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Did EGM hate Atari?


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#1 zmbdog OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 3:10 AM

I can't say the Jaguar didn't have an atypical 'poor game to good game' ratio, but things related to that system aside, there seemed to be a negative tone regarding Atari in general, at least post-2001 or so when I started reading it.  The ones I remember most:

 

A PS2 Rygar article had a comment on the Lynx version: "chunky and junky, like all games for this turd handheld.  Instead, turn that Lynx into a snowboard for your cat."

 

An article about the G4 network had "we loved hearing how Atari founder Nolan Bushnell blew all his Pong dough" when referencing the show Icons.

 

There were a couple more that escape at the moment.  Maybe if I end up re-reading the back issues I dug out...but last time I tried, the snarky, sarcastic "humor" in the letters section turned me off a lot more than it did back in the day (and I didn't like it then either). 

 

They were similar though in that they felt more like cheap shots than genuine comments.  Maybe EGM and Atari clashed a lot back in the days they had to deal with each other regularly?  It seems like a holdover from that type of situation.  If so, I have to say it's unprofessional at best.  Especially considering EGM was about the only mag I trusted much, even if I didn't care too much for their "sarcastic little sh*t" approach to comedy.



#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 4:57 AM

Oh, "professional." They were writing about video games, mostly for an audience of adolescents. It was easy for them to kick Atari when it was down. I don't recall them talking about the Lynx, but the Atari Jaguar got a lot of mean talk from most magazines like that.

Considering new games for the thing cost $70 and were often of sub-par quality, they did the average gamer a favor by being very clear about which systems brought the best value.

Next Generation/EDGE were more fair in their consideration of Atari (Jaguar, as Lynx was done by then), giving Tramiel a big article and a cover feature -- but it wasn't hard to read between the lines and see that Atari was hurting and defensive.

I think it's more laziness than anything. None of those publications is going to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature or journalism.



#3 Atari_Warlord OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 6:29 AM

Tramiel didn't like spending much on advertising which is how the magazines make money, so they liked to rough him up in return.  The more you spend, the nicer they are to you.



#4 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 11:13 AM

Next Generation was a better mag in general, with more interesting topics (a cover story on Treasure Games!) and writing that felt more upmarket. But they went out of business in 2002, the same year EGM announced a 25% subscription increase. So it's pretty clear who won that battle, and what kind of content video game readers really wanted. And that's probably a direct reflection of EGM's broader, younger writing.



#5 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 11:30 AM

My impression at the time is that they had no bias.  Atari had fewer titles and some of those were bad or niche.  I actually bought a Jag due to what content they had on it.



#6 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 11:33 AM

Next Generation was a better mag in general, with more interesting topics (a cover story on Treasure Games!) and writing that felt more upmarket. But they went out of business in 2002, the same year EGM announced a 25% subscription increase. So it's pretty clear who won that battle, and what kind of content video game readers really wanted. And that's probably a direct reflection of EGM's broader, younger writing.

In the USA, at least, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty ... but people who buy video game magazines are dumb. It's parent magazine, EDGE, is still going today. 



#7 zmbdog OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 2:38 PM

Oh, "professional." They were writing about video games, mostly for an audience of adolescents. It was easy for them to kick Atari when it was down. I don't recall them talking about the Lynx, but the Atari Jaguar got a lot of mean talk from most magazines like that.

Considering new games for the thing cost $70 and were often of sub-par quality, they did the average gamer a favor by being very clear about which systems brought the best value.

Next Generation/EDGE were more fair in their consideration of Atari (Jaguar, as Lynx was done by then), giving Tramiel a big article and a cover feature -- but it wasn't hard to read between the lines and see that Atari was hurting and defensive.

I think it's more laziness than anything. None of those publications is going to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature or journalism.

 

EGM's average reader was a bit older than you imply.  Regardless, having an adolescent audience is not a free pass, especially considering how EGM themselves wrote endlessly about how gaming journalism needed to shape up and grow up.  Yes, the Jaguar got that treatment from most publications and deservedly so.  Hence, why I specifically discarded anything involving it.


Edited by zmbdog, Fri Jul 6, 2018 2:41 PM.


#8 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 7:00 PM

Regardless, having an adolescent audience is not a free pass, especially considering how EGM themselves wrote endlessly about how gaming journalism needed to shape up and grow up. 

 

I could be wrong but I don't remember reading that from them until around the time "New Games Journalism" started to be a thing and for a brief moment all these game reviewers thought that this was actually somehow something they should aspire to and not something that most people over the age of 12 laughed at. Then there were a bunch of scandals where reviewers were caught with their pants down accepting gifts in exchange for review scores, and I'm sure they wrote about that too and everything that was wrong with the industry (and still is). But I don't think they had any *serious* designs on "growing up", they just wanted their readers to think they were at least as good, if not better, than their competitors. But that's more a marketing/perception issue than an actual content issue.

 

This gives me an excuse to link to my favorite parody video game review of all time, written in the style of an infamous real-world reviewer (who currently works for Kotaku, surprise surprise): https://www.somethin...s-journalism/1/

 

It has nothing to do with this discussion other than being an example of what people outside the industry thought of the New Games Journalism circle jerk, but I just think it's hilarious.



#9 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 7:12 PM

About when did you think that was going on? When PlayStation was new? Earlier, later? Edit: I think I found it. 2004 http://gillen.cream....mes-journalism/ Super wankery. Circle jerk is right. This kind of thing has a place, but there's still an awful lot of product-focused writing. Previews, reviews ...just on the web rather than in print.

#10 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 10:52 PM

After the Crash, gaming media have always spouted the Nintendo revised history even to this day.  The only magazine at the time that did give fair coverage to all systems (including Atari) was GamePro.



#11 youxia OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:29 AM

Next Gen was awesome, but in Europe it was hard to obtain (for me at least). Edge filled this gap though, it was my VG bible till about ~2005 when things went kinda downhill. Guess the new media got them all panicky and they've changed too much.



#12 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 7:41 AM

EDGE was the original, Next Gen was the US copy. They had a lot of the same editorials and reviews. I think it's telling that EDGE survived while NG went under.

I can't tell if they got worse or I just got older and sick of the formula. There was a time I looked forward to new games and enjoyed previews. There's too much out there for me to even sample nowadays, especially since modern games by and large don't "fun" me anymore.

#13 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 10:43 AM

Here in the UK you could find examples of what some might feel was anti-Atari press, be it a review score, say Edge giving Jaguar AVP 4/10 or Defender 2000 3/10...

But once you looked into the reviews, you had a Doom 2 fan expecting a similar experience from AVP and The Rev Stuart Campbell, who'd reviewed Defender 2000 for ST Format magazine and given it a similar score..Stuart was simply a freelancer likes of Future Publishing used.

ACE gave Lynx Stun Runner 630 out of 1000 but overall you couldn't fault their Lynx coverage..

Ditto Computer And Video Games..gave Lynx Rygar a mere 46% score...Hard Drivin 40%...


Sure Edge and others guilty of a lot of false reporting regarding Atari..

7800 Turrican was never on show at the Atari railway carriage tour..Thalion weren't doing ST nebulus II..7800 Gauntlet never done by Bob Armour..a Jaguar CD drive just malfunctioned..it didn't blow up..

But they treated other platforms in a similar fashion..

F##KED...Why the original Xbox was heading for disaster..joined a smashed up N64 console as a cover feature...



You have to keep in mind Atari were more than happy to use the press when it suited them...

We were told to expect the 5200 as a replacement for the 2600, then that was pulled..7800 shown then replaced by the 65XE and limping out later...

The CD ST was going to be Atari's answer to the Commodore CDTV..

The STE was going to be an Amiga beater...

The ST console..then Panther...

Atari simply built a reputation up over here for constantly over promising goods, rather than making good on their promises and the press got tired of it and took Atari to task at times.

Tramiel saying the Jaguar was more powerful than the Sega Saturn, just behind the PlayStation..

Panther would launch with between 15 and 20 games..

No one in the Press believed a word Atari said anymore.

Edited by Lost Dragon, Sat Jul 7, 2018 10:52 AM.


#14 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 10:50 AM

After the Crash, gaming media have always spouted the Nintendo revised history even to this day.  The only magazine at the time that did give fair coverage to all systems (including Atari) was GamePro.


As a reader of Gamestm and RetroGamer magazine at the time,you could tell Nintendo were pumping a lot of money into advertising and the mags were keen to keep Nintendo happy.

The version of how the NES and it's games were received in the UK was very different to what actually happened and you never seemed to see the more average review scores given to NES games quoted in articles.

I was told by an editor this was because the articles were designed to celebrate the games...

Hmnnn....

#15 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 2:56 PM

Ok, here's a little inside baseball. I was a small cog in the gaming press machine in the late 90's/early 00's - I wrote for a web site that's now defunct, but at the time was the same size in terms of views and visitors as GameSpot and IGN. (This was the fairly early days of the web when every site was really small compared to now, so I'm pretty confident no one here has heard of it.) Then I worked in marketing for Take 2 Interactive for several years, and got to see the other side of things. I doubt much has changed since then.

 

The whole "gaming press" is really barely that; it's more just publisher PR. And there are a lot of historical reasons for that, but the biggest practical reason when I was in the industry and I'm sure still now is that the press relies on the publishers for literally 100% of its content. If a publication doesn't get a game at the same time as everybody else, for example, they don't get to write that review in time to compete with other sites/magazines, which can basically sink an entire publication if it happens more than a couple times. It's not just reviews, either - it's exclusive screenshots, or hands-on previews, or developer tours, or whatever. There's almost nothing a publication can write without some help from the publisher that's the topic of the article.

 

But that means you have to stay in the good graces of all the publishers. You can't write anything bad about any of the big ones anywhere (or at least nothing insulting or that can't be walked back or defended), and you have to actively promote all the big publishers any chance you get, because they're the ones with your fate in their hands.

 

Of course that also means that when one manufacturer or publisher goes against another, you have to eventually take sides. You have to decide who's going to benefit your publication the most. Nintendo is famously cutthroat when it comes to its competitors. If you covered a competing system too favorably or gave it too much coverage, they just wouldn't deal with you. We'd have to promise them all sorts of things to get them to show us games, like top homepage placement, nothing but favorable or at least neutral writing (ie. not even so much as a clause like "while the last Kirby game was somewhat disappointing..."). Sony was similar, especially when it came to the Dreamcast. I don't remember the specific rules they had but I do remember they were pretty ferocious in trying to get us to not even cover the Dreamcast, and for a while they were refusing to send us games or pre-release screenshots because we were seen as too favorable to the Dreamcast.

 

So that could easily explain EGM's comments about Atari. Atari by then was not going to help EGM sell magazines, whereas Nintendo would, so Atari provided an easy punching bag for EGM to curry favor with Nintendo. Atari also was not in a position to deny EGM anything even if they wrote negatively about them; it's rare when this happens, but EGM held the power in that relationship. I'm also about 99% sure that this is why Next Gen didn't last, because they probably didn't kowtow like all the financially successful gaming publications have. I often remember seeing wildly different stories in Next Gen than EGM or other mags had in a given month; I loved it, and it's actually why I used to buy it, but they always felt a little out of step with the industry and I'll bet it's because they weren't ass-kissers and propaganda writers, so they couldn't get the same access. I dunno, I could be remembering them through rose colored glasses, but that's what I remember.

 



#16 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 3:15 PM

... the biggest practical reason when I was in the industry and I'm sure still now is that the press relies on the publishers for literally 100% of its content. If a publication doesn't get a game at the same time as everybody else, for example, they don't get to write that review in time to compete with other sites/magazines, which can basically sink an entire publication if it happens more than a couple times. It's not just reviews, either - it's exclusive screenshots, or hands-on previews, or developer tours, or whatever. There's almost nothing a publication can write without some help from the publisher that's the topic of the article.

I've heard elsewhere (or maybe it was from you? I can't recall) that one of the reasons Atari didn't do well in the press is because they were too cheap to send out promo/review copies. No product, no coverage. Is that "bias?" Or just reality? The latter, I think. 



#17 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 4:17 PM

Digitiser 2000 talking of their experiences with Atari at that time:

"It took some work to establish a relationship with Atari's public relations team. And for "work" read "badgering". Digitiser was barely a year old when the Jaguar was released, and though our readership was already in seven digits, getting people to believe us was a battle that Digi fought throughout its existence. On that score at least, we could empathise with Atari.

We were new, we couldn't offer screenshots, we didn't always tow the marketing line like good little boys, and our readership seemed too high to be believable. We were annoyed that Atari didn't seem to take us seriously."

When i chatted to head of Audiogenic a few years back, he spoke of the company wanting to become Jaguar developers, but Atari didn't take them seriously, wanted bigger name developers on board.

I think Atari still saw themselves as a major name, yet the press knew exactly where the advertising revenue was coming from and it was the major players like Sega,Nintendo and Sony.


So there was that bizarre situation of Atari not being taken seriously by so many in the industry and at the same time not taking those who could of assisted them, seriously..

#18 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 4:54 PM

I've heard elsewhere (or maybe it was from you? I can't recall) that one of the reasons Atari didn't do well in the press is because they were too cheap to send out promo/review copies. No product, no coverage. Is that "bias?" Or just reality? The latter, I think. 

 

Oh, I forgot about that, probably because I've only read about it but didn't experience it myself. I was in the industry a little too late, so I guess it was someone else you probably heard it from. But I've heard it too.

 

But sure, I believe it... even though they were in no position to turn down any press they could get, I could definitely see them shooting themselves in the foot. And that certainly would not endear them to a publication like EGM, but with a manufacturer/publisher that's going to help you long-term, you just grin and bear it. Nintendo is not particularly endearing when you're on that side of things either, but they're who everybody wants to read about so you just deal with it and get what you can from them, then write glowing stuff so you can keep it going.

 

With Atari, though, EGM would have no incentive *not* to call them out on their bullshit. If they're not getting stuff *anyway*, and the magazine's already been forced to throw in with Nintendo, there's no reason at all to be nice to Atari in print.

 

But, I guess there's also a small chance that the "too cheap to send out review copies" thing was actually Atari trying to play that same game but just not having the clout they thought they did. I'd probably believe either.



#19 schuwalker OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 5:41 PM

After the Crash, gaming media have always spouted the Nintendo revised history even to this day.  The only magazine at the time that did give fair coverage to all systems (including Atari) was GamePro.

Videogames and Computer Entertainment was probably my favorite gaming mag of all time and cornered the gaming cadre including pc.



#20 atarilovesyou OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 2:01 AM

VG&CE was one of my faves. Gamepro didn't review shit, they wrote nicely about everybody. And EGM seemed more about getting the scoop, lots of talk about games that never materialized. If it's true that only those who mattered to the mags were the bigger players who could give them content, EGM must have looked the other way...I mean, who cared about the FM Towns or other Japanese market stuff here in NA, but you always saw it in EGM.

I for one don't remember EGM reporting badly on Atari. I specifically owned the issue that gave the scoop in the Lynx, back when it still had something to do with Epyx. And they covered the Jag a lot too. That they had not much to say about it...good, at least? Look, at that time there was plenty of quality consoles out there. Atari really needed to pump out some great games, and on the Jag, there was some good stuff. But it wasn't great across the board, and the bigger players already had their stuff established. Atari was always playing catch up and that's how it looked in the mags.

If the product was more of a contender, it would have been different. The mags didnt make or break anybody, they just provided some hype, really. There were very few review-only mags for video games then anyway, none of which lasted. And since each major console from Sony and Nintendo had their own publications that could out scoop the competition, that angle was even less important. Can't even remember when I stopped reading mags...there was a giod one I used to read in the early to mid 2000s but cant even remember the name. With the internet, most of that stuff is irrelevant in my opinion. I still flip through Retro Gaming mag tho. Amyways.

#21 youxia OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 6:28 AM

I'd love to have a proper printed mag I could buy - not because of some nostalgia overdrive or yearning for old media, just simply feel like I could trust it more, not only factually but . Yeah, there still is Edge & Games ™ but like I said above these changed too much as well.

 

I think internet skewed things too much and the new media are influenced by clickbaitery, hot takes, fear of reader's insta-backlash in comments and other modern trappings. I used to follow PC gaming scene but it has became insufferable, the groupthink factor is incredible and most of the publications pander to that.  Other sources are not much better. Also, the reasonably solid ones such as Gamespot, IGN or Eurogamer have become a multimedia - not videogaming - sources. If I wanted to read about latest Star Wars or GoT I'd head off to the appropriate sites.

 

Then there's the video overload- and I'm a reader. Now more resources are diverted to making vids, so you have more and more 3-paragraph "articles". The trending factor does not help either - zillion updates about Fortnite/Overwatch/Destiny or Pokemon GO can smother all other stuff.

 

The mags had flaws, of course, but the more solid ones were amazing. PCG, ACE, Your Sinclair, Crash, ZZAP, CGW Next Gen/Edge were not only great fun but also trustworthy. I think the monthly cycle and publish & be damned model were really beneficial to VG journalism.

 

/rant



#22 frankodragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 6:52 AM

I do remember EGM having made an insert for the Atari Lynx which also got into GamePro magazine and maybe others showcasing the games.  The writers were stoked about that Sonic 3-D game that never made it for the Saturn.  Then in later issues, I read about a guy named Bill or by some other name that gets into some crazy shenanigans. 

 

 

The only game  video game magazines seemed to like during the Jaguar era was Tempest 2000 with positive reviews.  

 

VG&CE was one of the first mags that I started getting into retro collecting after hearing about someone that had a fanzine at the time and I got involved with typing reviews for that fanzine about 20 years ago.



#23 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 7:13 AM

Ok, here's a little inside baseball. I was a small cog in the gaming press machine in the late 90's/early 00's - I wrote for a web site that's now defunct, but at the time was the same size in terms of views and visitors as GameSpot and IGN. (This was the fairly early days of the web when every site was really small compared to now, so I'm pretty confident no one here has heard of it.)

Now you've got me wondering where you worked. Happy Puppy? All Game Guide? Game Unit? VGF? :?



#24 NE146 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 7:31 AM

I dunno.. I bought a Lynx because of EGM.



#25 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 10:23 AM

Looking back at what has been discovered Since...Zzap64 and ACE weren't quite the trustworthy magazines i once thought they were.

ACE and it's claims of Bob Armour doing 7800 Gauntlet.

Data East entering home console market with hardware based on the same hardware powering Robocop Arcade Machine...

Zzap64 with it's infamous C64 Operation Thunderbolt review..

Links to Thalamus. ..

Editors decisions over ruling rest of the team with things like Wizball. .Hunters Moon etc review scores.


The Games Machine just assuming games like Druid 2 were being converted to the Atari 8 bit...Nebulous II to the ST...

Even Mean Machines..a magazine i loved..had it's issues.

Passing rendered footage of Alien Trilogy off as in-game...

Earthworm Jim 2 having a seperate review booklet....


I don't think there's been a UK magazine that hasn't raised an eyebrow once you looked into claims made...

But i badly miss them...

I'll add:The One, Zero, Raze, Games-X...


I used to subscribe to loads.

Even before i turned to the internet for misc games news, i was cancelling subs as the style of jurnolism had slipped.




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