If you were a gamer in the past 10 years, you already know what Machinima was. We say “was” because as of February 1, the company has officially announced that 81 of their employees were laid off and all remaining operations ceased. “A select number of Machinima employees remain with the company, which is now actively providing services to supercharge the combined portfolio of Otter Media,” said Machinima. “Machinima has ceased its remaining operations, which includes layoffs. Russell Arons still remains with Machinima, and is assisting with transitional activities as she explores new opportunities.”
While this may simply sound like another company lay-off to some, for many YouTube fans the news hit pretty hard.
Long time Youtube Staple, Machinima, is dead. Otter Media took over the channel from Warner, and has since deleted all videos off the main channel, which is over a decade of videos perhaps lost forever.
— TRAFON (@RiseFallNick) January 19, 2019
What was Machinima?
Founded in January 2000 by Hugh Hancock, the Los Angeles-based Machinima fused video entertainment with video games before it was cool. Manipulating video game technology to create animations, Machinima created memorable, funny, gaming-themed live-action content, and was a cornerstone of YouTube culture since the website’s earliest days.
Home to some of the most famous web series including Inside Gaming, ETC News, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Arby n’ the Chief, and Two Best Friends Play, Machinima was to gaming videos as Twitch is to game streaming today. The company was so big in 2012 that it even earned the attention of Google, who invested $35 million into the company in hopes that it would turn its attention toward larger audiences and one day dominate television.
What happened to Machinima?
On January 18, all of the channel’s content was abruptly set to private before being removed days later. The sad news quickly hit social media, with hurt fans and creators sharing the information, donning the melancholy hashtag #RIPMachinima.
The news has hit consumers of gaming content hard, but the creators have been hit harder still, suddenly finding all their published work inaccessible by the public.
Wow… they finally went ahead and deleted everything we’d ever done.
7+ Years of work… lost to the sands of time. #RIPMachinima
— RickyFTW (@rickyftw) January 19, 2019
“Warner, at this point, cannot verify the copyrights to all videos in Machinima’s network, and there are a ton of videos,” said FunhausTeam producer and Inside Gaming’s Lawrence Sonntag in a recent Twitch clip. “It’d cost a lot of money to do it, and this is on videos that aren’t getting any views. So, they cut it loose. That’s that. It’s a business. That’s how it goes, man.”
So now what?
Back in December 2018, AT&T moved Machinima under their Otter Media brand. Otter Media is a is an American digital branding and media company that owns Crunchyroll, VRV, Fullscreen, Gunpowder & Sky, Hello Sunshine, and Rooster Teeth. The restructuring also saw layoffs across Otter Media, with creators either let go or sent letters informing them they were being moved to Fullscreen, yet another media company founded in 2011, owned by – you guessed it – Otter Media.
Here’s the letter they sent:
— Miguel Lozada (@MLozada) January 16, 2019
So technically Fullscreen has acquired Machinima, and they’re working under the big corporate umbrella of Otter Media. The news is disheartening to many Machinima fans, and it feels like the end of an era; one of the old YouTube giants is gone.
Were you a Machinima fan? Let us know in the comments below, and if you had a favorite creator on the channel. Until then, we’ll see you online … but it’s a sadder internet for sure.