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PC Gamer - having absorbed rival PC Games back in 1999 - is one of the only magazines left focusing on the PC gaming world. The monthly issue covers RPGs, MMORPGs, strategy games, hardware, accessories, and more.
Originally a British publication, PC Gamer came to the US in 1994 and I began getting issues almost immediately. Their coverage is witty, thorough, and they have a good mix of interviews and game reviews.
The concerns I have with PC Gamer are the same I have with any gaming magazine - the lead time. For example, on March 1 2009 I already have in my hands an issue "dated" April 2009. It probably has articles in it written back in January 2009, given the lead time for laying out, printing and mailing a magazine. Now, say someone out there in the world goes into a bookstore and buys this magazine IN April 2009, i.e. it's "publish date". Will they actually find current information that will help themw ith their gaming?
Their cover story is about Fear 2. This game released back in February 2009. By the time someone picks this issue up in April, that will be old news. The game will be hashed, rehashed, completely played through and abandoned by many gamers.
On the other hand, the magazine does great comparisons which have long term usefulness. They rate eight of the top MMORPGs and compare and contrast them. This can help someone new to the online role-playing world determine which universe is best for them to enter into.
Beefs? I don't like how some of their issues have a full-page ad as their "fake cover" - and you have to go past the ad to get to the actual cover. That is really low in my book. A cover should be a cover. What's next - book covers that are ads, so you can't see the book's actual cover until you turn the page?
The latest issue had 32 pages of ads in a 96 page issue - and I was gracious and didn't even count the five-page fold out ad at the beginning. Many of these ads are insidiously disguised as reviews, so you get halfway through the ad before you realize it IS an ad. I know we're used to ads on the web, but at least there you normally know where they are and can avoid them. You don't read a page - then have a full page ad shown to you - then have to go past it to read the next page and so on. Especially since I'm paying for every issue I read, it seems adding insult to injury to also bombard me with ads. If I wanted ad bombardment, I'd go to a webpage where I can read it for free, moments after it was written, and have fewer ads.
I'm torn. I've subscribed to gaming magazines for years and years. I like reading them. I have come to accept the massive ad-load per issue. But it's hard to get excited when a magazine comes out touting a game I've already played and finished weeks ago. I've already written up my own review and had countless discussions about it in various forums. I really want to support paper magazines, but I'm just not sure how they can succeed in a modern world when they are literally months behind the ball on what is happening. Maybe they are best suited talking about long-term, slow-moving changes such as with hardware technology and operating system changes.
What are your thoughts? Do you still read paper magazines? Let us know in the forums!
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