Why Retro Gamer will fail

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paranoid marvin
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Re:

Post by paranoid marvin » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:06 am

Ash wrote:
Dizrythmia wrote:My opinions if anyone cares:

1) The double page reviews are a criminal waste of space. When I read those reviews, & they're about games I have never played, I want to see more than one pixellated screen that covers 2 pages. Maybe decrease them to 1, have the same review space & more smaller images to show more of the game. That seems to be the most sensible way of doing things.
They're not reviews though are they? So far the Retro Revivals have all been very personal recollections on experiences the writer had with the game. They're more like blogs in a way.
I for one would far rather have personal recollection than a game review
A bit more information on the game would also help though.Perhaps have an old Crash/ZZap!/Amtix etc review incorporated into it?
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Re:

Post by Dizrythmia » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:10 am

paranoid marvin wrote:
Ash wrote:They're not reviews though are they? So far the Retro Revivals have all been very personal recollections on experiences the writer had with the game. They're more like blogs in a way.
I for one would far rather have personal recollection than a game review
A bit more information on the game would also help though.Perhaps have an old Crash/ZZap!/Amtix etc review incorporated into it?
Umm everyone seems to be missing the point. My complaint was about the pictures taking up 2 pages. That's just not necessary when you can fill up a single page with the review/blog/recollection (take your pick) & several smaller images.

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Post by stigodump » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:00 am

To be honest I don't think the game reviews are RG's strongest point. It's the features that's pushing the mag.

My favourite magazine was Mean Machines and it was the game reviews that drove it. You had the main review and an opinion from each chap (2,3 or 4 if the game was a biggun) giving an enthusiastic review of the game (or not in a lot of cases). Most magazines at the time did this and seemed to be from game fans writing about what they love.

What we have now (or at least what I've read in RG) are basically just what could be read off the back of the game box and a rating. I'm not sensing any passion or anything of real depth. They actually read like a journalist writing an article matter of fact like. OK I'm probably being a little harsh in that but I'm probably exaggerating to make a point.

Would reader reviews help create a balance? Possibly. Although reader reviews like "THIS GAME ROCKS!" would not be welcome I think a lot of RG's readers are more intelligent than they are being given credit. There are a number of chaps here that frequent this forum that are more than capable of stringing a sentance or two together and can easily give a review the passion it needs.

Worth a go surely?
Last edited by stigodump on Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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CraigGrannell
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Re: Why Retro Gamer will fail

Post by CraigGrannell » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:14 am

First, a caveat to my 2p on this thread: as a contributor, I'm somewhat biased. However, it is worth noting that 1) I do read the magazine cover to cover (which isn't the case for many publications I write for), and; 2) I buy the mag every month, because I want to read it, not because my face pops up now and again on page 3.

The post Darran copied here is somewhat indicative of bad-blood posts I've seen on certain forums, although many of those come from people who themselves were trying to get involved in some kind of retro publication (prior to Imagine's purchase and revival of Retro Gamer and since). What I cannot understand is how some readers saw the Live version of the magazine compared to the Imagine one. For all of the complaints about wasted space, I suspect some people either have short memories or selective ones, clearly ignoring the huge amount of standing copy in the Live mag, or those lengthy "advertising" galleries, which in some cases took up to *12* pages of the mag.

It's also worth noting that Darran didn't bulldoze the old when he took over the running of the magazine: there's actually a pretty clear thread from the start of the second volume to the first Imagine issue, although one could easily argue that Darran hurried along the process somewhat. What I'm talking about here is the emphasis shift from hardware to gaming, but then that makes sense in a title called Retro GAMER, and hardware isn't exactly being ignored in the current version of the magazine.

Reviews have long been a bone of contention in the mag—some love them and others hate them. Our poster seems to fall between two camps, criticising one element, but then saying they want reader reviews: in other words, perhaps they aren't satisfied with reviews unless they are written by themselves (or, perhaps, "sceners"); this reading is somewhat insulting, however, insinuating that the Imagine staff members are neither capable at reviewing games nor big enough fans to do so. (I should note that this is MY reading of the post, not necessarily what the original poster meant, but it IS indicative of the general feeling regarding reviews in the magazine.)

From my own point of view, I want to see reviews in Retro Gamer. I want to know whether I should bother paying £20 for Taito Legends 2, or whether it's a pile of censored that should be avoided. As another poster here said, most magazines summarily dismiss such collections. The otherwise impressive Official Nintendo Magazine (Future's recent effort) stamped all over the Namco collection; crucially, the criticism wasn't levelled at the poor quality of the compilation itself, but at the included games. (The suggestion was that the games were old and not by Nintendo, and therefore that they were all censored.) Retro Gamer, however, is written by people who have similar sensibilities to the readership, and so it makes perfect sense to review not only titles with a direct link to the past (namely the retro compilations), but also titles that may appeal to the readers.

The other reviews area is homebrew. As long as this doesn't take up too much space, I think it also has a place in the magazine -- and for more than a single reason. First, most readers of the magazine are likely to be in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Many are married, with children, or have jobs that keep them very busy, and therefore have little time to spend on gaming. That's certainly the case for me. Therefore, I want to know whether it's worth my while bothering with a homebrew game: although homebrew efforts cost little or no money, they cost TIME. Secondly, such reviews are useful to draw attention to labours of love that have almost no chance whatsoever of getting coverage in other news-stand magazines. This is one way in which Retro Gamer can directly link to the scene that people suggest it's somehow betrayed since its rebirth.
Last edited by CraigGrannell on Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by CraigGrannell » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:30 am

I suppose for some readers there's also the extremely contentious issue of "reader reviews". From my point of view—as a professional writer and occasional editor—it's impossible to be totally impartial about this. Generally speaking, people are in a profession because they happen to be good at it: Retro Gamer's contributors, for example, are paid to write for the magazine because they are professional writers. Some readers would no doubt get terribly angry if reader reviews suddenly appeared in the magazine, due to "value for money" concerns, and there's also the issue that—again, in general—content from readers will require more in-house resources to bash into shape for publication. That said, I don't think reader reviews should be ignored entirely if there's demand for them—it's just a question of where they are placed in the magazine. Darran mentions the homebrew section elsewhere, but I would personally place a reader review each month in "The Retro Forum". After all, that is the section for feedback from readers, so such a piece would be logical in that part of the magazine.

Elsewhere, the only other point I can really understand from the poster is about the Retro Revival DPSs. I actually happen to like these. From an editorial standpoint, they are highly useful for pacing and variety, and from a visual standpoint, they add some punch to the magazine. Sure, one might argue that they are a "waste of space", but from a comparative point of view, go check out older issues of Retro Gamer, and see just how many introductory DPSs for features have significantly less copy that the Retro Revival spreads. I suspect there could be fewer of these spreads, and that similar ideas could be used in context, but that's not something I'm going to get into here.

As I said, that's where my understanding of the poster's comment comes to an end. The issue of cover price is somewhat moot as far as I can see—five quid for this sort of magazine is a typical price these days, and covermounts only add perceived value rather than actual value. The comment that "its [sic] still £5 for paper" is absurd—it's £5 for the content within. Would people really be happier if the magazine cut 16 pages and added a DVD of stuff you can download from the internet?
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Post by FooAtari » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:39 am

Hi folks.

I have been reading this magazine for a few months now, and have been very pleased with it. So much so I intend to subscribe.

I really enjoy all the features about old developers, publishers and hardware but I would actually like to see one thing on the subject of reviews.

Proper reviews to old games. I would like to read full-page reviews as you get in any "modern games" magazine but on old games. There are so many I haven’t played and I would like to know how good/bad some are before investing time and money into them.

Apart from that though I have no complaints really. Perhaps some more in depth information on any consoles featured, but I really enjoy the articles as they are. (When are you going to cover the ST?)

Oh and one other thing. When featuring games from developers/publishers like the Ocean one in current issue, why do you always use (or nearly always as far as I can tell) Spectrum screen shots wherever possible. I noticed a lot of the games were also on ST and Amiga but 9/10 it was shots from the Speccy version of the game. How about some variety there?

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mel the bell
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Re: Why Retro Gamer will fail

Post by mel the bell » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:42 am

CraigGrannell wrote: I buy the mag every month, because I want to read it, not because my face pops up now and again on page 3.

.
oh ah you said you wrote for it not featured on page 3
i for one would prefer ANYTHING but CraigGrannell appearing on page 3 :)
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Re: Why Retro Gamer will fail

Post by stigodump » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:45 am

mel the bell wrote:
CraigGrannell wrote: I buy the mag every month, because I want to read it, not because my face pops up now and again on page 3.

.
oh ah you said you wrote for it not featured on page 3
i for one would prefer ANYTHING but CraigGrannell appearing on page 3 :)
Hey in this day and age of equality...

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Post by stigodump » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:46 am

Image
...I see your point. :shock: :?

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Post by merman » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:49 am

A summary of my reply where this message was originally posted:

- 8 pages (plus news items) of retro compilations in 5 issues is hardly excessive

- reader reviews would take a lot of time to organise, edit and get into the mag; the letters page is there, use it

- £5 is a fair price compared to other games mags

- double-page spreads - I'm not a fan of them myself, but they do give a change of pace, and they can highlight some classic gaming moments (5 an issue is about right, and there haven't been MORE than that, despite some people posting to the contrary)

- "the same stuff re-written" - hardly fair, there's a lot of effort gone into new articles on the SNES, the Spectrum and so on. Other than that, show me one article that has been re-used from "old" RG


Darran is listening to reader input - take issue 23, three very good "making of" articles, exactly the sort of thing readers were asking for.
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Re: Why Retro Gamer will fail

Post by CraigGrannell » Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:25 pm

mel the bell wrote:oh ah you said you wrote for it not featured on page 3 i for one would prefer ANYTHING but CraigGrannell appearing on page 3 :)
Luckily, Retro Gamer's treatment of "page 3" is rather different to that of the red-tops!
merman wrote:- "the same stuff re-written" - hardly fair, there's a lot of effort gone into new articles on the SNES, the Spectrum and so on. Other than that, show me one article that has been re-used from "old" RG
I have a spreadsheet that details every feature from Retro Gamer, from issue 1 to the most recent issue. There are duplications, but they are very few and far between.

I think another thing many readers need to be aware of is magazine lead times. Generally speaking, magazines are put together four to eight weeks before you see them on the shelves. And they are planned one to three months prior to that. In other words, make a comment about issue 10 and it's unlikely to be acted upon until issue 12 to 14. (There are exceptions to this, but that's the average for this kind of thing.) Long-time readers of the Imagine version of Retro Gamer will already see reader feedback trickling through: as Merman said, the "classic games" pieces have largely been scrapped in favour of "making of" articles, in direct response to reader feedback.
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Post by FatTrucker » Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:33 pm

Apologies if most of this has been covered but I'm a lazy bast and now I'm in my thirties I just don't have enough life left to read pages and pages of posts (well...3 anyway).

I think the author of the criticism levelled in the original post sounds a little bit jaded. Perhaps he/she is a wannabe games journo who has had their submission/reviews/ideas ignored when pitched to the mag.

I agree on a small point that I would like to see more coverage of original formats than re-releases, and perhaps a little more in the way of pics in features including boxart, flyers etc.

That aside, I think reader reviews are a terrible idea. I've never really seen a mag where they work on any level and generally they have to be edited for space so 99% of them are bland, one dimensional 'I liked/disliked this game because' reviews which don't stand up at all next to professional reviews....so why bother?.

The price point is perfectly ok and in line with other gaming publications and the loss of the cover disk was no real issue, since copyright issues mean you have greater access to better content on the web than could be put on the disc anyway.

Double page spreads are perfectly justified when they relate to significant titles or features and always justify their size with enough content.

To be honest I think the critisicms raised in the original post were petulant, ill considered and immature but everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one is forced to buy a mag if they don't want to so I fail to see the issue.
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Kai
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Re: My two cents...

Post by Kai » Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:02 pm

Weblaus wrote:
Kai wrote:
unknownbitterman wrote:It costs £5 for a magazine.
I would pay even more for such a high quality mag like RETRO GAMER!
Which we, as non-UK-readers, actually do, so there's the proof.
Absolutely true. Until I subscribed, I payed £8.65 per issue at my local newsagent, and that was ok for me, too!

Keep up your excellent work guys! :D

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Re:

Post by Kai » Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:13 pm

CraigGrannell wrote:Elsewhere, the only other point I can really understand from the poster is about the Retro Revival DPSs. I actually happen to like these. [...] from a visual standpoint, they add some punch to the magazine.
IMHO the Retro Revival DPSs are great and are one (of many) reason(s) why I really like RETRO GAMER so much!
They really add some punch!

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Re:

Post by Kai » Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:15 pm

FooAtari wrote:Oh and one other thing. When featuring games from developers/publishers like the Ocean one in current issue, why do you always use (or nearly always as far as I can tell) Spectrum screen shots wherever possible. I noticed a lot of the games were also on ST and Amiga but 9/10 it was shots from the Speccy version of the game. How about some variety there?
Yeah! Give us some nice AMIGA screenshots!!! :wink:

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