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Missing Magazine: Computer Games Strategy Plus

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marktrade    615

This magazine lasted many years, at least as far back as the early 90s. In 2000 it changed its name to "Computer Games Magazine." There's currently an empty section the database for the title "Computer Games." I suppose this is what it's referring to? I thought there might have been another publication simply called "Computer Games," but I know that Computer Games Strategy Plus was pretty big because I have many issues from over the years, maybe 50 or 60.

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The Wikipedia entry for this says it's a UK magazine but as usual that's not the whole story:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Games_Magazine

There is indeed a sister magazine in the UK, and it may have even come first, but the subscription information suggests they were editorially-independent as you can get a US subscription to the UK version or the US version, and the only address provided was in the US. From what I have been able to piece together is that it launched in the US in December 1990. I determined this working from the issues I've been able to acquire. As I was curious about the evolving name I grabbed some issues off eBay regardless of quality. The following are the usual quick scan covers:

Issue 44, July 1994

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Issue 106, September 1999

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Issue 112, March 2000 (now Computer Games Magazine)

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Issue 135, February 2002 (now Computer Games)

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Issue 150, May 2003

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Issue 151, June 2003

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Given the first issue I got the magazine was nowhere near the level of CGW or PC Gamer. That issue was staple-bound whereas the others were thick, perfect-bound and full of ads. Somehow they soldiered on, I don't know when they ceased publishing.

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RetroDefense    136

I'm curious as to what the indicia states for this magazine. Is it formally named Computer Games Strategy Plus? Did this name stick throughout or was it formally changed over the years? If not, and this was only a running masthead change, this would be an easy way to differentiate between this magazine and the short-lived Computer Games from the 80s.

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In every issue I have "Strategy Plus, Inc." is listed as the publisher. If you look at the first cover scan above I'm guessing that was their brand, the "Computer Games" part just took over lol

Another issue arrived today:

Number 117, August 2000

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I'm hoping to find the issues where the name/design changed for some more insight before trying to contact some of the listed editors/publishers over social media in hopes of getting the details.

I have one more issue incoming, but the picking have always been slim.

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RetroDefense    136

I've been working to add this 'zine to the dbase but wanted to firm up some details first as its history is very convoluted.  It may involve multiple new 'zine entries when all is said and done.  Leave it to marktrade to pick one of the tough ones!  ;)

 

Here's what I've been able to piece together thus far.  I'm not familiar with this magazine in the slightest - never picked it up back in the day - so if you have any info and can help fill in the blanks, make corrections, clarify points, etc, please do so!

  • 1988 - Games International - a British magazine about tabletop strategy and war games - is established.
  • 1989 - Games International begins to include computer game coverage with issue 9 (Sep/Oct 1989).
  • 1990 - Games International ends with issue 16 (July 1990).  Its successor - Strategy Plus - debuts with issue 1 (October 1990).  The primary focus is now computer gaming although tabletop still receives some coverage.
  • 1991 - A UK-regional publication to this point, Strategy Plus is licensed to Chips & Bits Inc - a software mail-order business located in the USA - for distribution within the states.  Strategy Plus becomes Computer Games Strategy Plus with issue 11 (September 1991) and regular tabletop coverage is dropped.
  • 1992 - UK based magazine operations end following financial difficulties.  Chips & Bits acquires Computer Games Strategy Plus and assumes full production with issue 18.  The original editorial staff continue operations out of Rochester, Vermont.  Both USA and UK distribution continues.
  • 1993 - The founder of the magazine line - Brian Walker - leaves following a dispute.
  • 199? - Chips & Bits is acquired by publisher theGlobe.com.
  • 1999 - Computer Games Strategy Plus becomes Computer Games Magazine with issue 107 (October 1999).
  • 2000 - Computer Games Magazine becomes Computer Games with issue 120 (November 2000).
  • 200? - UK distribution ends?
  • 2007 - The magazine is shuttered following a spam-related MySpace lawsuit against theGlobe.com.  Computer Games ends with issue 196 (March 2007).  All related IP/content is acquired by Polaris Media.
  • 2011 - Polaris Media announces eventual relaunch of Computer Games.

As far as I can tell, the Polaris announcement never came to fruition.

 

I'm not exactly sure when the publication began distribution within the US.  As VGBounceHouse implied, it looks like the 'zine was available to whomever was willing to pay, import shipping or otherwise.  But if we go by the Chips & Bits license, official (newsstand?) USA distribution looks to have begun with issue 11 and the rename to Computer Games Strategy Plus.  Cover pricing is not always the best way to judge but this does concur with the cover scans I've seen - the earliest I've found with a US/Canada-only cover price is issue 12.  (I've yet to see issue 11.)

 

I'm also not sure how long the magazine ran in the UK.  Or how different the US and UK editions of the magazines were in those early days.  Covers, editorial content, advertising, etc.  I've seen a scan of issue 19 with UK-only pricing but it looks as if US/Canada/UK pricing - listed side by side - was adopted as early as issue 22.  This triple cover price would continue into 2000 or so.

 

As far as the stateside publication goes, I've created USA cover galleries for Computer Games Strategy Plus and Computer Games Magazine.  We also have a Computer Games (2000) Gallery already live.  I know these galleries technically account for the same mag but I imagine we'll have a better chance of gaining cover scans if we allow visitors to upload based on the cover masthead they're familiar with.  We can always merge the galleries later if need be.

 

As far as the UK side, it's still fairly complicated.  Do we archive Games International?  Or perhaps only archive the issues with computer coverage?  Do we archive UK editions of Computer Games Strategy Plus?  What regional differences - if any - exist?  When was the 'zine cancelled in the UK?  During the Computer Games Magazine run or later?  Still many questions to be answered.

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RetroDefense    136

I've been working on an issue list for the USA edition of this magazine.  I've been able to confirm issue numbers and dates for all but the following:

 

011 Oct 91?
014 Jan 92?
015 Feb 92?
017 Apr 92?
019 Jun 92?
020 Jul 92?
031 Jun 93?
032 Jul 93?
038 Jan 93?
039 Feb 93?
040 Mar 93?
042 May 94?
048 Nov 94?
058 Sep 95?
060 Nov 95?
066 May 96?
068 Jul 96?
077 Apr 97?
099 Feb 99?
122 Jan 01?
132 Nov 01?
 
The earliest USA edition I've seen is issue 12 but I assume an issue 11 for the USA market exists.  While not confirmed the above dates are probably accurate as the magazine ran like clockwork.
Edited by RetroDefense
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KiwiArcader    481

As a matter of interest I have the following issues I intend to scan in the near future:

  • 13 (Dec 91)
  • 14 (Jan 92)
  • 16 (Mar 92)
  • 61 (Dec 95)
  • 63 (Feb 96)
  • 98 (Jan 99)
  • 99 (Feb 99)
  • 120 (Nov 2000)
  • 131 (Oct 2001)
  • 139 (June 2002)
  • 147 (Feb 2003)
  • 161 (Apr 2004)

Those dates should corroborate your findings re the dates. Assuming I get a few more donations I am hoping to get another similar quantity shipped out to me along with hopefully, assuming he has any, more Game Players PC Strategy Guides  :)

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marktrade    615

I've been working to add this 'zine to the dbase but wanted to firm up some details first as its history is very convoluted.  It may involve multiple new 'zine entries when all is said and done.  Leave it to marktrade to pick one of the tough ones!   ;)

 

  • 1988 - Games International - a British magazine about tabletop strategy and war games - is established.
  • 1989 - Games International begins to include computer game coverage with issue 9 (Sep/Oct 1989).
  • 1990 - Games International ends with issue 16 (July 1990).  Its successor - Strategy Plus - debuts with issue 1 (October 1990).  The primary focus is now computer gaming although tabletop still receives some coverage.

All 16 issues of Games International have been scanned, edited, and uploaded!

 

https://archive.org/details/GamesInternational

 

Strategy Plus will come next. I may pick the hard ones, but I follow through. :lol:

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Just as a small addendum, I've been doing a bit of digging and In 2004 Games International was re-started from issue 17, but ceased publication in 2005 after issue 23.

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marktrade    615

Just as a small addendum, I've been doing a bit of digging and In 2004 Games International was re-started from issue 17, but ceased publication in 2005 after issue 23.

Can you source this for me?

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marktrade    615

Interesting, one of those links has an interview with the editor saying he intended to put scans of the first 16 issues online for free, but it looks like he never got around to it? Well, I was happy to help. :)

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kitsunebi77    730

Interesting, one of those links has an interview with the editor saying he intended to put scans of the first 16 issues online for free, but it looks like he never got around to it? Well, I was happy to help. :)

 

That sounds familiar.  If we had a scanned mag for every time someone said "I'm gonna scan something and contribute" before changing their mind after seeing what a pain in the ass it is, we'd have twice as many scanned mags as we've got now.  Of course, he might have had other reasons for not doing it (like possible legal/money issues with the mag's editors/freelancers)

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