PC master: An example to avoid
This month’s issue is going to be the last for PC master, perhaps the most iconic and definitely the most long-lasting videogame magazine in Greece. After 26 years, its publisher, Compupress, decided that the magazine is not viable anymore. A few months ago, the company tried to save it by looking into a potential crowdfunding solution which, however, fell through. While discussing the matter with friends and partners at the time, my true and sincere wish to the magazine that taught me how to do what later became my lifestyle was this: to crash and burn. Because even if it could survive somehow, that would have been the product of an ill-fated and hastily put together solution.
PC master was once one of the most powerful brand names in the Greek specialized Press of videogames and Technology. I still remember the times that its circulation was around 15k per month. Multiply this with the approximately 5,5-6,5€ that each issue cost, add a generous income from the ads, subtract the petty cost of its editorial team, and you have a great IP which is not only profitable but also has great prospects. I am talking about the 2004-2008 era, right when the Press in Greece began to discover the immediacy of the worldwide web, failing however to adapt to the new standards.
Thus, the magazine, just like its publisher, did not succeed: Compupress is a publisher that had always focused on Technology but forgot to follow it. PC master failed because no one ever drew a plan for it, for its development, for its transition to the digital era. It is absolutely unheard for a computer games’ magazine to insist stubbornly on paper while at the same time disdaining the Internet. If you think I overreact or exaggerate, pay a visit to PCmaster.gr and try to compare it with the websites of magazines such as GameInformer, gamesTM or EDGE. The comparison is neither incidental, nor unfair: PC master once was the leading videogame magazine in Greece with a heavy brand name and a wide acceptance. Well, from now on it is going to be a memory, an example to avoid.
Things change fast. Technology has accelerated change. The Press is a dynamic, ever-changing industry that nowadays relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the Internet. The audience is “thirsty” for information, it always wants more to consume and enough is never enough. Going digital is “do or die”: you either go online and play on a higher difficulty level, or you just wait for the “game over” screen. Most of all though, the need for a plan is compulsory. Unfortunately, there was no thought for development, no next steps to take, no plan to follow. And I am not referring to a plan B: a plan A would have been sufficient.
No tears should be shed for PC master. It was a magazine that taught me a lot. It was a magazine thanks to which I progressed further in my career. It was a magazine through which I met great people who I will call friends forever. However, it was also a magazine that never respected its community. It was a magazine that never showed any will to adapt to the new standards. It was a magazine that kept going based on a model that thrived in the 80’s & 90’s. There is a reason that the phrase “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” is mostly used by ITs and not publishers.
Yes, I will always have in my mind PC master as magazine and a source of good memories, but also as an example of what I must never ever allow myself to do. At the end of the day, perhaps this is the most important lesson it has ever taught me…