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  • You know, something tells me that Play Magazine doesn’t exist any longer

    Posted on February 9th, 2010 keving 5 comments

    • Fusion Publishing, producers of Play and Geek Monthly, hasn’t published anything since the January Play (above)
    • The last print issue I got of Geek Monthly (subscription renewed in June ’09 or so) was way back in September; they apparently distributed their October and November issues in digital-only format while I wasn’t paying attention
    • Play has recently lost two key staffers — Greg Orlando went to PlayStation: The Official Magazine, and Brady Fiechter, who was sorta the editor-in-chief, has moved on to the new EGM project
    • A report on Geek’s Facebook page claims that readers are receiving notices that Fusion has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (i.e. liquidation). I haven’t gotten my notice yet, but I certainly look forward to reading it and seeing exactly how impossible it’ll be to get a refund*

    Does this mean that I’m not gonna be producing “Dave Halverson’s Greatest Hits” for 2010? 🙁

    * Not like we did any such thing at PiQ, of course. But that was all out of my hands, I promise, having been laid off way beforehand! (Not that I was gonna spend my personal money to send out refunds, but…)

  • The Amazing Waldemar, King of All Polish Game Pirates

    Posted on February 9th, 2010 keving 7 comments

    I spent the past few minutes reading this interview with one Waldemar Czajkowski, a man who made a living in late-era Communist Poland selling and distributing compilations of pirated Commodore 64 games.

    He had a pretty spiffy small business going at the height of it, producing thousands of tapes and distributing them all over the country in his Volkswagen minivan. The operation was successful enough that he was able to buy a new car and condo with the proceeds — nothing to sniff at considering how far a zloty got you (or didn’t) at the time.

    Waldemar’s biggest problem? Procuring the cassettes to meet the demand for his game compilations, no small feat in a regime that didn’t exactly smile upon people recording things by themselves:

    In the first years of my business, getting any clean cassette was a real art! There was only a possibility to buy only already recorded tapes. If any of the music band from Poland during 1988-1990 period has won the Golden Plate, including the sale of cassettes, I can say that it is partly caused to me! [laughter] When I had some connections I’ve heard that in Szczecin on some street there is a shop selling haberdashery, where you could buy the cassettes! [laughter] Seriously! In the haberdashery! I went there and stood in the queue. At the counter I’ve asked for audio cassettes, thinking also, that for the moment the saleswoman will kick me out, but she came with a question: „Which ones? 60-minutes, 90-minutes long? [laughter] In such strange places I had to buy tapes for my production! When there was the possibility of placing an order in Stilon, it turned out that it was necessary to come with a lot of formalities, to write applications and wait for weeks to process the application. There were problems, for example questions like „Who are you? What is the company?”. Hence, in Stilon was really hard to order something.

    Waldemar kept his C64 pirate business going until 1994, when Poland finally got around to passing modern software copyright laws. He spent a few years afterward selling legal software, but — predictably — sticking with the law led to smaller profit margins and he eventually gave it up in 1997.

    Read the whole thing — it’s in kind of fractured English but is an endlessly fascinating peek into a scene people like me never had a taste of.