In brief: It seems the web has replaced another traditional industry: physical strategy guides. Prima Games, which has been creating these hefty guide books for the last 28 years, is closing down in the spring of 2019.
As reported by Publisher’s Lunch, Ian Hudson, CEO of Prima publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK), said in an internal memo that it had reached the “extremely difficult decision” to no longer publish the strategy guides. The move comes after a “significant decline” in the video game guide sector. Having been around since 1990 and despite still lining the shelves of many game stores, it appears the long-predicted demised of these books has begun.
“During a year-long extensive review, many new ways were explored to diversify Prima Games publishing; however, the dynamics for us of this fast-paced landscape have continued to prove difficult. This enormously dedicated team has made every effort to turn the business around, but challenging market conditions have unfortunately worked against them,” said Hudson.
DK will shut down the Prima imprint in Spring next year, with offices in Roseville, CA, Indianapolis, IN, and New York, NY, all being shuttered.
It’s quite surprising that physical game guides have lasted for as long as they have; thanks to the internet, anyone can find extensive walkthroughs for pretty much every title, be it via Google or YouTube. It’s likely that their lifespan has been extended because people appreciate the work that goes into them. Some gamers find having a physical book full of beautiful artwork is more satisfying than referring to an online video or a web page, and they become collection pieces after a game is completed.
But, much like phoning a number to get help with a game (something I did with Monkey Island 2 in the early 90s), the advent of the world wide web has made these guides pretty much obsolete. While Prima did start publishing walk-throughs on its website, it hasn’t been enough to compete with the slew of other online destinations that offer the same.
Other companies such as Piggyback are still making physical game guides, but Prima was the biggest and most prolific. We'll have to wait and see if these firms end up going down the same route.