Future publishing have just released the 200th issue of my favourite magazine in the world and to celebrate have published 200 different versions. Although the content of each Edge is the same, each cover is unique. As the magazine costs £4.50 ($6.20), it would be expensive to collect them all but it would also be extremely difficult due to their relative scarcity. Edge has a circulation of about 35,000 but let’s say that this month they will produce 40,000 copies. This means that there will only be 200 copies of each edition and I found out today that each store only gets one version of the cover. I’ve accepted that there is very little chance that I will be able to collect them all, but nevertheless I would like to get a few.
Let me explain why I think Edge is the best gaming publication (apart from this magazine course!) and the only magazine I would ever be compelled to collect.
Edge always looks the part; from its famous front covers all the way to the back page ‘next month’ image. The cover artwork is consistently stunning and refreshingly uncluttered compared to other magazines, usually featuring minimal text and avoiding misleading attention-grabbing headlines. The aforementioned ‘next month’ artwork is a stylish hint to the content of the following issue, such as pre-E3’s cryptic triple E graphic. The magazine also seems to be picky about its adverts, which are usually of an unobtrusive nature and the majority of which are job-related.
Many label it as pretentious, and they may well have substance to their argument. Nonetheless, I personally like Edge’s snooty anonymity and feel more assured in the assumed collective opinion of Edge staff than I would a single reviewer or editorialist. No staff are ever credited with any of the content apart from the guest columns and other one-off articles, in which industry names like N’Gai Croal regularly provide quality insight rarely seen outside of the magazine (or every week in The Passive Interactive). The features are well-funded and unique, and the writing never feels ‘filled’. Some monthly favourites of mine include the passage on Japan, soundbytes from the industry, the self-loathing continue/quit, the hype column and the webgame of the month.
As well as being branded as pompous, Edge is also often criticised for is perceived harshness in reviews. Their review scores are undoubtedly lower than most other publications; recent examples include a Killzone 2 7, a COD: World at War 6, a Mirror’s Edge 5, a Resistance 2 6 and a Prince of Persia 5. The magazine itself only awards scores begrudgingly and uses the following key that it prints alongside for interpreting the numbers 1 = one, 2 = two, 3 = three etc. They are very much aware that once printed, a score is for life. With this in mind, Edge has only awarded seven 10’s in sixteen years, less than every two years on average; only of two of which I disagree with (Halo 3 and GTA IV). Edge’s reviews have stood the test of time and they have never been fooled by shiny early new-gen releases, a trap that conned over-zealous reviewers into rewarding disproportionately high scores to Luigi’s Mansion, Perfect Dark Zero and COD2, among others.
Possibly its biggest flaw in some people’s eyes, Edge is written for well-read adults and insists on the reader having a fair degree of pre-existing industry knowledge in its mode of address. This is not to say non-gamers won’t enjoy the articles, though many gaming newbies will likely feel alienated by the lack of accessibility. Previews and editorials will also often omit huge chunks of information, assuming much of the audience knowledge and only focusing on issues that they perceive are not already self-evident. As mentioned before, the adverts and other content (University profiles, dev team features) are based around the industry itself, which for me adds yet another reason why Edge is the best print media about videogames.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that Edge offers that has cemented it as one of the most respected industry publications, although it is probable that most of the aspects I find so attractive are the very same factors contributing to other people’s dislike for it. By the way, so far I have nine different issue 200s and am hoping to get to 20 before I realise what a dick I am.