Are Video Game Magazines On The Comeback Trail?

Are Video Game Magazines On The Comeback Trail?
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Print is dead – a phrase we’ve almost come to accept as gospel, particularly when it comes to the tech savvy audience engaged in tech and video games. But, surprisingly, the latest readership and sales figures have shown that video game magazines are beginning to show a significant amount of growth – particularly over the last year.

Game Informer is the major success story, fresh off a successful launch in Australia. Game Informer now has a circulation of over 40,000 copies – the highest in the country. According to Editor Chris Stead, this success is the result of compelling content.

“I strongly believe that good, consistent content is enough to not only make print succeed, but thrive in today’s market,” he claimed. “It is absolutely possible to deliver an experience to a magazine consumer that they can’t get anywhere else and to surprise them with new and interesting product and analysis from all corners of the gaming world. It’s my goal to continue to amaze our readers with each and every issue and today’s results give me great confidence that the Australian and New Zealand gamers are responding.”

Of course, the fact that Game Informer is offered as part of an EB membership system, in combination with its $5 cover price, is a contributing factor to the magazine’s success – but across the marketplace the general trend is upwards, even for more expensive magazines.

The Official PlayStation Magazine, which is price at $14.95 saw a 54% increase in its readership, with an estimated readership of 154,000, whilst the Official Xbox Magazine, retailing at a similar price, moved up 34% to a readership of 162,000.

In addition, both Hyper and PC Powerplay saw strong percentage increases in readership – 13% and 6.8% respectively.

While the numbers still pale in comparison to traffic seen on Australia’s biggest gaming websites, these figures still buck the trend. It appears that gamers are still reading magazines, and are still interested in that experience.

Does anyone here still buy games magazines? If so which ones? I have a soft spot for print, having spent a long part of my career working on magazines, but now that I’m less involved in the day to day production I’ve found myself becoming less interested. That said, I think there is great content to be found in every games magazine published locally in Australia.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts!

Comments

  • I still purchase “hyper” and “PCPowerplay”. One must always have something light and entertaining to read on the can and I refuse to use any smart device reader in that confined space.

    • I’m with you bud, Hyper is one of the best places to read about games, ever since they left the news section to focus on articles, I’ve been very happy. I also buy PCPP and Edge from time to time. Print isn’t dead by a long shot. I get my mindless news fix at sites like this, forums at Neogaf, but I get proper articles from print because they have more time to write them and their editorial quality is generally higher.

      Long live Hyper.

      • HYPER>> is the greatest magazine in the world bar none! Been collecting it since 1995 and its still going strong! Should actually subscribe one day but then I wouldnt need to leave the house haha. RETROGAMER is also a great magazine, its like reading something from the 80’s/90’s but its new! Print media will never die as its a totally different (and more relaxing) than staring at a screen, which you need a break from for a healthy life.

    • The fact that Game Informer, in this digital age, has had actual exclusives is what sold me. A wealth of Portal 2 news before it was released online? If you can do that, you can have my money!

  • I bought Hyper for years but due to sites like this I stopped. Articles were old news by the time I had my copy so in the end it was a bit pointless.

  • I do not buy magazines anymore. Why pay for magazines when I can get the exact same or similar content online for free (not even piracy, just on free websites).

    I don’t care about exclusive content because within hours of release someone has quoted the important parts online.

    • There is no way you get the same content from mags as you do sites. Magazines, Hyper and Edge particularly, have much higher levels of journalistic value. Feature articles are the domain of print IMO. I don’t read those long stories on my PC, I read them on the bus, train, plane and can with a magazine. I want video and quick news content from my sites, which plays into the internet’s strengths of speedy updates and multimedia.

  • Bring back NMS!

    (Nintendo Magazine System for you youngsters out there!)

    I still have boxes of NMS mags in my garage!

    • One of my biggest regrets its throwing out my huge stack of NMS as a kid. Doing a google image search for Nintendo Magazine System was like a nostalgia bomb. If I was a rich man i would make you an offer for your mags 😛

  • I buy every issue of game informer the day they go on sale, I luv that magazine!
    Its price is what got my attention, & im glad it did. GI leaves all other games mags in the dust!
    The only problem I have is that they dont use gameplay screenshots on their reviews or previews.

  • I buy Hyper all the time, mostly ’cause I like the freelancers (no bias, promise!)

    I actually don’t like Game Informer for a whole lot of reasons. For starters, the heavy EB promotion makes me wonder how much of it is floated by marketing budget.
    Secondly, I find it to be a massive pox on the industry in Australia. To clarify, the price is set to really low, much lower than the other magazines, helped by the fact most of the content is brought in from the US version, so not much Australian content is added (Chris does do a great job of adding new stuff though!). Because the price is so low, most people buy it instead of the other magazines (fair enough), so Game Informer gets the exclusives, which is turn brings in a lot more attention, raising the sales etc. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Maybe it just annoys me a lot to see a magazine in Australia with not a heap of Australian content growing so rapidly where some others aren’t growing as fast. I’d love to see a trend of moving towards digital copies for subscribers for mags like Hyper for example. I love the feel of a magazine, it’s much nicer to read a magazine on the shitter instead of a website.

    • I 100% agree my friend. I remember buying OPSM for a while and noticing words that were distinctly British creeping through, this was the case because the majority of the content was ripped from the UK publication. I noticed the same with the few GIs that I have bought. It s shit, plain and simple, I do not like it.

      Hyper on the other hand is 99% Australian created (I can’t be 100% sure it’s 100%) content. This improves and builds the industry here, which needs all the improving and building it needs. Sure GIs cover price is good for consumers but it has MASSIVE support from EB and Gamepstop to achieve this. It is pushing out the ‘Aussie battler’ to put it in the vernacular.

      • Just don’t look at the Hyper’s Cheats and Guides magazine. They rip a lot of stuff from gamefaqs (a few articles were word for word).

        The mother magazine is still great though.

  • Game Informer is one of the best gaming magazines- I like it’s more mature approach. I stopped reading the official playstation magazine back when it was OPS2- the tome of the whole thing was juvenle and off-putting. it may have improved since then though.

  • Kotaku AU is all I need! (Do I get something good for saying that? No?)

    I’ve never subscribed to any magazine before though. 😛

  • I still buy a couple of mags per month. I’m not exactly sure why as they usually just cover everything I have previously read online, but I do enjoy having that physical copy to read, as ^^ Dean says, “on the can”.

    Hyper used to be best value at.. $6.95 I think it was for ages? Now it’s $9.95 and it’s only just worth buying. You can’t find better value for money than Game Informer for $5/issue.

    All those other mags with cover discs etc look nice and shiny, but I refuse to spend $15 – $20 on a gaming magazine anymore.

    • You wrote your piece well but I have to take issue with the idea that some games are undeserving of the praise GI heaps upon them. I mean if I thought Darksiders was Game of the Year then why shouldn’t I put it my “amazing” heap. Should we ensure an equal ratio of dirt/diamond games just to prove a point? I mean if you didn’t think a game was worth an 8/10 then fair enough, I rarely agree with most game scores but I’m not going to lambast people because they think differently. Cynicism is great when it’s apt but cynicism for cynicism’s sake is just as dangerous a road as complacency.

      Good piece though, i’ll be reading your blog more often.

      • Thanks for the kind words.

        I don’t agree that what I said was cynicism for cynicism’s sake. GI throws out Silver and Gold medals like there is no tomorrow.

        Let’s take the last issue I received (March 2011) as an example:
        *Killzone 3 got 9/10. I didn’t care for it much at all, and apart from some technical brilliance it was an almost painful experience.

        http://unbearabledutch.blogspot.com/2011/03/in-case-you-havent-played-it-killzone-3.html

        *Pokemon Black/White got 8.75/10. It is the same freaking game released on the Game Boy Colour. You can’t give a stale game near-perfect marks.

        *Stacking got 8.5/10. I liked it, but my word was it short and expensive!

        http://unbearabledutch.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-case-you-havent-played-it-stacking_14.html

        *Marvel Vs Capcom 3 got 9.25/10. It was good, but got old really fast. Nowhere near as polished as SFIV.

        http://unbearabledutch.blogspot.com/2011/03/in-case-you-havent-played-it-marvel-vs.html

        The four games above are good at best and are hardly deserving of the praise that GI heaped on them.

        • The thing i would say to that though is that those games would have score nearly exactly the same scores in every other Print Media

          Whether good or bad, it’s really more of a sign that Review’s in general these days don’t work.

          In a Medium that thrives on being given exclusive information and interviews as well as the ability to have a timely review of these games(ideally shortly before or in the weeks close after a major release).

          These companies need to stay on the good side of the Publisher’s so they can get their review copies. And manage to stay relevant when an online blog can get a review out in as little time as it takes the writer to play through his day 1 copy and write a review.

          So generally unless the game isn’t a blockbuster release you can’t rag on it

  • I used to buy Hyper monthly but in the past year I have only bought one every couple of months when the mood strikes.
    Game Informer gets a sporadic purchase too cause of the low price.

  • Game Informer hands down, you can’t top honest reviews with such a attractive price. Having something to read in the tactile sense as opposed to just on a screen is a powerful motivator.

  • Don’t know why, when every magazine I even browse through, is all content I’ve read online already.
    There’s no way to keep a magazine up to date when it’s only published once a month.

  • I recently started reading magazines again – I forgot how refreshing it is to not see the typical fan boy/flame war comments after reading an article.

  • I buy PCpowerplay every month but this is only because I have always brought PCpowerplay every month. I buy playstation magazine when it has something free to give. Last few months it has had some cool posters, espesially the penguin one. Also ive gotten a few free packs of cards that look special and ofcource my free MW2 hat that I still wear now. If they are just offering a dick with stuff from the internet on it then I miss it.

    So in short I buy and enjoy both PCpowerplay and Playstation but to make it worth $15 then I need a little something extra.

  • I buy Hyper. Have done for ages.
    There was a time where I stopped because the quality and content was becoming quite awful but the Goose really turned it around.

  • Having grown up surrounded by stacks of PC Powerplay (thanks dad!) I have a soft spot for print.

    However I’d be more inclined to buy mags more often if they came with posters!

  • I love reading them… they are a great way to find out about stuff in a relaxed manner. I find web based articles are great for ‘bits’ of information but I tend not to read long articles online…
    Although I do wish they would not use such glossy paper… I hate having to move the paper to stop any glare…

  • I buy Hyper every month and have done for many, many years. I also buy Game Informer, but I find some of the previews to be too detailed. It’s almost like a walkthrough. I don’t buy magazines for news. The articles are better in Hyper than most websites, that is the main reason I still by it. And the freelancers get the reviews right! It’s like a part of my family, I’ve been with them for so long.

    I do miss Malky as the art guy though. What Strange said is true, the Goose has really turned it back into something I look forward to picking up each month.

  • Sorry Mark, can you (or somebody else) please clarify?

    “Game Informer now has a circulation of over 40,000 copies – the highest in the country”
    vs
    “The Official PlayStation Magazine…with an estimated readership of 154,000, whilst the Official Xbox Magazine…moved up 34% to a readership of 162,000.”

    Is that a typo? 40K is not greater than 154K… Or is some kind of semantic difference between “circulation” and “readership”, and if so what are the actual apples for apples numbers?

    Adding to the conversation, I still enjoy Hyper and have a subscription. This is partially out of loyalty/OCD, as I have every single issue to date on my shelf. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it but I find that some months I skim it and then forget to return to it.

  • If I do buy a mag, it will usually be Gameinformer. The price is very fair, plus they actually have good articles. Whenever I picked up say, an OPSM, I would usually find stories and a disc full of demos/videos that had been on the net for a few weeks. And I just paid 2 meals worth of money for it (yes, I am a uni student).

  • Sometimes I buy one called GAME, it’s from the uk. So it’s a month behind, but the quality of articles is still worth it. If it was here on time I’d prob buy it more often. It’s only $10.

    Haven’t check out Game Informer, maybe I should, seems to have positive reveiws.

  • I’m still subscribed to Hyper, I’ve pretty much been buying it since the beginning.

    Of course my reasons for reading it have completely changed, while it was once the source for local news and information, now it’s more for the feature articles and opinion pieces.

    I still have a soft spot for magazines. I used to buy lots of them years ago, but when you move house you start to make sacrifices and a large percentage of them got thrown out.

    Now I just have my Hyper mags, a couple of CVG’s from the early 90’s for nostalgia and that’s about it.

    • Moving between apartments was what culled my collection down from every issue to a select few. At first I felt bad but now I don’t care.

  • I buy OXM and got a gift subscription for GI from the wife a few months back. Both pile up in the downstairs throne room.

    I brought every HYPER (after ‘Megazone’ died/turned in a SEGA only magazine) for their first 8 or so years but now I can’t stand the publication, which is sad. I tend to disagree with their reviews, find articles less appealing and content outdated compared to other publications.

  • I subscribe to a couple of magazines, but not Australian ones (and not games-related really either). I don’t think print will ever really die.

  • Wow, a whole bunch of comments and no mentions of Atomic? I know it’s not a gaming mag per se, but it’s core demographic are definitely all gamers.

    Does no one here read Atomic at all?

    Once upon a time I would buy Atomic and PC Powerplay every month, normally along with a copy of PC Authority as well. After shaving back the budget though I had to stop that (but was lucky to get a subscription to Atomic as a gift two years running).

    I did sign myself up for a Game Informer subscription a few months ago purely due to the price and the fact that an earlier issue impressed me. GI now proudly fills the magazine rack in my toilet.

    I do admit that I make it a habit to buy some magazines when on holidays though, but it’s generally a mix of things (Wired, a random photography mag, New Scientist, Atomic, and maybe Retro Gamer).

  • I have a subscription to Atomic which I have had for years. However it is aimed primarily at hardware. It has in recent years tried to become more mainstream by dropping the “hardcore-ness” of some of it’s content, but it is still a great magazine and community for the hardcore gamer and pc enthusiast.

  • I used to buy every Hyper. I think the first issue I got was the one with Chun Li on the cover a (fei) long time ago. I haven’t bought many game magazine since I got the internet though. I did get my first gaming job through Hyper classifieds though! Pixel artist on a space shooter. Needless to say without the internet and mailing floppies to NZ it didn’t really work out.

  • Game Informer has 40,000 circ? Oh good for them! That’s not 40,000 sales, that’s an extrapolated figured, it’s probably half that.

    Let’s see, push the magazine down people’s throats, sell (and I use sell loosely) it cheap because it’s essentially a catalogue, half of the content is from the American magazine. Let’s talk about all the ‘exclusives’ it has too, all stolen from the US magazine. How about Game Informer getting exclusive content? That’s from the US too and usually paid for by game companies to get a better ‘spot’ in EB Games. You d on’t think EB put up ‘PRE ORDER CALL OF DUTY 11: SOAPS OLD KNEES ‘ at the front of their store from the goodness of their heart do you?

    My (small) website makes double that in a month, that’s UNIQUE VISITORS. Not page loads, not visitors but actual people coming to the site to read locally produced content. We also only cover one brand, Nintendo. Site’s like PALGN, IGN AU, Gamespot AU who cover multiple systems will be taking a piss on 40,000.

    Are magazines dead? No of course not – there’s still great magazines out there who produce great content, local content and have quality writers. They’re still getting alright circulation, a far cry from the ‘good old days’ but things change.

    • Though i think print needs to die anyway I’m kinda curious on how many of their sales rely on week one.

      as you say you get more visitors in a month, But you also have alot more relevant/timely content throughout that month.

      I assume Week 1 sales Boom and then they drop off. Where Online has the ability to produce new content daily

  • If Aussie games mags were doing so well they would be hiring staff and showing a commitment to improving local coverage. They’re not. They are all cheaply produced. The publishers are stupid. They are cutting their own throat. There is a market for games mags, but you have to offer quality to compete with the huge amount of free content on the web.

  • I read Game Informer, OPSM:A, PSM3:A and PCPowerplay. I enjoying being able to read them on the train to uni or whilst on the throne at home.

  • Hmm I find it interesting that a lot of people said they buy it monthly…but don’t seem to have subscriptions? Just wondering why you would go that way if you know you’re going to keep buying it when you can save a decent chunk of money..? Unless of course you don’t buy it every month or something, then that makes sense.

    As for me… I don’t buy any gaming magazines, internet is just so convenient, and I don’t find gaming news that hard to keep up with (especially for just what I’m interested in). If I was going to get a subscription, I’d be going for New Scientist or Scientific American or something (although that is my field and where my interests are…). But what I find interesting that isn’t seen so much in the gaming magazine area is what New Scientist does. If you’re a subscriber, you can access not only the articles published in the magazine, but extra ones published online. It’s a digital and physical subscription from what I can tell. Would something like this be a foreseeable future for gaming magazines? Or would there be too much backlash/no interest because the information can be found elsewhere?

  • I don’t really buy magazines anymore. I get my news from websites now. Only time I get a magazine is if I’m expecting to be in transit for a time and need some reading material, which doesn’t happen that often.

  • Game Informer #1 Even if it wasn’t based on the price, it is the best gaming mag – and Hyper is twice the price.

  • I still buy PCPowerplay almost monthly, and sometimes Game Informer if I’m stuck waiting for a plane or something. Always good to have something physical to read and I prefer the layout of mags vs a site like this so much more.

  • I buy Official Nintendo and the very occasional OXM Ninty has gone down hill a little since certain people left and went ‘Ubi-Taku’. It just doesn’t feel a personal as it used to

  • I buy Hyper and Game Informer each month. Yes, the news is out-dated, but the articles are of a higher quality than most websites.

    I used to be right on Australian 360 when you were involved, Mark. Then you left, it went bi-monthly, Gameplayer died and that was the end of console-specific magazines for me.

  • Print media will never die and the phrase print media is dead is just a load of bullshit. if print was dead, there would be no more newspapers for one.

  • I have a current subscription to PC Power Play that I have had for year and I have been buying the mag since the 90’s. I also buy Atomic every month and I just sub’d to Game Informer which I have been buying from the start. The culture and quality of writing and the breadth of articles not just games themselves make it worthwhile for me. Even Kotaku’s US writers suck. Mark and Shamus are the only reason I come to this site and the only other site I visit is zero punctuation.

  • Used to buy Hyper religiously, not sure why I stopped actually, I guess I just started having less time for those sorts of things.

    Might have to pick up an issue, see what it’s like nowadays.

  • I’m only subscribed to GI and that’s only because I got an Edge membership.

    I still read magazines (Empire), but don’t read gaming mags quite as much as I do websites now.

  • Three Cheers for all HYPER readers here!

    HIP HIP HOORAY

    Best magazine ever, the only reviews I actually read.

    Also did anyone mention Edge for their covers yet? They get props for best covers.

  • I have Game Informer, but only because I was trading in some games at EB and they gave me the card so I could get like 2% more for tradeins (minus card cost).

    It’s not very good to be honest. Gamespot is better for reviews, and Kotaku is better for news.

  • I always buy PCPowerplay and Game Informer, started on PCPP a few years ago when a former boyfriend was helping me with a build. GI was one I picked up at launch and kept coming back to, it’s layout is simple and sophisticated, the editor is great and they write some genuinely insightful and well-thought out articles. I know the cheap price and US-based article coups are a little devious, but I get more quality than what I’m paying for so I’m happy.

    I used to buy Hyper regularly until about 12 months ago, where in the space of about 2 issues it turned into a mess of bad jokes aimed at 13 year old boys. I found as a woman over the age of 18 that it wasn’t witty any more, just immature. Then soon after it seemed to realise GI was eating it’s customer base of actual adults and they spun around to become what seemed to be a carbon copy of GI’s opinion and deeper focus pieces. Haven’t read it for months now.

    Even though the console mags are in no way hiding the fact that they are designed to promote their own brands, I still can’t bring myself to buy them, it feels like as an Agnostic if I were to buy a section of the bible each month – it’s just not for me thank you.

  • theres nothing like holding a videogame magazine (or something that is interesting to read) in your hand..for me it beats the shuffling and swiping of any touchscreen phone..whats strange is that eventhough we get the news more up to date via the net compared to magazines i still often find myself looking/purchasing/reading videogame mags and read them with such gusto

  • Since I can’t afford to buy games anymore I’ve opted for the next best thing and just read about them in magazines now. Hell I can read Game Informer for a whole year for about 1/4 the price of a game.

  • I was a devout PC Gamer reader and I could not wait for the new issues to come out. They were usually many pages, which was awesome. I always agreed with their reviews and would trust their opinions before anyone else. ~90% review, and I bought it or at least played the demo. I still have my old copies. Memorable ones are the announcement of Duke Nukem forever and the Preview of Halo, originally a PC game akin to Tribes.

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