Are Video Game Magazines On The Comeback Trail?

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!


    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.

    Game Informer is awesome! It shows that good quality gaming journalism still has its place in the current online market.

      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.

    Yep - i have a sub to Game Informer (thanks sweetheart) and it's pretty great.
    I just wish they had more competitions :(

      Side note - i wanted to start buying retro gamer as it looks rad and so full of content.. but it's just so expensive compared to other magazines at the same time...

        Ive been buying RG since the beginning. Xpensive but my favourite mag ever.

          I prefer the nude ladies ones meself..wat, they aint no ladies!

    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 :P

      I used to subscribe to this. All I remember of it now are Fat Boy and the Skull.

    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 try to get Game Informer each month and I get PCPowerplay or Hyper occasionally. I'm a sucker for physical copy

    yup, another GI subscriber here, mainly for the $5 cover price, but i also grab Atomic on occasion too.

    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.

      I real'ly mus't watch my apostrophe's!

        If only you could edit posts before you submit them! :P

        Don't worry about it - now we ALL get to watch them! :)

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

    I've never subscribed to any magazine before though. :P

    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.

    I am no fan of Game Informer. My brother gifted me with a subscription and after a year of questionable content, I had the following to say about the publication:

    I still love Hyper and Edge. Whenever I've got a long commute and some spare change I pick them up.

      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.

        *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!

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

        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

    Big fan of PCPP and HYPER. Quite enjoying Edge, but not sure if I'm going to keep my subscription going - I only read so much in a month. I AM BUT A MAN.

    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"
    "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.

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