The Future and Fate of Game Chronicles Magazine
Written by Mark Smith
Originally Published on February 12, 2009
After a fantastic 13-year run Game Chronicles is slowly winding down its tour of duty, at least as we have come to know it. What started as a one-man operation offering a handful of Strategy Guides quickly morphed into something unexpected, epic, and totally out of control…or at least my control. At one time GCM had a staff of more than 30 freelancers all contributing content to the site, but all that content was funneled through one person – me. I ultimately found myself in the unsavory position of doing all the administration of a mainstream website – a task normally handled by a large staff – all by myself.
When I started Game Chronicles Magazine back in 2001 all I wanted to do was play games and write reviews, but as the site mutated out of control I found myself with less and less time for playing games, let alone writing my own reviews, and creating my signature strategy guides – the very foundation of the site – was totally out of the question.
Recent industry events such as the 1UP and EGM fiasco are clear indications that game media sites are about to see a paradigm shift. Sites are either going to be very “corporate” or very “homegrown”. GCM was a homegrown site trying to operate with a corporate façade. Nobody here was getting rich or even paid for that matter. If we were lucky, the few ad banners we sold each year paid for web-hosting and domain registration. And while GCM was never financially successful, we did acquire a large and faithful following of regular readers and some envious fame – you can see us quoted on several games and TV spots.
As 2009 rolled around I was debating the future of GCM when I received a response from E3 Expo saying GCM was no longer qualified to attend the show because, and I paraphrase, “we aren’t corporate enough”. I’ve been going to E3 for the past 10 years and all it took was a Business License (which I have), a business card, drivers license, and a copy of a recent article for each staff member who wished to attend. One year we had six editors go to the show. Now, unless your site is “making money” and “paying their writers” you can’t attend the show. Oh well. That’s a thousand bucks back in my pocket.
But even if E3 doesn’t respect us, we still have a few million readers and dozens of publishers who do, and for that reason we aren’t just going to slam the door and put an “OUT OF BUSINESS” sign on it. Frankly, it would be impossible to stop this speeding locomotive overnight. GCM is embedded with hundreds of publishers and linked to thousands of websites.
So, for the next year GCM is undergoing massive restructuring. At the end of that year we will either be reborn as something bigger and better, or slip away into a decade of fond memories. During this next year we will continue to offer the same quality content we’ve provided in the past, only not in as much quantity. We are tightening our focus to HD gaming and movies, mobile gaming, and the occasional hardware review. We are phasing out legacy systems like the PS2, and we have a modified site design to reflect this new content.
For those who are used to the old site, the changes aren’t that major. The biggest (and saddest) change is saying farewell to the front cover art. I had a great time making all 80 covers that started with Hitman and ended with Prince of Persia, but that is just one additional time-consuming element that had to go. Thanks to everyone over the years who requested copies of our “print magazine” that never existed.
Additionally, the Preview and Review summary pages have been removed. The redundant information contained on those pages can now be found on the front page and in the various channel pages. We are also changing the game channel pages a bit. Games will be listed by review date and the Upcoming Release Schedule is going away entirely – those dates are never right anyway.
Editorials and Interviews are now combined under one page called “Editorials”, although we won’t be doing nearly as many of these features as we have done in the past. Xbox, PS2, GameCube, and GBA channels are gone (at least from the main menu) and are now part of the Archives channel.
The overall results of these changes is a lot less redundancy for a site that is far easier to maintain (by one person) as well as something that is much easier to navigate and quicker to load on mobile media devices. As always, if you have suggestions or advice, please send them via email or post in our forums.
As for the future of GCM…only time will tell. The next year is going to be an experiment to see if it is even possible to operate a semi-professional gaming and movie review site and still have enough time to actually play the games and watch the movies I love. Hopefully, you’ll stick with us for another year and see how this all plays out as GCM returns to its roots.
Have a great 2009…
Mark “Sinjin” Smith
EiC, Game Chronicles