Iconic Issues is a new series we're running which takes a look back at classic magazines from the past. We're kicking things off with the first issue of a publication which is still in print today...
It's difficult to communicate the impact that the first issue of EDGE magazine had on the world of UK game journalism back in 1993. While it certainly wasn't the first magazine to take aim at more mature readers – ACE had arguably done that a few years previously, and many of the early '80s home computer magazines had been written with adults in mind, rather than children – but, coming off the back of a period of time where most publications were gunning squarely for the 'teen-and-below' crowd, EDGE felt astonishingly grown-up.
From its opening page (which famously proclaimed that "we know who you are") to its multi-page features, bespoke monochrome photography and densely packed review section, EDGE meant business. Its news section focused not just on the latest games but on the multi-million dollar business that generated them; the opening story sets its sights on Commodore and Atari's latest hardware ventures, the ill-fated Amiga CD32 and the equally doomed Jaguar.
Elsewhere, another new challenger is profiled, with Trip Hawkin's 3DO Interactive Multiplayer put under the microscope in a huge 11-page feature. Psygnosis' CD-ROM darling Microcosm – which was the issue's cover star – also gets an in-depth piece, complete with moody black-and-white photos of the development team, taken especially for EDGE. This really was a new age of game journalism, and nothing would be the same again.
The reviews portion of the magazine tried to do something different, too; each game would get a small review – usually a half-page – and then, later on, would be given additional pages for an in-depth look and loads of screenshots. It didn't quite work, and EDGE would revert to a more traditional approach for later issues. (This was also the magazine that infamously awarded Gunstar Heroes six out of ten, an oversight that we seem to recall its editorial team owning up to many years down the line.)
EDGE, of course, endures to this very day – a truly remarkable achievement when you consider the fact that the internet has massively reduced the viability of printed media, at least in relation to video games.
The EDGE of 2023 is, of course, massively different from its 1993 counterpart, but that only goes to prove how much the industry has changed over the years (issue one featured a sci-fi soundbite from Jez San which asserted that "direct broadcast games" would become the norm in the near future. Pfft. Who would believe that).