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The Press Effect


From Hero to Zero, the Press played such an important role in the life of the Konix Multi-system. The press weren't responsible for it's death - but in some way, they did expedite the demise, and they were certainly around to hear the death rattle.

It wasn't a case of 'building them up to knock them down' as I don't believe that the press were in any way deliberately trying to ruin Konix. You could say that Konix were victims of their own success - but that success was only possible because the press were so excited by the product that they understandably gave it glowing write-ups which helped breed a desire in the magazines target audience to follow the story.

On the whole there was nothing but giddy excitedness coming from all of the magazines in the UK. There was a strong touch of patriotism fuelling the (UK) press's enthusiastic reporting of every nugget of information that was coming out of Konix, their PR company and the developers working on the machine. They seemed to lap it up, and so did we.

Add in the fact that this machine was just so alien - nothing quite like this had existed before, it was so revolutionary that it captured the imagination of most of the people involved or who saw the machine or any of its capabilities.

It seemed that Konix was not shy of leaking information and spreading hype about their product either.

As such, several games magazines majored on the Konix story and kept everyone who was interested supplied with a steady stream of information, pictures and tid-bits.

ACE Magazine and The Games Machine (TGM) were the leading reporters. Of course it was mentioned in other gaming magazines of the time because of its innovation, but also because of the connections the people involved had with the machine. The famous programmer Jeff minter's association was quite strong so magazines such as ST format who would be interviewing Jeff on his ST work would of course touch on this project.
Because of the Ex-Sinclair Research origins of the designers of the Multi-system the Spectrum community took some interest too, so we saw Articles in magazines like Crash.

And finally and maybe due to a bit of nepotism, lots of magazines who had sister magazines being produced in the same offices such as Ludlow's Crash/Zzap towers which would have lead to shared information and chats by the coffee machine.

It is interesting to see how the mood of people involved in producing the initial reportage has changed; it seemed at the time that most magazines were genuinely excited by the prospect of the Multi-system. They could see all the deals being done, and they could see all the developers that had signed up and had started producing games.

Now, when you talk to some journalists 20 years after the matter, their opinion of the machine has been heavily tarnished and is laced with heavy doses of cynicism. This may be due to the disappointment of the machine never being released, some may say that they knew from the start or saw signs early on that the machine was going to fail. I suspect they must need very strong prescription spectacles to try to counteract their intense hindsight.

The predominant image of the Multi-system portrayed by the press these days is full of scorn which is quite disappointing.

Take for example the article in Games Tm lambasting the KMS and describing the games as poor conversions of Amiga games. Where did this come from? The machine never got to market wasn't because it was poor by comparison to it's competitors - the truth is it was as good and in some situations better. This sort of reporting of the Multi-system is endemic and unfortunate. It's almost fashionable to dismiss the machine as a joke - but of all the machines that were discussed and that got to prototype stage, this is the only one that generated this sort of interest.

This isn't meant as a scathing attack on the press, if it weren't for them We'd never have known about the KMS, however maybe if they'd had a more objective look at the KMS and not come up with such enticing headlines such as "What has more rock and roll than after burner looks better than an Amiga and costs less than an ST?" We may have been in a different situation then we are now. The machine may have been released as it wouldn't have seemed such a daunting mission to manufacture it. Then, and only then would we have seen if the machine would have been capable of becoming a success on its own merits.