Two rather large bits of news dropped on January 7th. The first is that UGO has bought 1up.com and its associated sites (GameVideos.com, MyCheats.com, and GameTab.com). Though some of the staff has been let go as a result of the buyout, the site will remain and supposedly get a boost from the services and financing this deal will provide.
The other side of this coin is that Electronic Gaming Monthly — one of the longest running and most respected magazines in gaming — has officially printed and shipped its last issue, the one for January 2009. News of the closure came rather suddenly, but wasn't completely unforeseen. Many longtime members of the EGM and 1up staff have left the Ziff Davis Media circle over the last several months, including writers/editors Crispin Boyer and Karen Chu, as well as former EGM EIC Dan Hsu. I actually saw Karen Chu at the Penny Arcade Expo and asked her point blank how things were going at the site/magazine prior to her departure, and while she tried to be reassuring that things were fine, it wasn't terribly convincing.
I went to 1up to see if they'd confirmed what I'd read elsewhere, and not only was there no mention of EGM closing its doors, they actually had an advertisement on the front page of 1up encouraging subscriptions to the magazine. What? Had I been misled? Unfortunately not, as openly confirmed on many of the editors' blogs, particularly current EIC James Mielke's write-up on the magazine's poignant demise.
So what's left? The 1up site will continue, and some leftover unpublished content from what would have been the February issue of EGM will end up on the site shortly, but losing this publication really is the end of an era. When other magazines were basically caving in to publishers on reviews and preview coverage simply to get more promo, and quietly inked deals to benefit both parties (despite its relative dishonesty to the consumer), EGM took a firm posture, giving the coverage and scores in a "call it like we see it" manner, praising the games that deserved it and scolding the repetitive, unpolished garbage that kept finding its way to store shelves. This stance became as unpopular with game publishers as it was popular with readers and others in gaming journalism.
I'd love to chat with EGM founder Steve Harris and original EIC Ed Semrad today to get their thoughts on what's become of their project that started as a mere fanzine, and grew into an influential periodical with international reach. I'm sure Capcom still owes them some royalties for the surge of Street Fighter II plays after EGM's Sheng Long April Fool's joke.
Interestingly, when an advisor asked me in college what I wanted to do for a living, I pulled out a copy of EGM and said, "Write for these guys." While I'll never get that chance now, I at least know exactly how much shelf space I'll need to house my 16-year collection of issues of EGM. Here's hoping those displaced by the buyout/closure find new outlets to work for soon (if they haven't already), and keep fighting the good fight. I'll be reading.Powered by Sidelines