Eulogy for EGM

Gaming

Confirming reports from earlier this evening, an internal Ziff Davis memo leaked to gaming news site Gamasutra reveals that this month’s issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly will be the last for the venerable magazine.

This comes after news that Hearst Corporation’s UGO.com was acquiring rival publisher Ziff Davis’ 1UP Network.

Left: EGM’s first issue (May 1989). Right: Its last (January 2009).

EGM was an icon. Long before there were Web sites and blogs, it was the source for gaming news (cooler than GamePro and waaaay cooler than Nintendo Power). Starting in May 1989, it introduced pasty American kids like me to exotic games in a faraway land called Japan that never even reached our shores, and gave us our first look at the video games industry itself. EGM set the standard for video games journalism.

Gamasutra says about 30 Ziff Davis employees were laid off immediately following today’s announcement, including the staff of EGM but also some who work on 1UP’s podcasts and videos.

This is a tough time for print publishing of any kind, as we at the Tribune well know — and online journalism is certainly not immune, as we’re finding out. Only the strong will survive. I just always took it for granted that EGM would remain strong. Apparently, so did EGM.

Best wishes to those who lost their jobs, and those left behind to pick up the pieces. To everyone at EGM: Thank you for nearly 20 years of entertainment and solid information.

Below is the text of a memo from Ziff Davis CEO Jason Young, obtained by Gamasutra:

Team:

We are announcing today the sale of our 1UP digital business to UGO Entertainment, a dvision of Hearst Corporation.

Over the course of the last 4 years we have built the 1UP sites into a top tier gaming digital destination. While our growth has been sharp, it has become apparent that more scale is necessary to effectively compete in this market segment.

We made the decision that the best path to putting our award winning 1UP brand and content in a more competitive position was to combine it with the operations of another publisher. We received much interest from other parties.

After a comprehensive process, this morning we completed a deal with Hearst Interactive, the owner and operator of UGO Entertainment. 1UP.com, MyCheats.com, Gamevideos.com, and Gametab.com will now all be part of the UGO Entertainment business. Many of our employees will travel with this business and become part of the UGO team.

With this transaction happening, we have also made the decision to discontinue publication of EGM. The January 2009 issue will be the final issue of the publication. With demand for print continuing to decline amongst both advertisers and readers and the content being produced by 1UP no longer available for use in the publication, it simply did not make sense for us to move forward with this business any longer.

We will continue to operate the Filefront business as a part of the PCMag Digital Network. In the coming months we will determine the best ways to leverage the scale and functionality of this digital property to expand our business position.

The Ziff Davis position in the gaming market has been significant and important to our company and the market itself. While many of our assets in the PCMag Digital Network (including Filefront now) will continue to cover this market, it’s important that we celebrate all that we have achieved over the last 25 years.

Our leadership in print for decades with titles like Computer Gaming World and EGM which in turn translated into the build out of one of the leading digital gaming media assets in 1UP are prime examples of the skill, passion, and expertise of our teams.and what they achieved.

It’s incredible to compare the 1UP.com of today versus that of 12 months ago. I want to thank everybody in our Game Group for their important contributions over the years.

For Ziff Davis Media, our attention and focus now shifts squarely to the PC Mag Digital Network. The proceeds from this transaction will be used to pay down debt. One of the primary objectives of our business plan is ensuring that we have plenty of room to service our debt obligations into the future, and manage for growth in what will be a challenging year in the advertising market.

While the market will be tough, we are confident our position is well aligned to where the demand is most active. We move forward as a 100% digital business with tenured brand position, and powerful capabilities to drive results for our customers. I look forward to sharing more updates in the coming weeks.

JY.

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