GamePro was a monthly magazine devoted to console video games, although it added PC games coverage in 2000. The second most popular game magazine in America after Nintendo Power for much of the mid-to-late 1990s, its teen-oriented design and writing style has led it to be derided by "hardcore" gamers, but allows it to maintain a devoted audience that no other magazine targets. The magazine featured content on various video game consoles (e.g., Nintendo Entertainment System, Sony PlayStation, Xbox 360), PC computers and mobile devices (e.g., Game Boy, PSP (PlayStation Portable), iPhone). Gamepro Media properties included Gamepro magazine and their website. The company was also a part subsidiary of the privately held International Data Group (IDG), a media, events and research technology group.
Originally published in 1989, Gamepro magazine provided feature articles, news, previews and reviews on various video games, video game hardware and the entertainment video gaming industry. The magazine was published monthly (most recently from its headquarters in Oakland, California) with October 2011 being its last issue, after over 22 years of publication. Gamepro's February 2010 issue introduced a redesigned layout and a new editorial direction focused on the people and culture of its gaming.
GamePro was first established in Redwood City, California in late 1988 by Patrick Ferrell, his sister-in-law Leeanne McDermott, and the husband-wife design team of Michael and Lynne Kavish. Lacking the cashflow to be able to sustain growth after publishing the first issue, the founding management team sought a major publisher and in 1989 found one with IDG Peterborough, a New Hampshire-based division of the global giant IDG. Led by a merger and acquisition team comprising IDG Peterborough President Roger Murphy and 2 other IDG executives, Jim McBrian and Roger Strukhoff, the magazine was acquired, then a few months later spun off as an independent business unit of IDG, under the leadership of Ferrell as president/CEO. The later addition of John Rousseau as publisher and editor-in-chief Wes Nihei, as well as renowned artist Francis Mao, established GamePro as a large, profitable magazine worldwide publication. Francis Mao, acting in his role as art director for the nascent GamePro, contracted game illustrator Marc Ericksen to create the premiere cover for the first addition of the magazine. Ericksen would go on to produce five of the first ten covers for GamePro, eventually creating eight in total, and would continue a secondary role creating a number of the double page spreads for the very popular monthly Pro Tips section.
Over the years, the GamePro offices have moved from Redwood City (1989–1991) to San Mateo (1991-1998) to San Francisco (1998-2002) and lastly Oakland, their current and latest location. In 1993, the company was renamed from GamePro Inc. to Infotainment World in reflection to its growing and diverse publication lines.
The magazine was known for its editors using comic book-like avatars and monikers when reviewing games. As of January 2004, however, GamePro has ceased to use the avatars due to a change in the overall design and layout of the magazine. Meanwhile, editorial voices carry over to the newly redesigned and highly active community on its online sister publication, www.gamepro.com.
GamePro was also most widely famous for its ProTips, small pieces of gameplay tips and advice depicted with game screenshot captions. It also features a special corner section known as Code Vault (formerly S.W.A.T. Pro), where secret codes are all posted. These particular features have since gradually vanished. Code Vault was also published in print format and sold as a quarterly cheats and strategy magazine on newsstands.
Despite the demise of the term in GamePro itself, the term "ProTip" has been revived as a pop culture meme used to precede some ironical advice with extreme sarcasm, such as, "ProTip: To defeat the Cyberdemon, dodge its attacks and shoot at it until it dies" or "ProTip: Don't call the cops to report your stolen weed."
There was also a TV show called GamePro TV. The show was hosted by J. D. Roth and Brennan Howard. The show was nationally syndicated for one year, then moved to cable (USA and Sci-Fi) for a second year.
In 1993, Patrick Ferrell sent Debra Vernon, VP marketing, to a meeting between the games industry and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Realizing an opportunity, the team at the now-entitled Infotainment World launched E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The industry backed E3 and Ferrell partnered with the IDSA to produce the event. It was one of the biggest trade show launches in history.
With the April 1996 issue, the magazine started putting the issue number on the cover. However, from the very start of that practive, the number printed on the cover was inflated by 10; April 1996 was the 81st issue, though it was labeled as 91. One theory to this issue is that they included special issues they had published in previous years towards the issue count of the main magazine, but there has been no confirmation as to why the printed issue number was higher.
Early in its lifespan the magazine also included comic book pages about the adventures of a superhero named GamePro who was a video game player from the real world brought into a dimension where video games were real to save it from creatures called the Evil Darklings. In 2003, Joyride Studios produced limited-edition action figures of some of the GamePro editorial characters.
GamePro has also appeared in several international editions, including France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Brazil and Greece. Some of these publications share the North American content, while some others share only the name and logo but do feature different content.
Early in 2006, IDG Entertainment began to change internally and shift operational focus from a "Print to Online" to "Online to Print" publishing mentality. The first steps; build a large online network of web sites and rebuild the editorial team. Enter: George Jones, industry veteran.
In February 2006, GamePro's online video channel, Games.net, launched a series of video-game related shows. The extensive online programming is geared towards an older and more mature audience.
In August 2006, the GamePro online team spins off a new cheats site, GamerHelp.com. Shortly followed by a video game information aggregation site, Games.net and a dedicated gaming downloads site GameDownloads.com.
Under the new leadership of George Jones, GamePro magazine underwent a massive overhaul in the March 2007 issue. While losing some of the more dated elements of the magazine, the new arrangement focuses on five main insertions: HD game images, more reviews and previews per issue, www.gamepro.com community showcase, user contributions and insider news.
In 2009, GamePro's 20th anniversary coincided with 20-year industry veteran John Davison joining the newly named GamePro Media team in October 2009 as executive vice president, content. "GamePro presents a tremendous opportunity," said Davison. "We have the chance to celebrate its 20th anniversary of this significant marque with some exciting editorial changes, and to reshape it as a thoroughly modern integrated media brand."
Under Davison's direction, the magazine and website were redesigned in early 2010 with an editorial shift toward focusing on the people and culture of gaming. "GamePro is very much about the people and culture of gaming, rather than just the products," said Davison, executive vice president of content at GamePro Media. "With the redesign of both the print and online versions, we've placed strong emphasis on telling stories about games and the people associated with them; not just game creators, but also fans and people inspired by games." The redesigned magazine and website were met with an enthusiastic audience response
In addition to announcing the hire of Davison in October 2009, the company also announced an "aggressive growth plan throughout 2009 and beyond, with numerous online media initiatives to deepen consumer engagement and create new opportunities for advertisers." Plans included partnering with sister company, IDG TechNetwork, to build a "boutique online network of sites." The result was the introduction of the GamePro Media Network.
In September 2010, GamePro Media announced a new alliance with online magazine The Escapist offering marketers joint advertising programs for reaching an unduplicated male audience. The partnership was named the GamePro Escapist Media Group.
In November 2010, Julian Rignall joined GamePro Media as its new vice-president of content replacing John Davison who resigned in September 2010. Rignall brings 25 years of publishing experience to the group.
GamePro had ended its monthly publication after over 22 years of debut, with its October 2011 issue. Shortly after that issue, the magazine had changed to GamePro Quarterly, which was a quarterly publication using higher quality paper stock as well as being larger and thicker than all of the previous standard magazine issues. GamePro Quarterly hit newsstands within the first half of November 2011. The quarterly endeavor; however, only lasted with one issue when it was scrapped. On November 30, it was announced that GamePro as a magazine and a website would be shutting down on December 5, 2011. GamePro would only then become part of the PC World website as a small section of this entertainment site covering on the latest and most recently released video games in the current video gaming industry, now run by the PC World staff.
Numbers are taken from the United States Postal Services's Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (PS Form 3526), unless otherwise noted. Figures otherwise noted are from either the Audit Bureau of Circulation or BPA International (now BPA Worldwide). Figures are for Total Distribution with paid subscriptions in brackets (yearly average). Click on the links to see the full Statement of Ownership table.
1995: 533,346 (268,465)
1996: 482,140 (294,530)
1997: 467,001 (265,654)
1998: 486,555 (256,803)
1999: 513,655 (512,295); 515,880[a]
2000: 501,744 (260,635)
2001: 396,676 (251,341)
2002: 507,970 (355,236)
2003: 558,269 (426,887)
2006: 430,386 (345,137)
2007: 221,670 (157,337)
2008: 185,473 (132,972)
2009: 121,549 (79,353)
2010: 91,631 (59,965)
[a]: Circulation for 6 months ended June 30, 1999 (BPA)
[c]: Circulation for 6 months ended June 30, 2004 (ABC)
Note: ABC Initial Audit Report for 2001 (three month period ending January 2002) returned a circulation number of 529,043