Why Vice Isn’t Publishing Reviews on Its New Gaming Channel

Instead focuses on personal storytelling

It already counts 11 verticals covering everything from news and sports to women's issues, music, food and tech. Now, Vice is planning to expand its scope even further, pulling back the curtain today on a gaming vertical that was first announced at the company's NewFronts presentation last in May.

The as yet unnamed channel, set to fully launch in the fall, will focus on gaming culture, big and small, through personal storytelling.

"It's probably the biggest medium today for communications," Joel Fowler, publisher of the new vertical, told Adweek. Fowler also runs Vice's electronic music and culture channel, Thump.

Vice already produces gaming-related content for Motherboard and The Creators Project, as well as for the main website, but will now have its own "dedicated place where we can devote resources," said Fowler. "We see it more as doubling down on all the gaming content that we've been doing."

Vice is debuting the first episode of Pixel by Pixel, the first video series for the vertical, during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. Vice partnered with Twitch to stream the episode live during its E3 broadcast scheduled for Tuesday afternoon around 6 p.m. PT. The series profiles indie game developers in the weeks leading up to the release of their projects. The first episode follows Alex Preston, creator of Hyper Light Drifter. The game is autobiographical in nature. Preston was born with a serious congenital heart defect. The game's main character confronts challenges he must resolve before he dies.

Vice will roll out the first episode for each of the five new shows in the coming months leading up to the site's launch; all five videos will be sponsored by Taco Bell. By late summer, Vice will debut the first episode of esports-themed series Versus, which will center on the game Smite.

Unlike most gaming sites, Fowler plans to steer clear of reviews. "It's almost like a big controversial point between sites and fans," said Fowler. Too often, reviewers end up getting blasted by fans for essentially lying to them. They also led to the rise of the ugly Gamergate controversy in 2014. "We really don't want to even touch that space," said Fowler, who plans to focus on the stories behind the games and the people who make them.

"The biggest point is that it's inclusive," he said.

The rise of esports is also leading to a positive pivot in the gaming world, he says.

"There was definitely, for a couple years, a pretty polarized depiction of games from mass media. That is definitely changing as esports has become such a big cash cow," Fowler said. The burgeoning space also allows them to work across other Vice verticals.

"Vice Sports can cover it from a sporting angle and we can actually unify for really comprehensive esports coverage," he said.