Gamers of a certain age likely remember the days when their main fix of information about new and upcoming video games came in the form of the monthly Nintendo Power magazine that was delivered directly to their mailbox. That experience is set to become yet another relic of a past era, as Ars Technica has learned that Future Publishing is planning to stop publishing the magazine.
Nintendo Power is one of the longest-running game magazines in the country, having been published continuously since the summer of 1988, when it started as a bi-monthly outgrowth of the previous Nintendo Fun Club newsletter. Nintendo produced and distributed the magazine (with articles that were often just thinly veiled marketing copy) from 1989 through late 2007, when it started contracting the brand out for a more independent angle from tech-and-game-focused Future Publishing.
But our source says that Nintendo, which was always "difficult to work with," was uninterested in renewing that contract or in taking part in a number of digital initiatives that Future saw as necessary for the long-term health of the brand. He added that Nintendo doesn't seem interested in taking over direct control of the magazine again (Nintendo and Future representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story).
Nintendo Power editors and staffers were told of the magazine's impending shuttering last week, the source said, and are currently being transitioned to work on other Future properties, including GamesRadar and MacLife magazine. The move should not affect Future's other gaming magazines, which include official periodicals for the PlayStation and Xbox brands, as well as Best Buy's @Gamer.
It's unclear exactly how many more issues of Nintendo Power are planned after the recently published August issue (its 281st), or how current subscribers will be compensated. Nintendo Power enjoys a total monthly readership of 475,000, according to Future press materials.
Nintendo Power's shuttering comes during a time of continuing struggles for the US magazine industry, which saw overall circulation numbers decline 10 percent in the first half of 2012. Gamers have increasingly come to rely on online sources for more timely and less space-limited gaming coverage, leading the venerable GamePro magazine to stop publishing late last year after 23 years in print.
There is at least one bright spot in the world of printed game magazines. Game Informer rose to become the third most popular magazine in the country this year, with nearly 6 million subscribers that were mostly gained through its point-of-sale relationship with mega-retailer GameStop.