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From the collapse of The Escapist, a Second Wind rises

Former creators behind gaming site the Escapist are finishing what their website started.


Steven Asarch


Posted on Nov 13, 2023


Nov. 6 “literally started as a normal day” for Yahtzee Croshaw, a YouTuber and the creative force behind the video series Zero Punctuation. For the past 16 years, he’d been producing reviews and industry critiques in animated vignettes for the Escapist, a gaming and entertainment news site. The creator told Passionfruit that he went about his usual business, uploading that week’s video and recording a podcast. However, soon he was told that Nick Calandra, the site’s editor-in-chief and his long-time collaborator since 2018, was let go from the site.

“That’s the first time I’ve been fired or anything, I knew my time was up,” Calandra told Passionfruit. “The call came, it was literally two minutes, and I told them straight up I’m not signing anything. They offered me three weeks of severance.”

Gamurs, a network of 17 nerd culture sites that started in 2015 as a social media platform, bought the Escapist in September 2022. In the 12 months since, Gamurs has laid off a number of full-time staff members across multiple sites and received criticism after listing a job for an AI editor.

Calandra said Gamurs’ goals for the site “were getting loftier and loftier.” According to him, they expected the site to earn 10 million views a month by the end of the year, which he thought was “impossible” considering the site was only getting a little more than half of that. Soon, however, he was cut from the team, alleging on Twitter that he was let go for “not achieving goals.”

In response to Calandra’s ousting, multiple writers, reviewers, and the entire video team at the Escapist resigned in protest, including Croshaw. Zero Punctuation was the site’s most popular video series, pulling in hundreds of thousands of views per episode…

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*First Published: Nov 13, 2023, 3:36 pm CST