Old vs New: The Resurrection of Electronic Gaming Monthly

January 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm Leave a comment

Like many, I was totally bummed when I heard Electronic Gaming Monthly was being shut down (especially after that digital Hugh Jackman cover…ewww).  And, of course, I was totally stoked when EGM founder Steve Harris bought the mag and had plans to resurrect it sometime in 2010.  But I’ve noticed something regarding this new EGM ‘experience’ that troubles me: it sounds a lot like the old EGM.  From what I understand, Harris plans to revamp the magazine and launch it alongside a digital version (EGM[i]) and an online counterpart (EGMNOW).  Details about these new properties are slim, and I do expect that more info would be released as the launch day draws closer, but so far, it doesn’t seem like all that much has changed.  Area 5 will produce video content for EGMNOW, which sounds a lot like the stuff Ryan O’Donell and Co. did for 1UP.com, Dan Hsu and the good folks here at Bitmob will contribute editorial and news, and they will all tie together somehow for a seamless integration of print and internet media.  Which is what 1UP said they were doing when they were part of Ziff-Davis.


Don’t take this as some sort of negative criticism of how I think 1UP sucks or that the new EGM is going to fail; I still enjoy 1UP.com and continue to read articles and features posted there.  I also watch Area 5’s CO-OP show (being a huge fan of the 1UP Show, myself), and, of course, I’ve been reading blog posts and editorial here at Bitmob.  Given the great opportunity Mr. Harris has to completely revamp his EGM brand, I just don’t want to see it wasted on something that has been tried before, and has met with mixed results.  Now, I can’t speak much of what I’d want to see done differently for the online features, given that the internet is still an evolving medium, but print has been around since the first Bible rolled off the press (like 10 zillion B.C. or something), and I think we all have our own opinions of what works and doesn’t work in a magazine.

What I don’t want to see in a video game magazine are:

1) Reviews
2) News
3) Hints, guides, or cheats

I believe it was one of the latest episodes of 4 Guys 1UP, where they had Hsu and some of the Bitmob guys discussing their roles in the new EGM.  I believe they mentioned something about doing game reviews for the magazine, and this automatically started setting off alarms in my head.  My thing with print is that it is less and also more convenient than online media.  You don’t get the immediacy of online with print, but you don’t need an internet or phone signal to be able to pull out a magazine and read it.  If a review is in the magazine, who cares?  It’ll probably be old news, and that reviewer may have already posted it online somewhere else.  The internet is full or instant access, from watching TV shows on Hulu whenever I want, to browsing RSS and Twitter feeds for the latest news.  Everything is NOW, NOW, NOW on the internet.  Even though I said I read features on 1UP, it’s usually pretty rare, as I’m accustomed to perusing stories and only fully reading maybe a handful of articles (game reviews I generally read all of, since I prefer an explanation of a score, rather than a score itself).

That makes any kind of ‘breaking news’ or ‘exclusive review’ almost non-existent for a magazine.  If it’s in print, it has probably already been online for days.  So, where does that leave the brand-new Electronic Gaming Monthly?

I think the magazine should focus on the gaming lifestyle rather than the business.  I always enjoyed reading the interviews with the developers, like the ‘Afterthoughts’ segment of EGM.  Let me read about how Street Fighter IV fans are getting ready for the latest tourney, or what developers and publishers think of the potty mouths on Xbox Live, or the gradual merging of the “casual gamers” crowd into “hardcore” gamers.  Don’t give me the latest NPD numbers, show me the gamer that paid the money which fuels those numbers.

Um... no, thank you.

Also, while I appreciate the idea of combining print and internet, I disliked how, in the old Electronic Gaming Monthly, some articles pointed you to 1UP.com to “read more interview questions with the developers”, or “for more on this story, go to 1UP.com.” My thoughts were always, “I’ve already read what I wanted to; I’m not going to bother going to a computer, punch in the web address, find the story, and read the continuation.  If they wanted me to go to the website to read this article, they should just post the whole thing online instead of having me pay a subscription to read only part of it.”

In short, I want a reason to stuff a paper magazine in my bag as I catch a ride on the BART.  Why should I flip through real pages when I can pull out my phone and read while on my lunch break?  Again, I don’t mean to criticize anyone or Steve Harris’ latest endeavor, especially since the public hasn’t yet seen what it is he’s trying to do.  I just don’t want the same old magazine.  I do trust the talent behind this project, and I will still pick up the very first issue once it’s released. I wish nothing but the best for the new Electronic Gaming Monthly team.

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