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That time CVG ranked Spice Girls (PS1) higher than Tomb Raider 2, FF7, Goldeneye, or Dreamcast


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Computer & Video Games magazine. Issue 192. November 1997.

 

The Spice Girls cover.

 

I didn't buy it for Spice Girls, i bought it because I bought lots of magazines at that time and this was my favourite era of CVG. I think I probably bought it for the Final Fantasy 7 review, despite the cringe of taking it to the checkout.

 

So let's discuss it. What was Paul Davies thinking?

 

I know Spice Girls was a big thing. The biggest thing. But not for teenagers like myself for played games. My demographic was more into Prodigy, Nirvana, Iron Maiden, or maybe Oasis / Blur (remember that rivalry?).

 

That specific issue had the following big ticket items:

* Final Fantasy 7 review

* Castlevania: Symphony of the Night review

* Goldeneye review

* Exclusive Tomb Raider 2 preview

* Blade Runner preview

* Resident Evil 2 preview

* Burning Rangers preview

* Sega Dreamcast first look

* Tokyo Game Show coverage

 

Plus other items that could have made a decent cover (Time Crisis, maybe?). Either way, that month there was a gluttony of high-scoring games which were internationally recognised as fantastic and would have sold issues.

 

So what do they put on the cover?

 

The Spice Girls. For some crap four page preview. For an utterly crap title.

 

I've since sold my magazine collection, and this went for £15 to a collector of Spice Girls memorabilia. So in hindsight the decision made me money. But I still have to ponder what were they thinking?

 

Did they hope that young girls would buy the mag on a whim, and regular readers would just look inside and buy it anyway because of stuff like FF7? Because that's technically what I did.

 

Would it have boosted sales? Or would it have discouraged young men from taking it to the counter? (Like I almost didn't.)

 

Or did the publisher basically pay them loads and loads of cash to forcibly make it the cover item? Because I'd guess the Spice Girls PR agency had deep pockets for that sort of thing.

 

I find this fascinating because of all the things CVG could have put on the cover, they put the one thing which I would never, ever have considered a good idea.

 

I dunno. Maybe it sold shed loads as a result.

 

Peruse the contents and see what you think.

 

 

CVG_SpiceGirls1.JPG

CVG_SpiceGirls2.JPG

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There was another issue where they had another female singer on the cover and an interview with her. Im guessing they were trying to angle the magazine at a more lifestyle type of audience as wasn't this refresh because the magazine was in a bit of a bad spot before? Or maybe it was the refresh after this, either way i too loved this era of the magazine but there was some odd stuff at times.

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I started college in 1996 and I remember on the week one of their stupid songs came out every cool lad with the shades and sports cars were all playing Spice Girls music. Made me laugh it was that ridiculous. Teen lads were for it in droves and that gumf sold mags.

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One vote for rebranding the style of coverage to sell more.

 

One says it appealed directly to that core male readership and sold more.

 

And one says they were just paid by the publisher.

 

I can believe all three, gentlemen. :sherlock: 

 

And yet, I still cannot believe it happened given the bumper crop of content that month. Seriously, I used to buy mags just because they promised FF7 coverage. It was madness.

 

When I worked in mags we'd run covers bought by publishers. Well not "bought" - but the company would kindly offer to pay any extra costs for things like foil covers, a 5th colour ink (beyond the standard CMYK), or a guest artist. Fold-out covers. Bonus stuff like that. See, that wouldn't be "bribery" or "buying advertising", it was cost sharing. And if the money they gave to cover the extra cost of something is more than the actual cost, well, that's just fine. :eyebrows:

 

 

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If I recall, it ended up receiving poor to average review scores but still hung around in the charts for a weirdly long time. The game was just one part of a pop culture hype wave generated by the Spice Girls, so I can’t really blame the suits for thinking that it would be worth putting on the cover.

 

I wasn’t reading CV&G at the time, but I’m sure they weren’t alone in covering the game. Meanwhile… well, in November ‘97 I was probably getting out of my “dance pop” phase and into my “Wipeout” phase (Leftfield, FSOL, Prodigy) so the Spice Girls were just that other thing over there that everyone listened to…

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100% there was a publisher deal in place. Maybe not direct 'here is money for a cover and a preview', but at the very least an ads bundle - 'we'll pay £x more if we can get these ads along with mag covers' sort of thing.

 

I'd also be entirely unsurprised if the editorial team was against it on principle, but just did it because it's the bloody job and sometimes you do have to put garbage on the front cover to bring a bit of money in and let the mag survive a bit longer even if it does mean putting Darksiders II or Castlevania Lords of Shadow or Resi Operation Raccoon City in prime position... wait I went from general to personal.

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Surely the published was just paid a pile of cash to stick it on the cover and give it a good review? What score did Goldeneye get Vs spice girls?

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4 hours ago, ianinthefuture said:

100% there was a publisher deal in place. Maybe not direct 'here is money for a cover and a preview', but at the very least an ads bundle - 'we'll pay £x more if we can get these ads along with mag covers' sort of thing.

 

I'd also be entirely unsurprised if the editorial team was against it on principle, but just did it because it's the bloody job and sometimes you do have to put garbage on the front cover to bring a bit of money in and let the mag survive a bit longer even if it does mean putting Darksiders II or Castlevania Lords of Shadow or Resi Operation Raccoon City in prime position... wait I went from general to personal.

Oh I see you've already said this! I agree!

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4 hours ago, ianinthefuture said:

100% there was a publisher deal in place. Maybe not direct 'here is money for a cover and a preview', but at the very least an ads bundle - 'we'll pay £x more if we can get these ads along with mag covers' sort of thing.

 

I'd also be entirely unsurprised if the editorial team was against it on principle, but just did it because it's the bloody job and sometimes you do have to put garbage on the front cover to bring a bit of money in and let the mag survive a bit longer even if it does mean putting Darksiders II or Castlevania Lords of Shadow or Resi Operation Raccoon City in prime position... wait I went from general to personal.

 

* frantically flips back through Wireframe covers *

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8 hours ago, Ketchup said:

There was another issue where they had another female singer on the cover and an interview with her. Im guessing they were trying to angle the magazine at a more lifestyle type of audience as wasn't this refresh because the magazine was in a bit of a bad spot before? Or maybe it was the refresh after this, either way i too loved this era of the magazine but there was some odd stuff at times.

 

That was the lovely Louise Nurding/Redknapp and featured her playing Parappa the Rapper. Good times!

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Stephen Fry was in SpiceWorld the Movie and on his RHLSTP he was asked why he agreed to it.  Apparently if you have kids, grandkids, neices etc, the opportunity to meet the Spice Girls and get stuff signed was worth way more than any money. I'd imagine the CVG team got to meet them or get tickets or something. 

 

I remember at the time, the marketing push was ludicrous.  They hadn't done anything like that for PlayStation before and it was almost a proof of concept.  Advertise it in the kids comics and teen girl magazines, price it at £20 so it's affordable and try to bring PlayStation to the kids who don't have an interest in gaming.  It was marketed in store with special displays.  But I don't remember if it was even a game or what. I'll check the video above out.

 

 

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Dreadful era of Lads Mags etc, I guess it's no great surprise. You do have to remember what a massive cultural impact the Spice Girls had, but yeah - very likely it was financial. 

My uncle bought me the "Wannabe" CD single for my 15th birthday. In those days I was into Orbital, Chemical Brothers etc. Thanks, Uncle Andy! They really were all pervasive, and to be fair I definitely had the hots for Posh.

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7 hours ago, dumpster said:

Stephen Fry was in SpiceWorld the Movie and on his RHLSTP he was asked why he agreed to it.  Apparently if you have kids, grandkids, neices etc, the opportunity to meet the Spice Girls and get stuff signed was worth way more than any money. I'd imagine the CVG team got to meet them or get tickets or something. 

 

I remember at the time, the marketing push was ludicrous.  They hadn't done anything like that for PlayStation before and it was almost a proof of concept.  Advertise it in the kids comics and teen girl magazines, price it at £20 so it's affordable and try to bring PlayStation to the kids who don't have an interest in gaming.  It was marketed in store with special displays.  But I don't remember if it was even a game or what. I'll check the video above out.

 

 

 

In all honesty it's the kind of thing that'd be a promotional website with today's technology. Lots of little mini timewasters.  It's not a bad package for what it is.  But it is what it is.

 

Much like the movie of course, which also knew damn well what it was.

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I remember Your Sinclair in the final years as the old Speccy circled the plughole and it was getting hard to fill the pages, suddenly grew a kind of lifestyle section full of skateboarding and shit. It looked very much like the editor had been seconded to YS and had zero interest in Spectrums, but a lot of interest in skateboarding and shit so decided to turn the magazine into something he wanted instead. In the editorial he even said something along the lines of "hope you like the new section, with this maybe the mag can continue after the Spectrum is gone!" Even my tender young mind knew this was fucking delusional.

 

The next month or two the new section was gone. I can only imagine he got the absolute roasting of his life.

 

Anyone remember that?

 

EDIT: Scanned through some issues online and it was worse than I remember - 5 odd pages of love advice(!), film and confectionery reviews all in YS's trademark keeerrraaazzzyy style. Obviously received like a turd in the swimming pool.

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Dear god that took some finding.

 

Issue 77, Andy Hutch, who had been around a few months...

 

image.thumb.png.10a9c59509fb9fdf51fee7f04d314fea.png

 

It goes on for 5 pages of which this is clearly the worst

image.thumb.png.1ddc47640cd1e7907023b8702d34591a.png

 

It disappears, never to be mentioned again the next month and the ed was gone after 79.

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18 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

Awful era for C&VG imo.

 

I don't know about 1997, but I first started reading it in 1998, and that's what I remember as the magazine's golden era: Ed Lomas, Freeplay, Drawinz Wot U Dun, Saint & Keysie...

 

Then in mid 1999 they did the redesign to a squarer format with a flap cover, which lost Freeplay and reduced the amount of text in the magazine. :(

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Anyone else remember that period when Maxim magazine suddenly became really well written and funny for about a year? I think I read it on here, you could get a years sub for a tenner.

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18 hours ago, Lorfarius said:

Lordy...

 

 

I did some of the QA on that and can genuinely not remember how it actually plays. Even watching that video is a mystery. 

 

On the bright side, my name isn't in the credits. There was a phase where everyone who had anything to do with it got their names in the credits (which is why I'm in the credits for Gran Turismo and FFVII, for example), but some of the producers would put their foot down and only put management and lead testers in. So I don't need to own a copy in my quest to have every game where my name is in the credits.

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14 hours ago, bplus said:

Surely the published was just paid a pile of cash to stick it on the cover and give it a good review? What score did Goldeneye get Vs spice girls?

 

Spice Girls was just a four page preview, the first page of which was the five of them in pyjamas/lingerie. The next three tried to preview the "game". Goldeneye got 5/5 if I recall. SOTN definitely got 5/5, since I recall at the time loving it, and noticing how mags either loved and gave full marks, or were slightly afraid of praising a 2D game in the era of 3D and so gave it "safer" low average scores.

 

Apart from a few missteps like this, I quite liked this era. As someone else mentioned, this was the Paul Davies, Ed Lomas, and Alex Huhtalla era. I'd say Paul Davies was probably one of my favourite magazine editors from the 1990s. The cover here was bad, but the content, the reviews, the humour, the news, was all consistently decent through various issues.

 

Here's the pages if anyone wants to perv over read them.

https://archive.org/details/Computer_and_Video_Games_Issue_192_1997-11_EMAP_Images_GB/page/n15/mode/2up

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8 minutes ago, ScouserInExile said:

I did some of the QA on that and can genuinely not remember how it actually plays. Even watching that video is a mystery. 

 

On the bright side, my name isn't in the credits. There was a phase where everyone who had anything to do with it got their names in the credits (which is why I'm in the credits for Gran Turismo and FFVII, for example), but some of the producers would put their foot down and only put management and lead testers in. So I don't need to own a copy in my quest to have every game where my name is in the credits.

 

That's pretty cool. Were you a tester on FFVII at SCEE?

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