Launching any publication is a difficult project, filled with challenges that range from discovery of your work and finding an audience to revenue generation and community management. There are a huge variety of other problems and pitfalls that can spring up at any moment,
In the video games industry, long form journalism and editorial may be the most revenue and audience challenged form of coverage in a field that is oversaturated with options and hyper competitive for every advertising and premium membership dollar available. Most of the successful and longer running sites have a combination of high post volumes and heavy advertising as their primary sources of income to keep the publication afloat, with only a few notable exceptions such as Giant Bomb’s premium memberships and the heavy upfront commitment to features from Polygon on the gaming editorial landscape. For gamers seeking deep, insightful and extensive coverage of topics about the hobby that we love, each new entrant is often greeted with a combination of hope and anxiety. The Penny Arcade Report debuted early last year to great fanfare, and perhaps more importantly a sense of stability as the result of the substantial financial and industry clout that the Penny Arcade name confers. With senior editor Ben Kuchera coming over from Ars Technica and soon joined by Sophie Prell, the Report (or PAR for short) quickly became a well known voice in the video games community as well as a fun and insightful presence at PAX shows (for which I have been fortunate enough to attend all of their talks).
The closure of the site is a reflection of the Penny Arcade co-founders deciding to focus on their core creative brands which is absolutely their right, but I will forever lament that PAR was not spun off or otherwise given a second chance on life while separated from their founding parent company. On a critical level, I do think the site may have been better served by providing news a little faster and by offering less tangential coverage of media such as cable television programming, but overall the Report was a steady and informative presence in a medium with a shortage of those types of voices.
The legacy of the Report will live on. I am positive that Kuchera, Prell and Groen will continue to be active and engaged members of the gaming press for many years to come, and the format of The Cut has been adapted by more and more sites in a manner similar to the widespread adaptation of extended video previews made popular by Giant Bomb with their Quick Look series. What I will miss the most is having a centralized, reliable source of gaming journalism with world class photography and a generally literate and informed group of users commenting on each story, but the legacy of PAR will endure in the continued contributions of both the writers and readers of the site for years to come.