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November 14, 2006

Official PlayStation Magazine, RIP

Oh, dear, looks like I'm out of a job:

Ziff Davis Game Group, the leading integrated media company focused on the video game sector, today announced that it will discontinue publication of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine after the January 2007 issue. The Game Group is laser-focused on continuing to expand its rapidly growing digital media presence and on further strengthening its multiplatform properties and powerful integrated network. As such, the Game Group has determined that Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, a property licensed from Sony Computer Entertainment America and limited to print, no longer fits its strategic vision.

For those of you who don't know, I've been writing DVD reviews for OPM since 2000, and also wrote music reviews and opinion columns too. It's actually been one of the longest writing gigs I've had, and a fun one, too; there are worse things than getting DVDs and music, you know? But if there's one thing that's true in writing, it's that no gig lasts forever. Six years is a mighty fine run as these things go.

Before you ask: I'm fine, thanks, both emotionally and financially. If there's one thing I keep telling people it's that a writer's path to happiness is multiple revenue streams, so that when one stream goes away -- as they inevitably do -- you have others in place to keep you from starvation, credit card juggling and landlord evasion. OPM is an important part of my income portfolio, to be sure, but I'm fortunate not to be hurting without it; turns out this crazy book-writing scheme I've got going is really beginning to pan out. I don't even have to give up writing DVD reviews, since I still have my DVD review gig at the Dayton Daily News. So, yes, I'll be looking for some work to replace the OPM income. But I have the luxury of not having to be frantic about it.

What I'll miss is working the OPM folks, who are all good eggs, and particularly working with Joe Rybicki, who is excellent fellow and a very good friend of mine -- I officiated his wedding, you know, and named a rather important character after him in The Last Colony. But I have reason to believe we'll stay pretty close even if he's no longer my editor, and I suspect that most of the OPM staffers will find their way into other sections of the Ziff-Davis magazine and Web site empire. This is one of those situations where I'm fairly sure almost everyone involved is going to land on their feet.

In any event, OPM was fun while it lasted. And the good news is, now I can take my sweet time in getting a PS3. I was worried I'd have to fight someone to get one sometime soon, and I really wasn't looking forward to that. A small blessing, this, to be sure. But I'll take it.

Posted by john at November 14, 2006 09:22 PM

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Dan | November 14, 2006 10:24 PM

That kind of sucks. After all, that always sounded like a fun gig, and something I'm sure you had gobs of fun doing. But, I'm glad you're not in any sort of financial crisis as a result and you are able to take it without too much stress.

Personally, if this frees up more time for your book writing, I think it's a very good thing. Just try not to crank them out faster than I can read them, okay?

John Scalzi | November 14, 2006 10:27 PM

Well, I don't know how quickly you can read!

PixelFish | November 14, 2006 10:28 PM

Awwww, verdammt. Sorry to hear you are losing that job.

Steve Buchheit | November 14, 2006 10:29 PM

Dan, more book writing time? Heck that means he has more time to play with us on his blog. :)

Joe Rybicki | November 14, 2006 10:53 PM

Aw man, I'm getting weepy over here. Again.

I highly recommend getting very publicly laid off to anyone who wants to know how much they're appreciated. There's really nothing quite like it. And I do mean that in a good way.

Thanks John.

Rachel | November 14, 2006 11:14 PM

Although I have no experience in gaining or losing jobs and probably have no business commenting, I wish you will. One good thing I can see in this situation is that your pride is still in tact. They didn’t fire you, they didn’t drop your column, they simply dropped the whole magazine, so it has absolutely nothing to do with you. So, that should be a plus.

At any rate, I’m sure you’ll find another fun writing job soon enough. Meanwhile, feel free to review away here! I know I’d be glad to read it.

JH | November 14, 2006 11:20 PM

Joe: They're not just letting you go, are they? Man, I remember when you wrote for EGM. You've been at Ziff, like, forever.

Joe Rybicki | November 15, 2006 12:24 AM

JH: Nearly ten and a half years now. As for the specifics, well, they haven't really been worked out yet. But I'll just say I'm not terribly worried.

Cameron | November 15, 2006 12:51 AM

You may have heard this idea before, but I thought I put it out there anyway.

Have you ever thought of pitching "Old Man's War" to Bungi or Microsoft as an idea for a video game?
I personally think if Bungi took the job it would out do Halo.


Chris | November 15, 2006 12:55 AM

I read the article a little earlier today. Shocked me a bit, because even though I don't read the magazine anymore, because OPM is how I found out about your books in the first place. Sad to see you go, OPM. I'll keep my massive demo disk collection in honor of your demise.

Ginny | November 15, 2006 01:12 AM

Consider a part-time career in radio; you're already used to working multiple jobs in order to cobble together a full-time salary, so you'll fit right in!

Aaron Haynes | November 15, 2006 06:04 AM

Ahh, that's a shame. Print gaming magazines have hung on a lot longer than I thought they would, considering the competition with websites that could pump out news and articles a lot faster than waiting for next month's issue. Stopped getting OPM when I realized I wasn't getting a chance to read them until I came home from college, often months after they came out. Hung on for a while anyway, cause it's a great magazine and I loved me some demo discs. I found the Whatever through it, and bought several games (including Ico) based on their recommendation.

Joe: Good luck in whatever comes next.

Steve Buchheit | November 15, 2006 07:49 AM

Having been laid-off/fired twice (left two other jobs before the lay-offs began), and having to hire/fire people in the past, I have sympathy with anybody who has gone through the process. And anybody looking for a job in this market I wish all the best of luck.

That being said, how does one clear out their desk from a work at home job? Sclazi, I hope you snarfed enough paper and pens before the big let-go. And did they send local police or actual office security to walk you out of the house?

Shawn Struck | November 15, 2006 07:50 AM

That still is a real shame; I had a subscription to OPM for the longest time, and looked forward to the demo discs every month.

I mean OXBM didn't kill off its magazine after Xbox Live; heck, I think they even provided lots of exclusive weeks before anyone else, like the Rainbox Six demo (my favorite OPM exclusive was the only official re-dub and translation of the previously Japan-only prologue to FFX-2).

I've heard some people say "Oh, Son'y's offering demos and content with its online service, you can just use that!" but not everyone has broadband, goshdarnit!

Ah well, I'll be said to see the mag go; I'm hoping the awesome talent contained in OPM will be able to jump on to other Ziff-Davis properties post-haste.

Shawn Struck | November 15, 2006 07:51 AM

Good Lord! Apologies for the excessive typos. That's what I get for posting before the caffiene kicks in.

John H | November 15, 2006 09:20 AM

Speaking of the insanity over PS3, I was at Circuit City last night picking up some movies and there was a line of about forty people camped outside - it doesn't go on sale until Friday...

Mark DF | November 15, 2006 12:22 PM

You officiated?

John Scalzi | November 15, 2006 12:35 PM

Yes. I'm an ordained minister. I've officiated a number of weddings.

Kizz | November 15, 2006 01:10 PM

An old teacher of mine, who was also the head of an Off Broadway theatre company, always taught us aspiring theatre founders, "I'd rather have a dollar from a thousand people than a thousand dollars from one person." Seems like you've learned his lesson and perhaps turned it into an art form.

Todd Stull | November 15, 2006 01:56 PM

Nooooooooooooooo! Is there any way to see your DVD reviews online? Have you considered writing and posting them for "Members Only" who would pay a fee each month, like $5?

I read a lot of reviews, and used to write reviews. Yours are the most succint and spot on I have ever read. They were the only reason I kept subscribing to OPM.

Sorry about your loss of income...but what about mine? ;)

John Scalzi | November 15, 2006 02:03 PM

We'll have to see, Todd. What I may do is put up an archive of the reviews I've written to date; that might be fun.

andrew | November 15, 2006 02:31 PM

I’m still stuck on the “officiating” thing (assuming at this point that you’re not making some incredibly dry joke). Would you mind talking about that a bit more? What denomination?

The reason I ask is that my girlfriend has taken a couple courses on officiating as part of the Humanist Association of Canada. It sounds like a fantastic sideline for her. Weddings are generally happy events (barring drunken fights and boring speeches…maybe that’s just my family); it’s been interesting discussing the HUAC approach to community engagement with her.

Andrew Lambdin-Abraham | November 15, 2006 03:14 PM

See, here I was tihnking you might get a demo version of the PS3.

Ginny | November 15, 2006 03:48 PM

I'm an ordained minister myself, having headed over to the Universal Life Church's website and filled out the little form. I've never officiated a wedding, but I could if I went to the local registrar's office and filled out some additional forms I think.

...however, I simply use that ordination when confronted with people who try to convert me to their particular brand of insanity; I simply (very politely) inform them that I'm a minister, and that actually shuts them up rather quickly. I think it's because they fear my trying to convert THEM.

Alienlove | November 19, 2006 06:08 PM

Okay, let me be the first to complain about OPM. I'm a two year subscriber to OPM, so as a canadian subscriber, that cost me about $70 a year. Then, when my scbscription was almost up (it ends "jan 07")... They renewed my subscription without asking, start sending me invoices telling me to pay them by December 12 (yes, I paid the bill), just so they could cancel the magazine? Why!? Apparently everyone has broadband internet(I don't), so no one need the magazine anymore. Hey, why don't you try downloading a demo with dial-up internet.
So I would like to know, do I get a hand job with the screwing over they just gave me?
Well, in the end, I'll miss John's DVD reviews, the Hideo Kojima interviews, and the PS2 demos. What about the rest of the magazine?Oh, you can burn that strait to hell, one page at a time. But, when I think about OPM (and I will),I'll remember the Tsuyoshi Tanaka interview (issue 87),"In America, the easeier to grasp or easier to understand controls rubbed the Anerican gamers the wrong way". So that's why Americans did't like Devil may cry?The controls were to easy to understand? THE funny thing is no one at OPM disagreed with him.

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