GameNOW (occasionally abbreviated to GN) was a United States-based video game magazine that was published by Ziff-Davis from November 2001 to January 2004. A total of 27 issues were published. In addition to video game consoles like PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance, GameNOW also covered games for personal computers.
GameNOW's roots began in July 1994 when the popular magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly launched a spin-off magazine called EGM2. EGM² was essentially "another EGM," only without a reviews section and a greater emphasis on import games.
Starting in August 1998, EGM² became Expert Gamer (often abbreviated to XG), and the magazine's focus shifted away from news and previews to strategy and tricks. Despite the different name, XG continued EGM²'s numbering system. XG lasted for 39 issues until October 2001 (with the last issue being XG #88).
The next month (November 2001), XG was replaced by GameNOW. Although GameNOW maintained a healthy tricks section and occasional strategy guides, the magazine's focus shifted to in-depth previews and reviews. Targeted to a younger audience than that of EGM (16 year-olds, while also appealing to 10-15 year-olds), GameNOW concentrated less on industry insider-type features and more on the actual video games, including numerous large screenshots and elaborate feature articles.
In November 2002 (issue #13), the GameNOW staff was almost completely replaced when Ziff-Davis moved its video game magazines from the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois to San Francisco, California. Of the original staff, only two writers made the move to California. Shortly after the move, the magazine underwent a massive redesign.
The magazine's original editorial staff consisted of the following crew:
Once the magazine was relocated to San Francisco, the staff consisted of:
GameNOW #16 (February 2003) featured the return of the EGM review ninja, Sushi-X. An expert on fighting games, an actual photo of Sushi never appeared in the magazine. Instead, he was always shown as a pixelized, 16-bit era sprite. Even in this form, he still featured his trademark red keikogi, katana, and sai.
Sushi's reviews differed from the other editors' reviews in that they were written with more flowery prose and were peppered with references to his ninja training and his quest for enlightenment.
Like most magazines, GameNOW features many recurring sections. These included:
When GameNOW began, Fan Club was the name of the letters section that ran in the back of the magazine. Starting with issue #4 (February 2002), the Fan Club section was expanded to include regular (and often humorous) mini-features in addition to the reader mail.
In issue #14 (December 2002), the letters section was moved to the front of the magazine and renamed Rants & Raves. The mini-features were retained in the now expanded Fan Club section in the back of the magazine.
Among the regular mini-features were:
It's a tradition among Ziff-Davis' video game magazines (particularly Electronic Gaming Monthly), to plant an April Fools joke in the April issue. During its brief history, GameNOW only had one April Fool's joke.
In issue #6 (April 2002), on page 42, there was a one-page preview for an Xbox game called Metal Gear Solid X. Before Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance was announced for either PlayStation 2 or Xbox, GameNOW ran this preview for the fake game. MGSX was said to be an Xbox port of the PlayStation 2 game, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The biggest selling point of this game was that after playing through the game once, a bonus mode was unlocked, allowing a play through the game again as the series' main hero, Solid Snake, instead of MGS2's hero, Raiden.
Additionally, extra features in the Solid Snake mode included the return of Nastasha Romanenko (from the original Metal Gear Solid), a boss fight against Revolver Ocelot, the chance to assist Raiden in battles from the first play-through (this time from Snake's point of view), and access to previously locked areas of Big Shell.
The preview featured seven very convincing (yet phony) screenshots of the new features. The two screenshots that show Snake wandering through a red office building were photographs of the GameNOW offices that had their colors altered and the Metal Gear characters inserted into them. In the first-person screenshot that shows Snake in a helicopter shooting down at a Harrier jet, the hand holding the gun belongs to Mike Vallas, the man who created the fake screens.