After the end of the era of iconic gaming magazine Nintendo Power, a new publication stepped up, not to take its place, but continue its legacy. Over two years later, this brave new periodical is going more strongly than ever into its third year. The mastermind behind this endeavor, Lucas M. Thomas (former editor-at-large of IGN's Nintendo Team), was kind of enough to answer some of the burning questions the Nintendo and Nintendo Power fans here at Gamnesia have, and he delved into the inner working of Nintendo Force, the opportunities it provides to fans, its relationship to Nintendo, and more.
Hello, and thank you so much for taking the time to do this with us! Before we move on, how would you describe Nintendo Force to our readers who aren’t yet familiar?
Absolutely! You all remember Nintendo Power magazine, right? It was the go-to source for Nintendo news, previews and features in print for over two decades – from the height of the popularity of the NES in the late '80s until December 2012, when it was abruptly cancelled just short of reaching its 25th anniversary. Well, that didn't sit right with me and several other long-time NP fans. I'd had an active subscription since I was eight years old, for goodness sakes! So I got in touch with several of the most prominent Nintendo-focused game journalists around the Internet and pitched them the idea of keeping the NP legacy alive by launching a new magazine. We called ourselves "the Nintendo Force," and the first issue of NF Magazine went on sale on January 11, 2013 – exactly one month after the final Nintendo Power had hit newsstands on December 11, 2012.
NF carries NP's torch by trying to preserve its same tone and quirky sense of humor; we've even reached back into past NP eras to bring back long-gone elements of that magazine like comic pages, Classified Information and Counselor's Corner. But we've grown well beyond just paying homage to Nintendo Power over the past two years, as NF is now entirely its own beast!
Would you mind introducing yourself and what you do as part of the Nintendo Force team?
I'm Lucas M. Thomas, the Editor-in-Chief of the NF team, and the jack of all trades when it comes to responsibilities – I plan out each issue's page structure, make all the writing and art assignments, design all the pages and run the behind-the-scenes business stuff too. I even cleaned up and put on my best suit to host our new Kickstarter video, to talk to all of our fans and any of you new potential fans "Directly."
How is the relationship between Nintendo and the NF team different from the Nintendo Power team's relationship with the company?
Depends on what era you're considering, as at the beginning Nintendo Power was run as an in-house publication at NOA. A "first-party" magazine, you might say. Then, for its last half-decade or so, it was outsourced to a different publishing team at Future Publishing – they still had very close ties to the company, but it was a different dynamic and you could see the change in tone and direction happening around 2007. We're an entirely outside team that works with Nintendo in the same manner as any game journalism website might, like IGN, GoNintendo or Destructoid (each of which has representatives on our team).
There are many younger Nintendo fans out there who have never truly experienced Nintendo Power. How can you see these readers coming to enjoy what Nintendo Force has to offer?
A huge number of our young readers never experienced Nintendo Power, and for them, the nostalgia connection hasn't seemed necessary. They just love the modern era of Mario, Zelda, Pokémon and other current-gen Nintendo games and like getting a magazine in the mail that's packed with new information about them!
What about Nintendo Force as a print publication sets it apart from gaming websites? Is there anything in particular that might drive people to subscribe?
Gaming websites aren't going to send you free posters to hang up on your wall, but we do. The tangibility is critical – having a physical object to own and hold on to. We're not going to beat the instant-news-now pace of breaking stories on the Internet most of the time (though we do have exclusive reveals only found in our pages), but we're not trying to compete on speed -- let all the online sites fight each other over who's going to win the clicks on the latest Amiibo availability announcements. We're seeking to make something that's more lasting, more permanent than a browser window that's gone and forgotten after you've closed it. Those who've been with us since Issue #1 have a full two years of tangible, lasting Nintendo history that they now own, forming a natural continuation from the end of Nintendo Power's run – and for long-time NP subscribers like me, it's an unbroken collection of magazines chronicling the entire Nintendo story for over a quarter-century now!
What new and exclusive content can we expect from Nintendo Force in the coming year? Are there any particular titles that you're looking forward to covering?
The one I'm personally most excited about is next month's Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., which will be a gift from me to me after our current Kickstarter's finished (since it goes on sale three days later). Hopefully I'll have time to play it while dealing with collecting information from Backer Surveys! As for new and exclusive content, we're pursuing our goal of including fold-out posters in every single new issue throughout the rest of this year, and we're always working behind the scenes to try to score new exclusives for our readers. In our most recent issue, we got to be the ones to reveal the existence of the new Mutant Mudds Super Challenge to the world!
Many members of the NF team also work, or have worked, for online gaming publications. What are some of the differences between working in print and working online? Has working for both changed how you view either distribution method?
Physical space constraints make writing for print a big shift from writing online – if you want to blog about a new video game, you can write and write as much as you want. That browser window will keep on scrolling. Printed pages have only so much area to fill, though, so each one of our writing assignments has a strict word count that everyone has to adhere to. It's a totally unique experience, and one that makes each one of our article more focused and thoughtful.
Nintendo Force has historically been funded through Kickstarter for each year of coverage. Are you planning to eventually move the magazine to a more self-sustained model, or is Kickstarter the best choice for the foreseeable future?
Kickstarter's been good to us two years in a row – it's set up well to support print publications like ours, and helps with keeping everything organized. We'll likely stick with it for the forseeable future; though I am keeping an eye on Patreon, as it seems like a potential future alternative. You never know!
Nintendo Power often interacted with its fans, which helped make them feel like a part of the larger fan community. Given the amount of influence backers tend to have on Kickstarter projects, how has this reader-to-staff dynamic changed or expanded with Nintendo Force?
Our community's growing every day, and we've even worked with fans to create content for our issues. If you've got fan art, jokes about Waluigi or want to show off your skills with giving a Zelda Amiibo a custom paint job, get in touch with us! We print reader submissions in every new issue, and even give full article coverage to fans doing particularly cool Nintendo-related work in our Community section.
Are you considering making Nintendo Force available digitally on Wii U and 3DS at any time in the future?
We looked into it – we've been in touch with Nintendo about creating a magazine-reading app that would be sold in the Wii U eShop. It's probably not going to materialize in the current era, though. The company's more focused on getting new game content into the eShop, and not so much other kinds of apps. Still, it's a possibility for the future.
Any final words?
Thanks for the interview opportunity, Jeff! NF Magazine's 2015 Renewals and New Subscriptions are available through Kickstarter right now, right here! Sign up today and you'll get a Majora's Mask 3D poster included with your first issue, along with any other bonuses we're able to unlock as Stretch Goals before the campaign concludes on March 10. MAR10 Day!