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“Oh my god, what have I got myself into?” The inside story of the golden age of video game magazines

One topic keeps coming to mind when we talk to gaming magazine veterans about this feature. It’s just that in the 80’s and early 90’s there’s a certain kind of magic that’s been plagued by gaming magazines like we’ll never see them again. “They have certain tones and styles that are very modern,” said Julian “Jaz” Rignall, former editor of Zzap!64 and Mean Machines. “I mean, Mean Machines, I can tell you some of the things we talk about these days. I don’t think so.” Matthew Castle, the last editor of the official Nintendo Magazine, said his biggest regret in 2014 when publications were closed was not signing up for the golden age of video game magazines. I was reading Play magazine and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, all of this is so good. Why didn’t I spend my pocket money on it instead of boglins or whatever?’”

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Officially licensed magazines such as the Nintendo Magazine System (Future Publishing went through several name changes before simply being changed to the official Nintendo Magazine) grew in importance in the 90s and beyond. Interestingly, multiple publishers simultaneously have “official” and “unofficial” magazines covering the same format, such as EMAP’s Sega Magazine (1994) and Mean Machines Sega, Xbox World (2003) and Future and PSM2’s Official Xbox Magazine (2001). was doing 2000) and the official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine (2000), also in Future. In particular, the original version of the latter, the official UK PlayStation Magazine (1995), was a huge hit with publishers, and its surprising sales will likely have a lot to do with the generous demo CDs that span the cover every month.

Over the next two decades, ‘unofficial’ journals were gradually introduced into a monolithic format.
Almost completely kicked out of the market. Matthew Castle saw both sides of the split as editor of the unofficial NGamer (which evolved through a few name changes on Super Play in 1992) and later on the official Nintendo Magazine. but if

After NGamer went out of business in 2012, they were initially reluctant to sail to officially approved seas. “In my head I was ‘the unofficial Nintendo magazine’. We were the same company, but they were our rivals. I really didn’t want to hang out, and I didn’t think their worldview was exactly the same as ours, but I wanted a job.”

Still, he says it’s further restricted by Nintendo licenses.
What he was able to do in the official Nintendo Magazine was that the dry Wii U days were truly a blessing, and since there were no new games available, the author could fill the pages page by page. In a way, the anarchy spirit of magazines such as YS and Amiga Power was briefly rekindled. “I think last year at ONM was actually pretty strong,” says Matthew. “There were a few things that made me think, ‘Nintendo can’t read this magazine anymore.’ Yes. We got close a couple of times. I joked about McDonald’s and it almost ruined me because I had a happy meal deal with McDonald’s.”

(Image credit: Future)

So we got to the present. In the past decade, and not long after, even the most influential magazines have struggled as they struggle to compete with the flow of online readers. C&VG closed its print edition in 2004 and lived half its life as an online-only publication until 2014. The official Nintendo Magazine was discontinued in 2014 with Nintendo’s withdrawal from print magazines. Play ceased operations in 2016. GamesMaster survived long after the TV show of the same name was grazing, but 25 years later, in 2018, it finally succumbed to the inevitable. Home of Retro Gamer himself, Imagine Publishing’s Multi-Format GamesTM went on sale at about the same time after 16 years of sales.

However, there are still some outliers. Official Xbox and PlayStation Magazines
It is still based at WH Smith, and PC Gamer has been published continuously since 1993. New gaming magazines were also launched last year in the form of indie-focused Wireframe, and preteen-focused magazines like 110% Gaming are thriving on the bottom shelf of newsagents. And here’s Edge, which celebrated becoming the UK’s longest running gaming magazine earlier this year. May they all continue!

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“Oh my god, what have I got myself into?” The inside story of the golden age of video game magazines

Speaking to games magazine veterans for this feature, one theme comes up again and again – that back in the Eighties and early Nineties, there was a special kind of magic that was bottled by games magazines, the likes of which we’ll never see again. “They have a certain tone and style to them that’s very much of the period,” says Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall, ex-editor of Zzap!64 and Mean Machines. “I mean, you know, Mean Machines, I don’t think we could get away with saying some of the things that we used to say nowadays.” Matthew Castle, who was Official Nintendo Magazine’s final editor when the publication closed in 2014, says that his biggest regret is that he didn’t get into videogame magazines earlier, during their golden age. “I read a huge pile of old Super Play magazines when I joined Future, and it was just like, ‘Oh, god, this is all so good. Why didn’t I spend my pocket money on this instead of Boglins or whatever it was?’”
Read more great retro features in Retro Gamer magazine
Crashing into a new era of games magazines

The most influential games magazines

Making magazines with scissors and glue

A new age of personality journalism

Hey Amiga

Officially licenced magazines like Nintendo Magazine System (which went through several name changes before ending up at Future Publishing as the simply named Official Nintendo Magazine) gained prominence throughout the Nineties and beyond. Interestingly, several publishers had concurrent ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ magazines covering the same format, like Sega Magazine (1994) and Mean Machines Sega at EMAP, Xbox World (2003) and Official Xbox Magazine (2001) at Future, and PSM2 (2000) and Official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine (2000), also at Future. The latter’s original incarnation in particular – Official UK PlayStation Magazine (1995) – was a massive success for the publisher, with its phenomenal sales probably having a lot to do with the generous demo disc that straddled the cover each month.
Gradually, over the next two decades, ‘unofficial’ single-format magazines would
be almost completely pushed out of the market. Matthew Castle saw both sides of the divide as editor of the unofficial NGamer (which evolved, via several name changes, from 1992’s Super Play) and later on as editor of Official Nintendo Magazine. But when
NGamer closed down in 2012, he was initially reticent about sailing into officially sanctioned waters. “In my head, you know, I was ‘unofficial Nintendo mag for life’. We were the same company, but they were our rivals. I didn’t really want to be part of it, I didn’t necessarily think their world view matched up with ours – but I wanted a job.”
Still, he says that although the Nintendo licence meant he was more constrained
in what he could do at Official Nintendo Magazine, the lean Wii U years were actually somewhat of a blessing in disguise, freeing the writers to fill pages upon pages with gloriously nonsensical features thanks to the lack of new games to write about. In a way, the anarchic spirit of magazines like YS and Amiga Power flared again for an instant. “I think the last year or so of ONM is actually pretty strong,” says Matthew. “There was some stuff where I was like, ‘There’s no way Nintendo is reading this magazine anymore.’ There were bizarre alternative Christmas carols that were making fun of the then head of Nintendo Europe and stuff like that. There were several things we printed where I then had nightmares I was going to get fired. We did come close on a couple of occasions: I made a joke about McDonald’s, which almost got me nuked because they had a Happy Meal deal with McDonald’s.”

(Image credit: Future)
And so we come to the present. The past decade and a bit has seen even the most mighty magazines fall as they struggled to compete with the migration of readers online. C&VG closed its print version in 2004, living a half-life as an online-only publication until 2014. Official Nintendo Magazine bowed out in 2014 after Nintendo withdrew from print magazines. Play ended its print run in 2016. GamesMaster survived long after its namesake TV show was put out to pasture, but it eventually succumbed to the inevitable in 2018, after 25 years of publication. The multiformat gamesTM from Imagine Publishing, former home of Retro Gamer itself, went silent at around the same time, after 16 years on sale.
But there are still a few holdouts. The official Xbox and PlayStation magazines
still carve out a space in WH Smith, and PC Gamer has been continually published since 1993. Last year even saw the launch of a brand-new games magazine in the form of the indie-centric Wireframe, while pre-teen-focused mags like 110% Gaming thrive on newsagents’ bottom shelves. And then there’s Edge, which earlier this year celebrated becoming the United Kingdom’s longest-running games magazine. Long may they all continue!
This feature is taken from Retro Gamer Magazine and you can save up to 57% on a print and digital subscription by subscribing today

#god #story #golden #age #video #game #magazines

“Oh my god, what have I got myself into?” The inside story of the golden age of video game magazines

Speaking to games magazine veterans for this feature, one theme comes up again and again – that back in the Eighties and early Nineties, there was a special kind of magic that was bottled by games magazines, the likes of which we’ll never see again. “They have a certain tone and style to them that’s very much of the period,” says Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall, ex-editor of Zzap!64 and Mean Machines. “I mean, you know, Mean Machines, I don’t think we could get away with saying some of the things that we used to say nowadays.” Matthew Castle, who was Official Nintendo Magazine’s final editor when the publication closed in 2014, says that his biggest regret is that he didn’t get into videogame magazines earlier, during their golden age. “I read a huge pile of old Super Play magazines when I joined Future, and it was just like, ‘Oh, god, this is all so good. Why didn’t I spend my pocket money on this instead of Boglins or whatever it was?’”
Read more great retro features in Retro Gamer magazine
Crashing into a new era of games magazines

The most influential games magazines

Making magazines with scissors and glue

A new age of personality journalism

Hey Amiga

Officially licenced magazines like Nintendo Magazine System (which went through several name changes before ending up at Future Publishing as the simply named Official Nintendo Magazine) gained prominence throughout the Nineties and beyond. Interestingly, several publishers had concurrent ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ magazines covering the same format, like Sega Magazine (1994) and Mean Machines Sega at EMAP, Xbox World (2003) and Official Xbox Magazine (2001) at Future, and PSM2 (2000) and Official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine (2000), also at Future. The latter’s original incarnation in particular – Official UK PlayStation Magazine (1995) – was a massive success for the publisher, with its phenomenal sales probably having a lot to do with the generous demo disc that straddled the cover each month.
Gradually, over the next two decades, ‘unofficial’ single-format magazines would
be almost completely pushed out of the market. Matthew Castle saw both sides of the divide as editor of the unofficial NGamer (which evolved, via several name changes, from 1992’s Super Play) and later on as editor of Official Nintendo Magazine. But when
NGamer closed down in 2012, he was initially reticent about sailing into officially sanctioned waters. “In my head, you know, I was ‘unofficial Nintendo mag for life’. We were the same company, but they were our rivals. I didn’t really want to be part of it, I didn’t necessarily think their world view matched up with ours – but I wanted a job.”
Still, he says that although the Nintendo licence meant he was more constrained
in what he could do at Official Nintendo Magazine, the lean Wii U years were actually somewhat of a blessing in disguise, freeing the writers to fill pages upon pages with gloriously nonsensical features thanks to the lack of new games to write about. In a way, the anarchic spirit of magazines like YS and Amiga Power flared again for an instant. “I think the last year or so of ONM is actually pretty strong,” says Matthew. “There was some stuff where I was like, ‘There’s no way Nintendo is reading this magazine anymore.’ There were bizarre alternative Christmas carols that were making fun of the then head of Nintendo Europe and stuff like that. There were several things we printed where I then had nightmares I was going to get fired. We did come close on a couple of occasions: I made a joke about McDonald’s, which almost got me nuked because they had a Happy Meal deal with McDonald’s.”

(Image credit: Future)
And so we come to the present. The past decade and a bit has seen even the most mighty magazines fall as they struggled to compete with the migration of readers online. C&VG closed its print version in 2004, living a half-life as an online-only publication until 2014. Official Nintendo Magazine bowed out in 2014 after Nintendo withdrew from print magazines. Play ended its print run in 2016. GamesMaster survived long after its namesake TV show was put out to pasture, but it eventually succumbed to the inevitable in 2018, after 25 years of publication. The multiformat gamesTM from Imagine Publishing, former home of Retro Gamer itself, went silent at around the same time, after 16 years on sale.
But there are still a few holdouts. The official Xbox and PlayStation magazines
still carve out a space in WH Smith, and PC Gamer has been continually published since 1993. Last year even saw the launch of a brand-new games magazine in the form of the indie-centric Wireframe, while pre-teen-focused mags like 110% Gaming thrive on newsagents’ bottom shelves. And then there’s Edge, which earlier this year celebrated becoming the United Kingdom’s longest-running games magazine. Long may they all continue!
This feature is taken from Retro Gamer Magazine and you can save up to 57% on a print and digital subscription by subscribing today

#god #story #golden #age #video #game #magazines


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