The slow sad death of video game magazines is not over yet

It lasted longer than most (Picture: Future Publishing)

A reader reminiscences over the golden era of video game magazines and holds out hope that they may one day get a vinyl style revival.

The other day I was in my local newsagents, perusing through a fine selection of various magazines covering a wide range of different pastimes, until I came to the ever-dwindling video game magazine section.

Not so long ago this section was filled with 10+ quality magazines, from multiformat publications such as GamesMaster, CVG, and GamesTM to classy platform specific magazines such as Official PlayStation Magazine, 360 Gamer, and Official Nintendo Magazine. Nowadays though the choice is down to just two magazines: Play, which is a PlayStation magazine, and Edge, which is a multiformat magazine.

Now, of course, I realise that a great many people reading this article will simply say that it does not matter, as various websites can provide the same content, but can they? I mean, sure, gaming websites are fine for game news, previews, and reviews but can they excite in the same way that magazines from yesteryear did?

I can always remember walking down to my local newsagents, trying to find copies of Amiga Power or Super Play (I was also partial to the short-lived Ultimate Future Games magazine, which ran throughout 1995). I would run all the way home before ripping off the cellophane and gawping wide eyed at the screenshots of upcoming games and systems, whilst laughing out loud at a risqué joke from a reviewer or the editor.

Some of the home computer magazines from the early 90s used to have floppy discs on the front cover, containing playable demos, a feature that would be repeated towards the end of the decade by PlayStation and Saturn magazines, except with compact discs replacing floppy discs. I would be counting down the days until the next issues would be on sale!

Whilst gaming websites do a great job of informing their audience have you ever looked forward to reading it?

Despite the difficult retail climate for gaming magazines there are still a few hanging in there, including the excellent Retro Gamer magazine which has been on sale since 2004 and continues to sell decent enough numbers even during the 2020/21 lockdowns.

Retro Gamer, of course, is aimed at old timers like myself, who look back with love at the gaming landscape of the 1980s and 1990s. But for fans of modern gaming there is so little choice (for example, I don’t think there are any Xbox specific magazines available at all).

Sadly, I think at this point in time the print media is largely in terminal decline and it is only a matter of time before there are no more gaming magazines at all, which for me at least will be a sad day.

I live in hope that there may one day be a sort of revival in this sector, similar to the way in which vinyl music has become very trendy in recent years, although I accept this is very unlikely. In the meantime though I will look to complete my collection of vintage gaming magazines from the 1980s and 1990s, many thanks for reading.

By reader Eric Bowden

Could there be a comeback? (Picture: Future Publishing)

The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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