Over the past few hours, the apparent demise of EGM, Ziff-Davis Media’s last enthusiast gaming mag, has gone from plausible rumor to utterly confirmed. This was, some would say, an inevitability — print is an expensive, floundering medium for delivering the kind of info that has begun to be released on a minute-by-minute basis. A mag can try offsetting the update-any-second nature of news by working on deeper, more interesting interviews, but when competing mediums offer unlimited page count and the cost of publishing is cents rather than dollars, the incentives to go the “old-fashioned” quickly start to dry up — or at least start becoming less justifiable.
So EGM shutting down wasn’t all that surprising. After all, it would be a little crowded, but at least the 1UP Network offices would now have even more staff to help pump out the kind of features that have made 1UP one of the best places to get, well, magazine-style and -level features.
Instead, it was eventually revealed that not only would EGM be closing up shop, but almost the whole of the 1UP Network (read: 1UP, GameTab, GameVideos and MyCheats) was, effective more or less immediately, being sold off to Hearst Media-owned UGO (remember them from the late ’90s?). Worse still, the video and podcast teams were getting the axe, to say nothing of tons of friends and long-time Ziffers that were full-time editorial staff.
The longer things have gone on and the more various Twitter and blog accounts have been updated, the more it’s become clear this is a full-on gutting, meaning even more people in addition to the recent folks over at C|Net that got canned (among them one of my current roommates) will be joining the pool of job-seeking formerly full-time industry workin’ folk. I’ve been somewhat fortunate in that I have a semi-steady stream of freelance, and I’ve been living off that for going on about five years now in addition to running this site. I’m used to being broke, but with the economy in the shitter, suddenly the so-called “recession-proof” games industry seems a whole lot more prone to reacting to the bucks and fits and starts that the economy has been in the throes of for a while now.
Whenever the inevitable severence packages dry up, if a solid number of well-paying freelance gigs or full-time positions elsewhere haven’t happened, some very good friends are going to be in a very bad way. I pray this doesn’t happen, and I wish every last person affected by the Hearst buyout the best of luck in finding something new — and soon. If for some reason they’d like to blow off some steam by reviewing a shitty game here on this itty bitty site, I’ll be happy to supply it. I won’t be able to supply that much-needed cash, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to just say what you mean without fear that you’ll ruin a relationship with a publisher; you can’t lose what you don’t have!
In all seriousness, though, my prayers and best wishes are with the folks that are likely still reeling from the shock. Something tells me Steff’s is awfully packed right now…