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The Escapist
The Escapist Magazine Issue 1.jpg
Cover for The Escapist's first issue: "Gaming Uber Alles"
Type of site
Video game website
Available inEnglish
OwnerGamurs Group
EditorsNick Calandra
URLwww.escapistmagazine.com
LaunchedJuly 12, 2005; 17 years ago (2005-07-12)

The Escapist (formerly known as Escapist Magazine) is an American video game website and online magazine. First published as a weekly online magazine by Themis Media on July 12, 2005,[1] The Escapist eventually pivoted to a traditional web journalism format.[2] In 2018, Escapist Magazine launched Volume Two, a rehauled website in conjunction with its purchase by Enthusiast Gaming.[3] The site name reverted to The Escapist in April 2020.[4] Gamurs Group acquired the site in September 2022.

History

2005–2011: Founding and popularity

The Escapist was conceived as a PDF-format magazine by Themis Media, whose president Alexander Macris had previously found success with its sister site WarCry Network. Editor-in-chief Julianne Greer had not been involved in the gaming industry before The Escapist, and had a background in marketing and new media.[5]

The premier issue featured pieces from well-known gaming-community authors including Jerry Holkins, Kieron Gillen, and John Scott Tynes. Following issues included work by Tom Chick, Allen Varney, Jim Rossignol and other top writers from in and outside the game industry, including a four-part piece by leading game designer Warren Spector.[6] According to Themis, by late 2006 the website had 150,000 monthly readers.[5] The website MMORPG.com noted that the webzine had become the "flagship brand" for Themis, which runs other websites and ventures related to the gaming industry, with the reputation of "a widely read and highly respected form of game journalism" and "paying writers top dollar".[6]

On July 9, 2007, the site relaunched with a completely new design, which also saw the end of the weekly PDF issues and a shift in layout to one more similar to other websites.[7] Although the weekly topic and publish schedule was retained, new regular content additions included more game reviews, editorial articles, conference coverage, and a relaunch of Shoot Club by Tom Chick.

The most notable addition to the content lineup was Zero Punctuation, a weekly animated review series that led to a four-fold increase in web traffic.[8] Within the next four years, The Escapist contracted several creators including LoadingReadyRun, Miracle of Sound, and Bob "MovieBob" Chipman, as well as helping launch Extra Credits as a rebrand of its creators' videos.

In 2010, The Escapist launched a membership service called the Publisher's Club which for $20 a year removed advertisements from the site, conferred forum benefits and entry into special contests.[9]

2011–2018: Dispute and decline

Around the end of July 2011, there was a dispute between The Escapist and James Portnow, the producer of Extra Credits.[10] After not being paid for months, the Extra Credits team needed to pay for surgery for their artist, Allison Theus. They began a charity fund on RocketHub, separate from The Escapist, and received substantially more money than was necessary for Theus's surgery. They planned to use this extra money to create a game publishing label, where the revenue would go directly into funding subsequent projects.[10][11] Alexander Macris, owner and co-founder of The Escapist, stated the money should have been used to create more episodes of Extra Credits for The Escapist and to compensate Themis Media for donation incentives, such as premium memberships and T-shirts.[12]

During the dispute, a number of other contracted creators spoke out in support of Extra Credits, relaying similar stories of mistreatment by the management. Among them were MovieBob, Jim Sterling, LoadingReadyRun, and the creators of No Right Answer. Later, those creators would also break ties with The Escapist, leaving Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw as the sole contracted creator by 2017. As a result, Extra Credits broke ties with The Escapist, moving to Penny Arcade and later becoming independent.

Macris would later become involved with the sale of Themis Media to Alloy Digital, as well as supporting the Gamergate controversy in 2014 by openly adopting stricter policies.[13]

On November 15, 2012, it was announced that Themis Media had been acquired by Alloy Digital for an undisclosed sum.[14] For a few years afterwards, Alloy cross-promoted Smosh Games on The Escapist. In 2014, Alloy Digital merged with Break Media to form Defy Media,[15] with a consolidated portfolio that did not mention The Escapist.

On January 21, 2015, Defy Media announced it was cutting staff across a portfolio of its main sites including The Escapist, GameTrailers and GameFront.[16] In 2016, The Escapist laid off a 'number of employees' and shuttered its main office in Durham, North Carolina leaving the website's main operation out of Seattle.[17]

By late 2017, the site was reduced to Croshaw, a small streaming team and the editor-in-chief with the closure of the site seeming imminent as the community volunteers were the only contributors to the site besides Croshaw.[18]

2018–present: Relaunch

In July 2018, The Escapist was purchased by Enthusiast Gaming, owner of Destructoid,[19] and a relaunch was announced with former editor-in-chief Russ Pitts at the helm.[20] These changes came into effect September 2018, along with a website name change to Escapist Magazine Volume Two.[21] The Big Picture, produced by MovieBob, was the first series to be officially relaunched alongside the continued Zero Punctuation.[22]

Following a Twitter exchange with Zoë Quinn over a now-deleted article about Gamergate, Russ Pitts announced he would be taking a "voluntary leave of absence" from The Escapist in February 2019.[23] Nick Calandra, who joined the site in 2019 as the Managing Director of Video, replaced Pitts as Editor-in-Chief in July 2019.[24]

In April 2020, the site name reverted to The Escapist. The site also launched The Escapist +, which allows readers to view the site without advertisements.[4] Management under Calandra saw a surge in original content as the site transitioned from a gaming news focus to gaming commentary. In October 2020, Bob Chipman's contract with The Escapist was not renewed.[25] Later in October, the Escapist Movies YouTube channel was relaunched.[26] In April 2021, the Escapist Plays YouTube Channel was relaunched as "The Escapist Live".[27] In May 2021, the Escapist Movies YouTube channel merges with the main Escapist YouTube channel.[28]

Enthusiast Gaming sold the website to Gamurs Group in September 2022.[29]

The Escapist Games Showcase

The Escapist Indie Showcase was held from June 11–14, 2020 focusing on indie games. The main showcase video was aired first on June 11 and was akin to a Nintendo Direct in format as well as featuring messages from the developers behind the games. Streams were held after the showcase where The Escapist team played some of the games while interviewing their developers live. They partnered with GOG for the event.[30]

The Escapist Games Showcase was held from November 10–12, 2020, as part of the digital EGLX event.[31]

Awards

In May 2008, The Escapist won the Webby Award and 2008 People's Choice Award for Best Video-Game Related Website. The Escapist also won this award in 2009 after a protracted voting battle between the members of The Escapist and the website GameSpot. In 2011 The Escapist again won three Webby Awards: Best Games-Related Website, People's Voice Best Games-Related Website and People's Voice Best Lifestyle Website.[32][33][34][35] The Escapist also received a Mashable Open Web Award for Best Online Magazine in 2009[36] and was named one of the 50 Best Websites by Time magazine in 2011.[37]

References

  1. ^ Themis Group (July 12, 2005). "Themis Group Launches The Escapist". gamesindustry.biz. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  2. ^ "The Escapist Escapes From Pseudo-Print Chains". GameSetWatch/CMP. July 13, 2006. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  3. ^ Spangler, Todd (July 26, 2018). "Defy Media Sells The Escapist Gaming Site to Canada's Enthusiast Gaming". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Calandra, Nick (April 21, 2020). "Introducing The Esacpist +, an Ad-free Viewing Experience and Other Perks". The Escapist. Enthusiast Gaming. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Gaming's Top 50 Journalists". Next Generation Magazine. October 17, 2006. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  6. ^ a b Dana Massey (May 19, 2006). "Support company thrives as the MMO giant grows". MMORPG.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  7. ^ Julianne Greer (July 9, 2006). "Editor's Note: Pens, Paper and Pretzels". The Escapist. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  8. ^ "Zero Punctuation Equals Millions of Views". NewTeeVee. 2008-01-24. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  9. ^ The Publisher's Club, retrieved 28-02-2014 "The Escapist : Publisher's Club". Archived from the original on 2016-11-29. Retrieved 2014-02-28.
  10. ^ a b "My experience with James Portnow, and why I left The Escapist – False Gravity". 2018-06-13. Archived from the original on 2018-06-13. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  11. ^ "Because Games Matter By James Portnow". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  12. ^ "A Response on Extra Credits". Facebook. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  13. ^ Usher, William (September 15, 2014). "The Escapist, Destructoid Update Their Policies, Ethics In Light Of #GamerGate". CinemaBlend. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  14. ^ "Alloy Digital buys website Escapist". Variety.com. November 15, 2012. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  15. ^ "DEFY Website". DEFY Media. DEFY Media. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2014-07-02.
  16. ^ "Defy Media lays off staff at gaming sites". GamesIndustry.biz. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  17. ^ "Layoffs at The Escapist". GamesIndustry.biz. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  18. ^ "Open Letter to The Escapist Community | The Escapist". v1.escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  19. ^ Spangler, Todd (26 July 2018). "Defy Media Sells The Escapist Gaming Site to Canada's Enthusiast Gaming".
  20. ^ "The Escapist Magazine is to relaunch, with former EIC Russ Pitts at the helm". MCV. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  21. ^ "Welcome to Escapist Magazine Volume Two". The Escapist. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Polarity Contest | The Big Picture Video Gallery | The Escapist". v1.escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
  23. ^ Tamburro, Paul (February 11, 2019). "The Escapist's Russ Pitts takes 'leave of absence' following Zoe Quinn tweet". Game Revolution. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  24. ^ Calandra, Nick (July 29, 2019). "Letter from the New Editor-in-Chief". The Escapist. Enthusiast Gaming. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  25. ^ "Schlocktober 2020 - "DAIGORO VS GOLIATH" (w/ Special Announcement) - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2020-12-25.
  26. ^ "Channel Update - Movies Channel Relaunch, Schedule Update and Second Games Showcase". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13.
  27. ^ "The Escapist - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  28. ^ "The Escapist - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2021-05-25.
  29. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (September 30, 2022). "Gamurs Group buying Enthusiast Gaming sites". Gamesindustry.biz. Gamer Network. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  30. ^ "Watch The Escapist Indie Showcase, over 2 hours of exclusive trailers, and more is on the way". Escapist Magazine. 2020-06-11. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  31. ^ "The Escapist Games Showcase - Fall Edition - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  32. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webbyawards.com. 2011-10-28. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  33. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webbyawards.com. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  34. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webbyawards.com. 2011-10-28. Archived from the original on 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  35. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webbyawards.com. 2011-10-28. Archived from the original on 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  36. ^ "Open Web Awards 2009". Mashable. 2009. Archived from the original on 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  37. ^ "The 50 Best Websites of 2011". Time Magazine. 2011-08-16. Archived from the original on 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-03-14.