When Spike TV announced they were revamping their awards show, and rebranding it as Spike VGX, many gamers were unsure of the decision. Taking an awards show, blowing it out to a full 3 hours, and streaming it online sounded like a pretty substantial gamble.
Yet, the Spike VGX experiment appears to have paid off, as the show drew about 1.1 million total viewers. Granted, not everyone tuned in for the entire online broadcast – with most logging about 32 minutes viewed – but overall the show appears to have been a success.
However, that success is quantitative, and only takes into account the raw numbers, which Spike parent company Viacom is very happy with. So much so, that the Spike VGX producers are in talks to duplicate the show for next year.
But, while the global viewership was there, the quality might have been lacking, a topic Executive VP of Digital Media for Viacom Erik Flannigan, Executive VP of Event Planning Casey Patterson, and Spike VGX co-host Geoff Keighley addressed in an interview with Polygon.
First and foremost, the Spike VGX producers talked about the reception to co-host Joel McHale. McHale, a self-proclaimed gamer, drew a lot of criticism for his job as co-host. Some say that’s because gamers, at their core, are hypercritical, and were looking for something to talk about, but that might not be true.
“You take Joel’s very funny, snarky detached point of view he can bring sometimes and you throw that into a bunch of gamers who are about as hyper-critical as you can be, and I say this as a reflection of their passion and their interest, and we gave him a three hour show where they are sitting on their computers looking for something else to do when they watch. What are they going to do? They’re going to post on message boards and they’re going to tweet about it. It was kind of a formula for feedback and Joel became the place where they pointed a lot of their attention.”
While the choice of Joel McHale might not make sense at first glance, you have to consider that the Spike VGX was streamed on a ton of online outlets. McHale, like the awkward Grand Theft Auto 5 concert, was almost like a form of counter-programming, a reason for non-gamers to watch. And, as far as having McHale back, the producers say they would love to work with him again.
The show itself went off mostly without a hitch, with No Man’s Sky taking most of the spotlight, a sentiment the VGX producers agree with. That being said, it’s hard not to think that the show lacked the luster that past shows have had. After all, this is the same show that broke Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, and The Last of Us.
Clearly, the show’s deviation away from live TV has changed things, but perhaps this global success might convince publishers to hop back on board. Nintendo, for example, booked their first appearance at the show, but didn’t bring anything impressive, just confirmation that Cranky Kong is in Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.
It seems like the verdict will always be out on the Spike Video Game Awards/ VGX, but the good news is the producers tend to take viewers’ criticisms into consideration. They don’t always replace their “bad” ideas with “good” ones, but things are changing, there’s no doubt about that. We’ll see what next year brings.
What did you think of the Spike VGX as a whole? What did you like? What did you dislike? Would you like to see another show in this format?