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magazine_guy7

What caused the gaming magazines to die out?

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A common answer to this would probably be "it got replaced by the internet, people use the internet now for their information". But if that were true in the case of gaming magazines, then wouldnt we see online electronic substitutes for the gaming mags? GamePro had GamePro.com but even that is gone too. If the internet was the reason why the gaming magazines disappeared, then I would expect to see all the popular gaming magazines to have really beefed up websites that act as a substitute for the magazine, but we dont see that at all. Not even e-magazine versions of the popular gaming mags in Google play or the App store for subscription. All the gaming magazines disappeared completely off the face of the earth.

So what is the real reason the gaming magazines died out? Do modern gamers just not care about reading about video games? Any good theories?

Edited by magazine_guy7

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I really do think the Internet. Circulation died off and they couldn't survive. It just wasn't the main way people got their news about games anymore. And you can provide so much more content on the internet like video. Plus get news basically hourly instead on monthly. I'm sure there was some mismanagement and greed from major publishing companies as well. Like if the original groups had held onto magazines they may have survived. But when major magazine players bought up mags like Ziff Davis they wanted to squeez them for dollars instead of putting out a quality magazine. And when the magazine market dropped out they dropped magazines.

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You're right that most of the big gaming mags rolled out websites at one time or another. I remember EGM's site was called nuke.com(which I see is now redirected to gamespot). They probably just couldn't monetize their content efficiently the way they could with magazine print ads. The transition of game info to digital media came at a time when all of the current ad networks just didn't exist or were only just forming. The $$$ just wasn't there. The new players in the videogame news industry may have ran on shoestring budgets, but they still managed to eat the lunches of the big gaming mags.

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I thought about this at the supermarket the other day. I stood in front of the magazine rack and there were probably 100+ different magazines. I think I saw maybe 1 gaming magazine, the rest fell into these categories.....

Health/Fitness

Food

Space/Tech

Hobbies

Teen

So why is there more magazines about knitting than video game magazines? Well I think it all has to do with the targeted audience. Most gaming magazines are geared towards 14-40 year old males. The main core of those gamers are very familiar with the internet. By the time a magazine can gather information on new games, systems....etc......that information is old news. These gaming magazines can't compete with Youtube, GameFAQ's and the huge online blogs like Kotaku. When was the last time you got stuck in a video game, you probably went to Youtube and did a search for that level to watch a walkthru. Gone are the days of reading text and looking at 1 inch screenshots on paper. We are going to continue to see video game magazines fall, and the same for strategy guide publishers. I can't even remember the last strategy guide I bought......maybe Devil May Cry for the PS2? It's a shame that gaming magazines are dying out, but things change as we move towards a more instant and digital future. Netflix killed Blockbuster/Hollywood video, Cell phones killed the payphone....and blogs/YouTube are killing print media.

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The Internet killed gaming magazines, period. When your target audience is technologically-savvy enough to know they can get the information you're offering faster and cheaper somewhere else, virtually all of them will migrate to those sources.

News? There are half a dozen websites dedicated to offering nothing but news the very minute it breaks, it's only a matter of who can re-write the press release fast enough.

Reviews? Those are opinions. Nobody wants to pay money to read text-based opinions with a few screenshots here and there when there are a million freely available online often with full video backing.

Previews? Companies put these out themselves via their own websites, email newsletters, and by leaking them to the mainstream sites like Gamespot and Kotaku. By the time a magazine has one, the rest of the world already knows about it.

Strategy guides, cheat codes, and walkthroughs? Bro, do you even GameFAQs?

That leaves one viable category only: feature articles which are not timely and don't have an expiration date. An interview with the people who acted for the FMV in one of the Gabriel Knight games is just as interesting to read now as it would have been in the 1990s. Articles describing the evolution of a franchise, like Metroid, or a genre, like Survival Horror, contain even more information now than they would have if written a decade earlier. This is how magazines like the UK Retro survive, as they're more like journals now than simple print magazines.

When I wrote for the now-defunct GameBunker website, my most widely-read and commented-on piece was a look at the history of nudity in console and arcade games. Ten years later, there's so much more to expand upon than I could ever have imagined. Developers love that Mature/PEGI 18 rating, after all. Even today, I will occasionally get an email from someone asking if I ever wrote more on it. Nobody ever asked me anything about my review of Golden Axe. :)

*huggles*
Areala

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I agree with the consensus here - the Internet killed print video game magazines. And not just video game mags - a large portion of the print mag industry in general. And still is. Look at Playboy's recent decision to go non-nude - a death knell if I ever heard one. (Only kinda joking.)

As for the lack of electronic substitutes, some tried but either weren't very good - many were designed to compliment the magazine, not replace it - or were eventually gobbled up by the various buy-outs and mergers over the years as their parent companies shed assets. They couldn't directly compete or wouldn't compete and it eventually caught up with them.

And you have to remember the time frame. Monetizing the early 'net wasn't easy. Magazine publishers couldn't sell e-zines via app stores because app stores didn't exist. The PDF format didn't exist. Smart phones & tablets didn't exist. :)

Video game magazines were at the forefront. They took the brunt. They were being hammered by Internet competition as soon as kids had a Freenet account, USENET access and a Lynx browser. When that big, blue "N" began pulsating on computer screens, the writing was on the wall.

They didn't have the time to react - in regards to stubborn corporate mindsets, actual time necessary for the Internet to technologically mature, or both.

I think print video game magazines are on something of a rebound though. In limited fashion, at least. Largely thanks to crowdfunding, print-on-demand, etc. We'll never see a large selection on mainstream news stands again but we can look forward to more focused, niche publications in our mailboxes and tablets.

And who knows - should the owners of Electronic Games, Next Generation, or Video Games & Computer Entertainment ever decide to try Kickstarter, we may see a return of some old favorites. :)

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Anything with nudity is always going to get attention. It certainly got mine :-)

Seriously though, I think some publishers also shot themselves in the foot as well by releasing multiple publications for a single console. Future PLC as a classic example where they offered several different titles for the majour consoles of the day. They will say that they were targeted at different demographics but in reality consumers tend to have a certain amount of discretionary income so people tend to buy one magazine and stick with it. The result was no title had enough sales to make them fiscally viable which ultimately resulted in their axing several titles in an effort to make one financially sustainable. The downside of that is those people who preferred the other titles that got shafted usually get pissed off and look elsewhere for their fix rather than supporting the company so while the costs are reduced by not having to print multiple titles you also don't pick up crossover customers for the title you are still publishing. Ouch!!!

Note that this rationalization/ dropping of titles isn't anything new. You only have to look back at companies like Argus Publications in the UK in the 1980's to see similar problems. Then there are all the myriad mergers of Atari ST magazines in the 1990's where magazines were sold from one publisher to another, got merged into another title only to then get sold off again to see that while the internet certainly is playing a part today that nothing much has changed in this regard.

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IMG_5736.jpg

The last time I was at the store, I took a picture.

It is interesting. If the Internet killed game magazines, why didn't it kill all those other magazines? A lot of people are net savvy these days. Muscle and Fitness is geared toward 14-40 year old males too, isn't it? Although I suppose it is a bit older. Maybe even 14-60. Same with those car magazines, which I guess are for people who are more likely to go on a long drive and not take the internet with them. The fashion magazines don't surprise me. Salons will stock those for their customers so they have something to read while getting their hair done, I imagine. Those tween girl magazines sort of surprise me, but then maybe those are for girls who aren't old enough to have their own phone. What about the boy who isn't old enough? Where's his magazine?

For me that would have been a gaming magazine or maybe an astronomy magazine, or Nickelodeon magazine or something about cartoons and kids television. In Japan magazines are still rather popular, or so a friend tells me. You got Famitsu, Shonen Jump, Megami, lots of things, many of them combining games with animation and comics. Nothing like that in the United States. There was a period during the 2000s when those interests started to combine. GMR did some movie coverage and PLAY was really meant to be more of a combination magazine, but it disappeared in 2008.

I wish I could think more introspectively on why I decided to stop buying game magazines, but there was a long period where I was very poor and couldn't buy games or movies or much of anything and I didn't want to read a magazine about a bunch of cool exciting stuff I couldn't buy. Did the economic collapse in the 2000s have something to do with the disappearance of game magazines in the US? Probably, but I haven't done the research.

YouTube channels have really taken over, though. The biggest channels are dwarfing the popularity of more conventional sites like PC Gamer. I am not a fan of gaming news sites. I really can't think of them as replacing magazines because they're awful, lacking both professionalism and an enthusiasm for the medium. A magazine was like a box full of wonder and dreams and excitement. The letter from the editor would say something like, "we're excited to bring you this issue with ABC and XYZ" and you'd think wow these people are lucky to play games for a living, and you'd soak up that issue while waiting for the next month. Game sites don't do any of that. I get the impression from them that they hate their jobs or have been spoiled by them and have no interest in sharing the excitement of gaming news coverage, unless it's for their friends in the industry. The people who are excited about gaming went to YouTube and Twitch.

"Video killed the magazine star."

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I'd rather purchase a magazine anyday than rely on the internet. Sure, the net is great for quick turnaround of information but usually it's here today, gone tomorrow.

Much like buying a Blu-ray or DVD, at least get to keep what you bought when you buy a print copy which is something that can't be said for digital purchases. Look at all those people who purchased issues of Future PLC's defunct iTunes digital magazines. They stopped producing the magazine and now your digital purchases can't even be restored in the event your iPad dies if you didn't archive the apps in iTunes. Same for Hyper on the Pixelmags Readr app. They take your money then absolve themselves of any responsibility just like the original Divx fiasco year ago. The laws need to change to protect digital purchasers. It's hard to feel sad for publishers over dropping magazine titles at all when they foster that shit on consumers.

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EGM did attempt to go digital. In the early 2000's they started digital subscriptions on Zinio (?). I switched to that. But I regretted it. The quality was horrible. And it was all DRMed. Very inconvenient. I mean I was expecting at least decent scan quality. It was so bad you couldn't see some small print. And that's when I just stopped subscribing to EGM.

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EGM actually had their own app, I still have a bunch of issues downloaded from it on my original iPad (which serves mostly as a clock) which I'd have to grab to see whether those issues were the same as print ones of the same years. If things are different or they're not available in print I guess I have a lot of screen-capping to do at some point lmao

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They certainly didn't have gaming mags in the room where you had to conjure up a semen sample for fertility testing. They might have had Areala's nudity article there if it included pictures though :)

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They certainly didn't have gaming mags in the room where you had to conjure up a semen sample for fertility testing. They might have had Areala's nudity article there if it included pictures though :)

LOL. Man that place was the funniest place. I go in and there is just a couch and a white sheet and some instructions and a sink. So I see something kind of poking out on the side of the couch covered up. I pull of the cloth and it's a bunch of porn mags. Lol. It's like the weren't going to tell you about them and hide them, but if you want to look well here you go.

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They certainly didn't have gaming mags in the room where you had to conjure up a semen sample for fertility testing. They might have had Areala's nudity article there if it included pictures though :)

http://web.archive.org/web/20040113205603/http://www.gamebunker.com/modpage.php?id=225

You're welcome. ;)

*huggles*

Areala

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IMG_5736.jpg

The last time I was at the store, I took a picture.

It is interesting. If the Internet killed game magazines, why didn't it kill all those other magazines? A lot of people are net savvy these days. Muscle and Fitness is geared toward 14-40 year old males too, isn't it? Although I suppose it is a bit older. Maybe even 14-60. Same with those car magazines, which I guess are for people who are more likely to go on a long drive and not take the internet with them. The fashion magazines don't surprise me. Salons will stock those for their customers so they have something to read while getting their hair done, I imagine. Those tween girl magazines sort of surprise me, but then maybe those are for girls who aren't old enough to have their own phone. What about the boy who isn't old enough? Where's his magazine?

Mark, I thought about this for a while, and I think I have an answer. It's actually right in your picture. The question isn't where are all the video game magazines, the question is, where are ANY of the magazines related specifically to technology? There's one lone Official XBox magazine on that rack, but aside from that there isn't anything else that even remotely begins to approach the world of technological entertainment, because that world moves too fast for the slow world of print media. Literally.

Video games as an industry eclipse well over one hundred billion US dollars a year today, and that figure is not slowing down at all. During the global recession, virtually every market on the planet took a slump. Video games didn't. Between 2004 and 2014, half of which was spent in a financial crisis of unprecedented levels, US video game revenue doubled from just under $10.5 billion per year up to $20.5 billion per year. Video games dwarfs every other entertainment medium on the face of the planet. Hollywood during the same time went from grossing $9.3 billion in the US in 2004 to...$10.3 billion in 2014. Even in 2012, which was their best year ever, they maxed at $10.8 billion. Hollywood has essentially hit peak mass for the time being here in the States, which is why magazines like Entertainment Weekly can publish a new issue every 7 days and remain viable. Game magazines are obsolete the minute they hit the shelves because the industry, as a whole, literally moves too fast for its consumers to be content to wait 30 days, or even seven days, for their news fix, new game announcements, DLC updates, reviews, and so forth.

Every other craft, hobby and lifestyle presented on those magazine shelves has nothing at all so time-sensitive to it, and they aren't growing at the geometric rate video games are. Body building isn't the sort of thing that can be done in a two-hour period; it takes weeks of intense training in the gym to achieve the desired look. Automotive technology moves quickly, but it can't catch gaming. People who mod cars take time to create their new looks. Turbo-charging a muscle car is a complex world even for people who do it for a living. New styles in fashion and decoration arise all the time, but they hang around for months if not years. Recipes are good forever, and one lasagna dish in Martha Stewart Living doesn't replace or actively compete with another offered in Taste of Home. You only need to decorate for Halloween, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas once every 12 months. By contrast, there are hundreds of new apps added, removed, and updated on Google's Play Store every 24 hours. Wine has to age for years, even decades, before connoisseurs will consider drinking it. A game released in 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360 could describe itself the way Ben Affleck does in "Boiler Room": 'Guess how old I am? Twenty-seven. Know what that makes me here? A fucking senior citizen'.

Gaming is literally growing too fast to be constrained by the likes of print media. It earns too much money, it moves too quickly, and it offers too much potential content to support a true 90's EGM-style publication today. It isn't a lifestyle, it isn't a hobby, and it isn't niche any longer. :)

*huggles*

Areala

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That's a good observation, Areala. I wonder if there aren't some magazines on that rack that still cover fast-moving events, like Newsweek or Entertainment Weekly. If gaming isn't a hobby or a niche any longer, is there coverage of gaming in those magazines?

I had a look at Newsweek's website just now. They have a Culture section, a Sports section, and a Tech & Science section. The Culture section has information about movies, books, TV, and music, but I'm looking page after page and I see nothing about gaming. The closest the Tech & Science section comes is an Apple hardware update or something about VR. And sports, well, forget it!

There is a gaming section on Entertainment Weekly's site but it's updated much less frequently than movies, TV, or music. It seems to be updated about as much as books, and I guess that's something. The global gaming market may be huge but maybe the US doesn't account for as much of that as we thought. I have an article here that says the US gaming market was $15 billion in 2014. The US book and journal industry is $28 billion and TV is $74 billion and music is $15 billion, but I don't think that counts concert ticket sales which make up the bulk of music revenue. Here's one that says the film industry is $31 billion and I think that includes DVD sales and the like, which is a fairer comparison to gaming.

I think back to Japan and how so many of their magazines have been weeklies. Famitsu has been weekly for a very long time, so has Shonen Jump. I don't think the US has ever had a weekly game magazine. US weeklies tend to focus on celebrity gossip—People Magazine, Star Magazine, Entertainment Weekly to a large extent and, well, "US Weekly." How amazing it would be if gaming were ever so big that we had our own weekly? B)

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After talking with my brother, I think another reason video game magazines died out is that there's absolutely no money to be made in terms of advertising. Advertisers pay based on how many circulating copies of your magazine you sell on average per year, and that revenue is used to pay journalists, layout artists, editors, freelancers and so forth. Smaller circulation numbers mean smaller ad dollars, which means smaller magazines, which means fewer subscribers/readers, which means less ad revenue, which means...etc, etc, etc.

Gaming journalism just doesn't offer all that much money until and unless you build a sizable brand for yourself, something which no publisher has seemingly been able to do outside of GameStop's "Game Informer". Unlike other hobby publications, there's just not a large enough audience for anything to really catch fire. :)

*huggles*
Areala

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I'm sure if EGM had a nude centrefold article like Playboy they'd sell HEAPS of issues. It would be a little like the "Standard" issue without the article and the "Unrated" issue in a plastic bag.

Sex is a form of gaming after all :)

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After talking with my brother, I think another reason video game magazines died out is that there's absolutely no money to be made in terms of advertising. Advertisers pay based on how many circulating copies of your magazine you sell on average per year, and that revenue is used to pay journalists, layout artists, editors, freelancers and so forth. Smaller circulation numbers mean smaller ad dollars, which means smaller magazines, which means fewer subscribers/readers, which means less ad revenue, which means...etc, etc, etc.

Yeah - essentially a vicious cycle of diminishing returns.

Now we have corp-sponsored 'zines or crowd-funded efforts - neither depending entirely on advertising space but still benefiting from it.

While corp-zines like Game Informer are at least something, I'm glad to see crowd-funded magazines popping up from time to time.

Sex is a form of gaming after all :)

I was going to make an "Achievement Unlocked!" joke. But I won't. You're welcome. :)

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I was going to make an "Achievement Unlocked!" joke. But I won't. You're welcome. :)

Well, if you won't, someone has to, so...achievement unlocked this morning. ;)

*huggles*

Areala

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I think back to Japan and how so many of their magazines have been weeklies. Famitsu has been weekly for a very long time, so has Shonen Jump. I don't think the US has ever had a weekly game magazine. US weeklies tend to focus on celebrity gossip—People Magazine, Star Magazine, Entertainment Weekly to a large extent and, well, "US Weekly." How amazing it would be if gaming were ever so big that we had our own weekly? B)

I believe you have a point there, Mark. No matter what people think (decline of Japanese gaming or whatever), video games are so deeply embedded in Japan's culture, it's frightening. The Japanese are a very different breed of gamers than westerners. They love collectible things, reading about their collectible things, and watching tv shows about their collectible things. And one of these collectible things are video games; thereby they always want physical over digital items. Thus, you see that gaming magazines are still thriving over there, as well as another thing that failed in the U.S but remained a big thing in Japan--The Arcades.

Western gamers are similar to its collective culture, which points to everything "disposable" and not find historic and collectible value in physical items. We want convenience, quick joy, and speedy service. We are passionate about something new, but lose interest in it extremely fast. We read a magazine one time and then throw it away. We don't see it as a footprint in gaming history, even deserving a place in someone's video game museum. The Internet, therefore, is better suited for gaming news, reviews, strategies, and various other information for the Western world. The audience just isn't large enough for physical magazines. Without the audience, advertisers are not going to pay money to promote their products in a state of minority. I'm not saying all Western gamers are this way--it's just a majority of us.

I don't think an increase in the size of the game industry will bring physical gaming magazines back in a big way. Western culture is not going to allow it. The only way it will happen is if Western gamers shift their mindset to enjoying a physical item for the long term and not get tired or lose interest in it so quickly, seeing physical gaming magazines as collectible treasures that supplement our video game collection.

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Arcade Express from Electronic Games in late 1982 is the first weekly I can remember. There was at least one more in the early '90s but I can't seem to find a copy so the name eludes me, but I think it was from Ziff Davis.

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