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Prima Games, a Staple of Video Game Guides, is Shutting Down

End of an era.

News by Matt Kim, .

Prima Games, a staple in the video game guidebook space, is shutting down in Spring 2019 according to representatives of Penguin Random House.

GamesIndustry.biz has an update from the Dorling Kindersley division of Penguin Random Houses which announced it has come to the "extremely difficult decision" to discontinue the U.S.-based Prima Games imprint by spring 2019. Prima offices in New York, Indianapolis, and Roseville, California will be affected though there's no word on what will happen to employees.

Prima Games was first founded in 1990 and became a regular necessity for gamers who wished to know all the secrets and cheat codes for a game in the pre-internet age. My copy of the Pokemon Red and Blue guide was so used it literally fell apart on me.

Prima was purchased by Penguin Random House along with fellow guidebook publisher Brady Games and the two were consolidated under Prima in 2015. There has been growing competition from online guides and other free resources as of late. Prima began offering premium book products with extra features and behind-the-scenes look into games featured for the guide.

Unfortunately for gamers Prima appears to be shipping its last books early next year. Pre-orders for Prima guides are still up for several early 2019 video game releases.

Header image source: Prima Games

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Comments 7

  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #1 Funny_Colour_Blue 11 days ago
    Sad news, truly an end to an era. GameFaqs and other online resources have replaced Prima, but I kind of dread the day, where you're trying to look up info on older games that were popular before gamefaqs, or games that are a few years old and no longer have that info online, like that brady games Final Fantasy IX guide that was only available online.

    This already happened with stuff like GameWinners.com. Like Print is dying, but info on the net doesn't last forever either and it's just really weird to think about.Edited 2 weeks ago by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for januaryembers19 #2 januaryembers19 11 days ago
    As someone that has shelves and shelves of guides, this makes me so sad. Are there any other companies out there still making guides?
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  • Avatar for nimzy #3 nimzy 11 days ago
    First the manuals disappear, then the guides. Back in the day these were the only way you'd ever get background info on stuff that's never explained in the game -- now they sell you that info piecemeal, spread across a dozen different mediums.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #4 mattcom26 11 days ago
    @nimzy Plus, you have a new norm where games release and continually evolve with patches, expansions and DLCs. Not the easiest thing to approach from a printed guides perspective.
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  • Avatar for JupiterJesus #5 JupiterJesus 11 days ago
    The irony is that so many of those "online resources" that are replacing guides get a huge amount of their data FROM THE GUIDES. Users can and do eventually research the details of a game and write a guide for it, but without an official guide book this sometimes takes years. Some games never even get great community coverage. Lightning returns had barely any online info, but it had a great guide by piggyback that I used until it fell apart. That was a game that really needed a guide to get the most out of it.

    Take dark souls, for example, a game with a huge, passionate community willing to dig deep into the games. All of their wikis were jump started by the info in the guides.

    Luckily, prima guides were the worst of them. The dark souls 3 guide was terrible, and made by prima. Every other souls guide was made by future and they were jaw dropping. The bloodborn guide in particular was 2-3 inches thick and so comprehensive that it even included story summaries and flowcharts and frame by frame weapon animations.

    The horizon zero Dawn guide was also excellent and thicker than my college calculus textbook. I think it was a piggyback guide.

    Speaking of piggyback, they don't make a lot of guides but they are my favorite. They have clean, elegant layouts, huge page counts full of comprehensive info and, my favorite, a table of contents along the right edge of every page that makes it trivial to find what you're looking for. I collect prima guides, but I actually use piggyback guides.

    The best thing that can come of this is that, without prima throwing its weight around to get the guide exclusives for every game (damn dark souls 3 guide), piggyback and future will pick up the slack with their awesome guides.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #6 Roto13 11 days ago
    Sucks for the employees, but Prima guides are kind of crappy. Lots of incorrect information and maps, things that are lacking enough explanation to be useful. They all feel super rushed.
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  • Avatar for GFoppy #7 GFoppy 10 days ago
    @JupiterJesus The Horizon Zero Dawn guide is published by Future Press. I didn't need a guide to complete the game, but I still went out to buy it because I saw a friend's copy and I was absolutely mesmerized by how much meticulous effort they put into it: Detailed maps, statistics and weakpoints of the machines, and even frame data for Aloy's melee attacks. There's also a foldable map of the entire game world (!!)

    I rate HZD and Borderlands 2 as the two games with the best game guides that I've bought.

    Interestingly, in Japan it seems that physical game guides are still fairly popular, especially for JRPG titles and Monster Hunter. And most of them tend to come in smaller, manga-omnibus sized volumes, which is easier to carry around compared to their hardcover western counterparts.
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