The Rise, Fall and Return of G4TV

In the ancient year of 2002, Comcast launched what would become the official home of video games on television, G4. G4 was a network whose purpose was to provide content about video games for young adults. It eventually merged with its competitor TechTV in 2004 and became G4TV, gaining even more programming and viewers as a result. Years went by and fans of the network stopped watching as the shows they fell in love with were either cancelled or changed dramatically. Now, G4 doesn’t exist. It went off the air in 2014, however it will return in 2021.

Before its downfall, G4TV was the greatest thing in the world to me as a 6-year-old in 2003. I definitely shouldn’t have been watching it at that age, but there was just something about seeing video games on television in an era before YouTube and Twitch. When I first discovered the network, it was in its early days and shows like Filter, X-Play and Cinematech were airing daily.

The best part of G4 was its variety. Every show was about video games but they all had their own format. Filter was a top-ten countdown show whose viewers voted on the games that appeared in every episode. X-Play featured comedy skits, game reviews, and previews of upcoming games. Cinematech was my personal favorite. Each episode aired footage of the newest game trailers along with footage of random video games with background music.

If you were feeling stuck in a video game and needed some help, you would watch Cheat! for tips and tricks. The shows on G4 were not only unique, they were also ahead of their time. YouTube these days is filled with videos dedicated to top-ten countdowns, reviews, and new video game releases. YouTube is also what helped contribute to their downfall. If I can just watch a review for the new Halo game on YouTube, why would I need to wait for the next episode of X-Play?

Another factor that helped contribute to the network’s downfall was lack of video game content. After a certain point in the 2000s, the programming schedule was nothing but hours of reruns of shows like Cops, The Jamie Kennedy Experience and Cheaters. None of these shows had anything to do with video games. As time went on, more of these non-video game reruns took over the network.

While this was going on, the networks only remaining original content was X-Play and Attack of The Show. These two shows pretty much carried the network in its final days but unfortunately; they were both cancelled in 2013. From this point until its last day of existence in 2014, G4 was just reruns of old shows that had nothing to do with video games. Thankfully the 2021 reboot hopes to avoid all of these problems. 

There hasn’t been much official information released yet about the reboot, but based on the recent reunion special, it seems as if X-Play and Attack of The Show may be coming back with their original hosts. WWE wrestler Xavier Woods will also be joining the network as a host. The new G4 will also be online as well as television. If this reboot wishes to succeed, it will have to avoid shows that have nothing to do with video games. The new G4 should become the home for anything related to geek culture the same way the original was the home of video games. If it can do this, then it may just avoid cancellation again. Stay tuned for more information on G4TV’s return.

G4TV’s gaming shows are only available on YouTube in the form of recordings of reruns.

By Brendan Bell

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