Jan 18, 2009

The Death of an Icon

Article by: Josh McPherson

In May of 1989, North American gamers were treated to the first issue of what would be a long legacy for the print gaming publication Electronic Gaming Monthly. For nearly 20 years, EGM endured while other gaming magazines, faced with declining ad revenues and strong online competition, had ceased publication. Perhaps it was the mainstays like Dan “Shoe” Hsu and his insightful reviews or thoughts on the state of the industry, Quartermann’s Gossip corner (one of my personal favorites) or the annual April Fools joke. Regardless of what the appeal was, many North American gamers have either read a handful of issues or been a subscriber at one time or another.

Sadly, on Tuesday January 6th, 2009, Ziff Davis (the former publishing company) have decided to sell 1up.com and all the sites associated with the 1up brand, including EGM, to The Hearst Corporation and the UGO network. According to Joystiq, a number of the staff members at 1up.com and EGM have been let go, with only a fraction of the original staff retained by UGO. To what extent they will be used is still not known. So what will happen to our beloved EGM magazine? That I intended to find out.

As a loyal subscriber for the past 10 years, I recently renewed for the maximum term. When I first heard about the cancellation of the publication I took it upon myself to contact the customer service department to inquire what was happening with the magazine and subsequently, the rest of my subscription. The customer service representative I spoke with was very helpful and made sure to take down my comments when I expressed how much I loved this magazine and that I was disappointed with the decision to end the publication. The rep assured me that there was no final decision as to what UGO would be doing with EGM now or in the future but there would not be another issue coming my way in the next 30 days. Instead, the rep informed me that there was a possibility that they may take the popular magazine to an online monthly subscription format. The rep also told me that anyone who had the monthly mail delivery, would get the option to receive a refund for the remainder of their subscription or subscribe to the digital e-Zine format.

If you're a subscriber of EGM and would like to speak with a Ziff Davis customer service rep to discuss your options, contact the customer service department at phone #
US/Canada: 386-597-4371
International: 386-597-4370
Could the recent announcement of EGM shutting down be the death rattle for printed gaming publications? When a magazine such as EGM that’s been around for so long and widely regarded as the best in the business falls, like it or not, it sure looks to be a sign of the times.


Anonymous said...

magazine had been mighty thin lately and no match for the likes of EDGE (UK), but it was surely the best stateside. GameAdvertisor...er Informer is now my only subscription.

Josh said...

I don't want to get myself a subscription to magazines that are dedicated to just one console. I want a 1 stop shop mag.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Nick said...

I like Gamesmaster (UK) as it has info from all the consoles and more...not that I really read mags that much anymore and instead find most things out from sites such as N4G, IGN and Gamespot :)

VancityAllie said...

It is for sure sad... but the whole gaming industry as a whole is being completely restructured. It's pretty scary times for everyone.

Paul Hunter said...

I would have to say the best one stop shop gaming magazine out there is probably Game Informer. I find their coverage to be comprehensive and the writing excellent.

Personally though, I prefer the dedicated console magazines such as OXM, OPM, and Nintendo Power. Sure they're biased, but I find that these magazines often cover lesser known titles that aren't mainstream enough for the one stop shop mags.

Clinton said...

Before he moved to EA, Jeff Green lamented the closing of GFW and how the editorial team didn't get a chance to change the magazine's creative direction. His theory was that print magazines were not playing to their strengths. Instead of trying to beat the Internet at the instant gratification game, he maintained that magazines could regain much of their audience by focusing more on in-depth features.

I thought this was really insightful and it's a shame we couldn't see this thinking applied in time to save GFW or EGM. Personally, I love the glossy cover stories that can only be found in magazines and appreciate lengthy previews jam packed with exclusive screen shots.

This seems to be the strategy driving EDGE and it's no wonder they are alive and kicking. If you're hurting for a magazine to subscribe to, I heartily recommend EDGE. It's a pricey read but well worth the money.

Paul Hunter said...

Well that's just it Clinton, I couldn't agree more. I used to buy EGM back in the 90's because it was *the* magazine for breaking news. I found that EGM wrote about the major events such as CES, E3 and the TGS faster and had more comprehensive coverage. With the internet age though, instead of beating their competition by a few weeks, they were always a few weeks behind. They definitely didn't play to their strengths. The magazine probably would have been better off if they moved more towards features such as in-depth event coverage, interesting interviews and opinion pieces, and professional commentaries. Unfortunately, they didn't innovate with the times and as a result had to sell the business. It's a shame, really.

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