20 years of MCV: Making history (and her story)

Stuart Dinsey launched MCV and left in 2013 after selling it a year earlier. He is currently chairman of Curve Digital and a board director of Ukie.

Earlier this year, I found myself discussing MCV history with senior execs from within its new owner. Future had thankfully stepped in to save this much-loved trade title from previous incumbent [Stuart added some choice words here – ed] Newbay Media.

Steeped in games media history itself, Future is radically different, and broader, than it was 20 years ago. So it is surely understandable that the people I sat with hadn’t heard of predecessor Computer Trade Weekly (CTW), and didn’t realise that MCV’s cumbersome full name comes from its German past as Markt fur Computer & Videospiele.

By 1998 I had been CTW editor for over 10 years, but wanted to do more – as did the team around me. So MCV was launched against, and born out of, a newspaper that had served the market since 1984. It was initially funded by Computec, which had just floated on Frankfurt’s (now defunct) Neuer Markt. They already had a monthly MCV for their domestic market, but it closed a decade or so ago. Launches in the US and France also failed. But not our MCV, driven by the vibrant UK games industry.

What a lot of people may also not realise is that two women were essential to the launch.

Lisa Carter (then Foster) and Alex Moreham (then Jarvis) came across from CTW as deputy editor and sales manager on the new weekly. These two, plus longtime trade writer Dave Roberts (now a leading music journalist) were the dream team. Lesley McDiarmid joined in 2002 and she was a relentless driver of commercial success as MCV drove into digital and events after our management buyout from Computec. And yes, of course, we had many key writers over the years: Steve Merrett, Michael French, Chris Dring, James Batchelor, Tim Ingham, Ben Parfitt… MCV quickly spawned Develop, ToyNews, PC Retail, Mobile Entertainment and was the foundation of a group that eventually boasted 100 staff with brands across music, licensing, TV and even cycling.

The UK is lucky to have strong trade media which, alongside trade bodies Ukie and TIGA, act as platforms for information, discussion and promotion. When MCV launched, we intended to kick on from CTW’s legacy and become the definitive voice of a business that was obviously going to grow. MCV glued together a channel made up of developer, publisher, distributor, retailer, media and services. Everyone was in it together and, mostly, the UK was our world.

These days, with the rise of digital routes to market for smaller companies and the huge size of bigger players, there is slightly less fraternity and more ‘thinking global’.

Industry support of MCV from that very first ECTS enabled our small team to build something enduring, and it was of course the industry itself that made it all so exciting. In good hands now with Future, MCV can continue to evolve alongside the business it serves.

More history awaits.

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