In the last couple of years the story was a positive one for games magazines in Australia -- almost across the board readership and circulation numbers rose steadily. But today, the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) released numbers that reversed that trend. The numbers, it seems, are starting to decrease.
For games and tech magazines, the ABC circulation numbers made for depressing reading.
Game Informer has typically been a strong performer in terms of circulation, partly as a result of its business model, and has risen steadily since launch. This is its first circulation drop since launch.
The more vague 'readership' numbers, put together by Roy Morgan, tell a similar story, but there are positives to be garnered from those numbers. Roy Morgan readership numbers are a little less... 'reliable' might not be the correct word -- but it's all based on estimates on precisely how many people are reading or have access to the magazine, as opposed to hard sales numbers. 'Official' magazines, for example, tend to come out a little stronger than, say, Hyper because people tend to recognise the magazine's masthead, purely because they are aware of the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo brands.
The Roy Morgan readership numbers still showed a small drop for Game Informer, but markedly less than the circulation numbers -- a more reasonable 5.8% loss, not too shabby considering the magazine was coming off a 35.7% increase last time these numbers were released.
Hyper dropped a more significant amount, 24.7%. But it's worth noting that Hyper made a ridiculous 84.1% increase last time round. These numbers may represent somewhat of a correction.
The Official Xbox Magazine continued its rise, with a 12.3% rise in readership, as did the Official PlayStation Mag with a 5.1% increase and PC Powerplay with a 4.4% increase.
So the news is not all bad, and the news that is bad, isn't necessarily terrible. Almost all games magazines were coming off a serious amount of growth, it makes sense there would be some amount of tapering.