The Official UK PlayStation Magazine (1995-2004)
As I begin to share my memories of my favourite computer games on here, again I thought that I would start by doing something a little different and actually write about an old gaming magazine that I used to enjoy reading. The Official UK PlayStation Magazine was published by Future 13 times a year and eventually ran for just over eight years from November 1995 when the PlayStation launched in the UK to March 2004.
When I got a PlayStation for Christmas in 1998 I decided that it might be a good idea to try some magazines to find out more about games, although I had various consoles before this I never bought any magazines, so my first experience of them was buying The Official UK PlayStation Magazine from issue 40 which was over 200 pages and I was very impressed. There were various unofficial PlayStation magazines around at the time, the shelves in supermarkets seemed to be packed with them for a while, but although it cost a little more one of the incentives to buy the official magazine was that it featured the free gift of a demo disc, giving people the chance to try various games before they went on sale.
There were three distinct eras of the magazine. When I first bought the magazine it was incredibly popular. Issue 42 which featured the exclusive review of the hotly anticipated Metal Gear Solid sold over 450,000 copies and I believe that it is the biggest-selling issue of a computer games magazine anywhere in the world. Also around this time there was charismatic writing with all the latest games being rated out of ten, lots of competitions and interviews with major figures in the industry and celebrity gaming fans, which led to the magazine even winning some awards. It just proves how successful the PlayStation was at the time with gamers and it was great to be able to read the magazine.
The second era began at the end of 1999 with a relaunch from issue 52. I suppose this was them preparing for the new millennium as it seems everyone else had to at that time. The magazine remained popular with lots of reviews and enjoyable features. One of my favourites was a parody of games news with King Mr Scoop. Of course things change quickly in the gaming industry though and when the PlayStation 2 and its own official magazine launched at the end of 2000 the next generation of gaming was here.
The PlayStation 1 magazine continued though and had another relaunch for its third and final era from issue 73 in mid-2001. Again there were new features introduced including the terrific Cheats Daddy. As the PS2 became the latest craze though fewer games began to be released for the PS1, and for every peak there must also be a slump. The demo discs had fewer new games on them, and they were padded out with old games appearing again, and Net Yaroze games which were created by amateur designers. Suddenly you weren’t getting much value for money any more for your fiver and sales dropped.
I decided to stick with the magazine to the end though and the final issues are a rather bizarre experience. How do you continue to write about a console that is no longer producing many games and is no longer the big thing? Suddenly the pages were filled with lots of retrospectives and new games even stopped appearing on the cover by the end, with the pages padded out with things like “the action special”, “the tips special” and so on.
When the magazine finally closed in 2004 after 108 issues it featured Lara Croft on the cover yet again, one of the most successful PlayStation characters. By then there were hardly any reviews in the magazine at all, and the pages were filled with things including an extensive A-Z of all the games that had been reviewed in the magazine’s history, and silly features as the magazine was now aimed at a much younger audience. At its peak though it was a great magazine, and I went on to buy several others over the years and I’ll review those too soon.