The magazine industry isn’t the healthiest these days thanks to the internet but the internet doesn’t really match the feeling of holding a magazine, flipping through the pages backwards forwards, lending them to friends, having them crumpled and getting the wicked paper cuts.
But they aren’t completely dead and so I look at Xbox 360 the Official Xbox Magazine for some of my monthly reading. One thing to note about the magazine straight off is that all the reviews can be read at the magazine’s website, kind of a set back but I feel people read a magazine for a companion on the journey or something to pick up which does help separate itself from an internet page in which you seek to find information.
The magazine is relatively slim but content filled with news, features, previews, reviews, a letters page, mini walk-throughs and buying guides. The magazine doesn’t have too many adverts so you are largely getting a text full magazine.
The large problem I have with the magazine is purely down to it being Official. Reviews are always going to be slightly suspect and a majority of the magazine reads like a PR press release dissected into a less formal tone, the magazine never feels like it is speaking from its own perspective. The previews give an impression that each game is going to be amazing and the reviews really seem to be safely following the crowd, no controversial scores here.
Though I have to say the features are constantly excellent and varied. From the last few months it has discussed advertising in video games, reality and video games, time-consuming achievements, hard games and e.t.c. They are definitely the most interesting thing to read in the magazine and as I receive each issue from my subscription the first thing I do after examining the demo disk is to flip to these pages, features are the most creative and unpredictable aspect of the game magazine and with insight from professionals it really makes them an engaging read.
Ah right, the demo disc. Usually contains text previews and reviews from old issues, some trailer, some playable games and something exclusive, such as a new Xbox theme. The demo disc to me, someone who has access to Xbox Live is largely redundant. Everything bar the theme is on Xbox Live so the demo disc is usually throw away, which is unfortunate because it is the reason the magazine, costs six British pounds. That is pretty expensive for some entertaining features.
But really, the magazine is aimed at people who can’t get online or who may not frequent the internet often, maybe that’s the magazines main target audience and if that’s the case, the six pounds is justified as is the demo disc of old demos. It isn’t offensive reading material either, but it isn’t anything which is going to be memorable, it is quirk free, no-nonsense official. And that’s what it is meant to be.