Monday, 19 July 2010

Goodnight sweet prince, thanks for the fun

Sad times. That’s all I can really say. It looks like Future Publishing has decided to stop PC Zone after 17 years of being one of the funniest bastions of games journalism around. It gave us so many great writers, such as Jon ‘Log’ Blyth, Steve Hogarty and the ever popular Charlie Brooker to name a few.

PC Gamer regularly does the rounds in this household as it’s the one my dad likes, and I’m definitely not saying that I don’t enjoy flicking through it, but PC Zone just felt better, a bit grittier and definitely funnier. I still remember passing a copy of the magazine around because it had one of the funniest game reviews in it that I have ever read. It was a 150 word or so recap review on Little Britain the Game which only mentioned ways to horrifically mutilate yourself that were preferable to playing it.

I’m yet to have found another magazine that does scathing hatred as well or hilariously, and so PC Zone will be sorely missed. The last issue is number 225 released in September and they are looking for readers to contribute their fondest thoughts and memories. Check the details out here if you want to get involved.

Is this tragedy part of the ongoing line of thought that the print industry is folding? The internet has done many great things for us and simplified a lot, but it has also made a hell of a lot of things harder. The two examples that spring to my mind are photography and writing, as now there are so many people able to showcase both, getting your foot on the career ladder in either of these industries is about as easy as fending off two tigers with a pair of left handed safety scissors.

Personally, I would like to think that printed publications have plenty of life left in them. Taking out a laptop out to read on the train or porcelain throne just doesn’t feel the same as being able to hold a slab of finely bound and printed papers. I like being able to read the words off of the glossy pages, rather than committing my eyes to yet more retinal dehydrating screen time.

Unfortunately though I don’t know how long this position can hold. Circulation figures across all printed publications have been dropping for a while, and no one has been able to crack the riddle of how to make money from content online, apart from through advertisements. I can’t really see it ever happening, as everyone has started offering the content for free on various websites; it requires one hell of an en masse dick move to start charging for it all. Even if that does happen, there will be alternate sources that stay free.

Times have been changing for a fair few years now, but the print industry, as much as it pains me to say it, does seem to be a wounded survivor limping through a desert made from broken glass and crushed hope. I find it hard to imagine a completely digital media, but magazines are going to need to try evolving if they want to keep up. Maybe dropping the useless cover disc that I can’t see many people using these days is the way to go. It’ll drop production costs slightly, perhaps making the cover price a bit more attractive. I can’t see it being enough though. Let’s just see what tomorrow brings.

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