Thursday, January 8, 2009
Electronic Gaming Monthly is now dead. EGM was one issue away from its 20th anniversary in February 2009. An internal email leaked to industry website Gamasutra on Tuesday revealed that EGM was to be closed following the acquisition of the online element of the 1UP network by competitor Hearst Corporation‘s UGO Entertainment and that the January 2009 issue (with Wolverine on the cover) would be the final printed issue of the iconic magazine. Ziff Davis‘s sale, brokered by GCA Savvian Advisors also includes Mycheats.com, Gametab.com, and GameVideos.com. Hearst Interactive is the owner and operator of UGO Entertainment.
According to CEO Jason Young, the court proceedings help Ziff Davis “pay down debt and shift our full focus to our core PCMag Digital Network Business.” Davis had been focusing on PCMag Digital Network. As a result, around 30 employees of Ziff Davis’ Game Group, including EGM Magazine’s staff, 1UP Network’s web staff, podcast and video producers lost their jobs. A UGO spokesman explained that “the reality is that UGO Entertainment is saving over 25 jobs, the company is retaining a core group of editorial all-star performers.” Ziff Davis Holdings Inc (ZFDH.PK), which publishes EGM and about 15 Web sites, obtained Manhattan, New York Court Judge Burton Lifland’s approval of a reorganization plan under Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code. It was able, therefore, to emerge from its duly filed March bankruptcy protection petition.
UGO Entertainment CEO J Moses left a note on EGM’s gaming legacy, saying, “since we started UGO 11 years ago, we have served the gamer community and built a world-class online publishing platform.” Ziff Davis Media CEO Jason Young further noted: “We believe this is a smart transaction for Ziff Davis Media that places these market leading assets and teams in a great environment poised for further success. The transaction allows us to pay down debt and shift our full focus to our core PCMag Digital Network business. We thank our 1UP team members for their contributions and wish them the best of success into the future.” In July 2007, Hearst acquired the 11-year-old UGO Networks (Hearst Interactive) for an estimated price of $100 million. Established in 1998 by CEO J Moses, UGO is an online site targeting men aged 18 to 34.
J Moses stated categorically that his company just saved 1UP and UGO never tried to acquire EGM. “Closing EGM has absolutely nothing to do with UGO. We have just hired 24 people and have expanded UGO by 33 percent, because our business is robust and growing. We only wanted to buy 1UP and related sites. That was our interest as a dot-com company and that’s all we’ve ever been for 11 years.” Sam Kennedy, editorial director of 1UP, further explained that Ziff Davis was insolvent and 1UP was not financially healthy. “The reality of the market was that no company, including UGO, was willing to sustain 1UP as it was so the cuts were very painful but necessary to the survival of 1UP,” he added.
Electronic Gaming Monthly, which has been synonymous to video games for generations of gamers, was an American consumer video game magazine mainstay. It was published by Ziff Davis as part of the 1UP Network and released 12 issues a year (and an occasional extra “13th” issue for the Christmas season, also known as the “Smarch” issue, a reference to an episode of The Simpsons). As ZD’s sole print magazine, EGM, a stalwart of the videogame industry and dubbed the New York Times of games journalism, has been losing money. The 20-year-old publication had 236 issues total, since its debut in 1989.
In 2008, the company closed 27-year Games for Windows Magazine, or Computer Gaming World. In late 2006, Ziff-Davis also shuttered its Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, while its Xbox-focused XBN and Electronics Boutique in-store mag GMR were terminated in 2004. EGM’s February issue, which is completed, will only be available digitally. Print publications have been suffering for years now, due to the global economic meltdown.