I forgot to mention it but Tuesday it was announced that Next Generation magazine was going away. There’s really only two magazines I subscribe to these days, and PC Gamer was the other one. The reason was said to be the fact that the magazine was no longer profitable, its subscription base having dwindled to 110,000 from its peak in 1996 (it launched in 1995).

So now I’m stuck, so to speak. I still love PC Gamer and of course PC Gaming, but now I don’t know how to handle the non-PC side of gaming. Imagine, the publisher, still has the Official XBox Magazine which is all well and good but I don’t own an XBox, plus I think it’s another one of those dealies where the magazine is adamantly pro-XBox and anti-everything else. This is fun so long as you agree with it. There’s an Official PlayStation Magazine from Ziff-Davis, but I’ve read a few issues and it’s not so good. Nintendo has of course always published Nintendo Power, but that’s more of a Propoganda Rag than anything else. Imagine pulled the plug on their own Official Dreamcast Magazine which was a fine publication while it lasted so it bodes well for the OXBM, but like I said – I don’t own one of those yet. As for platform agnostic publications like GamePro (which I’ve started recieving in the mail, presumably in lieu of ODCM), they’re also like extended fluff ads – nothing but reviews and previews. No insight, no articles on the industry, just hype and fluff.

Next Generation started out with brilliant writing, but I noticed how the size of the issues dwindled over the years. They still had badass articles, but as the people changed over the years the qualitiy did decline. Part of the reason the later issues were less exciting is because since the start of the mag in 1995 the industry expanded to an $8 Billion a year endeavor. Consoles win for political reasons now, instead of “who’s got the better games?”. It was more fun when someone crazy like a 3D0 or an Atari could still try to make a console – now there’s a huge barrier to entry (it’s taking MS between $1 and $2 billion to make XBox a hit). Plus Next Generation more or less completely neglected the PC over the last year and a half as we saw four consoles launched (and only three survive). Ironically in the first few issues of the magazine there was a series of articles called “What’s Wrong with the PC?”. In the time being we saw the introduction of the Quake trilogy, EverQuest and a ton of other hot PC games. In the last year or so the console hype buried the PC again. This is cyclical – when the new consoles are coming the PC fades into the background and people wonder if it’s dead. When the consoles all come out the PC rises into prominence again (how else could you properly get your Civilization on?) and it’s hailed as the best game machine again.

Still, Next Generation was the first to report the existence and the code (and real) name of Microsoft’s XBox project, they regularly provided insight into the workings of the industry, and they had badass articles to the end. They were the first games magazine aimed at the intelligent adult instead of the child. It’s going to suck to see them go.

So I’m now officially on the lookout for a new platform agnostic magazine. To be honest I really haven’t even bothered to look before. I know there’s Electronic Gaming Monthly and Computer Gaming Monthly and they were alright last time I looked, but I don’t really know what else there is. Sad thing is, I’m almost tempted to take up IGN on their Insider offer. Sure, it’s mostly web based with a PDF magazine, but there is a print version available as well and IGN is pretty good, truth be told. Plus it would be nice to have access to all those web pages before others. But there’s something genruine about having magazines on your shelf – there’s something soul-less about having to pay just to view a web page that will go away someday. Plus there’s no way in hell I’m printing out those PDF files.

If you guys (all four of you) have any insight on the platform agnostic print magazine or have any suggestions, drop me a line.

I could just write my own magazine but, nah……