all this time, I'm still so happy that my passion for games remains intact.

I want to give a special shoutout to my coworkers, all of whom I deeply care for and admire. Of course, this absolutely includes Brandon Jones and Kyle Bosman, as well as the many past coworkers back at GameTrailers. All of their support and especially passion created something remarkable and I'm incredibly thankful to have been a part of it.

Finally, thank you to everyone who supports Easy Allies. Your enthusiasm is infectious and you allow us to spread our wings and follow our hearts. Not many people get that level of freedom, so sincerely, thank you.

Love & Respect,
Ben

Kyle, Brandon, and now Ben leaving in the space of just 2 short years (hell, Brandon's and Ben's official final days are just 2 months apart!) -- in case the writing wasn't on the wall for Easy Allies before, I think it certainly is now. Even after the funding drive a few months ago, they're still far short of their $40k/month goal to comfortably tick along, though I suppose Ben leaving might alleviate things for them a bit financially. I also can't help but wonder if the dream gaming journalist goal of living in LA to cover E3, and E3 now being pretty much buried, has played a factor? 

I don't know if it's just me, but over COVID I think Ben lost a bit of his wide-eyed love for games - I'm not saying he isn't still passionate, because boy is he, but I think out of all the Allies, he's the one I think has noticeably become a bit more jaded over the last couple of years. I think it's a natural reaction, to be honest, and I feel the same way, I think he's just seemed a little burnt out I guess is the best way to explain it? He seems like a smart, deeply empathetic and genuine guy, and is easily the best reviewer of the Allies in my eyes, so I hope he continues to work in games journalism, but ultimately just gets some space if that's what he needs; it's been a whirlwind of a two years for everyone, but throw in working from home and being on Zoom all day (also applies to a lot of people, sure, but then I guess they're also gaming a lot and don't really get to rest from it if needed), E3 all but going under for a games journalist living in LA and not one, but two, of your close friends/colleagues leaving your company, as well as your company steadily and consistently sliding from its peak? I can't really blame him. 

After Bosman and Jones left, the Ben/Brad/Huber dynamic on Frame Trap and in reaction streams was all that really kept me going. They're the only set of Allies who I think have truly continued to click since Bosman and Jones left, and "The Boys" just weren't capitalised on nearly enough outside of Frame Trap.

To speak about Ben for a moment, his wealth of gaming knowledge, his thoughtful approach to discussion, and wonderful writing really makes him stand out in this day and age when so many traditional reviews and impressions feel so emotionless and boilerplate. All of the Allies are passionate about games, but Ben, to me, has been the one to best convey that passion, which in turn just makes him fun to watch and listen to. 

Frame Trap has been my favourite gaming podcast - period - for years now. I still go back and frequently throw on old episodes in the background when for some ambient noise when my apartment is a little too quiet for my liking. It tries to tackle some bigger questions but just focuses all of its energy on people talking about games, which I feel is frustratingly uncommon these days, at least coming from those in the industry. I honestly don't know where to look for another podcast at this point -- my gaming podcasts list has shortened year on year since I joined up here and started getting into games, and now my favourite one - and the only one I keep up-to-date with - is going away. 

Lastly, though, let's go out on a high: one of the greatest drunk tweets of all time -- 

uN5TpPF2f2V3bexLOSj11s6xRxWbWpxzqacacKU7

Truly one of the Greats. Wish him all the best, but this sucks. 

Edited by Julius
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The writing has been on the wall for EZA for a couple of years now. Their numbers were dipping before the pandemic and have only gotten worse since. Kyle leaving didn't help matters as he was a big draw for many and with Brandon and Ben leaving, yeah, I think they are really going to struggle.

I think their content has been really lacking for a long time now. I switched off from them before the pandemic and only checked in now and then for events. They seem to have resorted to a scatter shot approach with some shows. Kinda just making a bunch of stuff with people who aren't regulars and hoping something will stick.

Also, more and more younger people are getting into doing streams and making Youtube channels. These people seem to have more pull and sway than what EZA, despite being relatively new to the scene. EZA have a wealth of knowledge and experience between them all but that kind of thing is not what gets the clicks or subscribers. Most people these days want quick reactions, over the top thumbnails and click bait video titles.

I imagine Ben will easily find work with some other gaming channel who do operate remotely. He could probably do his own thing like Bosman has but it will depend of how much he is looking to earn. I don't think Bosman gets that many views in comparison to a lot of other people. 

I honestly think moving to the studio was a bad idea and they could easily do away with it. Just look at how many podcasts and other gaming shows do things remotely now. A lot of them had to switch to working this way due to the pandemic and they found that it works absolutely fine. EZA could save a lot of costs by switching to this kind of setup. I think they need to have a good hard look at what content they provide and what they can offer that others can't because at the moment they are being drowned out by a lot of other shows and influencers. 

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Was genuinely upset when I read the news last night, Ben is one of the most genuine, engaging and articulate game reviewers/pundits there is and since Kyle left, Ben & Huber became my absolute favourite allies, so it's a real shame that he's leaving. I feel bad because I've fallen off Frame Trap recently, not for any issues I have with the show (more that I started avoiding spoilers, then just couldn't find the right time to hop back in) but whenever he appears on the main podcast he brings a great energy and always has thoughtful opinions so he'll be sorely missed when he moves back to Iowa. I'm sure he'll still try and be involved in games criticism, he clearly has a great talent for reviews so hopefully he can find another outlet or website to write for.

In terms of EZA in general, I think this might be the breaking point for me, I'll see how things develop over the next few months, they surely have to bring some new faces in now and they might well thrive for all I know, but the way things have been going the last couple of years, I've definitely become less and less engaged with their output. The Allies helped me through some incredibly tough times, they were a constant source of joy during the most traumatic stages of my mental health struggles, a beacon of positivity to cling to that helped me to get back on the road to recovery, so they will always have a special place in my heart. But with the pandemic and the frequent departures since, it really feels like their position in my life has shifted, from something that was essential, where I would look forward to every new episode of the podcast or Frame Trap, to something that feels like more of a habit or routine. Like I said, I'll give them another few months, see if they can turn things around, it's good to see them finally hiring a community manager, and Gabby seems like a good fit, but by the nature of her job she probably won't be appearing on the podcasts too often so it really depends on who else they bring in as to whether or not EZA as a whole can be rejuvenated and find a new lease of life, for whoever does come in (if they hire anyone at all), it will be incredibly daunting, they've got some pretty big shoes to fill.

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I didn't realise Huber's wife had left him completely out of the blue.  Poor guy. I swear it wasn't that long ago he got married. 

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That was news to me too, saw someone mention it in the Resetera thread - poor guy's been through a lot the last few years

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3 minutes ago, killthenet said:

That was news to me too, saw someone mention it in the Resetera thread - poor guy's been through a lot the last few years

Yeah, that's where I read it as well. Between that, him losing family members and then the departure of Brandon and Ben, it's not surprising he's suffering with depression. :( 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I think their content has been really lacking for a long time now. I switched off from them before the pandemic and only checked in now and then for events. They seem to have resorted to a scatter shot approach with some shows. Kinda just making a bunch of stuff with people who aren't regulars and hoping something will stick.

Also, more and more younger people are getting into doing streams and making Youtube channels. These people seem to have more pull and sway than what EZA, despite being relatively new to the scene. EZA have a wealth of knowledge and experience between them all but that kind of thing is not what gets the clicks or subscribers. Most people these days want quick reactions, over the top thumbnails and click bait video titles.

Yeah, I've got to agree with you here. I think they found themselves stuck between shifting poles, holding onto the past in the form of 5-10 minute reviews (and to be clear, I love their reviews, but they got a fraction of the attention I think they deserved and ultimately take up too much of their time and energy), and struggling to make it as streaming personalities. Hell, even things like retrospectives are a thing if the past now and in-depth deep dive documentaries are the route that form of discussion has taken, because any old Joe Schmoe can take the time to read a few wikis and cobble something together. 

I think what they've really struggled with is making use of their industry pedigree, it's what they have over 99% of the creators on Twitch and they rarely tap into it. They had a team of nine there, and I feel like they could have created something so much greater than what's ended up being a but of a scattershot approach; pretty much all of them have a good chunk of their time taken up by writing reviews and appearing on shows. The main podcast and Frame Trap aside, I think there's been space and time to cut their content down and free people up for a long time now; no offence to the guys, but while Damiani does a great job of bringing guests in for Friend Code - far, far, far more than the main podcast and Frame Trap - a harsh truth is that they simply didn't need a Nintendo-focused podcast when they already have a place to discuss the news and place to discuss playing games.

Have the main podcast, Frame Trap, and reviews as your core (and you don't need to review everything -- you have Frame Trap!) and I think you're golden to be perfectly honest. For example, something I think would have been great for them: Frame Trap has a Hottake every episode asking questions which are on all of our minds, and we get focused discussion on those topics when we don't really get it anywhere else from people in the industry. How did that not become it's own thing? Don't make it like Opinion Yell, but just a few guests who have read up on and are going to dive into difficult conversations that the audience has all the time. Open worlds, difficulty in games, accessibility, E3, developer issues (how many developers do they know, and how many have been invited on at any time to EZA? It's nuts!), things like that. 

I think they just got stuck in that mentality of the old ways, where having more produced shows was seen as the goal and, like you said, seeing what stuck. I get having fun - I absolutely do - but I think it's different compared to when they were at GameTrailers: while there's room for risk that people have provided to you, spreading yourself too thin is going beyond taking a risk in my eyes. Secure the bag first and foremost, because at the end of the day, that's literally what's keeping the lights on. 

Sometimes I think back to what Kyle said in his leaving Q&A with Ben Hanson and, while I don't want to suggest they were lazing around or too built in their ways, the way Jones talked about the company (he called the others his employees more than once after EZA started, not sure if that was just him forgetting or gave us a bit of insight into how they all kind of saw things) wanting to take on feedback and then never really taking it on or driving the company forwards always gave me the impression he took his foot off the gas just a tiny bit, and that was more than enough, and similarly I think Blood has been a big factor in them more or less being a GameTrailers 2.0 and sticking so vehemently to regular reviews. Isla is very creative, but sometimes I think without a focus and clear direction she loses her way a bit, sinks a lot of time into time-consuming projects like Mysterious Monsters and Trash Babies, then gets frustrated when they don't do as well as she probably hoped. 

Ultimately, I just think everything else ended up being a distraction: we're all here for the games, and I think they lost sight of that in some of their projects. I think having a core and then something like a Hottake spin-off show where they can actually show off their personalities and perspectives even more would've been great for them, especially considering that it's their personalities shining through in reactions which has done so much for them in the past.

11 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I honestly think moving to the studio was a bad idea and they could easily do away with it.

It was impossible for them to know but the timing of getting into the studio was absolutely abysmal. I agree, though. 

Peak Easy Allies for me was just nine people in a garage. It wasn't sustainable, but that vibe just helped carry so much of their personality. 

4 hours ago, killthenet said:

The Allies helped me through some incredibly tough times, they were a constant source of joy during the most traumatic stages of my mental health struggles, a beacon of positivity to cling to that helped me to get back on the road to recovery, so they will always have a special place in my heart. But with the pandemic and the frequent departures since, it really feels like their position in my life has shifted, from something that was essential, where I would look forward to every new episode of the podcast or Frame Trap, to something that feels like more of a habit or routine.

Wonderfully said, and absolutely agree; imagine my experience with them mirrors yours to some extent.

I hit a very rough spot in 2017 where I was having having a lot of trouble getting to sleep, and it was absolutely dreadful; I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it. Having Frame Trap and the main podcast on in the background was often the thing to calm me down and actually get some rest. 

3 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I didn't realise Huber's wife had left him completely out of the blue.  Poor guy. I swear it wasn't that long ago he got married. 

Yeah, that hurt to learn. I remember I was pretty restless one night and tuned into the below stream live as it started, and the opening minute or two when he says it is just absolutely gutting :(

Like you and @killthenet say, he's lost a lot of family in recent years too. 

I hate to try to equate what you put out to what you should get in return - if only life were so simple - but MY GOODNESS has one of the most positive and high energy people I know exists out there in the world just been dealt one of the absolute worst hands these last few years.

I've seen people start to complain he's streaming too much and I'm just sitting here asking, are you freaking kidding me? He's doing what most of us would do in the same situation and trying to distract himself from what's been going on ::shrug:

EDIT: also just realised that this week's Frame Trap is probably the final one, and I've already watched it :cry:

Edited by Julius
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1 hour ago, Julius said:

A harsh truth is that they simply didn't need a Nintendo-focused podcast when they already have a place to discuss the news and place to discuss playing games.

Yup. This was very much a Damiani pet project that wasn't needed at all. You have the main podcast and then also Frame Trap that could have been used to discuss Nintendo related things. There aren't many good Nintendo focused podcasts (I don't listen to any of them anymore) and this one was certainly one of the weakest when I did have them in my rotation.

1 hour ago, Julius said:

I think they just got stuck in that mentality of the old ways, where having more produced shows was seen as the goal and, like you said, seeing what stuck.

I think they just lost focus and forgot what people actually wanted from them.

I'll bring up Sacred Symbols: A PlayStation Podcast because it's a great example of sticking to your guns. Colin started off by himself and then brought 2 other people on with him. The show has pretty much remained the same and has simply expanded. All they do is talk about the gaming news, what they've been playing and answer questions from Patreon subscribers. What started off as a show that was an hour long has now expanded to 3-4 hours of gaming discussion and is now the most successful gaming podcast on Patreon. They didn't try to do daft shows or stretch themselves too thin. They remained focused on what the audience wanted, which was PlayStation centric gaming banter. 

Frame Trap was the best thing from EZA and I think that should have been front and centre, with other things built around it. The goofy games and side projects, although may be fun for Isla, just aren't what people wanted from EZA when they subscribed. The numbers show this. It was the same when Kyle was doing side projects and the numbers just weren't what he was after.

1 hour ago, Julius said:

Peak Easy Allies for me was just nine people in a garage. It wasn't sustainable, but that vibe just helped carry so much of their personality. 

Totally. It was just good friends having the banter about games. It seemed far more relaxed and enjoyable. 

I do wonder if it is also an age thing. A lot of the old guard simply aren't able to keep up with the younger generation in terms of producing content and getting the numbers they need to survive. The newer personalities will play the game in that they will make videos that get the hits and tick all the boxes for the latest trends. They have the time and energy to churn out video after video to keep their audiences engaged. I think all of the EZA members are in the mid 30's and above. Some have kids and families to take care of and when those responsibilities become a part of your life, then a lot of things have to take a back seat. Even if gaming is their job, it still takes a tremendous effort to keep on top of new releases and gaming news. Just playing a game can be very time consuming and that's without having to knock out a review after it. I can see it being very draining, especially if you have kids to take care of.

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In my case, the various side-projects and unfocused content is what drew me in the first place! The Hall of Greats, the Betting Specials, Easy Update, Box Peek,... I liked the creativity on full display, it kind of worked as a platform for various creators simultaneously.

But that sort of wild variety has been diminishing with time, especially ever since Kyle left (a very important chaotic presence in EZA). I enjoyed the podcast mostly because of him and Brandon, but then even Jones eventually left. Frame Trap's great, but clearly that's ending as well. That leaves Isla's projects, Huber's presence, and the occasional Don appearances as the sole things that I appreciate.

Which makes sense, I came for the creators, and the product loses quality when the creators leave or feel burned out. I do think EZA mostly suffers from not actually renewing the talent they have, or rather, could have. They went from 9 people to 6, and the only new addition to make up for it is a Community Manager? Maybe Gabby will bring some cool projects to the table, but it's hard to say.

Though you guys also have a point: you do need a "core", a main attraction to move the ship forward, and both Frame Trap and the Podcast were it. Maybe more should've been done to keep those two as the central focus of the product rather than the reviews, but maybe the decentralized nature of EZA made it impossible.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jonnas said:

In my case, the various side-projects and unfocused content is what drew me in the first place! The Hall of Greats, the Betting Specials, Easy Update, Box Peek,... I liked the creativity on full display, it kind of worked as a platform for various creators simultaneously.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of those too! The Hall of Greats in particular was a highlight (well, other than the times Isla would get salty, and then there was that whole Final Fantasy VII ordeal...) and Box Peek was great too, but as you go onto say, I just don't think it's what they should be centred around. The Gen That Was also deserves a mention, and personally, I was a big fan of Tabletop Escapades, a lot of dumb stupid fun moments listening to that! 

I still feel sorry for Kyle when it comes to Box Peek - the show absolutely deserved more attention - but it's a bit of a catch-22 in that he wouldn't have the opportunity if not for the stability Easy Allies supporters afforded him, but at the same time, it was doomed to fail from the start in terms of viewership because 1) the Allies have talked at length before about how the algorithm hates them, and 2) good luck getting the algorithm to now promote a show about paper cutouts for a gaming channel. In fact, I think a big part of the algorithm "hating them" might be exactly to do with them not having any real focus. 

New projects require energy and passion, but I think confidence in knowing that you have stability can be a huge part of it when living in a place like LA. It's difficult because you do need to offer Patrons exclusives, but at the same time, when you're a personality based gaming news company, locking things behind paywalls such as Trash Babies and a few other shows almost makes it feel like there are weird levels of exclusivity to the community, and it doesn't really grab you when some of their publicly shared stuff can be hit and miss. 

I guess for me it's that they stream, because..? Oh, because it was successful for the group at GameTrailers in helping them found Easy Allies and getting that core group on a platform and building this community from that. It's honestly been really weird to watch from the sidelines as they promise more streams and so much of the feedback I've seen (so might not be totally representative) is that they don't want them. I want to be clear here, there have absolutely been some streams I've loved and a few highlights channels are well worth checking out for the Allies, but for a company where all of them - with no exception - state that it's frustrating sometimes that their reaction videos do so well considering they have so little effort put into them compared to some of their other work, that's exactly what you're trying to capitalise on with a stream!

There's no problem with that, but I think it's things like failing to reconcile and recognise that which just shows this lack of direction. I think they could have got by on one or two group streams a week, Easy Livin' and anniversary events once a year, the occasional fundraiser if required, and ad-hoc streams elsewhere depending on workload. 

1 hour ago, Jonnas said:

But that sort of wild variety has been diminishing with time, especially ever since Kyle left (a very important chaotic presence in EZA). I enjoyed the podcast mostly because of him and Brandon, but then even Jones eventually left.

Yep, for me Kyle's that one creative but quirky guy that has consistently great ideas which stand out enough to be great hooks for them as a business and for us as fans.

I know his bits aren't for everyone, but things like Hall of Greats just simply wouldn't exist if not for him, and no offence to Blood or Jones, but I think Kyle was by far and away the best at starting a conversation on the podcast: he would set up the conversation, step back, watch where the conversation went, when it petered out he'd know to move on, he'd pay attention to who was contributing and knew the right buttons to press to get anyone on the quiet side to speak up, and so on, and I think his passion for gaming news shone through (he's said it before but he'd be checking on this stuff anyways, so research wasn't really research). 

And his back and forth with Jones was just top tier, it's why I think he's best as a secondary moderator because he'll say it himself, sometimes he can't shut himself up, and that helps to keep the energy levels up and is a good way to draw other panelists into the conversation. On the other hand, while Jones definitely improved as a host of the podcast as time went on during his stint, there were times where he would be on the verge of asking a question, give his thoughts, and then open it up to the panel, which I found just didn't work as well. 

1 hour ago, Jonnas said:

They went from 9 people to 6, and the only new addition to make up for it is a Community Manager? Maybe Gabby will bring some cool projects to the table, but it's hard to say.

Honestly, I think they needed a Community Manager when they made the move to the studio. That was the point at which they sized up, that was the time to strike, and I'm sure they regret not having done so at the time, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz. 

They made it clear that Gabby isn't going to be a personality in the same way the others are, even if she will be present for the occasional stream. I just think it was a case of terrible timing with her coming in just as Ben's leaving, though in fairness it was a pretty snap decision from Ben by the sound of things (I think his wife got her new job offer on Friday? Though maybe it's been in the works in the background for a little while now). 

4 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Frame Trap was the best thing from EZA and I think that should have been front and centre, with other things built around it. The goofy games and side projects, although may be fun for Isla, just aren't what people wanted from EZA when they subscribed. The numbers show this. It was the same when Kyle was doing side projects and the numbers just weren't what he was after.

Yeah, definitely.

Like you say, the lack of focus is what's got them into this position, and I think for me the telling sign was that I wasn't really ever clear on what they wanted beyond getting their own studio. Did they want Easy Allies to be the next GameTrailers/IGN/what have you? It's different for everyone I guess, but I think most people need goals to aim for just to keep them in check, and then scale up or down accordingly. It's felt like they've been in a weird limbo state since moving to the studio, but then again, that feeling could just be down to the dreadful timing. 

Still a shame in my eyes that Kyle didn't go onto create a Final Bosman successor until he left the Allies. That was something a lot of the audience had been begging for ever since Easy Allies started, and could have been a great hook for them in the same way Final Bosman was for GT. 

4 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I do wonder if it is also an age thing. A lot of the old guard simply aren't able to keep up with the younger generation in terms of producing content and getting the numbers they need to survive. The newer personalities will play the game in that they will make videos that get the hits and tick all the boxes for the latest trends. They have the time and energy to churn out video after video to keep their audiences engaged. I think all of the EZA members are in the mid 30's and above. Some have kids and families to take care of and when those responsibilities become a part of your life, then a lot of things have to take a back seat. Even if gaming is their job, it still takes a tremendous effort to keep on top of new releases and gaming news. Just playing a game can be very time consuming and that's without having to knock out a review after it. I can see it being very draining, especially if you have kids to take care of.

Yeah, that's one hell of an unfortunate truth which just seems to permeate everything gaming from top to bottom: whether you're a developer or a reviewer, there's always going to be someone with more hunger who is younger on their way up. 

I think, tangentially, it relates to momentum. Twitch streamers don't rise to the top overnight, but there's a snowball effect whereby most start streaming for a few hours a day, and as their popularity soars and they earn more, they can quit their day jobs and go full-time with streaming, and I think it also has a psychological effect for followers and subscribers -- who doesn't want to be involved in whatever the new hotness is?

I'm not suggesting the Allies lacked hunger when they started, but they started from a great place that not many successful streamers get to: they had a built-in audience and a successful Patreon which already meant they were full-time on what they wanted to do. Problem with a built-in audience is simply that it can be tough to attract new audiences, because it's almost like they're already walled off - it's not that it can't be overcome, but it takes a lot of work. I remember it definitely took me a while to get up to speed on the Allies when I first started watching them, and I've since gone back and listened to GT Time, and let me tell you, it was like my Third Eye opened just connecting all the dots from their past to the present. 

Absolutely agree on the potential for a job in gaming to be draining, I mean with the Allies it's reviews (high pressure), streaming (high pressure), it just creates a messy work-life balance which can be difficult to maneuver. Hell, I get drained from games sometimes and I only play them, keep up with the news, and talk to you rowdy lot on here, but I know my eyes would be burning into the back of my skull if I had to stare at a screen as long as some of the Allies must do. 

I think it's been a trend we've seen over the last few years that traditional gaming journalism has been dying a pretty sudden death, but it's not like it hasn't been building towards this. I think you're right, as well as the age of those involved, there's also definitely a generational gap where most people my age and younger are tuning into streams much more (the best way I've heard it phrased recently is that Twitch is the new YouTube and YouTube is the new cable).

I don't even necessarily think it's so much a time thing anymore (for streaming viewers and creators), so much as what greater distraction can there than to form a parasocial relationship with a person/people you can instantly access through your phone, and likewise the reverse for that person/those people and the feedback loop they get from chat? It can be dangerous, and it can be scary, but I look around and I can't say I'm surprised ::shrug:

Getting back to the Allies though, one last thing I want to bring up (or back up) was the discussion Ben had with Kyle and Damiani on Episode 100 of Frame Trap, when during the Hottake they talked about how they felt about EZA and what they could improve (below is linked to the Hottake). 

I've gone back to this every time an Ally has left or big changes have been made, but I think it was clear even when this episode of Frame Trap went up that there was a creative tension over the direction they were taking.

I think Damiani nailed it square on the head here, he pretty much says what we have been by talking about regrouping, nuking their content from orbit and going forward with the main podcast and Frame Trap at the core.

Also interesting and pretty telling I think, just with us talking about lacking direction, to hear Ben say they didn't have any expectations going into launching EZA and that they all sort of fell back into their old roles. 

Edited by Julius
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Are there any other EZA podcast viewers who find Bloodworth's lip smacking incredibly annoying? It wasn't something I noticed until he took over as host but it is really grating on me, hampering my enjoyment of the podcast. Surely there's something they could do to reduce the noise, some filter they could put on his mic to alleviate the issue. 

I think I suffer from misophonia so it's hard to just ignore it. 

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One last Ben Moore review: written, edited and voiced by the Great himself :bouncy:

Man, I think Ben leaving and the current state of EZA is going to hit me hard in the coming days. It's really, really weird to think he's been a permanent fixture through Easy Allies content for the entirety of my entire adult life so far. 

Had a lot of Ben clips pop up in my YouTube feed the last week, and I've been going back and watching highlights of garage streams/moments. Favourite was definitely just seeing him at GT and opening up about his game spending, think we can all somewhat relate :laughing:

And for anyone that missed it, last week was his farewell podcast appearance:

 

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MinnMax continues their journey of interviewing everyone to move around or retire in the gaming industry, this time with a focus on Brandon Jones:

Fingers crossed they do something with Ben Moore! :D

They also recently put out a great video on the GameStop/Game Informer situation, which has seen something like half (?) of Game Informer be sacked:

Man, Ben Hanson does such a great job over there. 

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