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Game Developer magazine shuttering, Gamasutra evolving

Game Developer magazine will end its 19-year run covering the art, science and business of the gaming industry by July, according to an announcement on Gamasutra.

The magazine's final print issue, which will include event coverage of PAX Prime and GDC, will be the June/July issue. Digital distribution will also end, though content will be transitioned to Gamasutra's Game Developer on Gamasutra as a free service. Gamasutra will take over the publication's research aspects, such as the salary survey and gaming postmortems.

"We've made the decision to shift away from print as part of a wider strategy change in our parent company UBM Tech, which is simultaneously shifting other print publications either to digital only or to website-specific content, orienting them to help support our growing community-centric events such as Game Developers Conference," the post reads.

In a press release posted today, UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller said that traditional business to business journalism "has changed dramatically in recent years."

"A lot of what worked in the past is no longer viable," Paul Miller said. "UBM Tech is deploying a model that is truly relevant to today's technology professionals. It meets the needs of our communities with rich and authentic engagement opportunities and provides significant growth opportunities for customers and for our own business."

In response to whether Gamasutra will fill the vacuum left by GDM, Simon Carless, executive vice president of UBM tech and a former editor-in-chief of the magazine, told Polygon the website plans to give more space to writers from the game development community.

"It's a blend, and a good one in the end, we hope."

"If you look at what we've been doing on Gamasutra recently, we've been handing over a lot more of the front page to the game development community — and that's really what we're continuing to do," Carless said. "So we are hoping to transition some of our regular columnists to the Game Developer on Gamasutra section of the website, but obviously we'll have to talk to them about it first."

Carless added that the decision to shut down the magazine was more about the company's bigger strategic shift than a lack of support for journalism.

"We believe that Gamasutra does need journalists because there's absolutely breaking news and truths that need to be put out there," Carless said. "But GDC itself is a community-centric event, and we believe in giving the community a big chunk of the megaphone on Gamasutra. So a lot of our focus is moving towards community editors (as Christian Nutt is now), allowing smart people in game development to talk to their peers at our shows and websites. It's a blend, and a good one in the end, we hope.

"As an ex-EIC of the magazine myself, I'm also really heartbroken about the change. But we'll try our best to transition a lot of the legacy content of the magazine (a lot of which hasn't been available for free before) onto Gamasutra, for the whole community to read."

Frank Cifaldi, the news editor of Gamasutra, tweeted that due to the restructuring he is no longer at Gamasutra. Patrick Miller, the current editor-in-chief of the magazine, will be leaving after the last print edition hits. Patrick Miller told Polygon that he learned of the magazine's end yesterday, while production manager Dan Mallory was told this morning.

"Essentially, GDMag's job was to help everybody make better games, and I'm sad that we won't be able to do that for this new generation of developers."

"It feels pretty darn terrible to see the mag go," Patrick Miller said. "Personally, for the year and change that I was on GDMag, I told anyone who would listen how I couldn't imagine a better fit for me. Every day I got to talk to some of the best and brightest in the games biz and find out exactly how they made magic, and I am ultimately grateful that I had the chance to do it at all — if only for a year."

Patrick Miller added that from a professional standpoint, GDM served many roles in the industry. It allowed developers to share technical knowledge and technique and advocated for better practices. Industry trends were identified and analyzed, and the publication "served as a barometer" for the gaming industry's health, Miller said, citing their quality of life and salary surveys.

"We provided a venue for devs to speak frankly about the art and business of creating video games," Patrick Miller said. "Essentially, GDMag's job was to help everybody make better games, and I'm sad that we won't be able to do that for this new generation of developers. Gamasutra will do their best, and I have nothing but great things to say about their staff."

Patrick Miller added that his remaining time at the magazine will be spent finish the May, June/July and Annual Career Guide special issue.

"We're gonna make the June/July issue one to remember," Patrick Miller said.

Brandon Sheffield, former Editor-in-chief and an advisor and senior contributing editor, tweeted that he, too, was part of Gamasutra's cuts. Sheffield told Polygon that his contract end was part of a larger cut to the freelance budget made at the end of March.

"We could voice our opinions and be heard by the people that mattered most — the people that actually made games."

According to Sheffield, the staff had had "some hints and concerns" about the magazine's closing after a UBM executive publicly spoke about the company's plan to make strategic reductions in print.

"We figured Game Developer would be safe from that, because while it wasn't growing, it wasn't particularly contracting either, and staff was very lean (two full time employees, Patrick Miller and Dan Mallory, a part-time art director, and a part-time sales person)," Sheffield said. "Everything else was written by contributors and freelance. That's one thing not many people know about GDmag — it was basically done by two people and a bit, ever since around 2005. There were two harrowing months before I quit where I put the whole thing together by myself with the art director. We couldn't have made it much leaner."

While the announcement was something of a surprise to Sheffield, it was one he had already prepared for.

"As the longest serving Editor-in-chief of Game Developer, it's just sad to see it go away," Sheffield said. "It helped kickstart a lot of careers with the articles it contained, and I always tried to make sure it reflected the changes the industry was undergoing. Under Patrick [Miller]'s leadership they tried to include even more indie stuff, as the industry trends that way."

Sheffield added that it was "a great magazine ... beholden to almost no one."

"We were able to tell the truth about the industry, so much as we could find," Sheffield said. "We could voice our opinions and be heard by the people that mattered most — the people that actually made games. I never once had to bow to publisher pressure — a couple times we had articles completely cut because of their internal PR issues, but once an article was in our hands, we could strip out all the grandstanding and self-congratulations and have something that really spoke to how game development works.

"I don't know that there's a curated venue for things like that anymore. Gamasutra has it to some extent with its blogs, but it's not edited or laid out or juxtaposed against other themed content. I am hopeful that Gamasutra can take up the banner and run with it, but the magazine had a certain prestige, and I am sad to see it go."

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