Jeff Green: All game publications suck!

That’s what he says in his Escapist interview. Sort of, anyway. Hey, it makes for a good headline, right?

Online: I’d say take a little more time to edit and proofread your articles. I just read some truly embarrassing stuff today, from one of the more supposedly “professional” sites. I mean, we’re talking basic grammar here. Don’t swallow every goddamn little crumb of hype that the game companies toss to us, like fish to seals, and post it as if it was some revelatory big scoop. Exercise more critical judgment.

On the print side: Get over yourselves. It’s over. Your reign has ended. Adapt to the 21st century now, or go away forever. You can have a great monthly product that people will be happy to read on buses, planes, couches and restrooms everywhere. But you will be a dinosaur in the tar pits if you don’t adjust your editorial to reflect the fact that, 90 percent or more of the time now, you can’t possibly print something “new” that hasn’t appeared online already. So get creative. Use real writers. Show some depth and give people something beyond the old-school previews/reviews mediocrity mill. This can be a liberating time if you just take the chance.

Surprisingly, it took until the second comment for someone to claim that CGW started sucking when Johnny Wilson left…

I guess he doesn’t subscribe to Edge.

Someone is getting a call from PR…

I don’t understand the hubub. He’s making a perfectly valid point (in fact, one that everyone already knows). He’s not saying magazines suck. He’s saying they need to adjust to the fact that the Net gets raw information out so much faster. So magazines, to stay viable, need to start providing something the Net doesn’t. We’ve already seen CGW – I mean, I <3 Windows Magazine – doing that for several months, and IMO they’re doing a great job. I don’t read any other gaming magazines since CGM folded, but I would imagine the other mags have to be changing it up as well.

Jeff’s right. Magazines have to be able to distinguish themselves or they’ll fade away. One way to do that is more professional writing and in-depth stories. Of course, that’s more work than blogging about press releases and linking to message boards, but there you are.

ESPN seems like the one media outlet that’s really figured it out. They have all these complementary content outlets that seem to peacefully co-exist. The magazine, web site and cable channels each seem to take advantage of each medium’s strengths. I’d guess most media brands will eventually figure it out.

CGW seems already leaps and bounds beyond traditional magazines in figuring out how to build a web site people will actually go to, and then evolve your magazine into its own unique, separate experience that isn’t competing directly with your own web site.

Magazines can also smell good.

The funny thing is, how many publishers/PR haven’t given websites any respect. For the last two E3s, if I was representing a web site–where they’d likely get 800-1000 words about their product posted within a week–most of them were griping I wasn’t representing PC Gamer, where if they were lucky they’d get 90 words in 3 months.

Why would word count matter, Mark? It’s about views. Now if your website gets more views than PCG, that would be another thing.

It depends on the website, I’m sure. IGN, Gamespot and Gamespy are on the same level as PCG or GFW. It was more likely because it wasn’t a big website than because you weren’t writing for print. As many hits as Worthplaying or Gameshark or Gaming Trend might get, there’s a hierarchy.

I think Jeff said all the right things in his interview. He acknowledges that GFW is still trying to find its way, I think, as all the magazines are. The red meat reviews/previews won’t vanish, but I keep thinking that print is missing something in not taking full advantage of the lead time it has. I think the scoreless reviews they had for a while worked when it wasn’t so much “here’s what other people are saying”.


Which is only an opportunity to prove his point, if he handles it right.

PR flaks and marketing shills have been pushing the boundaries of what’s “acceptable” coverage to them for a long time and there’s going to be a backlash. In fact, I’m just about fed up enough to start it, and Jeff’s column is an excellent jump-off point.

Yeah, that’s pretty well the way I have felt for years now. I only grab a mag when it offers me something that the net doesn’t. Oh, and editorial commentary is not enough.

What kind of example would you give of pushing boundaries? Implying that losing an exclusive may result from a less than stellar preview for instance?

[edit]I’m gonna save this for an article.

Possibly. I never got to ask the Gamespy people if they had they same issues. But then a good PR outfit can help with those sites through their own website’s post e3 coverage.

Who do you write for Jakub?

I totally agree. As an ESPN magazine subscriber, I like how they’ve formatted the magazine to be a complete identity in it’s own right, not a companion piece to the website or the channel. I like that when I read the magazine, it’s not a more wordy rehash of what I read on the website a month ago.

Games for Windows mag and 1UP are similar. While there is a little more overlap (the world of computer games being much smaller than the wide world of sports obviously) they still feel like separate identities and the articles in the magazine are not rehashing what I’ve already read on the website. I like that the website expands on a lot of topics that don’t transfer well to print form, and I like that the quality of the editorials in the magazine has stayed high. Where the web site pieces are often brief and feel rushed (by the very nature of the medium) the magazine editorials are well written and well thought out, giving me reason to continue subscribing even though I could get my “gaming news” from web sources for free.

Media outlets that foster this symmetry will survive and hopefully meet with much success.

Well, except that a lot of the magazine articles appear on the website, though I do think they are very separate identities and organizations.

— Alan

Firing Squad.


CGW tried to distance itself from the traditional gaming publication trends by removing scores on reviews, publishing a summary of competing reviews from other sites, deemphasizing PR-oriented previews, and heavily pushing feature articles. Most of that didn’t survive the GFW migration.