Week 34 - What I Need to Know About the Rooster Teeth Family
Please note that this information might not all be correct since some information on various entities is sparse and ambiguous. While I tried to maintain accuracy in all areas, only the people involved can give the infallible truths. Also, I made a timeline of some of the Rooster Teeth family entities that you might also want to check out.
The Rooster Teeth Family.
A pretty awesome milestone considering there was no such thing when I had first heard about them. But as I've watched the company grow (as a fan), it's exciting to see that something you look up to is doing well, growing, and making a name for itself. At least, from the outside it does.
But while I do dream of working at Rooster Teeth one day, it's not just because I think it would be a fun place to work where you can just joke around all day.
Sure, their content does lean heavily towards the comedic side, but it took and still takes a metric butt-ton of work to do what they do. At a foundational level, they were a small business that saw a market, capitalized it, and treasured their fans and customers.
As someone who hopes to only work in a small to medium-sized business that operates in fields I love, Rooster Teeth seems like a place I could thrive. But the only way I'd know is if I get there.
Tangent aside, my main focus is to look at the actual growth of this company, from their humble roots of working in Burnie's(?) spare bedroom to moving to Stage 5 with 300 employees, to getting acquired by Fullscreen, and even to partnering with various other influencers and companies.
This is the Rooster Teeth Family.
While there doesn't seem to be a specific day and time that Rooster Teeth officially went from a single child to a family, I would attribute it to the creation of Achievement Hunter. Others might say that it was when they were acquired by Fullscreen. Regardless, if you really want to know, you'll have to ask RT themselves.
But as RT became more popular, as their ideas became more ambitious, and as they acquired more funding, they needed to expand and create more quality content. They needed to widen the scope of their content, hence the Achievement Hunter branch, and quickly acquire the bandwidth to specialize in their various verticals, from video game news, to comedy, to community engagement.
Without any insider information though, it looks like RT was able to navigate the wonderful problem of growing too quickly. While success is great, many companies fail when they experience lots of success in a short amount of time (sounds paradoxical, I know). Just another reason why I admire them as a company.
But the reason I define the creation of Achievement Hunter as the beginning Rooster Teeth Family is because of how Matt explains the importance of RT joining the Fullscreen family (even though the explanation is about something totally different). Rooster Teeth joined Fullscreen because they needed someone to help them "develop and grow, while allowing us to remain true to our core ideals and principles." What easier way to do that than just creating a division within the company?
As a quick note:
Achievement Hunter was formed in July of 2008 by Geoff Ramsey and Jack Pattillo
Rooster Teeth was acquired by Fullscreen in November of 2014
Before I dive into the Rooster Teeth Family though, I think it's worth noting that there is actually a family within this family - the Let's Play Family within the Rooster Teeth Family. While there is a good amount of overlap between these two entities, there are enough members that only exist in one or the other that makes this distinction worth mentioning.
The Rooster Teeth Family (excluding Let's Play Family members)
1. Rooster Teeth
Rooster Teeth was founded on April 1, 2003, by a group of friends (Matt Hullum, Burnie Burns, Joel Heyman, Geoff Ramsey, Gus Sorola, and Jason Saldaña) in accordance with the premiere of Red vs. Blue. Officially, Rooster Teeth is an LLC and is considered to be a media and entertainment company and owned by Fullscreen (which is owned by Otter Media, which is owned by WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T). Their niche could be described as comedy, gaming, and animation.
Like how Apple has their iPhone, Rooster Teeth has Red vs. Blue. While RT quickly introduced other shows, RvB was the foundation of their success.
Today, they have almost 400 employees in 8 locations working in 9 different divisions. Their content covers a variety of channels, from feature-length productions like Lazer Team, to short animated sketches like RTAA. Altogether, they've produced around 70 different shows, with probably dozens more in production or being brainstormed.
Their content ranges from machinima comedies like RvB to full-length movies like Lazer Team, and focus heavily on animation through like their RWBY series. They also have annual conventions, dubbed RTX in Austin, London, and Sydney. In 2017, RTX Austin attracted 62k attendees and featured Andy Serkis as the keynote, while also premiering an early screening of War for the Planet of the Apes.
2. The Know
As a division of Rooster Teeth Productions, The Know reports on movies, video games, technology, gaming, and other types of media. While it initially started as just a single show produced by Rooster Teeth, it eventually evolved into its own division in June of 2014.
Their content focuses mainly on current news, and was founded by Ashley Jenkins and Meg Turney, with other key RT employees like Mica Burton, Jon Risinger, Gus Sorola, Adam Ellis, Kdin Jenzen, and more.
The Know has produced 14 different shows from podcasts like Glitch Please to short news updates like Game News. The Know produces content that is short and digestible and focuses mostly on the informational aspects.
3. Game Kids
Described as a family-friendly channel, Game Kids is a division of Rooster Teeth that produces content for kids, by kids (and Caleb). It was founded in December of 2014 and featured content by children of Rooster Teeth founders, Geoff Ramsey, Matt Hullum, and Burnie Burns.
The Game Kids channel seems to be on hold until further notice as content has stopped releasing since March 28, 2016.
4. The Roost
Dubbed a "sales arm that brings the internet’s favorite podcasts and online shows closer to the audiences and brands that understand them best", The Roost is a network that helps bring together some of the most dynamic video podcasts and make them even better.
The idea behind this network is to give existing Rooster Teeth resources to popular podcasts and providing them with more powerful sales and audience-building tools. Kind of like the Let’s Play Network but for podcasts.
While The Roost features some of Rooster Teeth's own podcasts, like The RT Podcast, Always Open, Dude Soup, and Off Topic, it also includes the H3 Podcast, Because Science, Nostalgia Critic, Nerdist News, SuperMegaCast, and many more. The Roost has also partnered with Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company to work on their female-centric podcast, The Beam. Since Rooster Teeth has a knack for connecting brands with consumers, it only makes sense.
The Roost originally entered the playing field on June 14, 2016, and continues to be a pioneer in effectively engaging consumers with brands.
5. Rooster Teeth Games
Founded in 2015 as an internal game development studio within Rooster Teeth, Rooster Teeth Games (anyone else think there should be an epilepsy warning when watching their hero video?) worked to create original games based on existing RT content.
Then, in 2017, they officially expanded into a game developer, publisher, and distribution company focusing on connecting indie games to the global community of gamers using the RT network.
The Let's Play Family (Network)
This Let's Play Family was founded so that certain divisions within Rooster Teeth could partner with other groups and individuals and provide additional services like merchandising, promotions, and cross-promotion.
Here is more info on the slight nuances between family membership types, i.e., siblings vs cousins.
1. Achievement Hunter - Subsidiary / LP Sibling
A division of Rooster Teeth and a foundational member of the Let's Play Family (Network), Achievement Hunter was founded in 2008 by RT employees Geoff Ramsey and Jack Pattillo. The catalyst for this division came from Geoff Ramsey's declining interest in Red vs. Blue and his growing desire to pursue Xbox achievements.
Today, key faces of the Achievement Hunter crew include Geoff Ramsey, Jack Pattillo, Ryan Haywood, Michael Jones, Gavin Free, and Jeremy Dooley (with former Hunter Ray Narvaez Jr.).
Achievement Hunter is responsible for 42 different shows as well as an annual live event around called Let's Play Live! This event also has gone on tour, visiting various cities around the United States.
Achievement Hunter adds comedic commentary to their videos, which are generally longer in length (I'd say more than 20 minutes on average) with subtle editing additions.
2. Funhaus - Subsidiary / LP Sibling
Some might consider Funhaus to be a rival to Achievement Hunter.
This LA-based company was formed and brought into the Let's Play Family in February of 2015 and was founded by former members of Inside Gaming, Adam Kovic, James Willems, Bruce Greene, Lawrence Sonntag, Matt Peake, Sean "Spoole" Poole (has since left), and Joel Rubin (has since left).
While Funhaus is similar to Achievement Hunter in terms of adding comedic commentary to gameplay, that is where the similarity ends. FH and AH have their own distinct styles, choice of games, and crew format. Funhaus tends to keep their content shorter than many of AH's videos and focus more on the editing process.
Funhaus is also responsible for the production of 16 shows since its conception, and its members have appeared alongside various other RT entities, like co-hosting on The Know and traveling with Achievement Hunter during Let's Play Live!.
3. Kinda Funny - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
A partnered channel of Rooster Teeth and the Let's Play Network, Kinda Funny was originally formed in September of 2014 by former IGN employees Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino, and Tim Gettys.
The Kinda Funny crew took a slightly different approach than these other channels to secure funding - they used crowdfunding on Patreon.
As their previous fans came over from their past IGN work, Kinda funny began to realize that lots of their money was and can be coming directly from their audience, and not from putting ads everywhere.
The content they produce primarily revolves around video games, movies, TV shows, comics, and the occasional sport. They are responsible for the production of 14 different shows, with their main attraction being their weekly podcast - The GameOverGreggy Show and a Let's Play division called Kinda Funny Games.
Since Kinda Funny became a partnered channel on March 30, 2016, they’ve had their merchandise in the RT Store, but are not given a place on the RT website. This is due to the fact that they are only partnered and not actually owned by Rooster Teeth. This partnership also means that they could appear in various Rooster Teeth or Let's Play Network content, like Let's Play Live!, RTX, and the Let's Play Family Reunion.
4. ScrewAttack - Subsidiary / LP Sibling
As ScrewAttack was also a subsidiary of Fullscreen when Rooster Teeth joined, it made sense to connect the two entities. On November 4, 2015, ScrewAttack made the transition to being a division of Rooster Teeth and a member of the Let's Play Family.
They got their merchandise in the RT store as well as getting their own place on the RT website, and had their existing members merged with the main RT database.
ScrewAttack was originally founded as a video game website in 2006 by Craig Skistimas and Thomas Hanley. They originally started with just producing a single podcast (Sidescrollers) and have worked their way up to 31 shows today.
While Sidescrollers still remains one of their most popular productions, they have also received acclaim for their Death Battle! series, where they pit famous video game characters against each other and have they fight to the death.
They also began their own convention in 2009 - the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention - and focused on connecting ScrewAttack with its community. This convention was eventually merged with RTX after their transition over to the Rooster Teeth Family.
5. Cow Chop - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
Named with the idea of play couch co-op games together, Cow Chop was formed on February 29, 2016, by former Creatures James (UberHaxorNova) and Aleks (ImmortalHD). They uploaded their first video on April 1, 2016, and unsurprisingly, had to clarify that the channel was not a joke.
Due to a variety of reasons, James and Alex left The Creatures in April of 2016 and began working exclusively on Cow Chop. Even though they had severed ties with The Creatures, James and Alex maintained their connection to Rooster Teeth and the Let's Play Family through their Cow Chop connections.
Cow Chop has taken an interesting journey though, as they've had their fair share of questionable content and inner-company drama (which is what led to leaving The Creatures and it's eventual demise). For example, setting off fireworks in their house, breaking down walls, human feces in the basement, almost blinding themselves with bleach, etc.
All of this eventually led them to being evicted from their house and forced to find a location elsewhere - first, in the form of setting up shop in James' house, then a barn (which was a former meth lab), and finally settling in an LA warehouse.
Cow Chop is responsible for producing 14 shows and has 8 current members working on their content. Event though Cow Chop is only a partner of the Let's Play Network and not actually owned by Rooster Teeth, they still have real-estate on the main RT website and have merchandise in the RT store (similar to Game Attack).
6. Sugar Pine 7 - Subsidiary / LP Sibling
An entertainment company formed in 2017 by Steven Suptic, Clayton "Cib" James, and James DeAngelis, Sugar Pine 7 joined the Let's Play Network in May of 2017 and was eventually purchased by Rooster Teeth altogether in January of 2018.
While most of this content was originally produced by Steven Suptic, generally in the form of vlogs and podcasts, it was eventually expanded to include other members like Cub, James, Parker, and Autumn.
Suptic also worked at Sourcefed, where Joel from Funhaus worked, until it's cancellation in March of 2017. With Suptic out of a job, he began working on a series called Alternative Lifestyle, which Suptic describes as a "freeze-frame narrated, hyper-surrealistic, improv-based comedy that uses the vlog format as a vehicle to promote a character-driven story."
As for their name, Sugar Pine 7, it has been explained that it was the name of a cabin that the group had once stayed in.
Since they are based in LA, they have easy access to other Let's Play Network family members Funhaus and Cow Chop, sharing screen time with them in multiple videos. And since they are a full-fledged member of the Let's Play Network and owned by Rooster Teeth (Funhaus and SP7), they have both a subdomain on the RT site and merchandise in the RT store.
7. GameAttack - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
A Let's Play arm that was founded by members of the Screwattack crew Craig Skistimas, Shaun Bolen, Bryan Baker, and Parker Bohon, Game Attack focuses on content leaning towards comedic commentary over a video game medium (think Achievement Hunter or Funhaus).
Game Attack was originally founded on October 9, 2016, and was automatically a member of the Let's Play Family due to their original affiliation.
As of May 2017, Game Attack has been independent from Rooster Teeth (though still a member of the Let's Play Family). While this means they still have a site on the main RT site and have merch in the RT store, Game Attack now benefits directly from its consumer base. You can learn more about their independence here.
Game Attack initially started with 4 main shows - Four Play, Try Hard, Tap that App, and Let's Play - but has since been responsible for the production of 6 more.
8. Sideshow - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
In essence, it is the brainchild of these three individuals to make some "wild original projects and videos." As of now, there doesn't seem to be much information on it besides an intro video posted to each of the three member's accounts. I assume more information will be coming soon.
9. JT Machinima - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
Formerly named in February of 2009, JT Machinima was really just a way for friends John (Patfan8326) and Timothy (Skullcruncher13), hence JT, to stay in touch after they moved away. The music they made was a way for them to work together on something they both enjoyed and just keep up with each other.
When they came up with their Halo 3 Rap "The Greatest Ever" though it was no longer just something they could do for fun. They had sent it to Machinima and had received thousands of views for their video, eventually getting a contract from Machinima to continue producing video game raps.
After 5 years with Machinima though, John and Timothy went on to pursue a more independent path. In May of 2017, along with other influencers seen below, JT Machinima joined the Let's Play Family. Then, as of November 2017, JT Machinima was renamed to JT Music.
While JT Machinima/Music doesn't focus on comedic commentary over a video game medium like most of the other Let's Play Family members, it still hit on the expression of love for gaming and pop culture that they all share.
As a Let's Play Family Member, JT Music got their merchandise in the RT store and their content on the RT website. As of October, JT Music has been responsible for the production of 8 shows, ranging from songs about Minecraft to rap battles between well-known video games.
10. NoahJ456 - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
Announced as a new member of the Let's Play Family at the same time as LazarBeam, JT Machinima, and SP7 in May of 2017, NoahJ456 was forced to drag the dead weight of Achievement Hunter through Call of Duty Zombies. Poor guy.
He originally began uploading videos to YouTube in mid-2011, focusing on CoD and GTA and adding his own education and comedic flare - making him a pretty good fit for the Let's Play Family.
Even though NoahJ is a member of the Let's Play Family, he does not have a part on the RT website (though he does have merch) and is only shown is various guest videos. This just means he is making use of the other benefits of joining the fam, i.e., additional promotional, ads, management, etc from RT.
11. Criken - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
Another individual partner of the Let's Play Family, Criken officially joined the fam after an announcement at RTX Austin 2017. He was also an attendee at the Let's Play Family Reunion in September of 2017 with other family members (AH, FH, Cow Chop, SP7, and Kinda Funny).
Before joining the LP Family, Criken was uploading comedic video game content to YouTube (since 2008) and streaming on Twitch, usually collaborating with his friends and looking for glitches.
Even though Cirken is a member of the Let's Play Family, he does not have a part on the RT website and is only shown is various guest videos. This just means he is making use of the other benefits of joining the fam, i.e., additional promotional, ads, management, etc from RT.
12. LazarBeam - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
An overseas family member in Australia and Fortnite streamer, LazarBeam (Lannan Eacott) was announced as a new member of the fam along with JT, Noah, and SP7. He also complains about his issues with YouTube monetization.
As a partnered individual, LazarBeam gets access to the promotional, advertising, merch in the RT store, and other management resources provided by Rooster Teeth, but does not have a section on the main RT website.
13. Completeditmate - Partnered Channel / LP Cousin
Going in the opposite direction, Completeditmate is a YouTube gaming channel started by British actor James Buckley and has been an occasional guest on various Achievement Hunter videos. He was announced as a member of the Let's Play Family and an Honorary Achievement Hunter in November of 2017.
Completeditmate was an already established YouTube channel before joining the LP Family with 300k subscribers already earned. As a partnered channel, Buckley gains access to merchandising, licensing, advertising, and other management resources from Rooster Teeth.
1. The Creatures / LP Cousin
A previous member of the LP Family, The Creatures was originally a gathering of various Streamers, YouTubers, and other entertainers founded in 2011 by personalities Kootra and ZeRoyalViking.
This hub of entertainers also attracted members like James and Aleks, who eventually left to go form Cow Chop.
After many dramatic internal issues and substandard performance, The Creatures was dissolved in July of 2017.