In 2016 Vice launched a website called Waypoint, which the company hoped would be an “immersive dive into the culture, passion and politics of gaming”. It did that, and then some, and then kicked even more ass, and in June 2023 it will be gone.
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As anyone who read the site (or listened to its podcasts) would tell you, Waypoint was different. Unlike almost any other major gaming site, this one you’re reading right now included, Waypoint wasn’t interested in constantly updating, in writing blog after blog about release date postponements or industry shenanigans or the latest scandal. It was a website (and podcasts, and other related community stuff) designed around treating video games with the respect they deserve (and often don’t), and a home for writing, discussion and criticism that was always good, always thoughtful, always fair.
“There are a ton of destinations within gaming media that do a great job covering whether a game is worth your money,” Waypoint’s original editor in chief Austin Walker said at the time of the site’s announcement. “Players looking for that coverage are well served.”
“Instead, we want to focus on telling stories about why people play, and investigating how the games we love and spend so much time with come to be. Whether a game was a commercial success or has a small, dedicated community, we want to raise the conversation and take an in-depth look at the passion, people, and politics that underpin these worlds.”
It hired very good writers and reporters—I have to acknowledge here that many of them, from Patrick Klepek to Gita Jackson to Renata Price, had also worked at Kotaku—but also gave a voice to journalists and critics you hadn’t heard of, providing their unique pieces with a major platform they might not have otherwise had in an industry where big sites are usually dominated by previews and developer interviews.
Yet it was also part of Vice, an absolute shitshow of a company whose demise and financial woes have been widely documented. And so it feels as inevitable as it is sad that we learned today that Waypoint was being closed, with the curtain coming down on June 2.
“I’m not sure where to begin, except to say, with equal parts fury and sadness, that Waypoint is over”, Waypoint’s Patrick Klepek wrote on Twitter earlier today. “The team, myself included, have been terminated by VICE, and our final day running the website, the podcasts, and streams, will come to an end on June 2nd.”
This sucks in the same way it always sucks when a good outlet doing good work that is performing well and entertaining readers is closed down, not because it was “unsuccessful”, but because the Adults In The Room have once again proven themselves incapable of operating a media company, and their workers—doing good and important work—will suffer as a result.
Waypoint’s closure, hot on the heels of Launcher’s shutdown earlier this year, is yet another blow for serious video games coverage and criticism, and leaves the entire space weaker than it was a year ago (when it was weaker than it was a year before that, etc etc). As the whole concept of an ad-supported internet begins to creak and pop and show signs of imminent structural collapse, every website you currently read for free is at risk of ending up exactly like Waypoint, and exactly like Launcher, and exactly like any other countless examples of sites that can and do perform good work (and often financially successful work), but are at the mercy of owners and a relentless economic framework that will crush us all to dust.
I wish nothing but the best for everyone affected, and want to thank them for all the amazing work they did over the years.