A couple of weeks ago we reported that video game variety channel Machinima changed the entirety of its YouTube library to private, effectively removing every single video they have published and produced in the last 12 years. Due to this recent action, many fans became concerned that one of their favorite channels might be on its way out. Unfortunately, those fears have come to pass, as they have officially ceased all operations as well as laying off 81 of its employees.
A representative from Machinima confirmed the layoffs, but also stated that some employees were still with Otter Media to “supercharge” its holdings; “A select number of Machinima employees remain with the company, which is now actively providing services to supercharge the combined portfolio of Otter Media. Machinima has ceased its remaining operations, which includes layoffs. Russell Arons remains with Machinima, and is assisting with transitional activities as she explores new opportunities.”
Arons has been the General Manager of Machinima since 2017, taking over after Chat Gutstein departed the company. Before that, the company was purchased by Warner Bros. in late 2016, with many hoping that this would lead to a resurgence of the channel. However, after Otter Media’s owners, AT&T, purchased Timer Warner Cable for $85 billion, they began to slowly consolidate and close digital studios.
It’s important to note that the 81 employees who were laid off were given a termination date of March 16, 2019 due to the California’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act which requires a 60 day advance notice to massive layoffs. So while they may not have a job in two months, they still have some time to find another one, and hopefully all 81 employees find suitable and livable jobs by then.
After few years of little to no change and being passed around Otter Media’s subsidiaries, Machinima’s full video library was privatized from the public, before being completely shut down this weekend. It’s a sad day for long time fans of the channel, as it brought a lot of people together in many ways. It was one of the first YouTube channels to become popular, quickly expanding upon its video-oriented camera theme to other original entertainment ventures.
Ryan Wyatt, a former member of Machinima, took to Twitter to say goodbye to the company that launched his career.
I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for @Machinima. It’s a shame to see them close up shop. The talent that has come from that company is nothing short of amazing (creators and employees). I will always have fond memories of my time there. End of an era. pic.twitter.com/rsOFPxXFOS
— Ryan Wyatt (@Fwiz) February 2, 2019
Originally launched in 2000 by Hugh Hancock and other creators that went by the name Strange Company, the website Machinima.com was a place for people to come and enjoy original video’s of entertainment that were created by manipulating the in-game camera of an already completed video game. The medium was popular in its own right, but when they joined YouTube in 2006, no one was prepared for just how big they would become. 12 years of love, passion, and tears were forged, creating numerous internet darlings before Twitch and Mixer came along and began to dominate the online scene.
Regardless of what could have happened, and what has already transpired, the fact of the matter is this: Machinima mattered to people. When looking back on the history of the rise of online popularity and how the Internet changed how we view media and information, there’s no way people can miss them. They were at the forefront of it all, and they weren’t afraid of doing things outside of the norm. They may be gone, and they haven’t always done things correctly, but for anyone who looks back on them fondly, Machinima’s legacy will live on forever.