Inevitable Change

Change is inevitable. It happens. We evolve and adapt. Sometimes change is for the better and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes things can even change back to the way they once were. Whether it is for the better, for the worst or simply a by-product of circumstance the key point here is that change is inevitable.

A long time ago in a place called the Nineties people, including myself, eagerly bought gaming magazines each month. These magazines recapped four weeks worth of news, reviews, previews and exclusive titbits from all the big important conventions. Now we’re in a place irritatingly referred to as the…actually, what are we in now? As people who proof read this pointed out: this isn’t the Naughties now (and I know this probably isn’t the place or totally related, but when talking about the upcoming Olympics please do not refer to the year as twenty-twelve, it’s two thousand and twelve damn it). Oh well, whatever we’re in now and despite society moving on far beyond the need for them, every time I’m in a newsagent I still see gaming magazines.

For accuracy’s sake let’s clarify the two types of gaming magazine. First we have the official type of publication such as OXM or OPM or ONM that someone more cynical than myself might refer to as a collection of lies, bias and more propaganda than the Brotherhood of Nod newsletter. Then you have your unofficial publications like GamesMaster or NGamer.

While I don’t particularly begrudge them holding on in there, is there really any justifiable reason that they still exist? Have I missed something? When things moved at a much slower pace waiting a month to hear all the latest news was fine, but now with the internet providing news mere minutes after a statement is made (or quicker if it’s a live conference) why do people still buy these magazines?

I ask because I can only assume that people are still buying them. There still seems to be plenty of them when I’m out shopping, gleefully sticking news on their front cover I’d heard about or reported on weeks ago like they’re the first people to bring it to the public’s attention.

When thinking of who might still be buying them I can only come up with younger gamers who perhaps aren’t aware they could be getting all the same information and more for free online. Naturally you could also throw in people who don’t have access to the internet but are still interested in gaming, yeah all five or six of those guys, but even if that’s the case it can’t possibly be a large enough audience share to be keeping these magazines afloat.

That isn’t to say that the magazine format needs to be erased from the world. Online magazines are the way of the future and in the same way that the national papers are slowly trying to go, some former large magazines have already started testing the waters (CVG is a good example). Then you also have Future Publishing’s attempt exclusive to PSN called FirstPlay, which Luke has previously spoken about based on the beta here. Revenue is still generated in the exact same way (advertising, endorsements, etc.) but you get to remove a large chunk of production costs because there’s nothing physical to print thousands of copies of each month.

Sadly, this also means that a lot less people will be needed. This reminds me of the frequent squabbling within Royal Mail, usually around Christmas, just to make sure as many people as possible get irritated at the same time. It’s an example of fighting change, but in a catch-22 situation where even if change is stopped something will still inevitably happen. In the postal service’s case it won’t just be inevitable that people will continue to be annoyed every time there is a strike; but also that the service will be strangled from within and cease to be anyway, laying off more people than the numbers that would be lost from the less harsh modernisation route.

I could go for a /facepalm montage right about now.

Apply the same consequences to gaming magazines. Lose some staff but take the format online (and that way you keep your readers, fan base, some revenue sources and name) or fight the change and eventually disappear forever. Sure, if you go at it from an edgy angle you might last a little longer than the riff-raff (like, for example, looking down your nose at every game in order to manufacture an opinion held in high regards by literally thousands of fools that may or may not be purchasable or could be traded for space on box art quotations)…but change is inevitable.

There’s also environmental benefits to stopping producing so many magazines, but there’s a chance that might save the world and if that happens I’ll lose a bet I made with Satan last year when I stayed at his condo, so I’m not too bothered about that one. Since I haven’t purchased a gaming magazine in so many years I don’t know if they’re being produced on recycled or at least partially recycled paper, but I doubt they are and I also remember the mountain of magazines I kept as a child and then eventually had to dispose of.

I’ll finish as I began by stating that change is inevitable. The digital generation is slowly killing the print generation and I don’t personally think it’s a bad thing – at least in this instance. Gaming magazines no longer serve a purpose. They are obsolete and unnecessary. If a gaming magazine were an old dog, this would be about the time to find a shotgun and leave a trail of biscuits leading behind the garden shed.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.


  1. KrazyFace /

    I see what you’re saying (loud and clear) but I belive magazines will live on. Much like you pointed out FirstPlay has come directly to the PS3 in a magazine-ish layout, and with things like the iPhone/iPad and E-readers floating around, it’s only a matter of time before these publications rearrange into a digital format. Not so much a website like this here Critical Gamer (which is brill!) but like the ‘package’ of FirstPlay. I think you’re absolutly right that we may not see much more of paper and ink, but the mags will live on in the future either way.

    Good article.

  2. half_empty80 /

    A well written and proposed arguement, but I’ve got to disagree.

    I love print gaming magazines. I hold subscriptions to two. I consider internet games sites to complement print, rather than replace and would rather see web games sites die out than magazines. You simply do not get the same quality of journalism (no offence) on the net or the same access to the industry that respected print magazines achieve.

    I find that reviews in print are often published at or before release dates. In addition, special features are saved for print and kept off the net. The idea of gaming news is a bit of a misnomer. Unlike current affairs, I don’t consider gaming news to be of the same importance. I primarily read print/web sources for reviews and previews.

    I do get annoyed when magazine sites publish on the net what I have paid for in a magazine. I also think reading a paper magazine is a more enriching experience than sitting in front of a screen.

    I’m not sure if they are printed on recycled paper but you can recycle them when you’re finished with them.

    There is also the issue of choice and access. The internet is a vast sea of mainly rubbish sites, where it is difficult to find gems like CG. In a newsagents or WH Smiths it is much easier to find something to read.

    My spleen is now fully vented. Long may CG and print magazines continue!

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