I'm from Future, AMA

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4 months 4 weeks ago - 4 months 4 weeks ago #1517 by HKT3030
I'm from Future, AMA was created by HKT3030
Hi all, since Kiwi very kindly invited me to put a thread here for if you have any questions about Future Publishing from an "inside" perspective, I thought I'd take him up. Feel free to ask me anything you like, though obviously I won't be saying anything that will put my job at risk.

Basic facts: I was bought into Future as an employee of Imagine Publishing, where I started my magazine career in 2013. Most of my work has been on games titles, but I've also dabbled in tech and even a little music and history writing.
Last edit: 4 months 4 weeks ago by HKT3030.

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4 months 4 weeks ago #1519 by Kiwi
Replied by Kiwi on topic I'm from Future, AMA
Wow!! So you were part of the Imagine takeover?

That's interesting. What wasn't so interesting was just how quickly they folded the gaming mags from the Imagine stable. I always knew they (Games tm and Play) were going to be in trouble due to being competitors to Future own products but I persoanly thought Games tm was a superior product to GamesMaster and they would give that the chop first. Turns out they had bigger plans, as in chopping BOTH mags. The problem I have is that both of those were arguably better than the sole survivor Edge. At least both of those mags had a semblance of humor, something Edge is almost completely devoid of.

It's a shame Imagine didn't seem to have a complete collection of their titles as digital files archived themselves. Why publishing companies not keep them in this day and age is mind boggling!!

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4 months 4 weeks ago #1520 by kitsunebi
Replied by kitsunebi on topic I'm from Future, AMA

Kiwi wrote: I always knew they (Games tm and Play) were going to be in trouble due to being competitors to Future own products but I persoanly thought Games tm was a superior product to GamesMaster and they would give that the chop first. Turns out they had bigger plans, as in chopping BOTH mags. The problem I have is that both of those were arguably better than the sole survivor Edge. At least both of those mags had a semblance of humor, something Edge is almost completely devoid of.!


I've never read a single issue of Games tm, Play, Gamesmaster, or Edge, but for my money, Edge has the most attractive covers in the business. That's gotta count for something, right?:P

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1535 by Kiwi
Replied by Kiwi on topic I'm from Future, AMA
Ahh!! Edge has a single game image of some sort on their covers so what you are saying is that you like their minimalist look rather than the cluttered look of other mags? How does that work for you when it comes to Japanese magazine covers? I mean, they leave everything else in their dust as far as "busy" covers are concerned.

Mind you, Edge is minimalist from front cover to rear with white expanse being the overriding impression I have of their issues. Maybe that's their appeal? Dunno, I preferred GamesMaster, well, at least as far as the early issues went anyways. Maybe that's why the Japanese magazines are so appealing. Bold, colorful and in yer face!!

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1536 by kitsunebi
Replied by kitsunebi on topic I'm from Future, AMA
Yeah, I prefer a clean look. So I find most Japanese mags to be fairly ugly. But Japanese covers for mags aimed at kids make me want to vomit :sick: :

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1537 by HKT3030
Replied by HKT3030 on topic I'm from Future, AMA

Kiwi wrote: Wow!! So you were part of the Imagine takeover?

That's interesting. What wasn't so interesting was just how quickly they folded the gaming mags from the Imagine stable. I always knew they (Games tm and Play) were going to be in trouble due to being competitors to Future own products but I persoanly thought Games tm was a superior product to GamesMaster and they would give that the chop first. Turns out they had bigger plans, as in chopping BOTH mags. The problem I have is that both of those were arguably better than the sole survivor Edge. At least both of those mags had a semblance of humor, something Edge is almost completely devoid of.

When the buyout was announced, I was actually taking a week off to visit my family. Most of us found out online when we woke up, as the news broke before work started that day.

I've still got the letter that Future sent me to tell me that CVG was being closed and they'd be sending me GamesMaster, so I was a bit distrustful at the time. But honestly, the way I saw it is that Imagine was scaling down its games output and that process had started before the buyout. This started in 2014, as NowGamer became an "all hands on deck" affair when its staff left or moved. X-One was shut in 2015, and the decision to discontinue Play's print edition (and thus its original content) was taken prior to the buyout too. By the time we were bought, the games department had already halved in terms of headcount.

As for TM, that was a real shame. We'd been sitting next to those guys for quite a while by that point, and they were working so, so hard to keep it going. That last year, they didn't have much budget and were frequently putting in extra hours to get everything done. I don't have access to any figures to back this feeling up, but I always felt that GM, TM and Edge all served pretty different audiences. Of course, it's always about money at the end of the day.

It's a shame Imagine didn't seem to have a complete collection of their titles as digital files archived themselves. Why publishing companies not keep them in this day and age is mind boggling!!

Imagine's archival was actually pretty good. The adverts weren't retained, but I've never had trouble getting access to any title's original content, which is why we were able to release those "eMag" discs for Retro Gamer back in the day. There is one caveat - the archives for pre-Imagine editions of things like Play aren't complete, and seem to exist in whatever state they did when bought from Highbury. For Future stuff, there's a good amount of digital archive content available from the introduction of our internal system (2006 or so?), but it's quite difficult to search through.

Anything older, if it exists at all, is probably on CD-Rs in the company's storage facility - and of course, would probably be files for old software like Quark. We actually found some interesting Saturn Power backups on CD-R once, showing all sorts of preliminary design concepts. I'd love to have access to all that older stuff, and have made suggestions about how we could use it. If my current job ever ceases to exist, I'd love to be an in-house archivist.

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1538 by Kiwi
Replied by Kiwi on topic I'm from Future, AMA

kitsunebi wrote: Yeah, I prefer a clean look. So I find most Japanese mags to be fairly ugly. But Japanese covers for mags aimed at kids make me want to vomit :sick: :


I'm pretty sure that awful taste in my mouth is because I threw up a little when I saw that cover.

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1539 by Kiwi
Replied by Kiwi on topic I'm from Future, AMA

HKT3030 wrote: Anything older, if it exists at all, is probably on CD-Rs in the company's storage facility - and of course, would probably be files for old software like Quark. We actually found some interesting Saturn Power backups on CD-R once, showing all sorts of preliminary design concepts. I'd love to have access to all that older stuff, and have made suggestions about how we could use it. If my current job ever ceases to exist, I'd love to be an in-house archivist.

That would be my dream job too. I reckon converting all that old Quark stuff and so forth on the CD-R's should be considered essential as those discs do not last, no matter what Kodak and co said about their lasting 100 years. You would think there would be some money from a salary perspective to converting the content into usable files for the current day. I imagine you could re-use the content for retro gaming perspectives in magazines like Edge and Retro Gamer. Those pages detailing older mags were one of the highlights in Games tm and Retro Gamer as far as I was concerned.

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1540 by kitsunebi
Replied by kitsunebi on topic I'm from Future, AMA

Kiwi wrote: I'm pretty sure that awful taste in my mouth is because I threw up a little when I saw that cover.

(I'll stop side-tracking this topic after this last post, I swear)
That Nintendo DS mag was aimed at little boys. The ones for little girls are more "death by sparkles" like this:



But to be fair, mags aimed at little kids are eyesore disasters no matter what country makes them:

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1541 by Kiwi
Replied by Kiwi on topic I'm from Future, AMA
Indeed they are!! I received some one time in a auction purchase. The seller included them as "gaming" mags and they did include some Nintendo DS content nevertheless they got thrown straight into the recycling bin.

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4 months 3 weeks ago #1561 by slider1983
Replied by slider1983 on topic I'm from Future, AMA
I've said it before: GamesMaster was one of the best gaming mags up until 2008/2009 when they took out half the content and replaced most of the staff that gave the mag its soul. Would be interested to know the thoughts of the OP about the mag and its decline during the last nine years of its life.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #2466 by HKT3030
Replied by HKT3030 on topic I'm from Future, AMA

slider1983 wrote: I've said it before: GamesMaster was one of the best gaming mags up until 2008/2009 when they took out half the content and replaced most of the staff that gave the mag its soul. Would be interested to know the thoughts of the OP about the mag and its decline during the last nine years of its life.

Honestly, I can't say too much about it from an "insider" perspective. I stopped reading it in 2007 after my subscription ran out, as I was a student and needed to cut costs. When I joined Future via buyout in 2016, I was in the old Imagine Publishing office in Bournemouth and didn't have much contact with the GM staff. I think the only thing I was ever asked for was some screenshots of Super Mario Sunshine.

I'm not sure if this has always been the case, but over the last 7 years my experience is that designers are frequently reassigned in order to keep them engaged, and editorial staff are mostly moved only when necessary (although this is less true for production editors). With that in mind I'd guess the staff you liked just happened to leave at similar times, rather than there being some sort of organised editorial shake-up, and the new people just decided to change direction.

As for the overall decline of GM, I think it sadly just lost its place in the market. It was always very visually focused, with lots of screenshots and bright, colourful layouts, and it used to do well off tips books and such - all things that YouTube ended up stealing the audience for. From there, I don't think there was anywhere left to go. Pivoting towards a wordier style would have put it into conflict with games™ and Edge, but going for the kids market (like 110% Gaming) would have been a betrayal of the magazine's heritage.

A colleague once told me what he would have done with the magazine if it he'd been given the task of reinventing it for the modern audience, which would be to focus more on esports coverage. I felt this was an intriguing idea, as it ties into the history of the TV show as a proving ground for competitive gamers, but wouldn't be sure if there was an audience for that in print. I'd have loved to have seen him get the chance to find out, but he's doing well in the online side of the company these days.
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1 month 1 week ago #2478 by slider1983
Replied by slider1983 on topic I'm from Future, AMA
The changes they made to the magazine around 2009 were crazy. I know they were trying to mature the magazine but what made GM so special in the first place was its fun look at games and its humour. When those two things got taken away none of the newer staff knew what to do with the magazine. They got rid of the Consoleltation Zone which was the heritage of the mag. I know the older issues had a lot of ads while the newer mags didn't. It might account for the lower production quality of the later years. Like a lot of mags it was very visually striking and I think for the mag to do well it needed to cover games that were visually striking.

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