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Consumer gaming blog Kotaku loses key staff
Consumer gaming blog Kotaku loses key staff
January 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Popular gaming news blog Kotaku is parting ways with two of its top men, editorial director Joel Johnson and editor-in-chief Brian Crecente, leaving Stephen Totilo to take over the Gawker Media network site.

Johnson's departure comes as a surprise, as the former Boing Boing and Gizmodo editor joined Kotaku less than a year ago, and led the site through what some saw as a reboot with its redesign and shifts in coverage meant to attract a broader audience.

Many saw Crecente as the face of Kotaku, as he worked there for more than seven years, helping grow its readership from 10,000 to now 5.5 million. It is the second most popular site on Gawker Media's network, behind tech-focused blog Gizmodo.

"The time is right ... for a parting of the ways," said the former editor-in-chief in a farewell post published at Kotaku. "I can leave knowing that something I was fortunate enough to see blossom into life will continue to thrive beyond me."

Crecente hasn't said where he intends to work next, but he did indicate that others will learn about his "new role [at a] new place" soon. Johnson will remain with Gawker Media, serving as the new editor-at-large at Jalopnik, its automobile and car culture blog.

Totilo, who joined Kotaku as deputy editor in 2009 after a seven-year stint at MTV News (and after co-creating VH1 reality TV show Hogan Knows Best), will lead the site as its new editor-in-chief, reporting directly to Gawker Media head Nick Denton.

"Change can make anyone nervous, and I will not hide the fact that Kotaku will spend the next several weeks in transition," said Totilo. "My vision for Kotaku in 2012 is not the Kotaku you will see in January, though sprouts of it will emerge."

This news comes just a week after AOL-owned games blog Joystiq revealed that several key employees -- editor-in-chief Chris Grant, managing editor Justin McElroy, reviews editor Griffin McElroy, and previews editor Arthur Gies -- were leaving the company.

According to a report from VentureBeat, Grant and the McElroy brothers will create a new gaming property for Vox Media, which publishes The Verge -- a gadget blog run by AOL/Engadget veterans Joshua Topolsky and Nilay Patel.

Joystiq's senior editor Ludwig Kietzmann will now serve as the site's editor-in-chief, while features editor JC Fletcher has been promoted to managing editor, and other writers have taken on new editorial responsibilities.

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Rob Wright
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Don't forget that Kotaku also lost longtime writer/reviewer Mike McWhertor recently, too, one of the best voices they've ever had on that blog.

Kotaku used to be a must-read site for me. When it came to industry scoops, breaking news stories and behind-the-scenes insights, they absolutely crushed it. And the second best compliment I could pay the site is that it in no way felt like the rest of the link-baiting, troll-feeding trash that Gawker pumps out. That, sadly, is no longer the case.

Eric Geer
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It's kind of where you have to go for a "broader audience", which is sad to say. Wish there could be more intelligent gaming sites---well---like Gamasutra!

Brenton Poke
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They didn't fire Owen Good for that trashtastic op/ed he did? Bummer.

Mark Lucherini
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That's because it generated a lot of hits for Gawker, which appears to be their only goal these days. I'm just glad I'll have somewhere else to read Crecentes work, as I've always enjoyed it.

Ben Lewis
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Which? The one where he positioned Penny Arcade as the bad guys in the whole "Ocean Marketting" debacle?

He was trolling for hits to be sure, but I still think Owen has the best sense of humor out of the current Kotaku staff.