Gamepro magazine, May 2010 issue
|Vice President, Content||Julian Rignall|
|Categories||Video game journalism|
|First issue||Magazine: April 1989; Website: 1998|
|Final issue||Magazine: Winter 2011; Website: 2011|
|Based in||Oakland, California|
Gamepro (stylized as GamePro) was an American multiplatform video game magazine media company publishing online and print content on the video game industry, video game hardware and video game software developed and released on various video game consoles (e.g., PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii), PC computers and even on mobile devices (e.g., PSP (PlayStation Portable), Nintendo DS, iPhone). Gamepro Media properties included Gamepro magazine and their website. The company was also a part subsidiary of the privately held International Data Group (IDG), a media, events and research technology group.
Originally published in 1989, Gamepro magazine provides feature articles, news, previews and reviews on various video games, video game hardware and the entertainment video gaming industry. The magazine was published monthly since from its most recent headquarters in Oakland, California when it ended in 2011 with its October 2011 issue, after over 22 years of debut. Gamepro's February 2010 issue had also introduced a redesigned layout and a new editorial direction focusing on the peopleware and pop culture impact of gaming media.
www.gamepro.com was officially launched in 1998. Updated daily, the website’s content includes feature articles, news, previews, reviews, screenshots and videos on video games, video game hardware and the entertainment gaming industry. The website also includes user forums, reviews and blogs. Since January 2010, the website was redesigned and the editorial direction had shifted towards the inclusion of more issues regarding the peopleware and pop culture impact of gaming. The website was also based at Gamepro's headquarters in San Francisco from 1998-2002 and then in Oakland, California since Gamepro had moved on to from 2002-2011 when its magazine monthly publication had ended and its official website had since shut down, and along with the website had also most recently expanded and was also published internationally in several other countries such as Germany and France.
History and Establishment
Gamepro was first established in Redwood City, California in late 1988 by Patrick Ferrell, his sister-in-law Leeanne McDermott, and the husband-wife design team of Michael and Lynne Kavish. Lacking the cashflow to be able to sustain growth after publishing the first issue, the founding management team sought a major publisher and in 1989 found one with IDG Peterborough, a New Hampshire-based division of the global giant IDG. Led by a merger and acquin team comprising IDG Peterborough President Roger Murphy and 2 other IDG executives, Jim McBrian and Roger Strukhoff, the magazine was acquired, then a few months later spun off as an independent business unit of IDG, under the leadership of Ferrell as president/CEO. The later addition of John Rousseau as publisher and editor-in-chief Wes Nihei, as well as renowned artist Francis Mao, established Gamepro as a large, profitable magazine worldwide publication.
Over the years, the Gamepro offices have moved from Redwood City (1989-1991) to San Mateo (1991-1998) to San Francisco (1998-2002) and lastly Oakland, their current and latest location. In 1993, the company was renamed from Gamepro Inc. to Infotainment World in reflection to its growing and diverse publication lines.
The magazine was known for its editors using comic book-like avatars and monikers when reviewing games. As of January 2004, however, Gamepro has ceased to use the avatars due to a change in the overall design and layout of the magazine. Meanwhile, editorial voices carry over to the newly redesigned and highly active community on its online sister publication, www.gamepro.com.
Gamepro was also most widely famous for its ProTips, small pieces of gameplay tips and advice depicted with game screenshot captions. It also features a special corner section known as Code Vault (formerly C.S.A.T. Pro), where secret codes are all posted. These particular features have since gone the way of the personas, and had gradually vanished. Though, Code Vault was also published in print format and sold as a quarterly cheats and strategy magazine on newsstands.
Despite the demise of the term in Gamepro itself, the term "ProTip" has been revived as a pop culture meme used to expressing some ironical advice with extreme sarcasm, such as in, "ProTip: Don't call the cops to report your stolen weed."
There was also a TV show called GamePro TV. The show was hosted by J. D. Roth and Brennan Howard. The show was nationally syndicated for one year, then moved to cable (USA and Sci-Fi) for a second year.
In 1993, Patrick Ferrell sent Debra Vernon, VP marketing, to a meeting between the games industry and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Realizing an opportunity, the team at the now-entitled Infotainment World launched E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The industry backed E3 and Ferrell partnered with the IDSA to produce the event. It was one of the biggest trade show launches in history.
Early in its lifespan the magazine also included comic book pages about the adventures of a superhero named Gamepro who was a video game player from the real world brought into a dimension where video games were real to save it from creatures called the Evil Darklings. In 2003, Joyride Studios produced limited-edition action figures of some of the Gamepro editorial characters.
Gamepro has also appeared in several international editions, including France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Brazil and Greece. Some of these publications share the North American content, while some others share only the name and logo but do feature different content.
Early in 2006, IDG Entertainment began to change internally and shift operational focus from a "Print to Online" to "Online to Print" publishing mentality. The first steps; build a large online network of web sites and rebuild the editorial team. Enter: George Jones, industry veteran.
In February 2006, Gamepro's online video channel, Games.net, launched a series of video-game related shows. The extensive online programming is geared towards an older and more mature audience.
In August 2006, the Gamepro online team spins off a new cheats site, GamerHelp.com. Shortly followed by a video game information aggregation site, Games.net and a dedicated gaming downloads site GameDownloads.com.
Under the new leadership of George Jones, Gamepro magazine underwent a massive overhaul in the March 2007 issue. While losing some of the more dated elements of the magazine, the new arrangement focuses on five main insertions: HD game images, more reviews and previews per issue, www.gamepro.com community showcase, user contributions and insider news.
In 2009, Gamepro's 20th anniversary coincided with 20-year industry veteran John Davison joining the newly named Gamepro Media team in October 2009 as executive vice president, content. "Gamepro presents a tremendous opportunity," said Davison. "We have the chance to celebrate its 20th anniversary of this significant marque with some exciting editorial changes, and to reshape it as a thoroughly modern integrated media brand." 
Under Davison's direction, the magazine and website were redesigned in early 2010 with an editorial shift toward focusing on the people and culture of gaming. "Gamepro is very much about the people and culture of gaming, rather than just the products," said Davison, executive vice president of content at Gamepro Media. "With the redesign of both the print and online versions, we've placed strong emphasis on telling stories about games and the people associated with them; not just game creators, but also fans and people inspired by games." The redesigned magazine and website were met with an enthusiastic audience response.
In addition to announcing the hire of Davison in October 2009, the company also announced an "aggressive growth plan throughout 2009 and beyond, with numerous online media initiatives to deepen consumer engagement and create new opportunities for advertisers." Plans included partnering with sister company, IDG TechNetwork, to build a "boutique online network of sites."  The result was the introduction of the Gamepro Media Network.
In September 2010, Gamepro Media announced a new alliance with online magazine The Escapist offering marketers joint advertising programs for reaching an unduplicated male audience. The partnership was named the Gamepro Escapist Media Group.
In November 2010, Julian Rignall joined Gamepro Media as its new vice-president of content replacing John Davison who resigned in September 2010. Rignall brings 25 years of publishing experience to the group.
Gamepro had ended its monthly publication after over 22 years of debut, with its October 2011 issue. Shortly after that issue, the magazine had changed to Gamepro Quarterly, which was a quarterly publication using higher quality paper stock as well as being larger and thicker than all of the previous standard magazine issues. Gamepro Quarterly hit newsstands within the first half of November 2011. The quarterly endeavor; however, only lasted with one issue when it was scrapped. On November 30, it was announced that Gamepro as a magazine and a website would be shutting down on December 5, 2011. Gamepro would only then become part of the PC World website as a small section of this entertainment site covering on the latest and most recently released video games in the current video gaming industry, now run by the PC World staff.
Main sections of GamePro (as of February 2010)
- Inside: A redesigned table of contents page listing the major pieces and games in the issue.
- From the Editor: A column found at the beginning of the magazine from the editor relating to a feature or big games covered in that month's issue.
- Inbox: User feedback and letter of the month, which is once again at the front of the magazine
- Art Attack: Reader art sent into the magazine, with that month's best art winning a game-related prize.
- Editorials: Articles on varying topics by free-lance writers and individuals working in the game industry.
- Spawn Point: Front of magazine sections featuring Behind-the-scenes game news and insights, interviews, Game Previews and a calendar listing "gamer-culture events" (game releases, movie releases, birthdays, TV show events, etc.).
- The Bonus Level: A short guide to "essential geek gear", including video game releases, books and game-related items for sale at various websites.
- Features: Any cover stories or featured games/issues that warrant a separate article would be told here.
- Reviews: This section was initially named "ProViews" and later renamed to "ProReviews". The reviews format has changed over the years, although the original basic format has remained the same: One reviewer speaks for and about the entire Gamepro design team about a particular game. The magazine initially began by giving each system platform its own section of reviews. Near the end of 2005, Gamepro had changed this format to have one review for any next-gen game that was developed and then released on more than one system platforms, describing any differences that one system platform may have over another with that particular game, and giving scores for each system platorm's versions of the game separately. During 2006, another aspect of the reviews debuted, called "Key Moment", in which the reviewer names one particular instance or a standout piece of the game to them that had made them make the decision they made in a short, one sentence description. "Key Moment" was eventually replaced by "Pros" and "Cons", found with the review score, which briefly list any issues that stand out with the game, both good and bad. Games are rated out of 5 stars.
- Parting Shot: With the major overhaul of the magazine which began from the February 2010 issue onwards, Opening Shots was since dropped, and Parting Shot went from being an art of a particular game showcased at the back of the magazine, to a look back at the issue of Gamepro that debuted that month 10 years ago.
Retired sections of GamePro
- Opening Shots/Parting Shot: Use of higher quality HD images and bigger, more detailed screen shots throughout the magazine. "Opening Shots", in particular, is a new screen grab gallery at front of the magazine, while "Parting Shot" is art of particular game showcased at the back of the magazine.
- The Hub: Complete section dedicated to the Gamepro.com online community. Back of the magazine highlights of reader reviews, comments, new "Ask the Pros" question of the month, community leaders profile highlights, featured forum threads and the new Head2Head: User feedback and letter of the month. Every week, the Hub gets a new Featured Member.
- Ask The Pros: Returns from the past in this new, online version of user submitted question (online) and answered by the editor of relative expertise.
- Head2Head: User feedback and letter of the month return to new subsection in rear of each issue.
- Previews (formerly debuted as "Short ProShots" and then "Sneak Previews"): A peek at games in development, telling of the projected release dates of games and what to expect out of them. When this column first appeared, it was in the back of the magazine, with only minuscule information. In 1996, it was moved to the front of the magazine after the features. It was shortly after the rearranging in 1996 that Gamepro started a new approach to the previews, labeling previews as either "First Look", where they first saw the game as only a movie and only have information on storyline and features in the game, and "Hands-On", where the editor providing the preview got to play a preview build (incomplete copy) of the game provided by the publisher in order to tell of any first impressions of how the game could be and describes any problems in the game that the publisher could fix before the final release. Also added for a short time in 1996 was a "percent complete bar" graphic that noted how far along the game was. This graphic was dropped in 1999 during the 10th Anniversary redesign.
- Games To Go: Reviews and previews of games for portable game systems.
- Sports Pages: Previews and reviews of sports games. When this section debuted in 1993, each review and preview got its own "headline" to give the section a newspaper feel. This tactic was dropped in 1999 for the 10th Anniversary redesign. This section also was the first section to have the "multiplatform game review" tactic described above, in 2003.
- Role Players Realm: Reviews and previews of role playing games (RPGs).
- Code Vault (formerly "C.S.A.T. Pro"): Video game cheats, strategies, tactics, tips, secrets and easter eggs revealed. Both game companies and readers send in submissions for this section, with a random prize to the reader who sent in the best tip (usually a game). When this section had formerly debuted as C.S.A.T. Pro, C.S.A.T. stood for "Cheats, Strategies and Tactics". This magazine feature's section was renamed as "Code Vault" in 2002, to match the name of Gamepro's short-lived cheat-code spinoff magazine, although the change could also be credited to 9/11, as the December 2001 issue cover (which featured Luigi's Mansion) featured the "Gamepro" logo dressed in the American flag to commemorate the event, and the name was changed just one issue afterwards.
- Head-2-Head (formerly debuted as "The Mail"): A Letters To The Editor section that features responses to the letters, as well (although this doesn't mean that every letter published will have a response tagged after it). They began doing a "Letter Of The Month" special in 2004, with the winning letter's author winning a particular prize, different every so often. This section has also recently begun to feature a Reader Review from their website on a particular game as a way to entice other readers to visit their site and do the same. Throughout the magazine's lifespan, this section was in the front of the magazine. However, as of April 2007's redesign, the section has been moved to the back of the magazine.
- Buyers Beware: A consumer advocacy section in which readers send in complaints about issues with defective and malfunctioning games, peripherals, systems, and the like. Gamepro was the only publication to feature such a column. Every once in a while, the column steered away from its usual formula to feature an issue that was a current widespread issue. At times, a representative of a game company directly answers a query in the section (although sometimes the editor may put his own reaction to the answer after if deemed necessary for various reasons). It's not uncommon for Gamepro to slam a game company in this column for poor customer support if warranted, an area where the column seems to be highly unforgiving. This was also the only Gamepro column to be authored by the same editor since its debut in 1994: The Watch Dog. This section has completely migrated onto www.gamepro.com as of the April 2007 redesign, and has since been seemingly dropped from the print magazine.
- ProNews: Gamepro's news section. This section first appeared in the back of the magazine after the reviews, but found its way to the front of the magazine in 1996 to follow suit with other game magazines. This section has shape-shifted over the years to include various "game watches", a random quote generation sidebar called "Static" that seemingly disappeared after 2003. Gamepro Labs, which used to be a separate column, then appeared as a part of this section.
- Hot At The Arcades: Previews and reviews of cabinet arcade games were featured. This section appeared regularly for about 5 years after the magazine debuted. The section still appears every now and again, but it has been absent for the most part since 1997 due to the steady decline of arcades in general. This section has at times been folded into the Pro news section.
- Overseas Prospects: Import games were featured and sometimes reviewed. This section is still in the magazine, but appears only rarely.
- Video Game Survival Guide: Originally titled "16-Bit Survival Guide" when the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were on the last year of their respective runs, to review those games that were still being released for the systems. This was changed to reflect other game systems that were close to the end of their lives, namely the Atari Jaguar and Sega Dreamcast.
- Adventures of Gamepro: The Adventures of Gamepro was a comic strip run in the early issues of the magazine detailing the adventures of a superhero named after the magazine. He was a gamer drawn into the realm of video games to fight off evil creatures taking over game after game called the Evil Darklings.
Reviewed games are rated on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0 stars with fractions of 0.50. 5 graphical stars are shown alongside the written review. The number of stars a game has earned is indicated by the number of solid stars (e.g., a game's 4-star rating is represented by showing 4 solid stars and one hollow star). No game has ever received less than one star. An Editors' Choice Award is given to a game that earns either 4.5 or 5.0 stars.
In the past, reviewed games were rated under 4 categories: Graphics, Sound, Control and Fun Factor. The ratings were initially on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0, but a possible 0.5 score was later added. The first game to receive such a score was Battle Arena Toshinden URA for the Sega Saturn. Until about 2000, each score was accentuated with a face (The Gamepro Dude) depicting different expressions for different ratings. This cartoon gamer's head wore an exaggerated expression based on the number of stars a game received. Some games that received 5-star ratings subsequently featured the graphical stars with the cartoon head on their retail boxes.
Lamepro (Discontinued in 2007)
Once in every April issue of every year's monthly publication of Gamepro, as an April Fools' Day prank, Gamepro prints a 2-5 page satirical spoof of the magazine named Lamepro, which is a pun version of Gamepro's own official title. This spoof contains humorous prank game titles, parody presentations and funny newslines, similar to The Onion. It seems that no one is safe from Lamepro's satirical arm, even themselves. Also, many other game magazines have since been the butt of the jokes by Lamepro.
Lamepro, however, is not without its own controversy. While some game magazine readers have seen Lamepro as something to laugh at themselves and each other, some other readers may have been outraged and very offended at the types of jokes that it presents. In 2000, a spoof ad in the satire made reference to a then newer (and short-lived) game magazine called "Incite: Video Games". At an industry charity auction, Incite bid and won on advertising space within Gamepro; in the spirit of charity, Gamepro agreed to advertise its own competition, even though it could be considered vaguely tasteless (a mailman delivering a copy of Incite to a female's door, with the legend "It must be that time of the month"). However, in the next Lamepro, a fake ad for a magazine named "In spite" was used as bird-cage lining, with the white-background ad saying "You get what you pay for," making reference to the first Incite issue costing 99 cents on newsstands. The following month, Incite responded in their Letters To The Editor section, spouting off in their subwords "Get it, GamePROSE," and many supposed fans of their magazine defending them against the spoof ad. During the remainder of the magazine's 10-month lifespan, Incite ran the "GamePROSE" quote in every issue.
In 2005, another spoof advertisement had a similar effect, and also had an even greater controversy. The spoof was on account of gaming supersite IGN. Once again, on a white background, the ad showed a phony game site screenshot, with a logo similar to IGN's, spelling out "GNO.com" and the phrase "You can't spell ignorance without GNO." This sparked a letter to one of IGN's staff members who does a weekly feedback column on the site, and, in answering to one's e-mail concerning the spoof, mentioned humorlessly that Gamepro wasn't mature at all for taking such a shot at IGN.
However, that was not the biggest concern as of in the 2005 edition. Just a few weeks after the issue hit newsstands, word came out that there was an actual site on the internet that had the address GNO.com. The site was actually an internet publishing site, and Gamepro a few months later ran an apology in their letters section, stating that they had no prior knowledge about the site existing before the issue had been released. It was apparent that the 2 sides had eventually made peace, as no civil suits of any kind were filed (though, it was still unclear if such case was even being planned).
Lamepro has since been dropped and discontinued as of in the April 2007 issue during Gamepro's magazine overhaul redesign.
- "Gamepro Media Redesigns Print and Online Editions to Enthusiastic Response". Retrieved 2010-02-11.
- "Industry Leading Video Gaming Magazine Delivers Authoritative Gaming Editorial To Over 3 Million Male Teens Each Month". Business Wire. 2002. Retrieved 2002-09-23.
- "Urban Dictionary: protip". Urban Dictionary.
- "Leading Game Media Executive Tapped for Top Editorial Slot at IDG’s Gamepro Media". Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- "GamePro and The Escapist Alliance Changes How Marketers Reach Male Gamers". Retrieved 2010-09-07.
- "IDG Gamepro Media Appoints Seasoned Publishing Executive to Vice President, Content". Retrieved 2010-11-08.
- Editor's Letter, Gamepro Issue #267 (erroneously labeled 277 on the cover) October 2011
- "Gamepro is Closed".
- Gamepro.com: Official Gamepro website
- GameproMedia.com: Online media kit
- Games.net: A Gamepro Media Network website
- GameDownloads.com: A Gamepro Media Network website
- Blogfaction.com: A Gamepro Media Network website
- Gamepro API
- Gamepro RetroMags Wiki article
GamePro Media International Sites
- Gamepro Germany
- Gamestar Germany
- Gamepro France
- Gamepro TV Spain
- Gamepro en Español
- Gamez Netherlands
- Gamestar Italy
- Gamestar Hungry
- Gamestar Poland