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First Issue of PC PowerPlay (May 1996)
|Frequency||Bi-monthly (7 times yearly)|
|Publisher||Next Publishing Pty Ltd|
|First issue||May 1996|
|Company||Next Media Pty Ltd|
PC PowerPlay (PCPP) is Australia's only dedicated PC games magazine. Also available in New Zealand, PC PowerPlay focuses on news and reviews for upcoming and newly released games on the Microsoft Windows platform. The magazine also reviews computer hardware for use on gaming computers. The magazine is published by Next Media Pty Limited.
The magazine comes with a DVD which includes game demos, freeware games, animes, teaser trailers, patches, mods, maps, utilities and computer wallpapers.
A CD version was also available until September 2005 where it was replaced by a DVD edition.
(Although for a brief time, both editions existed while gamers made the transition from one technology to the next.)
The main sections included in each month's magazine include:
- Inbox: Letters to the editor and Snippets (A small section where a sentence of a writer's letter is used in a comical fashion. Currently snippets have been removed from the section.)
- The Big Picture: A double-page screenshot of the game featured as the cover story. This is followed by the cover story itself (usually a preview of a major upcoming game).
- Extended Memory: An opinion piece reflecting on the state of games today in relation to older, obsolete games and genres.
- Jam:. James Cottee discusses issues of a general gaming nature. This section was previously titled "Out to Play".
- Generation XX: Meghann O'Neill provided a look at gaming from a female perspective.
- 10 To Watch: Originally named "Incoming". A round-up of ten major soon to be released games.
- PCPP Interview: An interview with a well known indie games developer. Topics include their inspirations and influences that shaped their developed games.
- Reviews: A section where games are reviewed and given a rating out of 10, based on graphics, sound, gameplay, replayability, etc.
- MyPC: A reader submits a picture of their computer, along with its specifications, recent upgrades, and other information. (The magazine points out 10 humorous points within the photo, and usually provides the reader with a prize.)
- Hotware: Includes commercial products, some computer related, others not, which the reader may find interesting. (Usually, there is at least one product that costs a substantial amount of money.)
- Tech: A selection of the latest technology is reviewed and discussed. This has expanded substantially after the removal of other tech columns like "ReShuffle".
- The Beast: A list of components needed to build an incredibly powerful gaming PC costing extravagant amounts of money. (The descriptions of the components used has extended significantly after the removal of the "Beastie" column.)
- The Menagerie: Consists of three computer builds with different budgets in mind. The hardware included in this section is usually low to mid range in ability, strictly following a "bang for buck" ideal.
- State of Play: Includes four parts, discussing the characteristics and recent changes occurring in four different genres of gaming: MMOs, RPGs, RTS', and Indies.
- Next Month: A whole page of games' artwork with the date of the next issue's publication date shown below.
A number of notable sections that used to appear in the magazine included:
- Number Crunching: A page of (often humorous) computer or game related statistics.
- Tutorials: A lengthy article describing in relatively simple terms how something can be done. (Usually starts with a paragraph or two why the change is good.)
- Briefing: An article which explains the history/use of a specific computer part.
- On the Discs: Usually a two-page description of the software (demo or free) on the CDs/DVD. (A short summary is given for each demo included.)
- Guerrilla Gamer: A fictional writer, "Guerrilla Gamer", using the image of Duke Nukem discusses a topic to which he usually has dislike towards.
- Dr. Claw: A parody of the online gaming/IRC community written in Leet speak from the perspective of an early teen gamer.
- Hack: A short lived comic about the antics of a PC games magazine writing team.
- Flotsam and Jetsam: A roundup of the all latest budget game releases that often gave the reviewers a chance to showcase their writing skills by denigrating some of the worse titles on the market.
- Reshuffle: A review of several Graphics Processing Units, where the frames per second and 3DMark points are stated along with a rating out of 10.
- POWERTEST: Powertest was where several hardware items were reviewed for their pros and cons and given a rating out of 10.
- The Beastie: The Beastie was a cheaper version of "The Beast" using mid-high range cost parts, which are chosen on a "bang for buck" basis. (It has been dropped in favour of an extended "Beast" system.)
- Bargain Bin: A selection of old games which were considered good for their time, usually available for under $20.
- The Vault/Flashback: This section of the magazine alternated between two types of retrospective examinations. "The Vault" looks at an older game (a decade old or more), where a key developer is interviewed and their thoughts are included on how the design process and the game's release went. (Examples include the original Doom, the original Ultima, and Commander Keen.) Meanwhile, "Flashback" is a more casual look at a similarly older game, usually approached in a style seen in the Playtest reviews. (Examples include The Last Express, Spycraft: The Great Game and Gabriel Knight.)
- Yellow Boots: An amusing last page where a non-computer related topic is discussed, from the point of view of a man with a pair of apparently sentient yellow boots, with these tales often involving the author's "Crazy Ex-third flatmate" Victor Ninox.
Each review of a game or product is given a score out of ten.
PC PowerPlay has given 10/10 scores to a number of games including:
A 10/10 game is connoted not as a perfect game but as a "masterpiece with flaws". (The 10/10 score system replaced the old system of 0% to 100%.)
PCPP once stated "What was the difference between a game which gets 95% and a game that gets 96%?". This was precisely what readers argued about.
Under the previous percentage system, only Wolfenstein 3D ever received 100% (that 100% converted to 10/10 when printed in review score summaries in later issues), while the next closest score ever given, 98%, was given to:
In addition to the magazine itself there are several websites that are closely linked with it.
The official PC PowerPlay website was launched in 2001, but was taken offline following the collapse of the online division of publishing company Next Media, then lay dormant until July 2006.
The current website includes features and news, but most traffic on the site goes to the PC PowerPlay forums. The forum database has been largely preserved across a number of technology migrations. It first began on a ColdFusion powered site in 2001, then moved to phpBB and was converted to vBulletin in 2007.
The forums provide an environment for the discussion of gaming and computer related software and technology. Within the forums there are also sections dedicated to general discussion and banter, serious discussions regarding Australian national, regional and international issues and a section for discussions of TV shows, films and music. This design also allows the organization of multiplayer games amongst the PCPP readers and other forum members.
The general discussion section of the PCPP Forum is titled "Rhubarb", because of editor Anthony Fordham's love of the old British joke of having extras in movie crowd scenes say "rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb" to simulate incidental conversation. (Which may or may not originate from the British short film "Rhubarb", the remake in 1980, or The Goon Show.)
A website re-launch occurred on 22 April 2009, consisting of a customized Joomla install and layout and featured regularly updated blogs, news and features. The site again entered a period of disuse shortly thereafter.
On Wednesday, 12 March 2010, the PCPP website and forum software was replaced with a CMS provided by CyberGamer. This software also powers the cybergamer.com.au website. PCPP is now listed as a "Media Partner" of CyberGamer whilst CyberGamer now receives advertising space within PCPP and PCPP's sister magazine, Hyper. A press release was issued on 18 March, detailing the arrangement between both parties. As part of this online merger, PCPP's established community were incorporated within the CyberGamer Network. The CyberGamer Network acts as a single-sign on service for all CyberGamer-powered sites. Hyper Magazine was due to migrate their web presence to a CyberGamer network powered system on 8 April 2010.
The transition to the CyberGamer forums have generally been considered to have been handled badly by many short and long term forum participants and it remains to be seen if the level of forum participation will return to its former heights.
On 12 August 2010, PC Powerplay's then-editor, Anthony Fordham, announced that the PCPP Forums would revert to the old vBulletin software, stating that the PC Powerplay community were not happy with the current CyberGamer software.
This conversion has stopped, as of January 2011, community support continues to dwindle.
CD-ROM version, DVD-ROM version and Disc-less version
Currently the magazine publishes two separate versions each issue.
One is a plain magazine, while the other more expensive version includes a double-sided DVD-ROM disc, totalling up to a possible 9.4 gigabytes of demos, mods and/or other content.
The magazine launched in 1996 with a 640 Megabyte CD-ROM cover disc, which was upgraded in 2000 to a double CD-ROM set.
The DVD-ROM edition joined the lineup in 2002 alongside the CD-ROM version for three years, the CD-ROM version finally ceased production in 2005.
The November 2005 edition included the first discless magazine at a little over half the price of the DVD-ROM version.
While sales were not spectacular, dropping the CD-ROM did slow the rate of decline of the non-DVD-ROM version of the magazine.
This saw subscriptions being offered for the disc-less version at half the sale price.
The Bunker was a section of the DVD-ROM originally compiled each month by "ROM", a respected member of the PCPP online community. However, following his retirement from the position (announced in issue #143), The Bunker undertook a drastic transformation and became the PCPP Community Bunker. Readers and members of the online community produced and were actively encouraged to submit to the section.
The Bunker was replaced in 2009 with a streamlined Applications and Utilities section.
PC PowerPlay has no direct competition in the Australian market (with no other dedicated Australian PC games magazines existing).
However, there is indirect competition from technology enthusiast magazine Atomic.
An Australian version of PC Gamer launched shortly after PC PowerPlay but was shut down in 1999 following a dispute between the publisher and printer.
Australian publishing company Derwent Howard launched a competitor called PC Games Addict in 2002, using some Australian content filled out by licensed content from PC Gamer in the UK and PC Format. The magazine ceased publication in 2005.
Target Audiences and Readership
PC Powerplay’s core target audience ranges from the ages of 14 to 34, with an approximate readership of 91,000.
In terms of online audiences, PC Powerplay boasts over 43,200 unique online users – of these, 17,421 are email subscribers.