is an American video game magazine
published monthly. The magazine was first established in Redwood City, California
in 1989 by Pat Ferrell, his sister-in-law Leeanne McDermott, and the husband-wife design team of Michael and Lynne Kavish.
Lacking a sound distribution strategy after publishing the first issue, the founding management team sought a major publisher and found one with IDG Peterborough, a New Hampshire-based division of the global giant IDG. Led by a merger and acquisition team comprising IDG Peterborough President Roger Murphy and two other IDG executives, Jim McBrian and Roger Strukhoff, the magazine quickly became a fast-growing success. 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.
Over the years, the GamePro offices have moved from San Mateo to San Francisco and Oakland before arriving at their current location in downtown San Francisco.
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 sister publication, GamePro.com.
GamePro was also known for is its ProTips, small pieces of gameplay advice used as screenshot captions. It also has a section known as Code Vault (formerly S.W.A.T.Pro), where secret codes are posted. These particular features have since gone the way of the personas, and slowly disappeared. Though, Codevault exists in print format, sold as a quarterly cheats and strategy magazine on newsstands only.
There was also a TV show called GamePro TV. The show was hosted by J. D. Roth and Brennan Howard. The show was short lived due to competition with a similar program entitled Video Power. 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 appeared in several international editions, including Germany, Turkey, Australia, Brazil, and Greece. Some of these publications share the U.S. content, while others share only the name and logo and generate original material.
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.
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.
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.
Under the new leadership of George Jones, GamePro magazine undergoes 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, GamePro.com community showcase, user contributions and insider news.
“Leveraging the strengths of the print platform to maximize the experience for the reader” - George Jones, editorial Director
Every April as an April Fools day prank, GamePro
prints a 2-5 page satirical spoof of their magazine named LamePro, whose title is a play on GamePro
's title. The spoof contains humorous prank game titles and fake news, similar to The Onion
. It seems that no one is safe from the LamePro satirical arm, even themselves. Many other game magazines have been the butt of the joke of LamePro.
LamePro, however, is not without its own controversy. While some game magazines have taken LamePro as a chance to laugh at themselves and each other, other have been very offended at the types of jokes that it prints. In 2000, a spoof ad in the satire made reference to a then newer (and short-lived) game magazine called "Incite: Videogames". 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 ad 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 wasn't the biggest concern 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, saying that they had no prior knowledge about the site existing before the issue had been released. It is apparent that the two sides had made peace, as no civil suits of any kind were filed (it is unclear if such was even being planned).
Lamepro has been seemily dropped altogether as of the April 2007 issue during the magazine redesign. No reason is currently given as to why the feature was dropped.
GamePro's main sections (as of April 2007)
- 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.
- Spawn Point: Front of magazine sections featuring First looks at new consumer electronics, DVD movie reviews and recommendations, Behind-the-scenes game news and insights, and Top game mods and tweaks. *Essentially the overhaul of what was formally known as Head2Head.
- 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.
- Features: Any cover stories or featured games/issues that warrant a separate article would be told here.
- Previews (formerly known 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 minscule 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.
- Reviews (known as "ProReviews"): The reviews format has changed over the years, but the basic format has stayed the same: One reviewer speaks for the entire GamePro group about a particular game. The magazine first started by giving each system its own section of reviews. Near the end of 2005, GamePro changed this to have one review for any game that would be released for more than one system, describing any differences one system may have over another with that particular game, and giving scores for both systems' versions of the game separately. During 2006, another aspect of the reviews debuted, called "Key Moment", in which the reviewer names one particuar instance or a stand out piece of the game to them that had made them make the decision they made in a short, one sentence description.
- Games To Go: Reviews and previews of games for portable game systems.
- Sports Pages: Previews and reviews of sports games. When this section first 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 "S.W.A.T.", then "S.W.A.T. Pro"): Game cheats, codes, 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 first debuted as SWAT and then SWATPro, the SWAT stood for "Secret Weapons And Tactics". This feature's name was changed in 2002 to Code Vault, 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 known 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 complains about issues with defective and malfunctioning games, peripherals, systems, and the like. Currently, GamePro is the only publication to feature such a column. Every once in a while, the column steers away from its usual formula to feature an issue that is 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 is 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 Gamepro.com as of the April 2007 redesign, and has seemingly been 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, now appears 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 nearing 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 videogames to fight off evil creatures taking over game after game called the Evil Darklings.
From the birth of the magazine until issue #230, the Gamepro staff went by monikers and never by their real names. When GamePro
began, the magazine only had a limited amount of editors on staff, but the small start-up wanted to give the illusion that they were bigger. Therefore, they created character names, and each writer generated articles under mulitple nicknames. The monikers caught on and became a tradition, one that's continued to this day. Many of the names, according to GamePro
, are a play on the personalities, interests, and/or past jobs that the real person behind the persona has, and the editors choose their own name (while some they have admitted to being just "bad puns," such as Miss Spell and Bad Hare). After the first few years, most editors picked one name they liked and stuck with it.
Once an editor left GamePro, the name was respectfully retired, although the magazine retained all copyrights to the character. The names were rarely if ever used again, unless that writer returned (as was the case with Boba Fatt and Manny LaMancha, both of whom contributed work as freelance writers after their original runs with the magazine).
Many editor names have came and gone. However, there have been many names in the magazine's bylines that many longtime readers remember. Some of these names:
- Bro Buzz (Wes Nihei, the long-time Editor in Chief left the company in 2007. )
- Jonny K
- Mr. Marbles
- Tenacious Moses
- Long-Haired Offender
- Fart of War--Shawn Elliot, left to work at Electronic Gaming Monthly, later moved to Computer Gaming World (Which became Games For Windows: The Official Magazine). Now a senior editor for 1UP.com.
- Rice Burner
- Scary Larry (probably the most popular editor in GamePro's history and also the best-known because of his outspoken nature in writing reviews. He left the magazine in 1999 to have more time with his family)
- Earth Angel
- Tommy Glide
- Air Hendrix
- Major Mike (formerly of EGM)
- D-Pad Destroyer
- Four-Eyed Dragon
- Johnny Ballgame (now runs IGN.com's sports site, and also worked with the now defunct Incite game magazine. He was responsible for both negative responses to the Lamepro parodies of both Incite and IGN at the time they were first published.)
- The Rookie (later changed his name to The Enforcer; also left to write for Incite in 1999)
- Dan Elektro (also wrote under Bad Hare; he revealed his dual identities in forum posting upon leaving the magazine in 2004.)
- Vicious Sid
- Miss Spell (reviewed games on occasion, but mostly worked in the magazine's design department)
- Boba Fatt (never worked at the magazine full-time, but was a contracted freelance writer for several years)
- Slasher Quan (one of the few GamePro editors to have his persona moved to a different magazine; he kept it when he moved to Diehard Gamefan; online editor Syriel also kept his moniker intact when moving to Hardcore Gamer magazine.)
- Star Dingo
- Dr. Mario (Parminder Ressan, formerly of "Game Informer" magazine)
- Dr. Dave (David Winstead, who went on to Capcom to work with James Goddard on the Street Fighter II arcade series.)
In 2006, GamePro.com received a revamp, and in turn, another tradition was seemly dropped: That editors would not reveal their true names, as the editor bio sections of GamePro.com may show the editor's true name (seemly in the event that an editor chooses). Also, both in the magazine (in the "Ask The Pros" sidebar of "Head-2-Head") and on the site, a picture of the editor is shown, albeit in an interpolated rotoscoping style, and some editors, such as Major Mike and Bro Buzz, have still kept secret their true identity. The Watch Dog's identity is also kept secret, probably due to the column he maintains, Buyer's Beware, and the backlash one might receive for writing the column and the scathing criticisms of game company's customer support that the column is known for publishing.
Also, in 1994 and 1995, a total of four people who won The Blockbuster Video World Game Championships got to write reviews under their own personas for GamePro; the 1994 winners got to write reviews for Super Punch-Out!! (Dark Mark and Fred Dread) and the 1995 winners got to write reviews for the Sega Saturn version of Virtua Fighter. The tournament went defunct after 1995.
On issue #230, the GamePro editors had relinquished this practice and had begun to use the real names of the editors in the bylines. This has come with mixed reviews. While some commend GamePro for finally making a crucial move to be more "grown-up" (many of the criticisms of the magazine stemmed from the personas), others have cited that GamePro had eliminated one of the key elements of the magazine that made it unique among gamers.
The personas are still somewhat active on the magazine's website for the last persona characters that were made prior to the change (called "GamerTags" on the site), mostly for their blogs and the forums.
Reviewed games are usually rated with 1.0 – 5.0 stars with fractions of 0.25. No game has ever received less than 1 star. Five graphical stars are shown, some hollow, some full filled, and sometimes one partially filled based on a fractional rating. These graphical stars are often accompanied by a cartoon gamer's head with an exaggerated expression based on the number of stars. Several games that have received 5 star ratings have subsequently featured the graphical stars with cartoon head on their boxes.