Hardcore Gamer is a monthly magazine devoted to the entire spectrum of video games, including consoles, PCs, mobile phones, arcades, and retrogaming. As the title suggests, it is written for dedicated gamers, and much of its design sensibilities (as well as its main staff) come directly from Diehard GameFan.
HCG is unique among “first-tier” game magazines in that a PDF version of every issue is available for free download on the magazine’s official site at the same time the print edition hits newsstands.
Several things came together at once to get Hardcore Gamer rolling in early 2005. First, Tim Lindquist (one of the original founders of Diehard GameFan) founded DoubleJump Publishing in 2003, an independent outfit devoted to the writing and distribution of strategy guides. Second, a number of ex-GameFan folk, including ex-writer Greg Off, left their positions in other parts of the industry. Finally, a large message-board thread on The Next Level devoted to GameFan nostalgia reunited a great deal of the staff and got many readers enthused about the idea of a GF revival.
After distributing a mockup online in early 2005, DoubleJump officially launched HCG with the June issue, and the title has continued relatively unchanged ever since. With Greg Off as editor-in-chief, old GameFan staffer Terry Wolfinger as art designer, and a wealth of dedicated gamers writing the brunt of the text, HCG is similar both in style and voice to the old GameFan, complete with the occasional appearance of Off’s old Monitaur character. Layouts are generally very busy, and there is very little of the off-beat sidebars and other distractions prevalent in most other game mags, giving the impression that every issue is stuffed to the gills with game info.
In addition to straight-up reviews and previews, every issue has sections devoted to fan art, cosplay, and some form of retrogaming. HCG is also the only game mag in the US to offer regular, non-advertorial coverage of mobile-phone games, something that other publications have historically chafed at.
Although undoubtedly the most obscure national game magazine in the US, a new distribution deal inked in the spring of 2006 has allowed Hardcore Gamer to appear in far more newsstands than before, and the title has maintained a more-or-less steady publication frequency and advertising base. Official circulation figures are unavailable to the public, and the magazine is not ABC-audited.