Polygon is an American video game website that publishes news, culture, reviews, and videos. It launched as Vox Media's third property on October 24, 2012. The site was built over the course of ten months, and its 16-person founding staff included the editors-in-chief of the gaming sites Joystiq, Kotaku and The Escapist. Vox produced a documentary series about the founding of the site. The site sought to distinguish itself from competitors by focusing on the stories of the people behind the games instead of the games themselves. They also produced long-form magazine-style feature articles, invested in video content, and chose to allow their review scores to be updated as the game changed. The site was built to HTML5 responsive standards with a pink color scheme, and their advertisements focused on direct sponsorship of specific kinds of content.
The gaming blog Polygon was launched on October 24, 2012, as Vox Media's third property. The site grew from technology blog The Verge, which was launched a year earlier as an outgrowth of sports blog network SB Nation before the Vox Media was formed. Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff approached Joystiq editor-in-chief Christopher Grant in early 2011 about starting a video game website. Bankoff considered video games to be a logical vertical market for Vox, whose sites attracted an 18- to 49-year-old demographic. He also saw games to be an expanding market in consideration of mobile and social network game categories. Forbes described Bankoff's offer as a "serious commitment to online journalism" in an age of content farms and disappearing print publications, but Grant did not trust the offer and declined. Upon seeing the effort that Vox put into The Verge, their Chorus content management system, and the quality of their content and sponsorships, Grant changed his mind and returned to pitch Bankoff. Grant wanted the new site to compete with top gaming websites GameSpot and IGN, but still be able to run longform "magazine-style journalism" that could be of historic interest. As part of the site's attempt to "redefine games journalism", Vox made a 13-part documentary series of the site's creation ("Press Reset") that tracked the site's creation from start to launch.
Forbes described Polygon's original 16-person staff as "star-studded" for including the editors-in-chief from three competing video game blogs. Grant left Joystiq in January 2012 and brought the editors-in-chief of Kotaku and The Escapist, Brian Crecente and Russ Pits. Other staff included Joystiq managing editor Justin McElroy and staff from UGO, IGN, MTV, Videogamer.com, and 1UP.com. Ben Kuchera joined the site after The Penny Arcade Report closed in November 2013. The team works remotely from places including Philadelphia, New York, West Virginia, San Francisco, Sydney, London, and Austin, though Vox Media is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The site was developed over the course of ten months, where the staff chose the site's name and set standards for their reporting and review score scale. Polygon staff published on The Verge as "Vox Games" beginning in February 2012 and ending with their October launch. The site's name was announced at a PAX East panel in April. It refers to a polygon—"the basic visual building block of video games".
Polygon publishes video game news, entertainment, reviews, and video. They sought to set their content apart from other games journalism outlets by focusing on the people making and playing the games rather than the games alone. At the site's outset, Polygon planned to run multiple longform feature articles weekly, which they intended to be comparable in intent to the cover stories of magazines. They also decided to allow their game review scores to be updated as the games were updated, so as to more adequately reflect games that had changed with downloadable content and updates since their original release. The site received criticism for its comparatively low review score given to The Last of Us, which was later increased with the game's remastered edition. In consideration of games that may differ in quality before and after release, Polygon later began to mark pre-release reviews as "provisional" to defer final scoring until after their public release.
After raising money in a second round of funding in late 2013, Vox announced that they would be investing further in the site's video product, such that it "feels as much like TV programming as magazine publishing". The site announced in June 2014 that features editor Russ Pitts would be leaving Polygon along with their video director and video designer as the site planned to run fewer feature articles in the future. Polygon's Minimap podcast was named among iTunes's best of 2015.
The site uses a pink color palette and emulates the magazine-style layout of The Verge. The site was programmed to use HTML 5 standards with a responsive design that adapts to the screen dimensions of laptops, tablets, and cell phones. This is partially to remove need for a separate mobile version. Their longform journalism was optimized for reading on tablets.
The site uses a "direct content sponsorship" model of online advertising used by SB Nation and The Verge. For example, a video series sponsorship pairs brands with specific editorial content. Forbes wrote that Vox's avoidance of content farm and news aggregator tactics, and interest shown in building communities is desirable to "magazine-quality advertisers". The site pitched its longform journalism to advertisers as an indicator of high-quality content. The site's founding sponsors included Geico, Sony, and Unilever.
As of June 2014, Polygon ranks fourth among games sites by Comscore web traffic data: behind IGN, GameSpot, and Kotaku. The same month, Grant reported that the previous month had been their most highly popular.