Video game magazines are all but dead. Over the last few years almost every video game magazine has ceased to exist. OPM, PSM Gamepro and Nintendo Power just to name a few have gone the way of the Tasmanian Tiger. It is sad to see this once large and important industry on the brink of extinction. Magazines like Game Informer, Famitsu and Official Xbox Magazine and a few others throughout the world are all that’s left from this once large industry.
Prior to internet and until fairly recently video game magazines were people’s source for gaming news, reviews, previews and unique opinion pieces. Sadly with the high cost of print magazines and low demand for them, especially video game magazines, the majority of magazines may be gone in the next few years. While they may be gone or close to being shutdown, those magazines had some of the best reviews, articles and exclusives of their time. Personally I subscribed to PSM and Official Playstation Magazine back in the day. OPM was truly a great source for all things Playstation and it even included demo discs something that sadly does not exist anymore. Magazines had that physical feeling and the pages were at times artistic something that is hard to experience with web pages. The full page advertisements for games were colorful and eye catching and in my opinion they were overlooked and made for some nice posters. Along with the colorful ads and great images used for each article, readers became loyal and connected to certain magazines and their writers. This created a trusting relationship between the writers and readers. Readers knew one writer knew his stuff when it came to racing games and another would tell you everything you need to know when it came to reviewing a rpg. Unlike today where there are so many publications on the internet and the occasional scandal of certain publications for their scores e.g. Gamespot vs Jeff Gerstmann, the video game magazines were honest, reliable and the go to place for video game reviews. Readers knew if that game got a 9 or 10 from PSM it was a great game and a must-buy.
While there are reviewers people trust from certain publications, writers for magazines were almost like authors of books. Video game news, reviews, previews etc. are everywhere now. People can easily do a quick google search and find anything they need in seconds. This focus on instant gratification for gaming information has deteriorated the personal touch articles have like they did in magazines. Since there is a focus on page views and who can get the story out first, most information becomes redundant and bland. Some websites do stray from this norm like Polygon and Giant Bomb but in general the major publications have become bland and without personality. Gaming magazines may be on their last legs but, in my opinion with a bit of creativity and support from gamers they can be resurrected.
In Europe as well as Australia and Japan gaming magazines still exist. Edge and Gamestar in Europe, Playstation Official Magazine Australia and Japan’s very popular Famitsu magazine are a few of the magazines still going strong. Many magazines have gone digital which is understandable but for a select few, holding a physical magazine is still as enjoyable as it was years ago. Gaming magazines could make a come back in a sense. There are many gamers who like to support a quality gaming content as it’s been shown with subscription programs for gaming websites. Many gamers want to support the gaming industry and all things gaming related. If gaming magazines focus more on unique articles along with the standard reviews, previews etc. and develop an interesting personality and connection with their readers they could be very successful. While monthly magazines are costly and not as popular as they used to be, a quarterly magazine could be highly successful. With unique content like what to buy guides, retro article pieces and maybe even an inclusion of a DVD of what the magazine crew is playing, similar to the OPM’s demo discs, they could garner a number of subscribers. Magazines are on the precipice of extinction especially video game magazines but, they may be able to come back with some creative restructuring.