When it came to figuring out how to get past those pesky guards at the door blocking the way to the mission objective — or finding that hidden trinket tucked away deep within the caves of the forbidden mountain — it was common for gamers to whip out the Prima game guide to get some tips. Well, you’ll soon find that such a tradition will no longer be possible.
In spring 2019, Prima Games will be closing its doors, bringing its illustrious run to an end after almost 30 years of operation. Publishers Weekly is reporting that the U.S. outfit will stop commissioning new strategy guides immediately, but the doors won’t shutter officially until next year. At that point, its four main offices will cease to operate, including the ones located in California and New York. The Roseville office will close up first, before November is out, while the office in Indiana will stay open to finish up any remaining projects until March of 2019.
The article points out that the guide-producing company originally got its start back in 1990, as video games became a burgeoning force within the entertainment industry. At that time, the industry was recovering from the crash of 1983, brought on by a deluge of low-quality titles and a market flooded with the inundation of greed.
Some gamers might think that today’s industry isn’t too far off from mirroring the times of 1983, what with Early Access being a major revenue source for some developers, and nearly every game coming out having some sort of aggressive cash shop, loot box, or microtransaction model tacked on for good measure.
Nevertheless, Prima found its way to success by navigating through a supply and demand niche that no other company was willing to broach at the time. Games were becoming increasingly more complex by 1990, due to the budding technological advances taking place at a rapid clip — the 16-bit era was emerging, and some companies were stepping far outside the box when it came to creating games.
We saw the nascence of the FMV sub-genre pop up; we saw point-and-click games evolve out of text-adventures and into GUI-based games; we saw racing games include more than just the willingness to learn the turns and master the brakes; and side-scrollers began to dabble in multiple routes and the requirement to solve complex puzzles.
The ’90s were probably the most innovative decade in all of gaming. A whole host of genres popped up, thanks to all new technologies being discovered and exploited across an expansive host of gaming platforms — ranging from 16-bit systems like the Genesis and SNES, to 32-bit add-ons like the 32X and PSX, to FMV-capable machines like the 3DO and Sega-CD, and eventually 64-bit beasts like the N64.
All the while, Prima was cleaning up on all of this innovation — because if you wanted to find out how to complete a game, you either watched the GamePro television show, you picked up a Tips & Tricks magazine, or you bought that thick Prima strategy guide. The company covered everything from Sonic The Hedgehog to Fallout to King’s Quest and everything else in between.
Unfortunately, that success just couldn’t be maintained in the era of livestreams and Let’s Plays. Twitch.tv and YouTube are now home to all manner of strategy guides and walkthroughs for more games than Prima can keep up with. And so in the same way that the company capitalized on all the amazing technology that came out during what many consider the golden age of gaming, the exact same thirst for newer and better forms of interactive entertainment also paved a way for Prima’s demise.
The CEO of the parent company of Prima, Ian Hudson, acknowledged that the fast-moving landscape of tech just didn’t leave any room for Prima to stay profitable in today’s generation of gaming. Nevertheless, gamers will always remember that Prima was the prime place to look to for some of the most thorough walkthroughs on the market.