GameNOW is a monthly magazine devoted primarily to console games and strategies, although PC games were also reviewed regularly. The magazine was the immediate follow-up to Ziff Davis’ Expert Gamer, extensively redesigned in an attempt to reposition it as a GamePro-style kid-friendly game magazine.
In complimentary copies of the last issue of Expert Gamer (October 2001), Ziff Davis vice-president Dale Strang wrote this message to advertisers:
I wanted to let you know about a new video game magazine that you’ll see from the Ziff Davis Media Games Group this Fall which will directly address a burgeoning market of 10 million video gamers. I also want to share some of the background and thinking that has gone into shaping this new monthly publication.
When flying a few months ago, I sat next to an 11-year-old boy whose mother was on the other side of him. This kid was playing with his Game Boy and didn’t seem to notice anything about me until I pulled out the current issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. He perked up and we started chatting about the Game Boy Advance launch, Tony Hawk and Xbox. He soon asked me if he could see my EGM.
But that’s the question — is EGM appropriate for an 11-year-old?
This is the question that Dan Leahy, myself, and others here at Ziff Davis Media have been thinking about for the last several months. After a lot of careful consideration and research, I’m pleased to announce that in October you will see the premier issue of GameNOW — a magazine that we (and the kid’s mom) will be happy to have him read.
GameNOW is aimed squarely at the 16-year-old kid, which of course means that the 10- to 15-year-olds, who are dying to be 16, will be crazy for it. The reviews section will be really innovative. Younger teens focus much more on games and less on developer interviews, industry news and events. They are enthusiastic about the games they like and want all the extras like tips, tricks and maps. GameNOW will match teen gamers’ enthusiasm for gaming and will expand the coverage of each game to give these readers more of what they want: game reviews, previews, tips and tricks.
Dan Leahy, a Ziff Davis Media Game Group veteran is the new Editor-in-Chief. His phone number for product submissions is [omitted]. GameNOW will focus exlusively on games that are appropriate for this age range and won’t carry M-rated ads or put M-rated games on the cover.
Friends’ recommendations are the number-one reason high school and junior high school video gamers buy a specific game. They talk constantly about video games. By reaching and selling the core gamers in these peer groups, advertisers will get a buzz going. This is critical for marketing to teen gamers.
GameNOW will be an important part of your marketing campaigns for PS2, GameCube, Xbox, GameBoy Advance, PS One and Game Boy Color games. The first issue is a November cover date and closes [for advertising] September 5th. If you have any questions about GameNOW please call me or Associate Publisher Suzie Reider at [omitted] for quick answers.
As Strang wrote, GameNOW’s focus was entirely on the games themselves — whether large-scale previews, surprisingly big reviews (more text-heavy than most mags by that time), and features devoted less to game-industry bigwigs and more to lavish screenshot blowouts, neat features in upcoming games, and so forth.
The magazine was aimed at the reader base GamePro traditionally dominated, and its layout and design was arguably far more streamlined and eye-pleasing than GamePro’s at that point, with nicer illustrations, a streamlined look, and something interesting to read on each page, including the cheats lists. However, GameNOW was never successful — not because of GamePro’s presence, but because the demographics of game magazine readers changed dramatically, skewing significantly older with the PlayStation 2′s widespread acceptance and the unexpectedly subdued presence of Nintendo’s GameCube in the marketplace.
GameNOW’s final issue came in 2004, but the writing was on the wall for most of late 2003 as circulation numbers dropped to a low of 80,000 — very low by U.S. game magazine standards. Most of the staff quickly took jobs at other Ziff Davis magazines or industry companies.