[Magazine veteran Kevin Gifford takes a look the latest video game mags, this time with a look at Game Informer's striking Bioshock Infinite covers, EGM's Child of Eden coverage, and more.]
The new October issue of Game Informer is finally in my hands, and I'm happy for it, because (as GI's own editors have written and talked a bunch about
) it's a three-part split cover for BioShock Infinite featuring some lovely Saturday Evening Post
-style illustration by Robb Waters at Irrational Games. Each cover features quite impressive, dare I say framable, pieces of work
. I didn't get the cover I wanted the most in my mailbox, but I'll live.
During my time writing for print mags I was rarely, if ever, involved in working out cover design. I'd occasionally write cover stories
, but I wasn't the one who decided what the cover itself looked like -- that job was usually the EIC's and art director's.
However, oftentimes I had the impression that getting a decent image from game publishers for a magazine cover was a bit like pulling teeth. Maybe the PR department would just give us a couple of screenshots and expect us to print them as-is on the cover, like EGM did in its first year or so.
Maybe they'd hand us the same art assets they've already given to every other media outlet, so our cover would look like an outdated ad circular. Maybe they'd have the abolute perfect image, but it wouldn't be at print resolution, and they'd drag their feet endlessly at providing a bigger version. And so forth.
Knowing how much of a pain in the ass producing a decent cover is makes me all the more astonished that GI was able to pull something like this off. It's a sign of a couple things, I reckon: Developers are beginning to appreciate what magazines can do for their media strategy that online can't; and when you don't have to worry much about capturing newsstand sales, the world is your oyster design-wise.
This sort of cover I don't think I'd ever see from a Future magazine on the stands, and I don't mean that as a slight in any way. I say it because newsstand sales are a vital part of Future's business, and the BioShock Infinite
covers, while very fetching, would result in poor newsstand sales. (They don't even name the game on the cover, after all, which maybe you can get away with when covering Halo
or Mario but not much else.)
As for GI's innards this month, the BI article is standard GI in style, carried along by its remarkable textual detail and colorful visuals, even though they're all either concepts or very early screenshot renderings at this point. The rest of the mag is a bit more pedestrian, with bits on Kinect, Black Ops
, Gamescom, and the like, the standout feature for me being a bit on a hypothetical "perfect controller." Those covers, though, ooooh...
Moving on to the other mags that I got in the past two weeks:
Electronic Gaming Monthly October 2010
Cover: Halo: Reach
EGM, like GI, is a magazine I receive in the mail long after it's available elsewhere. This means that I got a mag whose cover piece is a Halo: Reach preview two days after Halo: Reach
on the cover no doubt boosts newsstand sales, but the real
"cover story" here is Child of Eden
, which (in my eyes, anyway) gets a much more thorough feature as it profiles Mizuguchi and gang. It leads what is a remarkably commentary-laden issue of EGM, from a Todd Howard interview to looks into the ESRB, the Develop conference, and the links between video games and gambling. In this respect, EGM is going almost hyper-GamePro this issue, and I kinda like it.
PC Gamer November 2010
Cover: Civilization V
After appearing on GamePro, George Washington makes another surprising return to the covers of game magazines this month, although things aren't looking quite as good for him here.
This is not the flashiest PCG ever in terms of content. The cover story is a review of a real-time strategy game, after all, and the other main feature is a review of StarCraft 2
-- which, all right, I'm all for longform reviews that really get into the game and all that, but I'm not sure PCG's approach to it is adding much that hasn't already been said about SC2
at this point in time.
Still, the lack of flashy features belies what appears to be an incredibly busy fall and winter for PC gaming in general, and most of the pages are devoted simply to trying to get to it all. The highlight to me was the League of Legends
coverage -- not because I'm into that DOTA
stuff, but because the piece is designed nicely and has some great art backing it up.
Beckett Massive Online Gamer November/December 2010
Cover: Lord of the Rings Online
More of the same here, packed in plastic with a separate guide booklet to LOTRO
and D&D Online
. I'm beginning to have trouble telling the difference between all these MMOs. The article on the history of the mind flayer was interesting, though.
[Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]