Back in early June of 2019 Enthusiast Gaming and Luminosity Gaming announced a merger, in an attempt to leverage the e-sports community with Enthusiast Gaming’s goal to monetize that demographic. A month later the editor-in-chief at The Escapist, Anthony John Agnello, announced that he had been laid off by the parent company of the media outlet, Enthusiast Gaming.
The news came courtesy of a tweet from Agnello on July 8th, 2019, where he confirmed that just a month after being handed the reins to The Escapist from former editor-in-chief, Russ Pitts, he was being laid off.
The short and sweet version: I have been laid off from Escapist Magazine.
Following Enthusiast Gaming’s merger with 755 Capital Corp. and Aquilini GameCo, the company is taking the site in a new direction and unfortunately I will not be a part of it.
— Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello) July 8, 2019
He did have a longer version of his tale, but it didn’t include much information on the actual circumstances behind the layoff, he went on to write…
“The longer version: I am immensely proud of the work I did relaunching Escapist. There was perhaps no more tainted brand in the gaming landscape when Russ brought me in.
“I achieved what I set out to: to transform into an outlet for passionate, compassionate, artful criticism.
“I worked with incredible people. Old collaborators like @samanthanelson1, new talents like @biologicalriley, and people like @YahtzeeCroshaw and @the_moviebob whose work I have admired for years. I commissioned amazing features from people like @DavidBHayter and @jroberts332.
“The number of people to thank and acknowledge far exceeds the cramped space of a Tweet thread. But thank you for the experience, however brief it was. This, unfortunately, is the reality of labor in writing — we are all of us vagabonds perpetually seeking the next gig.
“To that end, I can say openly now that I have been interviewing for new positions since the beginning of May and I am knee deep in the process of finding the opportunity that will best support my family and enrich my career. I’m incredibly excited about what’s next.
“If you need a brand/content manager, editor, writer, broadcaster and podcaster with 15 years experience & a heart the size of Gibraltar, I’m your man.
“It would be a kindness and an honor if you’d spread the word: Anthony John Agnello is for hire. Retweet”
Enthusiast Gaming’s merger was originally announced back on June 1st, 2019, as reported by Crowd Hero Gaming. In the announcement, Menashe Kestenbaum, CEO of Enthusiast Gaming, mentioned that the merger was about leveraging advertising opportunities, saying…
“The merger with Aquilini GameCo and Luminosity was a strategic decision that positions us as a dominant player in the gaming industry and unlocks access to Luminosity’s 50 million dedicated esports fans and one of the largest esports franchises. Through our successful monetization strategy, we will gain extremely valuable knowledge and information on the demographic that will revolutionize the advertising opportunities we can offer to brands and sponsors.”
The report notes that Luminosity has entered into a long-term management agreement with the Overwatch League’s Vancouver Titans. The groups are hoping to capitalize on a potential market reach of 200 million people as part of Luminosity Gaming’s umbrella of content creators, which extends to 900 YouTube and Twitch channels.
Apparently Agnello won’t be part of that line-up.
The former editor-in-chief was handed the position by Russ Pitts back on May 13th, 2019, when Russ Pitts retired from the games journalism arena to pursue other interests. This came amid a libel suit from former Escapist contributor Robert B. Marks, along with a public castigation led by Zoe Quinn due to the site daring to discuss ethics in video game journalism.
Enthusiast Gaming didn’t public announce any layoffs, but if the editor-in-chief is already ousted at The Escapist, then they either have plans on putting someone else in and taking the site in a completely different direction, or they have plans on shuttering the traditional media coverage and reorienting the site to buffer their e-sports endeavors.
Either way, Pitts’ attempt at resurrecting The Escapist with his specific vision in mind appears to have failed.
(Thanks for the news tip Blaugast)