Forgotten Worlds
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Forgotten Worlds

(DieHard) GameFan magazine vs VG&CE

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(DieHard) GameFan magazine began life as a mail order catalogue. You’d find their ads in the back of EGM; it was all hastily cropped manga images, import titles from Japan, and hyperactive use of exclamation marks!

Eventually they ‘pivoted’ to publishing a full blown magazine, which was known for three things;

  1. Ridiculously hyperbolic praise of obscure titles
  2. Eye bleed layouts that made it hard to read the text
  3. Poor grammar and typos

In other words, it was great. A genuine alternative to both the UK and US publications, and a mostly forgotten relic of the era. You can read the full, dramatic, history via Nintendo Life and Damien McFerran.

And speaking of drama. It wasn’t limited to the back office and the occasional FBI raid. Some of the more established publications also came for GameFan magazine.

Like the time VG&CE magazine included GameFan in its fanzine review section and described it like this:

“A slick looking zine with lots of colour pictures and frustratingly unreadable type. It’s percentage rating rating system seems a lot like grades from high school, but it doesn’t seem like anyone on staff ever graduated. Aside from the poor quality, the most fun can be had by reading each page and counting the numerous spelling errors. Hey guys, at least run spell check on your Mac. It’s easy…”

Say what you will about GameFan, but as a full-colour monthly magazine with proper ads and national distribution it certainly wasn’t a ‘zine. Which makes its inclusion in this section both a cheap-shot and plenty amusing.

It also highlights the media struggles that were going on behind the scenes.

The early 90s saw a boom in magazine publishing as the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive expanded the video game market. More money, more games, and more competition saw dozens of new magazines launched.

The market quickly became saturated, and as the second tier magazines competed for advertising dollars and shelf space things became increasingly desperate.

VG&CE was struggling for relevance by this point, and had rebranded itself as VideoGames — the Ultimate Gaming Magazine. In the process they ditched their editor and replaced their adult-contemporary brand with a more ‘edgy’ 90s attitude. Think Poochie from The Simpsons.

…which probably explains why they were lobbing grenades at their rivals over at GameFan.

Ultimately, none of this mattered. VG&CE struggled on for a few more years, and eventually folded in Sept 1996. GameFan kept going until December 2000. The whole incident is little more than a footnote in history. But it’s the details that tell a story, and as the 16bit generation was coming to a close the stakes were getting higher.

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Forgotten Worlds

Old video game magazines from 1988 to 1994. Plus extras. By Mikolai