One of the more surprising announcements of Comic-Con (the 2020 streaming version) came from one of its advertisements. It depicts a dark warehouse lit only by the flicker of an ancient CRT, which is playing a disembodied game of Pong controlled by no one. The picture glitches, and we suddenly get…the G4 logo, along with the words “We never stopped playing” and a date of 2021.
Reports of this video are now all over the Internet, but the dirty secret is, none of us know what it means. G4 was a cable TV channel created in 2002 devoted to video game news. After a controversial merge with the more sophisticated TechTV, G4 banished the latter’s programming and became the exclusive home of gamer-centric programs like X-Play and Attack Of The Show. Actress Olivia Munn made her public debut as a G4 host…after leaving for Hollywood she was replaced by Morgan Webb.
G4 departed in 2014 after years of declining ratings and availability (most cable packages had dropped it by that year). The final image the channel showed was a game of Pong before cutting to black. This is probably why Pong was used to signal its return.
But….why is it returning? And in what form? No one knows. We can run through the possibilities, at least….
A CABLE CHANNEL AGAIN: Highly unlikely, though remotely possible. Most investors aren’t turning their attention to funding new cable stations these days, but there could be a couple outliers who remember the roaring days of G4 and think they can bring it back.
A WEBSITE: Someone might be thinking of reinventing G4 on the Internet, seeing a similarity between programs like AOTS and today’s YouTube stars. G4 could be a mix of text articles covering breaking game news and videos exploring that news in depth. Would it have what it takes to compete with IGN and Polygon? All we can say is they could sure use the competition.
A STREAMING SERVICE: This one feels the most probable. A bunch of rich guys got together and thought “A streaming service for gamers! We’re geniuses! Let’s take the path of least resistance and buy a brand that already exists.” The service would host on-demand repeats of X-Play and AOTS, live feeds of esports competitions, and the star attraction: a dark and gritty scripted drama reimagining Aero The Acro-Bat.