PC Gamer reviews are written by the magazine's editors and freelance writers, and rate games on a percent scale. In the US edition, no game has yet received a rating higher than 98% (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Half-Life 2, and Crysis), while the UK edition has never awarded more than 96% (Civilization II, Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and Quake II).
In the UK edition, the lowest numerical score was 2%, awarded to Big Brother 1. The sequel, Big Brother 2, was given an even lower score of N/A%, the review explaining they "put as much effort into reviewing it as they did in making the game". In the US edition, the lowest score awarded was 4%, given to Mad Dog McCree, unseating the previously lowest-rated game, Skydive!, given 5%.
There are two main editions of PC Gamer, a British version and an American version, both are published by Future Publishing. Founded in the United Kingdom in November 1993, the American sister version was launched a year later in June 1994.
There are also numerous local editions that mainly use the materials of one of the two editions, typically the British one, including a Malaysian and Russian edition. The Swedish edition, though rooted in its UK counterpart, has grown to be more independent, largely due to the immense popularity of PC games compared to console games in Sweden, and now produces most of its own material. An Australian edition was published monthly by Perth-based Conspiracy Publishing since August 1998, but it appears to have been discontinued in mid-late 2004.
Both American and British magazines are published thirteen times per year (twice in December), although there are sometimes variations.
Almost exclusively devoted to PC games, the magazine has a reputation for giving in-depth reviews.
The magazine originally shipped with an accompanying floppy disk. A CD demo disc (labelled CD Gamer) was released alongside the floppy disk edition from issue 11 onwards with the first CD Gamer containing all the content from the previous 10 issues' floppy disks. The single CD was later expanded to two CDs.
An edition with a 9 GB DVD known as DVD Gamer ran alongside the 2CD edition for a couple of years, until production of the CD Gamer edition ceased as of issue 162. The UK Edition now only comes with a single double-sided DVD.
The PC Gamer blog was started to coincide with the transfer of the PC Gamer UK site to become part of the Computer and Video Games network which incorporates all of Future Publishing's gaming magazines. The move brought some controversy, with many long standing members of the forum leaving due to the new forum's cramped spacing, advertising and slow loading times. The introduction of a blog was seen as one of the redeeming features of the switch. The blog has since been regularly updated with contributions from many of the magazine's staff. The topics discussed range from the controversy over violent video games, to the benefits of buying a PC over a console.
The PC Gamer UK podcast was started on the 4 May 2007. It is hosted by Ross Atherton with regulars Tim Edwards and Tom Francis contributing. There is a fourth spot filled by one of John Walker, Kieron Gillen, Craig Pearson, Quintin Smith, Jon Hicks or Jim Rossignol. It is normally released a week before the release of the magazine each month, and can usually be found on the magazine's DVD in the "resources" section. The podcast starts with the PC game charts and goes on to discuss features in the current issue and gaming news. There is a running joke revolving around word play of the The Sims 2: Seasons, which was consistently in the charts, with questions being posed such as: "What is your favourite season?", or "What is your favourite seasoning?". However, since The Sims 2: Seasons moved out of the charts, the joke has stopped, but Tim Edwards joked "What's your favourite Bon-bon?" to coincide with the The Sims 2: Bon Voyage being released and taking the number one spot in the Charts. With each new expansion pack in the charts, there is generally another pun based around the name.
In 1999, Future publishing, then known as Imagine media, purchased rival magazine PC Games and merged its staff into the magazine.
According to a 2005 study, subscribers to the magazine are overwhelmingly male (97%), and make up over two thirds of the magazine's readership.
Similarly to the British edition, the magazine ships with a demo disk, though diskless versions are available. The CDs are replaced by DVDs in the American edition on a month-to-month basis.
When PC games with full motion video (FMV) sequences were popular in the mid-to-late 1990s, PC Gamer's CD-ROM included elaborate FMV sequences featuring one of their editors. To access the features of the CD, including the demos, patches and reviews, the user had to navigate a 'basement', which played very much like classic PC games such as Myst. It was in this game sequence that the magazine's mascot, Coconut Monkey, was introduced just as the editor was leaving the magazine, marking the transition from the FMV demo CDs to the more contemporary menu driven demo CDs that they use today.
Coconut Monkey is the mascot for the US edition. He was created by founding editor Matt Firme, and modeled after a Bermudan tourist trinket. Coconut Monkey appears in the pages of the magazine, and has occasionally provided commentary on demo discs included with the magazine. The Coconut Monkey appears in a number of game mods.
The Coconut Monkey is often used to parody vaporware by advertising the unreleased game Gravy Trader, which has been given a 101% score on some of the review disks. The character would often cite that he would do "something" (dependent on the train of thought), but use the excuse "but I have no hands" as a reason for not doing it.
The PC Gamer US podcast started in August 2005, and is hosted variously by attendance, and produced by Andy Bauman. Regular contributors include Logan Decker, Dan Stapleton, Gary Whitta, Kristen Salvatore and Evan Lahti. Former contributors include Dan Morris, Jeremy Williams, Greg Vederman, Chuck Osbourne and Norman Chan. It is generally released weekly on Thursdays, but is subject to change when the group is too busy or forgets. The podcast celebrated its 100th episode on 20 September 2007, and was hosted by Dan Morris, who had not appeared since he left the position of EIC of PC Gamer in 2006 to become the magazine's publisher.
A video podcast is also produced and features game developers discussing their newly or soon to be released games, as well as other notable figures in the gaming world. It is produced on a semi-regular basis.
To date, three episodes have included a gaming-themed quiz show. Introduced in episode 81 by Logan Decker, the segment is named Catfantastic after the book series of the same name. Logan, however, announced on Catfantastic II that the quiz show would be discontinued because "after two good things, it gets boring." However, Logan hinted in later episodes that Catfantasic could return some day, and it did in episode 133.
As of episode 119, Andy Bauman has taken over as producer from Jeremy Williams, who accepted a job at Future US in South San Francisco. (While Jeremy will be working in the same office with the PC Gamer crew, his new responsibilities left him no time to continue on as podcast producer. He has hinted he may return as a contributor.) Andy lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.