Gamers today have it easy – everywhere you look online there’s interesting, personal, and profound coverage of video games, but that wasn’t the case just ten years ago. G4 TV was the only source most people had for personality-based video game news. While magazines and the occasional website scratched the itch, the G4 TV station was the entire package of personality, news, and culture… until it disappeared.
Why did G4 TV fail? What happened to G4 is a mixture of bad timing, poor programming decisions, and, ultimately, the Internet. There is no one specific person or decision to blame for the channel’s downfall. Video game YouTube personalities, Twitch streamers, and massive forums make gaming content sound like a surefire hit today, but things were quite different in the mid-2000s.
G4 held on quite a bit longer than you might remember, as it wasn’t until 2014 that the channel and website finally shut down for good. The strange story of this seemingly good idea has many gamers wondering how something they have wanted so badly had suffered such a slow, painful, and obscure death. What lies ahead is a detailing of G4 TV’s downfall and the reasons it was, ultimately, unsuccessful.
The early to mid-2000s saw a meteoric rise in the popularity of video games, and Charles Hirschhorn, the founder of G4, wanted to capitalize on all of the buzz. Through a partnership with Comcast, Hirschhorn devised a gaming channel that would cater to the MTV demographic – teens to twenty-somethings with slightly rebellious attitudes.
There were early concerns as to whether such a thing would be viable, as this was long before the days of Twitch and YouTube, but Hirschhorn charged forward, viewing G4 as a means to validate video games with a wider audience. G4 marked the first ever gaming-focused TV station with a lineup of original shows about video games and technology.