Today, ESPN launched ESPN Gamer, a mini-site devoted to sports video games. According to their introductory letter they plan to offer all of the usual stuff you expect from a video game site: reviews, screenshots, trips, features, etc. This begs the question, why does ESPN need to do this? There are sites and magazines devoted to video games that do a very good job. It makes me wonder how much money the game developers are throwing at them.

I explored the site a bit to decipher their motives. The reviews they offer are relatively crappy. It's broken down into six sections (graphics, gameplay, etc.), which doesn't leave much room for the writer to discuss what it's like to play the game. It's too rigid. If this is all they offered I would write off this site immediately. Thankfully, they have two well-written columns -- one of which is quite refreshing.

The first is an interview and showdown with Michael Vick (the coverboy for Madden 2004). The writing is good but the content is the same as every other magazine who was there on that press day.

The second is an article on Sega's newest football offering, discussing the first-person view. What's nice about this article is that the writer's knowledge of football is put to good use here. Video game magazines know video games, not sports, which means they miss some nuances of the game. ESPN will be able to pick up the slack here as they are (or at least should be) sports gurus.

That is the what the draw of this site should be. ESPN is able to offer a perspective on video games that will look at whether or not they are accurate or relevant to the world of sports. They can, and should, leave all of the technical stuff to EGM or Edge. This is why I'll be returning to this site. It's likely that they are trying to sell the new line of Sega games they're sponsoring, but if it means the potential for good content and a new perspective then I have no complaints.

Note: There are definitely other columns on this site that are quite good and some other content on its way, but I didn't want this to become a detailed review of the entire site.