This was our fourth Christmas cover, and the conflict between a seasonal picture and the decision to feature a particular game was a problem. On the other hand, in a year of violent games, Pac-Land at least offered a more peaceful theme. I confess a disadvantage: as I write this, the painting hasn't be done, but the idea is to have loads of Pacs playing about in the snow, and so you, as well as I, can be the judge of the result when we see it.
It is now almost exactly four years to the day that Roger Kean, Matthew Uffindell and myself sat around the only two typewriters we possessed, staring at blank sheets of paper, wondering what it was Spectrum-owners wanted to read, trying to conceive of the first edition of CRASH. I am not sure whether the three of us harboured ambitions of seeing the company grow; probably, but magazines are organic things, and somehow they grow of their own accord.
Newsfield was six people then: Roger, Oliver and Franco Frey, Matthew, Denise Roberts and myself part-time. At the moment of greatest growth (in terms of personnel), when LM was launched, it employed 60 full-time staff, also using eight college-age reviewers and some 30 regular contributors. Today there are just 34 full-time staff. It is a much slimmer operation, but also a much more streamlined and effective one.
We have seen Sir Clive Sinclair's 'toy' computer become the best seller in Britain, enjoying unrivalled software support from games which have ranged from utter drivel to demonstrations of the kind of skills that even mainframe programmers would envy. Recently we saw the 8-bit market start to falter as budget-priced games took hold and unit sales fell; this has particularly hit the Spectrum, yet the games are still being produced and we are always capable of being surprised by some new piece of cleverness. And despite the much discussed fall-off of sales generally, Spectrum magazines continue to ride high. The 'Shropshire fanzine' of early 1984 attained the highest sales in Britain of any computer magazine - and at one point the highest world-wide sales of any British computer magazine and is still the market leader, along with its sister publication ZZAP!
It is difficult to predict what the next four years will bring, but you can be sure that CRASH will aim to be the best, whatever the incidental difficulties; as I write this, upstairs in the Art Department Markie Kendrick and his fellow designer Wayne Allen are laying out the Christmas Specials of CRASH and ZZAP!. We thought it would be a tough task for three, but unexpectedly just two people are doing it, because Art Director Gordon Druce has recently decided to leave. By the time you read this, however, you will know they succeeded nonetheless.