The return of G4 is something that’s ignited a lot of excitement — and memories. In the early 2000s, G4 offered a plethora of video game programming that couldn’t be found anywhere else on television.
Some of the most recognizable icons from those glory days were X-Play hosts Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb and Attack of the Show hosts Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn. Since G4’s original closure in 2014, the crew went their separate ways until their fateful Thanksgiving reunion show in 2020.
Now at the cusp of G4’s relaunch in Summer 2021, Sessler and Pereira spoke with In The Know about assembling a new team of hosts, what they’re most excited about in the video game industry and what to expect from the new G4.
The new G4 and getting the crew together
In anticipation of the big premiere, G4 has put out cheeky casting calls for prospects to join the returning cast. So far, the channel has added pro wrestler Xavier Woods and esports casters Indiana “Froskurinn” Black, Ovilee “Ovilee” May and Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez to its ranks.
It feels a bit like the Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai. G4 has a job to do and it’s assembling a crackshot crew to get it done.
“That will be the one and only time I get to compare myself to Toshiro Mifune,” Sessler told In The Know, laughing at the analogy. “No, it’s definitely cool. It’s both a mixture of people I’ve known for a very long time and I used to work with. And obviously, new people who only over the past month, I’ve kind of gotten to know and to meet.”
Pereira echoed the same sentiment, remarking how natural it felt to be working together again after so much time had passed. Even during the preliminary filming, Pereira said the chemistry was still there.
“It is like an old glove, man,” Pereira said. “It fits. Everything just kind of fit into place.”
But it wasn’t enough to just get the old crew back. Sessler emphasized how important it was that the new G4 is also bringing in fresh voices. Gaming has changed a lot since G4 was shut down.
Armed with a mix of the old and the new, G4 is poised to be a major player again in gaming.
“There’s that sense of confidence that I’m not at a version of G4 that truly understands what really worked,” Sessler said. “Capturing that and also knowing that the landscape has changed enough, we can also move forward in new ways.”
The future of gaming and G4’s place in it
Although Sessler and Pereira have been out of the limelight since the original G4 shut down in 2014, that certainly hasn’t stopped them from loving games.
Sessler has been interested in “the interplay between indie and AAA” happening between video game studios. It should be noted that “indie” and “AAA” are informal terms to broadly describe game developers.
Generally, an indie studio is assumed to be a small studio with a modest financial backing and greater freedom to experiment. AAA studios are the multimillion-dollar entities known for blockbuster series such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.
In particular, Sessler has been carefully watching what influences AAA developers may take from the indie scene and cited Hades as an example. The hit game from indie studio Supergiant Games swept multiple awards and was declared the Best Game of 2020 by various publications.
Hades managed to capture both a hardcore and casual audience. Hades is a roguelike, a genre that is notoriously difficult and typically aimed toward hard grinders. But the game’s art direction, music and lovingly crafted story made it the dark horse of 2020.
Because of this, Sessler described Hades as an indie game with AAA sensibility for production and detail. He wonders what, if anything, bigger studios may learn from Hades’ success.
“At what point does that serve to inform the logic of the far more expensive and typically more conservatively designed Triple-A games,” Sessler said. “That conversation is happening. I don’t think it’s that strong a dialogue yet. But we’re moving further and further into that direction and that definitely excites me.”
As for Pereira, he’s been spending a lot of time on the road with his wife and dog.
“Some might call it a midlife crisis,” Pereira joked. “I’ll just call it a side quest in my own life. I pared down and I got a truck and a trailer, and I’ve been traveling around. I was actually really, genuinely worried that throughout that process, I wouldn’t get quality gaming.”
Thankfully, Pereira found that his fears were unfounded. Between his Oculus Quest 2, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Surface Book, gaming on the go has been completely viable. He’s also been grinding to max level in World of Warcraft thanks to his LTE modem.
Even if he didn’t have any of these things, all he would’ve really needed is his phone. Pereira is a fan of Apple Arcade and Genshin Impact, both of which can be played on iOS devices.
“It’s so bizarre to me,” Pereira said. “We’re sort of living in the future promised ages ago. I think as cloud computing comes online and things like Starlink come online, those possibilities become truly endless. Instead of fretting over a GPU shortage, we’ll be laughing that we even had GPUs… From a technical standpoint, I get really excited.”
The return of G4 marks a merger of the old and the new
As for the upcoming G4, Sessler and Pereira are looking forward to creating something brand new while still preserving what people loved about the old G4. There’s plenty of other game content that has come since, of course. The number of Twitch streamers and YouTubers covering every kind of game from every angle is endless.
But for many gamers, G4 was still their first love.
“I always say that every time an E3 or a Comic Con would come around, it was impossible to ignore the fact that at G4, we had built a fanbase,” Pereira said. “My Twitter timeline would just explode any time there was a big convention.”
Video games have changed a whole lot since Sessler semi-retired as a gaming host in 2014. During that intervening time, esports went from being a subset of the video game industry to something that is a massive juggernaut more closely aligned to traditional sports than gaming.
“I love that challenge,” Sessler said. “How do we handle all these different types of games and that diversification and then still talk to one collective audience?”
Moreover, the game industry has finally been recognizing that gamers aren’t just white men. People of color and women have always been avid gamers — something that is now being slowly reflected both on the medium and behind the scenes.
Audiences are demanding more. Sessler is also committed to creating a workplace that “sees hosts and people that are more reflective of the diversity of people who are playing games.”
G4 has already made a name for itself. Now on the eve of another launch, this crew wants to make sure it’ll once again be the network to watch.
If you liked this piece, check out The Power Up episode on diversity in gaming.
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