Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Electronic Gaming Monthly, We Hardly Knew You or How UGO Pissed on Our Parade
Big news in gaming today. No, 3D Realms hasn't released Duke Nukem Forever yet, but we do get to watch as some of the finest words within the industry get sucked up by a "publishing platform" that is nothing more than a poor man's IGN. Okay, 1Up and UGO isn't actually a bad pairing on paper. 1Up focuses on producing great content with a unique voice that is both entertaining and informative while UGO focuses on cramming a bunch of content into an environment that's friendly for advertisers.
1Up and UGO together are fine, whatever. What really gets me frayed around the edges is the fact that this buyout will result in the cancelation of Electronic Gaming Monthly. EGM was the last bastion of unbiased gamer news that existed in the print medium. GameInformer and GamePro are great in their own right, but they write in a language that needs to be decoded.
These days, a gaming journalist can't say that a game isn't good. When you read a review in GameInformer or GamePro, you have to ask yourself, "Does the publisher of this game have any ads in this magazine?" If the answer to that question is yes, you probably have to take the review with a grain of salt and be overly sensative to negative criticism. One of my favorite examples is Andrew Reiner's review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men over at GameInformer. Meaning absolutely no disrespect to Mr. Reiner (since his job could easily be on the line if he didn't do this) he cites a ton of game-breaking flaws and mentions one positive moment and ultimately gives the game a 7. If you actually take the time to read the review, the game sounds closer to a 5 or even a 3, yet it got a 7.
EGM never had that issue, if they believed a game was bad they didn't sugar-coat it, and their scores accurately reflected their opinion even if that article ran right before a two-page splash for that exact game. Their brutal honesty was a high point in gaming journalism that you just don't see that often anymore in mainstream publications. Sure, you can find blogs all over that give you the bitter truth, but EGM was on the news rack! This was worthwhile writing from fellow concerned gamers that you could pick up alongside your copy of Newsweek or the Weekly World News, if that's what you're into.
As a kid who grew up on these kinds of print magazines, it hurts to see you go EGM. You will be missed.