Friday, November 18, 2011

History of video game mags in Croatia (and a quick look at some contemporary Croatian developers)

The content of the following post appears courtesy of forum user mpx, who wrote about the mags in this thread. There are some additional images and links to be found there, so be sure to check it out, too.

The history of dedicated video game magazines in Croatia starts in 1994. Weren't there any video games before? Of course there were, but coverage was mostly part of general computing magazines, and since Croatia was part of Yugoslavia until 1991, it's hard to talk about distinctly Croatian magazines before.

Croatia's first video game magazine was Hacker, first published in November 1994. Originally covering a variety of console and computer platforms, they eventually focused solely on PC and PSX, as the latter was the only console that had any meaning on the market. Most platforms were only available through imports, anyway, and the N64 as the only other officially distributed console was much too expensive because of the cartridge technology. The carts often cost more than twice as much as a legitimate PSX game, not to speak of the pirate copies that were around for Sony's console.

Hacker's heyday were the years 1998-2000. This was when the same team also started a separate PSX only magazine in March 1999, the first of its kind in Croatia.

In 1997 or 1998, they also published 1 or 2 issues of a special Hacker Plus magazine, which only covered PlayStation games.

However, in 2000 editor in chief Kristijan Žibreg was fired by the publisher Janus Press for reasons unknown, and reportedly the quality of the mags had taken a nosedive from then on. The last issue of PSX came out in Summer 2002, while Hacker stayed around until 2005.

Hacker's Kristijan Žibreg (right) and (presumably) Krešimir Mijić at E3 1999.

Most other mags were much more short-lived, though. Master, a spin-off of the computer and IT magazine Bug, only had one single issue in December 1994, before it was again merged into a small section inside Bug.

Chaos lasted twice as long as Bug (sounds better than saying it had two issues, doesn't it?) from March to April 1996. It was a comparatively expensive magazine with high quality paper.

In January 1998, however, a more durable new magazine entered the arena, called PC Play. The pilot issue was quite thin, with a CD attached at a cheap promo price. Originally they covered both PC and console (PSX & N64) games, but eventually turned into a PC only magazine in 2002.

All was going well until 2005, when the publisher Vidi decided to cut the number of pages from to 64 at the same price, instead including a dual layer DVD. According to our source, however, the writing quality made a turn for the much worse.

By 2010, PC Play magazine wasn't doing so well anymore, and so the magazine was revamped as Playzone, another multi platform mag. Without the DVD and at half the price, the new model still didn't work out, and after 4 issues, the magazine turned into PC Play again for one final issue in December 2010.

There were also some translated magazines. The Official PSM from the UK was available in Croatian as Službeni HR PlayStation Časopis, but cut shorter than the original. It lasted from November 1999 (UK PSM issue 51) until 2001, when it eventually failed because of incredibly high prices (In 2001 they already dropped the demo CD to cut the price in half).

Then there was PlayStation Power, translated from the UK mag with the same name. It had only 5 issues published between 1999 and 2000.

After PSX was shut down by Janus press, former staff members came together to create a new magazine called GamePlay, first published in November 2002. From 2002 to 2005 it was a console only magazine, but after Hacker folded they decided to cover PC games as well. December 2005 saw a makeover of the magazine. Originally GamePlay was similar to PSX but after that they changed the style. From then on they were the first mag to cover all available systems (PS2, PS3,Xbox 360, PC, PSP, DS, Wii) on 100 pages.

But in 2010 NCL Group, the publisher of the mag, came into financial trouble and started to force the staff to cut corners. After 99 issues, the editors finally abandoned NCL, and GamePlay ended in March 2011.

The same staff started anew with Next Level in April 2011. The mag has 132 pages at a reasonable price (amounts to US $4.55). 4 pages are even devoted to retro games, and in issue 5 they had a special on current Croatian game developers.

Croatian game developers? Yes, they exist. You might have heard of Croteam, the creators of the Serious Sam series and who are around since the early 1990s, but there are several lesser known teams.

Cateia Games specialize in point & click adventures and strategy games (they also have a Star Trek title in their portfolio), with the odd kiddie platformer thrown in for good measures. I know some of their adventures have been published in the rest of Europe, although they haven't been received terribly well.

Upper-left to bottom-right: The Legend of Crystal Valley, Kaptain Brawe, Iron Roses, The Kings of the Dark Age

Gamepires it seems are currently working on their first game, the racing/shooter hybrid Gas Guzzlers.

Dreamatrix (formerly Provox Games) are mostly (un-)known for Spaceforce, a loose series of science fiction games in different genres. Their most ambitious project yet, however, seems to be the fantasy action RPG Legends of Dawn, for which they also have a tie-in novel planned.

Finally, Smart Way Team is a young app developer, whose first game is the iPhone action puzzler Smart Way.


  1. Thanks for posting :)

    I am happy now :)

  2. Whoa, so many ups and downs!!! I had no idea Croteam is Croatian! Good read.

  3. Zibreg se hvali za popizdit a zapravo je bil mali gey ljakse iz jebene Pitomacke kaj je Romanu cuclo karu kada god nije imao za stanarinu.

  4. Ima i doodle jump koji su napravila brača Pušenjak u S.A.D.-u i onaj starpoint gemini te su igre naši radili :D