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The end of POWER PLAY
Power PlayEarly March, the online version of Germany's oldest gaming magazine, Power Play, closed its doors, setting an end to a success story that began more than 13 years ago. In April 2000, the mag's last printed edition had been published. Among other things, it had suffered from dwindling reader numbers due to an increasingly keen competition. Only a couple of months before, there had been a complete redesign of the magazine that didn't result in the hoped-for change for the better. Question is how the mag got into such difficulties that the publishing "Future Verlag" had to draw the plug for the former institution Power Play.
The beginnings in the 1980s:
Heinrich Lenhardt, Michael HengstAt the end of 1983, the publishing house "Markt & Technik" introduced the computer magazine "Happy Computer" into the market for the first time, which also came along with a gaming section. Since no real gaming magazine existed at that time, this gaming section, dubbed "Power Play", was met with ever growing approval over the course of time. Until finally, back in 1988, the Power Play set up on its own, although at first as a Happy Computer special edition (also published by Markt & Technik). From that point, the cross platform Power Play turned into the reference in all things gaming, but not simply because it lacked proper competitors for quite some time except for the qualitatively lower ASM. No, the reports were written with a competent and flowing hand, the verdict box was unparalleled, and the small editors' pictures that showed another face depending on the reviewed game's quality became the mag's trademark.
Power Play - highly recommendable
Highly recommendableAnother distinguishing characteristic were the mag's both awards "POWER PLAY - Sehr empfehlenswert" for particularly good and "POWER PLAY-Gurke" for particularly bad games. Above all the first award was much sought-after - especially producers used the award extensively for advertising purposes.
For many readers, the Power Play team of editors was unmistakably linked to the magazine. Names such as Heinrich Lenhardt, Boris Schneider, Martin Gaksch, Anatol Locker (the four founders), Michael Hengst, Volker Weitz, Winfried Forster or Knut Gollert evoke nostalgical memories. The job of a gaming magazine editor turned over night into a highly desirable profession. Quite often, Power Play was for many an editor the entry into the gaming industry or other magazines. For example, Peter Steinlechner and Michael Galuschka who, along with Jörg Langer from "PC Player", belonged to the founders of "GameStar" (at the end of 1997).
Times are a'changing:
Monkey Island 2 review...Of course, Power Play's success of being the best sold and most read magazine on the market from issue 11/91 to 03/95 was not without consequence. Over the years, new mags such as PC Joker or PC Games saw the light of day and challenged Power Play's pole position. The mag's biggest competitor emerged 1992 with two former members, Heinrich Lenhardt and Boris Schneider, establishing the gaming mag "PC Player" that found a huge number of fans over night.
Another problem were the numerous changes to the original concept of Power Play. The growing PC and dying Amiga market required the mag to change its cross-platform course - the decision to write about PC games only put the console fans off at the middle of the 1990s. Besides this, after many of the founder members had left the magazine, the editors' half-life decreased rapidly, eventually leading to a falling identification with the magazine. The overall layout was modified several times over the last decade, including the design of the awards as well as the verdict and opinion boxes. Admittedly, modifications were necessary in the face of competitive and technical changes on the gaming (press) market, but in retrospect the appreciated "feeling" of the mag vanished - for many synonymous with a decline in quality.
1st edition:
1988 (as special ed.)

Last edition:
April 2000

Power Play,
What future holds in store:
...and reviewAfter the printed edition had ceased publication, the online version was able to continue until early March this year. Despite a growing success of, the publishing "Future Verlag" was forced to draw the website's plug. It may come as a small solace, however, that the site's bulletin board will continue under a new address, at least for the time being (see link in "Details" box). Power Play's last Editor-in-chief, Jan Binsmaier, said in an interview that the editors' future was still uncertain. But it's very likely that we will see them again writing for another publication. That Power Play itself will come back at some point in the future, can be ruled out at the moment.
As to the mag's "veterans", they've remained (as far as I know) in the computer and/or gaming industry. Heinrich Lenhardt is currently working as a freelance journalist and US correspondent on behalf of some German gaming mags; Boris Schneider is now a Microsoft employee; Volker Weitz is writing for Bravo ScreenFun and Michael Hengst is busy somewhere in the internet industry. Even after the saddening end of the former precursor Power Play, we're likely to meet some members of the team again in the future.
© 03-19-2001 by CE