Vox Media has shaken up sports and tech news with its unique blend of cutting-edge publishing tools and high-profile hires. Now we’re about to find out if it can pull off the same trick with gaming news.
After teasing the site’s arrival for months, Vox finally launched Polygon on Wednesday night. The site is a soup-to-nuts source for video game news, covering
everything from hardcore gamer staples like Call of Duty to casual mobile fare like Words with Friends. Polygon will also feature human interest stories about developers and players and even offer long-form journalism. The site has Vox’s typically elegant layout – here’s a screenshot:
“Video games have always been defined by change and right now we’re living in the middle of the most rapid change in video game history with mobile gaming, social gaming and web gaming, said Editor in Chief Chris Grant, in a phone interview.
Grant, who used to edit popular game blog Joystiq, says there is a lack of mature press coverage for what is now a $25 billion industry. He adds the audience for video game news is far more diverse than the stoned Halo players we may remember from college — a Polygon reader is more likely to be a young woman or a 39 year old lawyer than a couch-ridden burnout.
If Vox is betting that gaming is a large audience, it’s probably right. In the past, the company has shown no appetite for nibbling at the edges of a topic but instead prefers to go all-in with a big investment in staff and its Cadillac-like publishing platform known as Chorus (at paidContent 2012, CEO Jim Bankoff compared the platform to Lucas Films studios which George Lucas created in order to make Star Wars possible). Vox used this “go big” approach with The Verge which, in less than a year, has become a force in tech reporting.
Polygon managing editor Justin McElroy says the site also hopes to attract non-gamer readers with “people centric” stories. These include the tale of a couple who got married after meeting in a game video or, more darkly, a game developer who let his profession wreck his relationship.
Polygon is certainly thinking big, but who will pay for its fancy new canvas? Chief Content Officer Marty Moe says the site has already attracted premium advertisers from inside and outside the industry — Sony, Microsoft, Geico and so on. And as is the norm with media properties these days, Moe says Polygon also expects substantial revenue from off-line activities (read: events).
The Polygon launch means Vox now possesses mega-properties in three fields: tech, sports (SB Nation) and now gaming. This raises the question of whether Vox will use its formidable resources to scoop up another news domain such as health, fashion or food. In our phone interview, Moe said its existing three coverage areas were vast in themselves and left the company with plenty of room to grow — no new properties soon, in other words. He also said Vox has no plans to license its prized platform.
(Image by auremar via Shutterstock)