The twilight years of your favourite magazine

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knight_beat
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The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by knight_beat » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:18 am

Most computer/console users depended upon newsstand magazines for information on new releases and community support in the 1980s & 90s. Unlike today, when a mag can close at any time, these magazines often stuck around for some time after the commercial death of their host machine, although they were often a mere shadow of their former selves. Your Sinclair, Amstrad Action and Commodore Format are obvious examples of magazines that hung on until the bitter end, but we can probably add later titles such as Amiga Active, Paragon’s Dreamcast magazine and the Official Playstation Magazine to the list.

What was it like buying these magazines during their twilight years? Were you annoyed at the drop in page count each month, or just glad that someone still published a mag on your chosen platform? What did you do when the final magazine for your platform closed?

My experience varies for different magazines. I was relieved when Sinclair User closed (which I only bought out of habit), but was distraught when Your Sinclair started to lose pages and announce its final issue. The experience was much like seeing a family pet becoming ill in its old age - it was considered inevitable, but you still hope for a last minute reprieve. As it was also the last newsstand magazine for the platform, it also felt like the Spectrum market had died as well. By comparison, I thought the Official PS1, PS2 and Xbox magazines actually improved in their final year, when there was a greater focus on features and humour.

Would anyone like to share stories about the decline and closure of their favourite mag?

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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by psj3809 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:27 am

I had already moved onto the Amiga in the later final issues of Crash. I did keep buying Crash till late on but like you say it was more like a pamphlet and i practically always had the games on the cover tapes back in those years. With me and my mates we used to buy as many games as we could (and copy the rest !) so the covertapes held no interest to me in those years at all.

It was sad to see a favourite magazine for so many years get thinner and thinner but you knew the end was nigh when most of your mates moved onto the 16 bit machines. I was one of the last people to do that amongst my group but by that time i had my first job, could afford to buy more Speccy games than ever but found so many were more and more disappointing in the late 80's/early 90's,

I didnt really 'miss' the Speccy tons, it wasnt until the mid 90's when i saw an advert for a Speccy emulator my love for it was reborn again!

Was a shock the price of Amiga games after buying Speccy games for so many years though !

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killbot
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by killbot » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:28 am

What was worst was when a respected mag got picked up after the end of its natural life by a new publisher bent on wringing the last few drops of life out of the brand. The One was never the best Amiga mag but it was decent enough and seeing it resurrected as a wafer-thin pamphlet sold on the basis of a crappy free game on the coverdisc was very sad. The page count rarely exceeded 20 pages, half of which were taken up with instructions for the aforementioned freebie.

Amiga Power was a mag that saw the writing on the wall and bowed out on a high.
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RodimusPrime
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by RodimusPrime » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:43 am

I remember being gutted when mean machines split into 2 different mags.

I tend to only really enjou multiformat mags and was gutted when both CONTROL and ARCADE were stopped ( if anyone remembers those )

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theantmeister
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by theantmeister » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:04 am

I still have an issue of Arcade lying around somewhere. Pity it never really caught on, it was a brilliant mag. Although maybe a little laddish for my liking.

I'm sad to say I let my subscription to PC Zone lapse in its final year. They tried their best, but there just wasn't enough in the mag to justify the price.

I have a (still) unopened copy of the final issue. Can't bring myself to read it. :(

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Megamixer
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Megamixer » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:23 am

Only ones I have bought that have folded were the original Official Nintendo Magazine and Nintendo Gamer. Both great mags that I was sad to see keel over but if I remember rightly, the final issues were actually no different to the others in terms of page count or content. I suppose it's quite different if the platform(s) covered by the magazine are still going.
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Darran@Retro Gamer
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:24 am

I used to really like Arcade. In fact we have quite a few on the desk.
I'd long moved off the Amstrad before Amstrad Action was in its final days, so didn't see that decline and I never bought Crash or Zzap.
I too remember when Mean Machines split and bought the first issues of the new magazines to see what they were like. Even then you could see ONM had a too official tone, so I stopped buying it and carried on with Mean Machines Sega.
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by ncf1 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:36 am

Being a kid I just didn't understand what was going on with Zzap!, all the changes, and gradual decline in the mag, it was indeed as the OP stated, like a slow death of a family member or pet, it really was like that to a kid who utterly cherished the mag!

Now of course I have learned not to take anything for granted, so RG I think has gifted us all with their wonderful mag and long run so it helps amend things in a way ;)

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merman
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by merman » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:54 am

Having been involved in the closure of both ZZAP/Commodore Force and Commodore Format, I can tell you it's not fun working on a mag about to close...
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PostieDoc
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by PostieDoc » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:59 am

theantmeister wrote:I still have an issue of Arcade lying around somewhere. Pity it never really caught on, it was a brilliant mag. Although maybe a little laddish for my liking.

I'm sad to say I let my subscription to PC Zone lapse in its final year. They tried their best, but there just wasn't enough in the mag to justify the price.

I have a (still) unopened copy of the final issue. Can't bring myself to read it. :(
The thing with PC Zone is that it was still quite a chunky magazine when it was cancelled. Future Publishing just decided that it didn't need two magazines focused on PC gaming (it owns PC Gamer) and this was the time when PC Gaming was supposedly dying (hah!).
PC Format on the other hand, which closed recently, had been reduced to little more than a pamphlet over the last couple of years.
Last edited by PostieDoc on Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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killbot
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by killbot » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:35 am

Darran@Retro Gamer wrote:I used to really like Arcade. In fact we have quite a few on the desk.
I'd long moved off the Amstrad before Amstrad Action was in its final days, so didn't see that decline and I never bought Crash or Zzap.
I too remember when Mean Machines split and bought the first issues of the new magazines to see what they were like. Even then you could see ONM had a too official tone, so I stopped buying it and carried on with Mean Machines Sega.
Arcade was a weird one. It seemed popular, then it just disappeared. The final issue said it was being retooled and would return but when it did it had a new name (which I don't remember) and was a dirt cheap load of tat on very poor paper stock rather than the lovely, glossy original format. I don't think the relaunch got past the third or fourth issue.

Total CONTROL was also good, it launched at the same time as Arcade but had more of an Edge feel to it with less of the 'lads mag' stuff and lots of in-depth articles. It lasted a year or so before going belly up not long before GamesTM launched. I liked it but hardly anyone seems to remember it now.
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Sureshot
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Sureshot » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:57 am

I used to love reading MEGA through the Neil West/Andy Dyer eras, then Future sold it to Maverick and things quickly went downhill. I seem to recall it became almost impossible to find in newsagents any more, and had reduced down in size and format drastically. The humour just wasn't there any more, either.

I did enjoy Arcade too, which also involved Neil as an Editor. :)

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Liamh1982
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Liamh1982 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:15 pm

C&VG... now that was a descent...

With hindsight you could see the writing was on the wall as early as 1998 - a high staff turnover, a reduction in pages (and staff it later turned out - at one point the production manager was writing reviews simply because no-one else was available, he wasn't really a big gamer and definitely not a trained journalist and it obviously showed) and seemingly every other measure taken to try and keep to an increasingly ludicrously low price point.

The constant relaunches, the desperate attempts to stay relevant, the stench of increasingly stupid ideas leading to the pathetic last 12 months where it was basically a sub-par lads' mag masquerading as a games mag. Two words - Nurse Tips.

I would have been sad to see it go if it had managed to hold on to even the slightest shred of dignity... but that had long passed.

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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Shinobi » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:25 pm

Liamh1982 wrote:C&VG... now that was a descent...

With hindsight you could see the writing was on the wall as early as 1998 - a high staff turnover, a reduction in pages (and staff it later turned out - at one point the production manager was writing reviews simply because no-one else was available, he wasn't really a big gamer and definitely not a trained journalist and it obviously showed) and seemingly every other measure taken to try and keep to an increasingly ludicrously low price point.

The constant relaunches, the desperate attempts to stay relevant, the stench of increasingly stupid ideas leading to the pathetic last 12 months where it was basically a sub-par lads' mag masquerading as a games mag. Two words - Nurse Tips.

I would have been sad to see it go if it had managed to hold on to even the slightest shred of dignity... but that had long passed.
This agree 100% Nurse Tips and Cackman where the pits. Remember that idiot Editor saying everybody wanted a FHM lite with sexual Innuendo's and Nurse Tips and it flopped not long after!!
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Shinobi
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Re: The twilight years of your favourite magazine

Post by Shinobi » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:29 pm

For me it was Commodore User when they stopped reviewing Commodore 16 games around 1987 even saying they would continue to support it, if games where released(which they where)

Mean Machines when it went to NMS and Mean Machines Sega still have all 24 issue's of Mean Machines and every Mean Machine Sega, MMS was very poor compared to the brilliance of Mean Machines and they lost Jazza..

Super Play went wafer thin they hardly reviewed any games and had unknown people reviewing them, gave up on issue 45 recently discovered there was 2 more issue's I never knew existed
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