Are game instruction booklets dying?

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Jan 14, 2020
Not only do I still have my (largely useless) CD-ROM's from the 90's -- most of which lack a usable install program for Windows 10 purposes -- but also the manuals that came with them. (Same with games on floppies, except I ditched the floppies after I no longer had a drive for them.) As to whether any of the manuals are worth anything? I've no idea. But I do miss manuals, and being able to learn how to play a game away from the PC. Now seemingly every game starts with an immersion-breaking hand-holding session with floaty windows that only go away when you do what they ask. (Fortunately there are also games that let you skip this entirely, but not all of them do.)

One game that I really wish had a manual is Europa Universalis IV. Not only would that be a beefy tome to peruse while taking care of bathroom business, but I could learn what everything is without playing a fake game session. I realize "learning by doing" is a popular approach, but for me it's just distracting, and it doesn't help me remember what all of the little icons mean. In fact, forget the manual, just give me a AoE2-style laminated sheet showing me what all the icons look like and their shortcut keys.

Anyway. I think the oldest manual I own is for the first Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, which you needed for copy protection, otherwise you could still play but could only have two trains, IIRC.
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Jan 22, 2020
I'm not going to comment on the state of print media on the forums for a monthly magazine, but manuals are definitely dying. I'd always attributed it to a move away from physical product towards full digital distribution, but sward's observation that the rapid iteration and alteration of early access and F2P games would invalidate them too quickly to be worth bothering with is one I hadn't considered and possibly bang on.

My favourite manual was for Fallout 2. A proper, ring-bound notebook which took the form of a Vault-Tec survival manual, sprinkled throughout with faux-handwritten notes made by the chief of the PC's tribe.

And the manual for MDK has put me at odds with lots of people over the years who maintain that the letters of the title stand for the three main characters (Kurt, Max and the Doctor) when the manual states that the Doc gave their whole operation the codename Mission: Deliver Kindness. Maybe it's both.
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Jan 13, 2020
I've held onto all of my Big Box PC games, a spread from around 1990 to present. I quick check on a certain online retail auction site reveals there is demand for Big Box and the contents within.

I still love pouring over the manuals that came with my games, especially Origin Systems and LucasArts games like Crusader No Remorse/No Regret, Wing Commander series of games, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Dark Forces, etc. It's something Steam cannot provide, though GOG does an excellent job handing us the original manuals in PDF form to check out.