Although video games haven’t been around for that long in the grand scheme of things, enough time has passed for us to mourn aspects of the medium and surrounding culture that have simply faded into history. And not just specific classic games and hardware. Discs marked the end of blowing into cartridges. Remember making sure your parents weren’t on the phone when you wanted to play online? DLC and in-game purchases have pretty much killed cheat codes. And good luck renting a game through anything other than GameFly.
And now modern gaming is about to claim another victim. Prima Games is shutting down and with it the biggest source for printed video game strategy guides.
Video games are hard, especially in the early 1990s when Prima Games rose to prominence after forming in 1990. Remember, games had to be tough so they would feel artificially long enough to be worth buying. Nintendo could also get some money on the side offering phone lines where you could ask about Zelda puzzles or whatever. And for years the easiest way to conquer a game was to just crack open a big fat strategy guide. Solve puzzles, learn enemy weaknesses, see maps, you had it all. Strategy games were even a fun way to experience games you hadn’t played yet.
But all of that only works in a world without the internet. Like printed game magazines, printed strategy guides just can’t keep up with the speed and nimbleness of websites, especially since today’s gamers are Extremely Online. Some of the best consistent (if tedious) work you can get as a games writer is crafting strategy guides for a big website because readers go back to them again and again for a long time. Having a guide open as a tab is the new holding the guide open in your lap. Or why bother reading how to beat a level, interpreting a writer’s unclear prose, when you can just watch an entire walkthrough of YouTube.
Faced with this reality, Prima Games (which had already merged with rival Brady Games in 2015) announced that by Spring of 2019 it will stop making new strategy guides, both for new games and reprintings of guides for older games. Parent company Penguin Group will close the offices in Indianapolis and New York City. So put video game strategy guides on the ash heap along with napkins, non-avocado toast, love of capitalism and everything else killed by Millennials. In other news, you can read and watch all sorts of thorough online video game strategy guides on our sister site IGN.