I noticed something called ‘PC Gamer Digital Beta’ was on Steams New Releases so I thought I’d give it a download and check out what it was. Kinda glad I did so as it’s been region-locked to North America for now…how bizzare as PC Gamer started as a British Magazine. At first I wondered if it was just a digital copy of the magazine as you can buy/subscribe to copies of that via PC gamers site; wouldn’t be the first e-book on Steam as you can buy Prima/Brady guides for a few games. Turns out this is a different thing entirely. PC Gamer Digital takes elements from the magazine including interviews with game developers, hints/tips/strategies for games and PC Gamer staff showing off varied gameplay styles and melds them into an interactive multimedia experience. This digital platform also allows for the addition of game trailers and interactivity from users in the form of comments and votes.
I liked the interactivity and the content, I browsed through all that was available and I got a Steam achievement for doing so (go me!). The beta for PC Gamer Digital consisted of six components:
- Devs in the Round (Q&A’s with developers from Paradox Interactive, Taleworlds Entertainment, Introversion Software and Uber Entertainment)
- Team Fortress 2 GameView Strategy Guide (Interactive 3D view of a TF2 map with best spots for Spies, bad sniping positions. Some of these have audio)
- Crysis 2 Three-Way! (Three PC Gamer members tackling a section of Crysis 2 each in a different way; stealth, box throwing and with a mounted weapon)
- Skyrim Trailer
- GFX Settings: Comparison – What’s That Option For? (Interactive slider over a screenshot controlling a few graphics settings such as anti-aliasing which illustrate the impact of higher graphics settings on games)
- Skyrim Concept Art Gallery (12 pan and scan concept art pictures from the game Skyrim with audio commentary by a member of PC Gamer)
I have to be honest; I haven’t bought a PC Gaming magazine since Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun was included on a demo disc. I often find myself puzzled why I’d spend money on a magazine when I can find that information online for free…you really can’t watch game trailers or live interviews on a magazine until digital paper replaces what we use today. PC Demo discs are a thing of the past since you can download so quickly these days. Technology evolved…but so too it seems has PC Gamer.
The main question is…what’s the price? If there is one, but ‘free beta’ suggests a paid release. I can get most of this content for free already via YouTube and gaming sites so im a little hesitant to purchase individual episodes or subscribe somehow. It’s possible that this will be free because this is ‘brought to you by Skyrim’. The Skyrim trailer and concept art make up 2/6 of the content for this episode and there’s a link to pre-order Skyrim on Steam so it’s not entirely out of the question that this will be free content supported by advertising. I certainly hope that this is the case as I enjoyed the experience but im not sure I’d pay for it.
Overall I think this is worth a peek if you’re into gaming and you’re interested in game development or wanting to pick up a few tips for games. My only gripe is that the interviews with developers uses a sound bed that I felt was too strong for the interview. This made it difficult to hear what was being said. Seeing as this is an interactive experience I’d appreciate the option to just turn the sound bed down, won’t take up too much space having the interview audio and backing music as separate audio tracks and it gives the user the option should they want it.
I found it a little strange that the most discussed game on this episode was Minecraft and the Three-Way was based on Crysis 2; Minecraft doesn’t look like it’ll be released on Steam for reasons relating to in-game stores and EA’s Crysis 2 was removed recently too.
PC Gamer Digital was brought up at PAX this year and they gave an overview of the project so check out the video below if you’d like to learn more. (Skip to 28:40)