Enthusiast Gaming has acquired The Escapist Magazine, the company announced Thursday. The former Editor-in-Chief Russ Pitts will return to his position at the magazine.
Enthusiast Gaming’s acquisition of The Escapist follows from their acquisition of Destructoid in 2017.
The acquisition of The Escapist was made to grow Enthusiast Gaming’s network and enhance the company’s growth strategy, according to the company. It was also made to add more money making potential to the magazine for Enthusiast Gaming’s platforms and partners. The company generates over 1 billion ad requests per week through Enthusiast Gaming Media and affiliated partners, according to the company.
“The acquisition of Escapist is instrumental as we continue to grow our network of gamers,” said Menashe Kestenbaum, Founder & CEO of Enthusiast Gaming. “Escapist represents long form and intellectual content generation and will be another flagship platform in our network. Russ is a true visionary in online gaming journalism and we are thrilled to bring him back to lead Escapist.”
The popular online gaming-focused news and feature magazine was first established in 2005 and has averaged over 6 million monthly visits since 2008, according to Enthusiast Gaming. The publication has been a home for many prominent journalists and content creators over the years including the ever popular Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw and his series Zero Punctuation. Other prominent writers and video makers include Jim Sterling and Bob “Moviebob” Chipman, who have both moved on from the site to build their independent channels on YouTube (though Chipman also contributes to Geek.com).
Unfortunately the magazine has seen quite a slump in recent years. In October 2017, the magazine announced that all paid staff have been laid off with the exception of Croshaw and others. “We can’t promise that The Escapist will last forever; it may have years left in it, or it may disappear tomorrow,” wrote the staff and moderators. “What we can say is we will do our utmost to keep this site running in an orderly fashion, for as long as it stays online.”
Eventually the offices in North Carolina were closed and ads were pulled from the site, wrote Pitts on Medium. The site was then put on sale by the magazine’s owners at the time, Defy Media, in late 2017.
Pitts worked on The Escapist for five years as its Editor-in-Chief, according to Enthusiast Gaming. He has contributed two dozen video series and over 1,000 written articles to the magazine. Along the way he earned six Webby Awards, two Streamy nominations, a G.A.N.G. Award nomination, and a Time Magazine “50 Best Websites” mention. Pitts left the magazine in 2011 and helped Vox Media launch Polygon in October 2012.
“Escapist Magazine holds a special place in my heart as the place where I started my career in games,” said Pitts. “Enthusiast truly gets what makes game communities special and is fully invested in getting this right. The opportunity to join with Enthusiast to help bring Escapist back to its original cultural relevance is a huge opportunity not only for me and my team, but for the many fans of Escapist who have been so supportive of the brand for over 13 years.”
Enthusiast Gaming is a media and technology company owning and operating a network of video game-focused websites. They also own and operate Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo (EGLX), which hosted over 20,000 attendees in March according to the company.