Tag Archives: Polygon

‘Vox Media Valued at Nearly $400 Million After Investment’

The New York Times:

Anton Levy, head of General Atlantic’s Internet and technology team, said his firm — like other investors — had typically avoided content creators like Vox in favor of platforms with many capabilities like Facebook and Alibaba. Lately, he said, the firm has had a change of heart.

“We think we are at an inflection point,” he said. “For the next five years, you are going to have the next generation of media platforms emerge. There are parallels to cable in the ’80s. There is going to be a huge amount of value creation.”

The chief executive of Vox Media, Jim Bankoff, has made no secret of his ambition to build his company into a kind of Time Inc. of the 21st century; that is, a multipublication giant with reach into young, affluent homes across the country on topics as diverse as sports and real estate.

The moment I laid eyes on Polygon, I was taken aback by its noisy design, overblown articles, nondescript headlines…

And then it scrolled forever. And ads were limited or nicely designed. And its design reacted to my device in real-time. And the features featured unique layouts. And the video production was on another level. And the “nondescript” headlines were enticing. And the “overblown” articles were full of fantastic journalism and entertaining personality. And the “noisy” design was unlike anything I had ever seen.

I latched on to Polygon’s community and began posting lengthy, passion fueled comments. I realized that these were not comments, they were blog posts. I used those “comments” as the foundation for a new WordPress blog titled The State of Gaming, which I later renamed Zero Counts.

From Polygon to The Verge to Vox.com, Vox Media has changed the way I consume content. Every article includes something of interest. Every layout choice is surprising and exciting. Their dedication to personality, engineering, and design is second-to-none. Congratulations, Vox Media. I saw this coming from a coast away.

UPDATE: Polygon editor-in-chief Chris Grant has sent out the following tweet:

It’s so great to read about this success. Great job, Polygon Team.

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Polygon’s Quality Control is a fantastic short-form podcast hosted by Justin McElroy in which video game reviewers (primarily from Polygon) offer insight to their review of a particular new release and answer listener questions.

On today’s episode, Polygon Reviews Editor and guest Arthur Gies elaborated on his review of Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Upon reading Gies’s review, I was taken aback by the lack of mention to the E3 hubbub surrounding Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio’s comments regarding the lack of playable female avatar’s in co-op:

It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets. Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.

I posed the following unabridged question to Justin via email:

“Arthur seemed to avoid the elephant-in-the-room regarding female playable characters in co-op. While Polygon (and Arthur) has/have made sexualization and representation an impetus for review scores in the past (see Bayonetta 2 (albeit, on the opposite side of representation)), why was this not addressed? Did Arthur feel that female representation did not affect AC: Unity’s overall review? Did he feel the damage had already been done and no more worthwhile discussion could be added? Or was it that Arthur simply wanted us focus solely on the end-product, sharing the detail we may miss when distracted by the elephant?”

Arthur’s response, time stamp 8:20, edited for clarity:

I mean Arno is the character in the game. And I don’t think women are treated particularly well in the game; It’s certainly not even close to the most egregious misstep that I’ve seen in a game this year with regard to that kind of subject matter. And honestly, the game has so many other problems to discuss that at a certain point I feel like I’m running out of reader patience or attention span to get to the heart of the statement that I’m trying to make.

With Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the traversal problems that the series has had for years and the massive technical issues and a really underwhelming story are all things that undermine Unity very seriously. I could go on at length at various things in the game that bother me but those are the most substantive things that hurt the game. It could still have been a fantastic game despite the absence of women in it as playable avatars. [If that were the case], that might have been a discussion I could have had, but that wasn’t as material as everything else.

Thanks for the time and clarity, Arthur.

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Russ Frushtick says Goodbye to Polygon

Russ Frushtick:

But, there comes a day when you feel like you’re not learning as much as you were, or you’re not conquering as many new challenges as you used to. Even with awesome, amazing jobs like this, there comes a time when you feel like you need to try something fresh. Something new. That’s been buzzing in my ear for the last few months and, as of two weeks ago, I let my boss, Chris Grant, know that I was taking the leap. (He was super cool about it, by the way.)

I’ve always enjoyed Frushtick’s work. Sad to see him leave Polygon and the games media-at-large but happy to see him leave on his own terms. Godspeed Frushtick. Looking forward to the August Besties more than ever.

UPDATE, 5/3/16: Russ is back:

It’s been nearly two years since I left and an educational two years at that. I took a break from the gaming industry and expanded into new areas. I wanted to broaden my professional experience, get out of my comfort zone, and dive into some new things. I worked with some great companies and great people but there was always a tugging. A desire to return to return to this place and work with these amazing people.

Great news. And what does this mean for the future of Besties?

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The road ahead

Chris Grant, Polygon’s editor-in-chief:

This month, we lost some of our team. This includes Russ Pitts, one of the founding editors of the site, along with Tom Connors and Adam Barenblat, two of the most talented and hardest-working people we had. These decisions are never easy, and Russ, Tom and Adam are people I have considered, and will still consider, friends.

We never thought starting a video game outlet in 2012 (has it been that long already?) was going to be easy and we’ve learned a lot in the last two years. We learned that there’s an incredible opportunity to tell in-depth stories about the people — both fans and creators — that make video games what they are. But we’ve also learned exactly how hard it is to do that with consistency and how much appetite there is for that kind of coverage.

We’re very proud of the feature writing and video work we’ve done, but producing that content is expensive and requires that all (or at least nearly all) of those pieces are smash hits. When you’re publishing two to three pieces like that a week, bringing in the audiences day in and day out is tougher than we’d imagined it would be way back in 2012. Lesson learned.

Will Polygon still make incredible features? We absolutely will. What will change is the frequency.

As previously stated, Pitts is a hell of a writer. As for Connors and Barenblat, their work inspired me to revisit my dreams of working in film and became the hook for my fondness of Polygon. I’d have happily paid for any of their features.

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There is no failure here, just change.

Russ Pitts:

There will be those cynical few who consider my departure an admission of some kind of failure that they, watching from the sidelines, predicted long ago. They will say, “I told you so.” And that’s OK. They’re right. They did tell us so. But that was the easy part.

Throwing rocks from the gallery at those who are trying to do something ambitious is no great accomplishment. I’d rather be the one who rolls up his sleeves and tries to accomplish something inspiring, even if it may fail. Even if it won’t last.

But there is no failure here, just change. I’ll never be ashamed of the ambitious dreams we built at Polygon, and I’ll never be afraid to try again. Hopefully my modest successes will inspire others to do their own great, ambitious things and build their own dreams.

There is a sinking feeling in my gut. No sooner had I posted this, I learn of Russ Pitts’ departure from Polygon. For those unfamiliar with Pitts, his work on Operation Supply Drop and GlassLab are nothing short of earth-shattering. There is only a bright future for such a talented writer. Godspeed.

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Griffin McElroy, senior editor at Polygon in an interview with The Indoor Kids:

When we founded Polygon, it was based on the idea that there are games writers who are out there who are really bright and really good at what they do. We wanted it to be a little bit more personality based, not entirely about us but I think there is some value to, “I have writers that I adore, I’m going to value them higher.” There’s not a lot of demand for that.

I used to follow IGN incessantly. At times I felt like an addict, continually refreshing their page for the more news. I began contributing blog posts in the hopes of offering more content, one of which was featured.

Then I stumbled upon Polygon. At first glance, there was promise; however, based on prior viewing habits, I was disappointed by the content. While I was initially attracted to their modern design, I looked at the abundance of larger features and opinions as pretentious… Until I decided focus on their writers.

Polygon is now my go-to games site. I constantly find myself scrolling through their feed, scanning for new pieces from Chris Plante, The Brothers McElroy, or Grumpa Kuchera. My Twitter feed is littered with the likes of Danielle Riendeau and Phil Kollar. On occasion, a piece from Brian Crecente will spark curiosity. Last year I deemed Tracey Lien “Journalist of the Year.” I will go as far as to say that the work of the Polygon team inspired me to read… inspired me to write.

That’s not to say I dislike IGN’s features. Justin Davis continually pulls at my nostalgic heartstrings, and I don’t think I ever read a piece by Keza MacDonald (now of Kotaku UK) I didn’t agree with. The problem is that most of the content feels like the voice of IGN, not the voice of the writer.

Baseball diehards can tell you the subtleties in team dynamics. There can be diversity under the same umbrella. Many more sites need to embrace the privilege of instant educated opinion. If the games community cannot foster intelligent conversation on its own, someone must lead the way.

Generally, if I dislike a highly anticipated album upon first listen, it ends up becoming one of my favorites. I hated Cursive’s “The Ugly Organ,” anything by Mark Kozelek, and The Beatles; now I can’t stop listening. I felt the same about Polygon; now I can’t stop reading.

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You could help real-world farmers by playing Cropland Capture

You could help real-world farmers by playing Cropland Capture

Crowd-source gaming initiative to find better cropland

Cropland Capture, a game hosted on the Geo-Wiki Project’s website, tasks players with identifying cropland from Google Earth images. Players get points for identifying land and could win an Amazon Kindle, a Samsung Galaxy S4 and more through the game’s ongoing tournament. According to a recent tweet from the game’s official Twitter account, players have combed more than 300,000 square kilometers of land.”

– Dave Tach, Polygon

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No girls allowed | Polygon

No girls allowed

Kick off this detailed and gorgeous read explaining why video games are for boys and why that needs to change with the video above.

President of the marketing firm A Squared Group Amy Cotteleer says that marketing is so powerful that it can shape our values and beliefs, and we’re often not even aware that it’s happening. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns in the 1920s are the reason why the modern-day image of Santa Claus is a jovial, plump man in a Coca-Cola Red suit. Prior to Coca-Cola, there was no consistent image of Santa. He was often represented as a skinny man who sometimes wore green and sometimes wore brown. So if Coca-Cola could sell us the modern-day Santa, the game industry would not have had much trouble selling the idea that video games are for males.

– Tracey Lien, Polygon

Tracey Lien and Polygon, thank you for this amazing feature. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there’s something in my eye.

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Could Xbox One and PlayStation 4 actually fail?

Could Xbox One and PlayStation 4 actually fail?

Are “Gamers” going mobile?

“The truer test comes next year when the race begins in earnest. “The two big guys desperately want to beat each other,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. “The race is on to be the first through 10 million.”

He said that both companies view early adopters as a rich stream of customers for their online subscription models, that work out at about $5 each per consumer per month. A large community of active players is a selling point as well as a profit center.”

– Polygon

Assuming “gamer” referes to an aficionado of gaming culture:

“I’m just going to lob this out there and say that today’s “gamer” prefers mobile and PC over console. Consoles now seem more fixated on “casual” experiences under the guise of “hardcore” (ie. CoD, GTA), taking advantage of the membership cash-cow and annual guarantee (ie. CoD, Madden).

Assuming indies traditionally begin on mobile and PC platforms and grow to console if successful, they tend to focus ground-breaking and innovative ideas, albeit at the cost of small sales figures. This is similar to the pre-internet console days of yore.

I am going to get eaten alive for this ABSOLUTE generalization but I thought I would entertain the idea.”

– Your’s truly, Polygon Comment

Re-thinking this comment, I don’t understand why I originally thought it was a revelation that MSFT and Sony aren’t after “gamers”. Of course they aren’t. They want the “casual” masses.

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