That’s pretty much how I feel about all the current US videogame print publications. They’re being consistently embarrassed by the two major mags issued out of the UK every month.
You can read some of Edge’s content on the web at http://www.edge-online.com. It’s nice to have it available there, but frankly it’s just not the same as it is on the printed page. When you take their text and remove it from the brilliant layout of their magazine, it loses some of its magical appeal. It doesn’t have the little insets and the pictures don’t pop the way they do in the mag.
Every issue of Edge as well as games™ magazine is an event for me each month. I cannot wait for that day I walk into Barnes & Noble each month and find the new issue on the rack. I rarely crack the cover while I’m there. No point. I’m going to read each of them nearly cover to cover, and often articles will get pored over multiple times. The information is relevant, smartly written and obviously crafted with precision and care. I so rarely feel this way when I open the pages of US magazines. US mags talk a good game every month, about how awesome they are at providing us with scoops and tough reviews, but I find that to be all lip service. I guess if you say it enough times, most people will think it’s true? I’m in the minority that’s not buying it.
US mags are also overflowing with sarcasm, grumpiness and a general snottiness that immediately turns me off. No one’s ever excited to play the games. Rather, they can’t seem to wait to tear them down. The one shining exception is Play. But Play sometimes flips entirely in the other direction, giving way too much credit to some developers and games where it’s pretty much unanimously undeserved. What Play does get right much of the time is the interviews. They’ve nailed those more times than I can count and that keeps me reading. As another example of how sarcasm and snottiness has invaded, pick up any recent issue of Nintendo Power, a mag that used to be overwhelmingly positive is now just as grumpy as all the others. The only place it also stands above is in the ready access to Japanese developers and the internals of Nintendo itself where they succeed in spite of themselves.
I know I’ve brought this up in the blog before, but it bears repeating multiple times. You need to find time to read Edge and games™ each month. If you have to pick just one (at $8.99 and $9.99 an issue respectively), then I’d actually recommend games™ as the sole choice because it’s even better at what Edge does than Edge itself is lately, and the Retro section is wonderfully crafted. This month’s has a feature on Segata Sanshiro. Segata Sanshiro! How many of you even know who that is? Yet it’s an awesome story of a marketing campaign Sega ran in the Saturn era that you’re just not going to find anywhere else, and I guarantee you’ll be entertained while reading it. Here’s the man himself to pique your interest…
A lot of what these UK mags are doing is similar to some of the articles that ran in the pages of Computer Games Magazine some years ago though even CGM was often prone to being a little too cynical and sarcastic like much of the US games press. Computer Gaming World aka Games for Windows The Official Magazine also had some nice features that fit the bill. Those two mags are now history though, so maybe that about says it all for the US game magazine industry? It’s only in foreign countries that people are willing to pay for the kind of content Edge and games™ are producing each month. Fortunately, Barnes & Noble keeps on importing them so I can partake, and you should too.