Monday, 2 June 2008

Aluminum? No. Aluminium you ass…

My tenure in the great state of California was a mixed bag. It began in 1996 with a stint at GameFan but ended in 2000 after Computec Media's US operation imploded in complete disaster with 30 mil washed down the toilet. So how does a successful media company blow 30 million down the swanny then? Quite simple really. Convince seasoned game journos to launch a magazine that features the biggest names in TV, music and movies playing games! Oh, get a few previews and a screenshot or two in there also. Just in case you want to actually *see* a game in the magazine. How did it fare? First issue of Incite: Video Games was actually a monster and still holds the record for best launch in the video games market with about 800,000 copies shifted. It did not last. Evil forces were afoot as all kinds of plotters and back stabbers were working tirelessly to discredit the magazine and scupper advertising deals. Future Publishing (or Imagine as they where known back then) sent letters to all the key advertisers telling them to 'resist the German invasion' and it was as close as calling us Nazis or mentioning the war as you could legally get! Of course they were cowardly sods so they got printers and other agencies to do the work for them. The magazine concept might have had the legs to weather the storm had there been a Wii or DS in the market but games back then were still pretty hardcore and most gamers couldn't care less for lifestyle garbage. It was amusing to have a photography budget for one issue that eclipsed what we spent on Mean Machines during it's entire life span!


ImortalComputec said...

Regarding Computecs talent for wasting money; if memory serves me correct Computec UK were knocking out strategy guides for Incite and most of the other tatty German titles. A room full of guys in the UK, writing strategy guides for the Germans, who were at the same time spending all day playing the same games so that they could verify the content of the strategy guides being written in the UK. That man Swallow could have sold ice to the Eskimos. The icing on the cake was when the German’s would then fly over to the UK for an editorial post mortem just to inform us of a spelling mistake on page 67. Perhaps they were really laundering vast amounts of cash back to Germany and these pointless meetings were just a front?

Gary Harrod said...

You are indeed correct sir! In fact, when i returned to the UK and began my second term in the Computec asylum the first thing I pushed for was the removal of that 10+ person strategy team who took the entire fourth floor. Most of the other staff could be found indulging in one or more of the following:
1. Selling promo games to Computer Exchange.
2. Tasting the toothpaste of the fat PR girls whenever a journo event came around. That's you Nutter!
3. Draining bandwidth with endless MP3 downloads.
4. Buying copies of every mens magazine and claiming them under expenses for 'magazine design research'.

ImortalComputec said...

You saboteur!

Those poor tips monkeys, consigned to a meagre existence of ironing their underpants in front of daytime TV. Still, it helped fund the DVD dept ;)

Now, every time that I look into the mirrored Computec Media signage that now hangs in my bathroom (expertly thieved the day the Future Trojan Horse appeared outside the office doors), I will always see your face starring back!

Gary Harrod said...

Saboteur indeed. The staff that possessed intelligence were kept on. The other vegetable-heads were tossed aside! Don't feel sad for them. It was the spark that ignited many a great career in fast food sales for them... :)

Richard said...

The history of the tips department was pretty convoluted. They started out as a freelance operation in Norwich and did work for Computec Germany. When the company floated, rather improbably the Tips people were bought out as an acquisition and told to pack up and move and join the new Computec UK in Harrow.

Basically they had a guy who could draw fantastic maps, and most of the guys were people that the owner of the tips company (who was ironically the first to go) employed off the street. All this happened basically before Computec UK actually formed.

Once the workload increased, so did the questionable editorial. The idea was that these 'experts' would carry out this essential function while the journos wouldn't have to. But it didn't work out like that, with the Germans playing through to check the copy and even correct the maps (!) while the US simply refused to use the content at all.

So basically, nowt to do with Marc Swallow, but still a staggering waste of time, effort and money.