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The State Of U.S. Videogame Magazines

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the games-on-dead-trees dept.

97

simoniker writes "Wonder how video game magazines are still alive and kicking, in the age of the Interweb? Here's 'a quick tour of all the game magazines you can find in U.S. bookshelves right now', with plenty of commentary and cover scans, from Nintendo Power to EGM: 'The output isn't quite what it was ten or even five years ago, but there's still a remarkable amount of print getting churned out each month -- and what's more, nearly all of it these days is written for 'core' gamers like you and me.'" I enjoy most of Ziff's magazines (EGM, CGW). I also happily pay through the nose for the British Mag Edge, which is the finest gaming magazine in the world.

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As said by Dr. Egon Spengler (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472354)

Print is dead.

Re:As said by Dr. Egon Spengler (1)

deesine (722173) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472786)

Newspaper and magazines are dying, not books.

So, print is dying, not dead.

Re:As said by Dr. Egon Spengler (1)

zerocommazero (837043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475385)

Not exactly.

Magazines are great for long trips, bathroom breaks, reading in bed, etc. and tons of other places a laptop is not very comfortable in (I've tried on the john, gets to be a pain in the ass when wiping). They are alot easier to scan too and find what i want instead of a .pdf or a website that is obnoxiously choked with ads and demanding I sign up to to be a member and get more spam. they definitely are lacking in current news, though. But how can you beat the internet?!

I'm an avid EGM subscriber and have been for over a decade. They always seemed to be the most truthful and have some interesting articles and writers like Seanbaby. So there is a trustworthy source to me as they have 3 opinionated reviews per a game.

I have been receiving Game Informer and it seems like their mag is written by the advertisers themselves as some of the lamest games will actually get on the cover and/or an in-depth article. Gamestop gave me this subscription for free when i joined their used game program for trade-ins, ...hmm. They almost always never rate a game below a 7 either (unless there's no way to hide a complete failure, I guess) so it seems like they pad the number. But their page sizes are larger and make screenshots more compelling as a positive note.

It's interesting to compare the two each month and see where they stand.

Re:As said by Dr. Egon Spengler (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476031)

> and tons of other places a laptop is not very comfortable in (I've tried on the john, gets to be a pain in the ass when wiping).

Bleh, remind me *not* to buy a used laptop from you... :-)

The real state of Videogame magazines.... (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472372)

The magazines now are more than 50% advertising.. It's like reading a bloody infomercial...

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472394)

Yes... but the other 50% is content. Does print advertising really have such substantial negative value that it outweighs the value of content?

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472438)

In a nutshell, yes. There used to be a lot more content and a lot less fluff.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472468)

The fact that the average cost of a magazine is $6-$7 off the shelf, I would expect to see less than 50% advertising. It's quite rediculous to think that with the hundred of thousands, if not millions, of subscribers paying $5 per issue (typically discounts given to subscribers) couldn't cover the cost of a magazine.

Maybe it's the fact that all of these are owned by a select few publishers and they are subsidizing the cost of their failures by raising the cost of their more popular mags as well as putting in craploads of advertising.

On a different note, SSC has done this with Linux Journal. It's glossy ad ridden rag has become more and more worthless to me each month...

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472560)

But would a magazine with 100 pages of editorial and 5 pages of advertising be better than a magazine with 200 pages of editorial and 200 pages of advertising? Would a magazine with 4 pages of editorial and no advertising at all be even better?

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472598)

Yes, in a way it would. I don't buy a magazine based on it's girth.

$6-$7 is charged due to the fact that they print hundreds of glossy pages of crap that I never read, don't care to read and often choose not to ever purchase the magazine again.

100 pages of content is something I'd be willing to consider paying more for than 200 pages of content and 200 pages of advertising. At least my $3-$4 for the 100 pages of content (averages,averages...assuming 200 pages costs $6-$7)...is better spent in my mind.

I don't pay to have advertising shoved down my throat...

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472673)

What's even worse is that some magazines are portraying advertising like actual articles and columns. It's getting really difficult to discern between them until you're half way through and find out that you're reading an advertisement for the latest Whizbang!2006 Elite Gizmo of the Week...

blah.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473198)

Fair enough. Totally agree about the "advertising features". I guess I'd feel the same way as you at the extreme levels of advertising, but I don't object that to it.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472967)

Since I prefer to carry a magazine around with me I'd rather buy the 105 pages one than the 400 pages because that means less weight to carry.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

mmalove (919245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475762)

A magazine with 4 pages of editorial and no advertising would be perfect. Cut out all the bullshit, tell me whether you think the games coming out are worth anything, and close up. Put an ad on the back cover and send to print.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472461)

Try flipping through a few at you local magazine rack, I'm sure you'll find quite a few that have a lot more than 50% advertising. With a lot of magazines topping 200-300 pages, they aren't doing it by adding lots more content.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

British (51765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474113)

I remember BYTE magazine so laden with ads you really had to hunt hard in the several hundred pages for the actual content. It was worse than Computer Shopper.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (5, Informative)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472924)

Newsflash: US magazines are ALWAYS 50% ads. That's the goal of the magazine. I used to be the editor of a videogame magazine, so I know something about this subject.

In the US, magazine distribution is really inefficient -- there are hundreds of thousands of places to buy magazines, and to reach the realtively small number of people interested in a nich publication (games, fishing, knitting, etc), you need to print way more copies than you can possibly sell. Selling through 20 or 22% of your newstand copies is considered good, and hitting 30% or higher is fantastic. That means you're wasting the cost of 70% of your newstand distribution, which is a lot. At best, your newsstand sales might break even.

Then you have subscriptions. The $12.99 or $19.99 you pay for a year of a magazine doesn't come close to paying for the printing and shipping. It's a total loss leader. What it does, however, is ensure a certain level of readership for the magazine (vs. the uncertainty of newstand/retail sales).

This number of readers -- the guarenteed circulation -- can then be shown to potential advertisers, along the lines of "hey, look, a quarter-million people subscribe to this magazine! Our research shows they each spend $600 a year on software! You should advertise, because this is your core audience." And then (hopefully) you sell some ads. Advertising is the *only* place a typical US magazine makes any money at all. This means the magazines have to be advertiser focused. Not by giving good reviews to advertisers' products (in six years in the biz, I never saw that kind of influence from advertising happen, even once -- editors typically have no clue what ads will be in the magazine until the see it come back from the printer), but by trying to appeal to a broad audience that makes their numbers look good to advertisers. Different magazines have different ways to accomplish this (EGM by being very broad and inclusive, PSM by being hardcore, etc), obviously, but the goal -- at some level -- is to being pretty advertising friendly as a product.

The size of the magazine, monthly, is basically set by the number of ads. You have a minimum book size (say 96 pages), and if you sell more than 50% ads (say you sell 60 pages), you may go up a form (usually 12 or 16 pages, depending on the printer) to say, 112. But the goal is to keep the ad/edit ratio pretty close to 50%. In lean months (like the summer), you may be at the minimum size, but have many more edit pages than ad pages, and in the fat months (leading up to Xmas), you may have way more ad pages than edit pages (although you'll likely have double or triple the total editorial pages you had in the lean months).

In the UK, by contrast, lossy subscriptions are less well known, and the smaller total size of the market means that newsstand sales can be managed much more effectively. A magazine may sell 80-90% of its retail issues, making newsstand profitable. This reduces the reliance on advertisers, and means magazines don't have to try to be "mainstream" to be as advertiser-friendly as possible. This means magazines that are much more niche than could be successful in the US (such as Edge, RetroGamer, Scootering) can do very well.

That all said, magazines are a fanastic bargain, and given that the ads are really very targeted, I don't mind seeing them in games mags, the same way I enjoy looking at the ads in car mags or other technology magazines.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473010)

Newsflash: the reason only 20-30% of magazines sell is because people don't want to waste their money on crap that is over 50% advertising.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473178)

Actually, the value proposition that most normal people make is "is the amount of editorial content contained in this magazine worth the purchase price," not "omgwtf ads... in a MAGAZINE! someone call the cops!"

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473269)

Wait, you are using the term "normal people" when refering to consumers of videogame magazines??

Yes content is great, but if you can't find it stuck in between all the ads it is worthless to me. I would much rather pay more for a magazine I could actually read then one I had to filp 10 pages of ads between the "content". I don't object to advertising in mags, I object to there being more advertising than content. 5 years ago this wasn't a problem and guess what - I had subscriptions to 3 vidoegaming magazines then... Guess how many subsciptions I have now??

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Ben Newman (53813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473410)

Newsflash, you need to take a basic economics course. I also worked for a couple of video game magazine publish houses, and the parent post is spot on. The reason only 20% of the magazines sell is that video game magazines by there very nature tend to be impulse purchases. Its not like newspapers where you can get a pretty good meassure of how many are going to be bought at a specific place on a specific day. For those buyers that aren't so dedicated they'll subscribe, the only way to reach them is to make sure the magazine is available when the impulse strikes them, and that means dumping a lot of copies out there so they are always available to potential buyers even if you only sell a small percentage. That keeps your numbers up, and that keeps your advertisers happy. Since advertising is what keeps you in business that allows you to be able to keep your doors open. This isn't anything unique to video game magazines either, most magazines are funded by advertising. I read Wired and Spin occasionaly and they're packed with ads. My wife's copy of Vouge smells like it has more pages of perfume samples then actual content. Of the magazines I read it seems the Economist and Scientific American are the only ones that aren't packed with ads, and these two are closer to the newspaper model with a large fixed readership that isn't so dependant on advertising cash.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

aculeus (21460) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473923)

What happens to all the unsold magazines?

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

rjung2k (576317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473938)

Recycled to wood pulp for the next batch of magazines, I'd wager.

vague question (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474011)

For the newstand/bookstore: they rip off the covers and send them back to the publisher for credit. They throw away the rest of the magazine, which may or may not make it to a recycle facility; depends on the owner I'd suppose.

Re:vague question (1)

theqmann (716953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474739)

I'd take the coverless mags off their hands each month for free! I'd even pick them up! OMGWTFBBQ!

technically not allowed ;) (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475988)

In fact, many paperback fiction books (which are also "stripped" for credit) will have a disclaimer alluding to the fact that if hte book is coverless it was stripped and is therefore illegal.

That said, when I was in college, I worked for a bookstore that allowed us 20 stripped books and 13 stripped magazines per month. (Paperbacks only, no mass market or hardcover)

Great perk, almost made up having to straighten up (haha) the gay magazine section. We had tons of mags, and those were the only ones worse for maintaining order than video games. VG mags got wacky because of sheer disorder, gay men's magazines got wacky because of the double-stima of shame (nudie magazine + homosexuality) encouraged people interested in them to disguise said interest. So they'd end up all over the store, nestled in other magazines, etc.

Honest Question: (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474054)

When did this happen? Because I really can't conceive of it always having been that way. My memory, and historical reading of the '80's tells me that the magazine market in the 'states in the '80's looked much more like you're describing in Britain.

Additionally it's very interesting that you should talk about Scientific American. I was a long time subscriber to SA. However, around 2000 or so I noticed a very disturbing trend. The content was noticibly dumbed down (equations were almost totally removed from the magazine) and many long running columns vanished utterly. I suspect this was part of a move to "broaden their base" and "encourage newstand sales," but in my case it made me drop my subscription in disgust.

Re:Honest Question: (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474693)

I'm not sure; I started in '93 and so most of my knowledge comes from then. I know I worked at a smaller, less profitable magazine first, and it was well under the ratio monthly (maybe 33% ads), without going under, so you also have to figure bigger magazine companies, that want lots of profits, probably expect their books to perform better than smaller companies, which are content to make less dough per magazine. As the game industry got bigger, the magazines got more professional, and the ideal edit ratios changed. I seem to remember C&VG and GamePlayers having way less ads than GamePro or EGM, but again, GamePro and EGM are still with us, while C&VG and GamePlayers have gone the way of the dodo. Reading through old computer mags from the 1980s (like Compute! and Byte), they're full of ads, but I know as a user then, I liked the ads as much as I did the editorial content, so there may be some age-based nostalgia that makes you not remember the ads as evily as you may regard them now.

I fully agree on SA. When they lost the mathematical recreations column, I switched to The Science News.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474217)

I need to take an economics course?? I'm not currently manufacturing a product I am wasting 80% of the total.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473807)

I find it hard - very hard - to believe that printing and shipping 12 copies of a magazine costs $20, especially if you are getting a good rate because you're buying in bulk.
What really shocks me is that I get tons of free magazines from publishers (the only magazine I still pay for is national geographic and there aren't all that many ads in that anymore) who want to bump their subscriber numbers. I'm sure the freebees get factored in to the subscriptions costs.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474645)

Depends on the magazine, but it can cost $1 or more to print one, and shipping might be .50 or more -- it changes per month. That's $18 right there and you haven't accounted for the cost it takes to acquire the subscribe, or send out those millions of "renew now!" letters, never mind the customer service department, sending out new copies when peoples' get lost or mangled in the mail, etc. It adds up.

That's not where review bias comes from (1)

Myria (562655) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477978)

Review bias doesn't come from advertising so much, as you explain above. The primary influence is from publishers refusing to give magazine early access to the games unless they gave a good review to the publisher's previous game.

The only real way to end the corruption of the review system is to get a set of trusted critics. The movie critics have Roger Ebert and a few others (David Ansen?). Once a critic is trusted enough by the movie-watching public, the critic is able to tell off the studios. If a studio doesn't let Ebert watch a movie because of the bad review they think he'll give, he won't hesitate to present that fact to his audience. This is usually worse press than allowing the bad review.

(Whether you agree with Ebert's movie taste is irrelevant; I'm talking about his influence.)

To set something like this up would take a while and would be risky. The magazine would need to be prepared to give bad reviews even if it meant not getting next month's beta games. They would need the courage to not worry so much that their competitors got it. They can fight back against the publisher by publicizing that they were denied access to beta games due to the publisher's bullying like Ebert does. Finally, they need the integrity to write honest reviews, and not be in awe just because they got to see a new unfinished game. And they need to be willing to give good reviews where deserved even if the publisher shafted them.

When and if something like this happens, maybe game reviews will actually mean something again.

Melissa

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478182)

magazine become catalogues when their ad content passes 50%, and many have 80% or higher. if you think influence is not exerted on writers by companies, then you are so far down the food chain that you never see bribes, ans nobody cares what you think.

the most successful mags sell product. shitloads of product. any sort of grassroots knowlegde/ interest, reader / user orientation is spin and gloss. those special interests have all moved to the web ages ago. this is because your distribution problems/ printing costs vanish. so do oprint cycles / deadlines. this means things have been on the web long before they see print.

magazins that do not sell product cover up by playing with their readership numbers. you are right that a mag makes the majority of $ from ad revenue. this is why some mags keep sending you fre copies after yous sub expires. in fact they could give these catalogues away, and pay the newsstand to carry them and still make money.

sears, ikea, big stores have free magazines. and they give em away wherever possible. why? they sell stuff. ikea is arguably just as much of a magazine as many of the pc mags out there. why? because they are showing decorating ideas, lifestyle, selling the sizzle before teh steak, which is what any ad based pub needs to do well if it wants to be successful.

prediction:
once wireless networks become commonplace, (ie free wifi everywhere) and every student has a notebook (not jsut university, but grade school) print will shift very quickly to this new medium. it is already happening, with many magazines sporting an online version

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

netmasta (919769) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473200)

That's for sure. The worst IMO, is 1and1 Internet, 12 pages in a row of freakin ads. WTF? Because of those 12 pages alone, I will never use their services.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473392)

REalize that this runs contrary to the idea that the mags are dying.

There is no bigger indicator of a magazine's success then the count of 'ad pages.'

Your comment on the ratio of the magazine being 50% ads is also flawed. Imagine the same amount of content but half as many ads - so now it's just 33% advertising. Is it a better magazine? Actually, no, because with less ad revenue, the content is lamer as they can't afford better/more writers.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474969)

On the other hand, yes it is a better magazine because you can find the content you'd like to read without having to search. Once you go beyond a certain threshold, which is closer to 33% than 50%, you find ads not articles. If I can't find the index in 20 seconds, the magazine's not worth the effort to read.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478880)

Ah but we aren't talking about what makes a GOOD magazine. A GREAT magazine would have zero ads (though I often prefer ads to content, myself - particularly in triathlon magazines where the articles are mostly garbage).

What I am talking about is a financially healthy magazine. Someone earlier mentioned that mags are doing badly Because they have so many ads, and I was saying it was quiet to the contrary.

usually when a major magazine sees it's ad pages drop, it is a sign it is struggling and possibly going under.

Re:The real state of Videogame magazines.... (1)

bmc152006 (939255) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474582)

I am subscribed to EGM, and it is not uncommon to find a 5 page ad layout in the magazine.

Too commercial (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472374)

The reason I don't bother with any of them is because they mostly look like game publisher advertising. Just like I wouldn't bother reading an opinion piece about Microsoft in a Microsoft-published magazine, I don't want to read about the PS3 in a magazine that appears to be published by a Sony subsidiary. Almost always, if I flip through one of these gaming magazines, they rate every game 3, 4, or 5 out of 5. As if no games suck. These rags appear to be flooded more with commercial interests, not real gamer interests.

Re:Too commercial (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472451)

truthsearch writes
Almost always, if I flip through one of these gaming magazines, they rate every game 3, 4, or 5 out of 5.
Sounds like Slashdot book reviews...

Re:Too commercial (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472486)

Gaming rags, whether online or dead-tree, have always been promotional tools for game publishers. And the truth is, there really are very few truly 'bad' games. Pretty much every game that makes it to release appeals to someone. There are no 'grass roots' in video games, because the price of entry into the industry is so high (if I recall, the average game development cost is around $10 million.) Anyone who can afford to be in the game industry can afford their own astroturf and viral advertising. It's all just a carefully crafted marketing plan, much more so than most people probably realize.

Re:Too commercial (1)

radish (98371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472962)

I thought that too. I only read one of the "official" magazines - the Xbox one - but on reading the reviews last night I was surprised to see several in the 2 or 3 out of 10 range. The reviews were disparaging to say the least, which actually gave me a little hope for the objectivity of the other reviews. Or maybe that's the plan :)

Re:Too commercial (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473449)

OXM's editorial staff has 100% liberty to write whatever they want. I think they may still have their 'complete' ratings list in each magazine and you can see how many bombs there are.

Waste of Money (1)

Mr.Dippy (613292) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472377)

I can't believe people still buys these? I'll take a look at few when I'm browsing Borders or B & N But I would never waste 5 to 10 bucks on them. The news is alwasy one month out dated. I know some of them come with a demo disc but seriously MS/Nintendo/Sony should be giving those out for free without the magezines.

Re:Waste of Money (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472488)

And MS is now giving these out free without the magazine, through XB Live and their downloaded demos, trailers, etc.

Re:Waste of Money (1)

Rurik (113882) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472943)

The news is alwasy one month out dated.

I don't find that at all. I pick up Game Informer occassionally and find it very current. Game Informer was the ONLY magazine to have inside information on the Revolution(Wii) with details of the Red Steel game. Online sites were ripping and sharing scans of the magazine to provide online content. On the other side of the coin, they still referred to it as the Revolution long after we knew of its new name. While some areas of magazines will be behind due to printing delays, many times they are current due to pre-scheduled press releases.

Re:Waste of Money (1)

chuesk3 (979958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477358)

Well, due to the law of advertising (if it gets a glance, your money was well-spent,) it really doesn't MATTER that you didn't buy the magazine.. I mean, if you leaf through it for 20 seconds, thats like, a 5% chance you'll see my ad, if I was a company who put an ad in that magazine. Think billboards, people rarely look at them for more than a couple seconds, and they still are somewhat effective. Since most people never buy from newsstands in the U.S. you have to realise that the thumbed-up copies are generating ad revenue too..!

ST Format (1)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472386)

I remember back in the day... There were two major Atari ST magazines that got progressively thinner and less shiny. One disappeared, and the other (ST Format if I recall) went on for a few more months. I remember the very last issue stated in no uncertain terms that there was no chance of them closing down, and that they'd be going strong for a long time yet. I still wonder whether the staff knew how bad it was or whether they were as surprised as their two readers.

Re:ST Format (1)

Duds (100634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472498)

You remember wrongly.

I have ST Format's last issue. The headline is "All good things" and they made a big thing of it being the last issue.

Re:ST Format (1)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472543)

So maybe it was the penultimate issue, or maybe it was ST User. Anyway, the point was that these mags were clearly fading away, but the editorials kept insisting everything was fine right up until the waves reached their hairlines. I found it amusing at the time, but I was only 14 then, so there you go.

Re:ST Format (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472630)

Do you expect them to tell you that they're having financial difficulty and that they might not exist in a few months? Even if they are in a bad way finanically, they still need to sell as many issues as possible. Making customers think they are financially sound is a good way to keep circulation up as high as possible.

Re:ST Format (1)

Duds (100634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472868)

Possibly.

Commodore Format did the same. But 1995 it was effectively being run as one magazine with Amstrad Action. In mid-1995 they closed Amstrad Action very suddenly (ironically leaving the last issue with the headline 'Publish and be damned!') and the next CF insisted they could survive. Given it shared every staff member with its long dead brother and was by that stage a 24 page magazine for £3.25 we were not surprised to see it die itself 2 months later (although unlike AA it got a farewell issue)

PC Gamer (2, Interesting)

elbenito69 (868244) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472399)

I used to get PC Gamer (US), from about 1996 through 2002. I remember one issue, somewhere around '99, was 444 pages! Even taking into account that gaming mags are half advertising, that's still a lot of content. PC Gamer these days is barely a pamphlet compared to its heyday. Also, the magazine's quality has gone downhill each time the management/ownership has changed, and IMHO, isn't worth reading anymore.

PC Gamer is my favorite print mag (1)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473359)

I was surprised the first time the "newer" PC Gamer came out at about 25% the previous size. I don't agree with you that hte quality has gone down, however. I still enjoy reading the reviews (I enjoy them more than IGN or Gamespot) and they tend to scoop some games better than what's online. The columnists are touch and go, with Desslock being one of the better ones, and I think their mod coverage is pretty comprehensive too. The new organization of the magazine is a bit confusing, however. I can never tell whether I'm reading a review or a preview of some games.

For those that don't read it, they recently moved to placing games into sections according to genre. Previously, they had the columnists, previews, and reviews all separate regardless of genre. Now you get the review, preview, and columnist for RPG all next to each other, and so forth.

Re:PC Gamer (1)

Braino420 (896819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474516)

Have to agree with you on this one. TheVede becoming EIC was the last straw for me... He used to be restricted to the hardware section, and all of his Goddamn pictures too! The EIC seems to have changed alot recently.

Print is far from dead (2, Interesting)

Ghoeb (979235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472417)

Even though many of the people on here obviously get their news and especially video game news off the web, for many people print is easier to pick up and just read. Nothing beats having a tangible magazine to pick up and read in your living room while watching TV even if the information is diluted with more ads than actual writing in it.

Re:Print is far from dead (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472446)

Nothing beats having a tangible magazine to pick up and read...

Besides, the hot surface under the laptop burns the skin when on the toilet.

Re:Print is far from dead (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472521)

Not if you put one of the 600+ page "advertisezines" on your legs and set the laptop on it. Best use for these magazines in the batroom yet!

PCGamer US vs. PCGamer UK (1)

iSeal (854481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472421)

I found it unfortunate that they didn't dwell into the fact that PC Gamer US has a british counterpart.

To be honest, I used to be a great fan of PC Gamer US: a great thick volume of gaming information released each month. But in and about 2001, they drastically cut down their page count (from 200+ to sometimes 50-ish.) That didn't matter all that much. What did bother me, however, is when the editorial staff started producing reviews that reflected more personal taste for advanced graphics and action than the game content. Oh - and they stuck with releasing CDs each issue (why even bother? they can barely hold one demo these days.)

PC Gamer UK I discovered was far superior. The pages were not dedicated each issue to yet-another WW2 shooter; and the reviews were what I considered more balanced and in-depth. It also came with a bonafide DVD, though that wasn't the main selling point for me (reviewer integrity is way more important). Unfortunately though, the cost of obtaining this UK mag is twice that of PCG USA.

Andy Mahood's reviews and finding out the latest on TheVede's misfortunes are the only reasons I still sometimes check out the US version.

I only pay for 1 game mag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15472427)

And it's not even for consoles: PC Gamer. I signed up for a free subscription to GamePro a little while ago, and apparently that subscription is still kicking, but I don't read GamePro as much as I skim through it and see if anything looks good or at least interesting. PC Gamer I read almost cover to cover, AND PC Gamer is openly campaigning against Gold Farmers and their ilk, and even though I don't play MMOGs, the fact that they turned down all that advertisment money based on their principles gives me a warm fuzzy.
I used to subscribe to Nintendo Power, but I wasn't into Pokemon and so the issues offered very little for me when my subscription came up for renewal (I also didn't own a gamecube or GBA and I had just gotten a car that I started sinking my money into).

The Brits! (2, Insightful)

Jonny_eh (765306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472430)

Why is it that the British magazines are so superior to the American ones?

This goes for just about any type of magazine, be it Maxim, Linux Format, or Edge. The British magazines are of such a higher calibre, it's scary.

There must be a simple answer out there.

Re:The Brits! (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472484)

yeah and don't forget The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Inquirer...

Re:The Brits! (1)

redragon (161901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472553)

There must be a simple answer out there.

Readers

Re:The Brits! (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472627)

The page 2 nudity doesn't hurt.

Re:The Brits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478439)

Boobies can be found on page 3 not 2.

Re:The Brits! (3, Informative)

payndz (589033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472696)

Having worked in the UK games mag field, I think a lot of it comes down to UK games journalists having less 'fear' of advertisers. If British journos think a game is a steaming pile of shit, they'll say exactly that, because editorial and advertising generally work as separate entities. The journalists don't get any commission from the space that advertising sells, so they don't see any need to pull punches if the product sucks. (In fact, I'd say there's often a degree of mutual dislike between editorial and advertising, because editorial see advertising as interfering in the content of their magazine, and ads think that editorial's big mouth will cost them money if they annoy clients.)

Because there's so much competition between the UK mags (the lower cost of entry to the market means we have a lot more of them than the US), any mag that regularly bumps up its scores to suck up to advertisers will be spotted pretty quickly and lose trust with its readers. Giving a 9 to a game that the other mags are giving 6 or 7 can be forgiven as personal preference on the part of the reviewer - once. If it happens four or five times an issue, it'll be noticed. (Except where the mag in question is an 'official' one, where people still buy it no matter how inflated the review scores are...)

Re:The Brits! (2, Interesting)

radish (98371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473000)

I agree, advertisment is the big difference. The biggest difference I noticed when moving to the US was the price of magazine subscriptions. In the UK you're lucky to save 30%, making a typical magazine subscription something like 20-30gbp. Over here, I can get the US edition for $6 a year. The only way I can understand the economics behind that is that the advertisers pay much more because they have a larger say in the content and get more information on the demographics.

Re:The Brits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15474297)

for the very same reason the BBC is considered better than FOX news.

Re:The Brits! (1)

PhakeDC (932887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475060)

As a non-English speaking veteran gamer, I always found British journalism to be simply better. American editors write their articles in a very simplistic manner, even amateur in some cases (the US Videogames magazine just plain sucked), but not so in the 51st state. Even GamesMaster when they sold out in the mid-1990's retained a dignified reputation among gamers worldwide. Can't say the same about ad-infested Gamepro or EGM.

GMR (1)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472517)

Does anyone remember GMR magazine from a year or two ago? Ziff-Davis put it out of business when they decided it was competing with EGM, despite the fact that it was so many miles ahead of anything else out there. Actual reviews (not disguised advertisements), and way fewer advertisements than anything else. Plus, the layout was much nicer to read as well, and the section Retro/Active was really fun to read.

Re:GMR (1)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474342)

The way fewer advertisements was a predictor of GMR's doom. In the news business, a publication's health is measured in ad pages. When the magazine or paper starts getting thin, it's never a good sign. Lots of wide-open pages with no ads is great for readers, but only until they have to pay for the newsprint and don't have the ad support to do so.

Main problem (2, Informative)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472528)

I think the main problem with the printed game magazines is the magazines are usually very behind, with whatever content is available online. People tend to want games soon after they come out, and that's when they can read reviews and articles about them online. With magazines, on the other hand, you often have to wait 1-2 months before a review comes out. For this reason, I stopped bothering with printed game mags a long time ago.

Besides that, there's the multimediablitiy (if that's a word) of online content - you simply cannot post tons of high-res screenshots and videos in a printed magazine. What you can do, on the other hand, is get exclusives - reviews, previews, etc. - which seems to be the major thing that print mags do to attract readers these days.

Regarding GamePro (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472603)

"There was an era when GamePro was the perennial second-runner behind Nintendo Power in circulation. There was a time when other mags couldn't even touch it." (FTFA)

I remember being a huge fan of GamePro. I had a subscription and everything. Then one day they did the review that made me stop reading them forever. They reviewed "Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition" for the Sega Genesis. Every other mag on earth claimed that it fell flat on its face when compared to the SNES version (Street Fighter II: Turbo). GamePro on the other hand goes on and on about how it's better than the SNES version. Even though I owned the SNES version, I bought a six button Genesis pad and rented SFII:SCE. What a waste of $15 ($10 for the controller and $5 for the game). The game wasn't exactly terrible but the graphics and sound were seriously subpar. That isn't too big a deal for me but GamePro specifically claimed the graphics and sound were better. They also touted how much better the control was but it really wasn't very different from the SNES control. And they also claimed the Genesis version had a better framerate but apparently I never noticed this.

I just felt that GamePro knowingly lied to us and I still to this day believe that they had some sort of underhanded deal with Capcom and/or Sega to get this game reviewed so highly. I just haven't had the desire to ever read that magazine again.

Re:Regarding GamePro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15472716)

I remember being a huge fan of GamePro. I had a subscription and everything. Then one day they did the review that made me stop reading them forever. They reviewed "Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition" for the Sega Genesis. Every other mag on earth claimed that it fell flat on its face when compared to the SNES version (Street Fighter II: Turbo). GamePro on the other hand goes on and on about how it's better than the SNES version. Even though I owned the SNES version, I bought a six button Genesis pad and rented SFII:SCE. What a waste of $15 ($10 for the controller and $5 for the game). The game wasn't exactly terrible but the graphics and sound were seriously subpar. That isn't too big a deal for me but GamePro specifically claimed the graphics and sound were better. They also touted how much better the control was but it really wasn't very different from the SNES control. And they also claimed the Genesis version had a better framerate but apparently I never noticed this.

GamePro always had a lame, poser "feel" to it, sort of like the feeling you get reading Nintendo Power. I was always a fan of EGM as a teenager. I'm sure Sushi-X wouldn't have made the same bullshit review.

Re:Regarding GamePro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477234)

Sushi-X was a bunch of people, a rip-off of Taco-X. He liked fighting games like I did, but he hated RPGs and GameBoy, so I ignored him when he reviewed those.

EGM was somewhere between GamePro and DHGF. I never thought GamePro sucked (it had the most professional layout and least errors per issue at the time), and DHGF was pretty good for its Japanese/techie skew (I was around 13-15 when it was at its peak). EGM was fair, smack down the middle between the two. EGM and DHGF certainly had horrendously loud layouts, which appeared quite amateurish. That same legacy lives on in DoubleJump Book's strategy guides, which is probably why I like reading them so much.

Nintendo Power has always been the best source of official Nintendo news and strategies to Nintendo's own games, old childish layout or not. I've renewed three separate times in my adulthood (big gaps in between), and this most recent (current) renewal has convinced me to keep the subscription going indefinitely. It's actually a great magazine to read for news, reviews, and interviews now, not just for the previews, strategies, and screenshots as it was in my childhood, or even as of my last renewal a few years ago.

Re:Regarding GamePro (1)

DoktorSeven (628331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473038)

GamePro on the other hand goes on and on about how it's better than the SNES version.

That's because it was better than the SNES version. I owned both the SNES and Genesis back in the day, loved both consoles for different games, and rented/played SFIISuperUltraHyperMegaEtcEdition for both consoles. The SNES version looked and sounded better, but ah, yes, as no one seems to understand in these days of graphics masturbating fanboys, that doesn't matter. The Genesis version was smoother and played better, more like the arcade. I was willing to forgive the slightly poorer graphics and the near-terrible sound for a better playing game.

Pity that it seems no one else can do that, even these days.

Re:Regarding GamePro (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473157)

If you were comparing the Genesis version to the non-Championship Edition SFII on the SNES, I'd agree with you. The regular SFII on the SNES always seemed sluggish and poorly controlled IMHO. However, comapring SFII:Turbo to SFII:SCE, I've never noticed a difference in actual gameplay and the only place smoother is noticeable is when you jack up the speed all the way to crazy psycho speed (which after its initial novelty wasn't done all that often by most players). I too had both consoles and I'm supremely glad I bought SFII:Turbo and only rented SFII:SCE. I don't exactly pray to the graphics gods or anything but the jump in graphics and sound capabilites found on the SNES version far outweighs the slight bump in framerate on a setting I never use anyways.

Re:Regarding GamePro (1)

DoktorSeven (628331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476415)

Nah, comparing apples to apples here. SFIITurboHyperetc on both systems (or whatever they were called... I can't bother to look up which crazy name was applied to each). SFII (the original) on SNES was sluggish, but intentionally so, and actually made it a decent game since it felt almost just like the arcade. The newer versions, however, felt sluggish on the SNES while the Genesis version seemed to run full speed, thus I preferred it over the SNES version even though the Genesis one was definately uglier and sounded like someone was choking on sandpaper.

Taken by itself, though, the SNES version was still good; you just had to adjust yourself to it being slightly less smooth than the arcade/Genesis versions.

Re:Regarding GamePro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477110)

I collect Capcom fighting games. I still own all the legitimate physical cartridges/discs of every version of SF2 made available for SF/SNES, MD/Genesis, PCE, Saturn, PS, Dreamcast, and PS2. No 3DO version, but I've played it, and of course I'm familiar with all the arcade versions released in and out of Japan.

The SNES versions of SF2 played far better than the Genesis versions. Specifically, SNES Turbo was a better game than Genesis SCE, and SNES Super was better than Genesis Super. I say this as someone who has played competitive arcade fighting games since the early SF2 days.

Note, I like the original Genesis 6-button controller very, very much. The controller alone was the Genesis version's saving grace, but it couldn't save the Genesis SF2 games from being inferior home ports than the SNES games.

Off-topic: I don't like MK much at all, but the SNES versions looked and played far better than the Genesis versions as well. The censored bits in the first game on SNES were trivial in comparison to the superior gameplay of that version.

Going MK-Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15492061)

Off-topic: I don't like MK much at all, but the SNES versions looked and played far better than the Genesis versions as well. The censored bits in the first game on SNES were trivial in comparison to the superior gameplay of that version.

Wow. Really, wow. The fact that the SNES version was very stiff, small movements didn't even register, special moves had to be very precisely done, the animation was actually worse than the Genesis version (even though the SNES version *looked* better, it looked like the SNES version was missing a few animation frames -- not that there were that many to begin with) -- all that and the graphics made you believe that the SNES version was better?

No wonder so many people like so many crappy games with overdone graphics these days. I'm telling you, there is some kind of mind-altering effect in games with better graphics that alter people's perspective of the games. You know what, this is kind of trollish. I'd better hit Anonymous.

PCXL (1)

n0nsensical (633430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472618)

Game magazines died with PC Accelerator...

Re:PCXL (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473044)

Game magazines died with PC Accelerator...

I hear you! After PCXL went away, I started looking at consoles more for gaming. I miss PCXL's craziness and often hard edged commentary. These days, I read EGM, but it really isn't the same, though it is a good mag.

Re:PCXL (1)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473621)

I wish I had mod points to give you. Pcxl was the finest gaming rag made. I even now enjoy looking back through the old issues.

Wish there was one out there that was even a third as good as it was.

Old and Busted (1)

hapwned (816398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472660)

With the content coming out of 1up and The Escapist and the shear number of reviews coming out of all the other gaming sites, it's a wonder that any of the print magazines still exist. I can understand if the gamer has no computer to read the online resources though; that's got to be the bulk of all the information they recieve of games. Of course, who could possibly resist buying something shiny?!

Vat is theez "magazine" you zpeak of? (0)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472690)

Vat is theez "magazine" you zpeak of? Paper with printed picturez? And you muzt pay for theez inconvienent and unzearchable zing? Bah...you muzt zhow me theez "magazine" before I comment - I cannot believe zuch a thing exiztz!

subscription differences (1)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473187)

I wonder if the different percieved quality of US vs UK mags has anything to do with the different subscription methods used? As I understand it, US mags can be subscribed to with huge discounts, 80% or so, gaining the publisher larger circulation. Compared to UK mags, which give a discount of around 10-20%. If that is the case, theres perhaps little wonder that there are less ads in UK mags, even with the different number of subscribers.

Ugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15473243)

The last gaming magazine I read, I got free from EB when I signed up for there get a discount on used games card. I can't even remember what it was called, but damn, it had a nice picture of KOS-MOS on the front.

The itself magazine was utter crap. Like every other gaming magazine has become, it was pretty much advertisements with little clips of articles inserted randomly between marketing strategies. Plus, pretty much every game they reviewed was highly rated. How's that work, with so many crappy games out there today?

Gaming magazines are dead. How can they not be? They're filled with advertisements, chock full of fanboyism ("We can't say Halo 2 isn't as good as Halo 1, and heaven forfend we call Squaresoft on releasing a truly lackluster game. Nope, Halo 2 is the best game ever! Squaresoft is brilliant, despite rehashing the same damned plot over and over again!")

Hell, when I put myself through the pain of reading gaming magazine articles, it quickly becomes apparent that most reviewers don't even play the bloody games they're reviewing. I can't count the number of times I've seen absolutely wrong information about a game in a review.

I'd rather read the print version (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473479)

I go online to get reviews in a timely fashion, but prefer to read mags like Game Informer and Edge 'offline' while on the exerbike. The articles tend to be more in-depth and better written than the online stuff (not always, certainly) and the screenshots are often better quality. And of course it's a better use of time than sitting in front of the computer and paging through horribly designed websites (Gamespot and IGN, I'm looking at you).

The price is nothing to be concerned about unless you're paying store price. You can get subscriptions to just about any gaming magazine for a dollar an issue - they're happy to do this to get more advertising out there.

I find it amusing that this guy still thinks EGM is better than Game Informer when EGM for me is completely symptomatic of the 'short sound bites for illiterate ADHD teens' target audience (though PSM is the absolute worst for that). But since he's had some good history with EGM that kind of nostalgia is understandable.

Printed magazines? Who needs them anyway (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473511)

These days I only read Gamer's Quarter [gamersquarter.com] and The Escapist [escapistmagazine.com] for well-written in-depth nostalgia, and a bunch of gaming message boards for the news.

My favorites... (1)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473687)

Computer Gaming World is still my favorite, but I'm a big fan of Computer Games Magazine as well, which the reviewer couldn't even find a copy of. I admit that I don't read PC Gamer as often, but they were nice enough to do an interview article with me, so I suppose I owe them some dap!

Bruce

Re:My favorites... (1)

PhakeDC (932887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475093)

CGW isn't as good as it used to be.. But the same can for basically all other computer game publications out there.

US gaming mags may be crap but they are cheap... (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474135)

As someone who studies videogames, I feel like I have to read the gaming mags to stay current and there occasionally are some interesting articels in them. However, if it weren't for magazine subscriptions on ebay, I wouldn't dream of subscribing to them. When you can get a year of EGM for less than $10, why not?
For any magazine subscriptions ebay is definitly one of the first places to look.

any better ways to get Edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15474191)

I love Edge magazine, but as someone in the USA, the subscription price is just too much. Is there any cheaper way of getting Edge magazine here in the states?

I personally miss Next Generation (2, Insightful)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476028)

Next Generation magazine was the first publication to make me see our dinky little hobby as a legitimate medium for expression. Until that point, magazines were the same as they are now, focusing on pimping the latest and greatest and also giving hints and cheat codes.

Then Next Generation hit the scene, not just talking about games, but about the ideas behind games. And the people who had those ideas.

The Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo Power was a cartoon character who's name happened to get associated with Zelda and Mario. The Shigeru Miyamoto of Next Generation was a brilliant gamesmith, a master of the art and craft of games. Richard Garriot wasn't just some nerd making D&D clones, he was a philosopher exploring ethics in this wonderful new and interactive medium.

The topic of graphics in other magazines had some base instinctive appeal (OMGz polyg0nz!). Graphics in Next Generation were high art at the bleeding edge of technology.

In short, Next Generation magazine made me the gamer I am today. Or rather, it didn't make me a gamer, it helped me understand *why* I'm a gamer. And it did so with top-notch production values and a high quality presentation.

I'll never forgive IGN for watering it down and then turning it into NextGen->DailyRadar->kaput.

Re:I personally miss Next Generation (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477068)

Docta, I could not have said it better.

Old fogey magazines (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476217)

I read Retro Gamer [retrogamer.net] . It's from England so it's kind of spendy, but I did see an ad for Video Game Collector [vgcollector.com] . It's an American mag of the same ilk, so it ought to be cheaper.

Retro Gamer gets all the interviews of the old-timey developers from UK and the rest of Europe. I'm an old time ST user, so most of the games I used to play originate from that part of the world.

Not worth the money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477495)

I guess I can't really comment on this because in my country most of these magazines are so expensive that you could by a whole book for the cost of one, and one of those over priced computer manuals for the cost of a couple. So I haven't really read one in a while unless you count browsing in the news-agent's or downloading one from the internet but...

Can't you just form your own opinion about something. I mean seriously it seems pretty trivial to play through the demo of a game or to just rent a game and then make your own purchasing decisions based on your own personal tastes. I mean you can't be so insecure that you care what other people think because if you are playing video games it pretty much means you've become a resident of dorksville already. As we all are. And previews are not worth the paper they are written on because we've all seen what happened to Daikatana, DNF and Teamfortress 2 - There is a reason that they call it vaporware. It being much better to be ignorant and then surprised, then to buy into the hype only to be let down.

It seems to me that these things just serve the same purpose that all magazine have always done, be it The New Yorker or The Economist: To act as a form of propaganda. They are not really out to make you buy something but rather to make you feel good about your decision having brought the thing. You are basically buying someone's opinion and patting yourself on the back because it tends to agree with yours: giving yourself a bit of an ego boost between the four pages of ads trying to get you to actually buy the thing. This is known in marketing as product reinforcement and in the playground as peer pressure - although to be fair a crap game is still a crap game. I know this because I do this myself - since I can admit to being a loser.

And to add insult to injury they act like there subjective views offer some objective insight so you can exactly measure graphics at 84% and sound at 70%. As well as a cult like following of the new so that anything that just comes out always seems to get a better review *cough* Perfect Dark Zero *cough* just because it is new.

But what becomes even worse is when these wankers start to promote themselves as being a direct reflection of some great hardcore gaming scene, when in reality they are just a reflection of the sad insecure audience they are preaching to. And a disaster when they find that because of their profile they are actually listened to by companies to the extent that the whole thing becomes a vicious circle of products being made for a smaller and smaller audience who think sitting behind a computer is some how sport. This being evidenced by $1000 graphics cards sold to play only a handfull of games. Rather then the silent majority who what fun and inventive games and not just the same crap with better shaders. Pretty much why gameing at the moment seems to have dug itself into a hole.

Yes I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule; there are exceptions to every rule.

But I've been gaming for something like twenty years and I've always seen these publications, on-line and off, as being part of the problem - to actually pay money for this crap just seems to be rubbing salt into your own wounds. Big IMHO.

AC
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