How do video game magazines survive in the online era? Can they?

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Print media, so says conventional wisdom, is dying a slow death, kicking and screaming all the way to the pearly gates. (Sounds like the RIAA to me…) What better way to analyze this than through a lens no doubt many of you can relate to, say, video games.

The conundrum for video game magazines is clear: why pay for a magazine that comes only once a month with old news and reviews when you can hop online and head to the IGNs and 1UPs (or us here, sometimes) of the world, with their instant news and reviews (and message boards and blogs and video and in-depth strategy guides…)? The magazine publishers would say, and do say, that magazines provide more in-depth analysis than their online competitors, can have longer, in-depth feature articles on industry movers and shakers, etc.

So what to do if you’re a magazine publisher looking for eyeballs?

It’s tough. Every now and then you’ll see “THE WII ISSUE” or “HALO 3, UNCENSORED,” big, sorta timely issues with a specific purpose. Given that, it really does look like features are the only way to go to attract eyeballs (or excellent writing, but my guess is that most people who read EGM and the like are gamers first and foremost and not literary whiz-kids, everyone on the Penny-Arcade forums notwithstanding).

So I guess I now have to ask if any of you still subscribe to video game magazines? I get EGM and Games for Windows in the mail, but that’s because I signed up on one of those “hot deeelz” forums some time ago.

As for quality video game journalism, I—100 percent without hesitation—recommend Edge, a UK publication that reads like Vanity Fair or the New Yorker; I downlaod it every now and then. There’s no treating the audience like a bunch of dummies there, no excessive use of exclamation points (“must see!!!”), etc. Its Halo 3 review, honestly, was the only one I bothered to read all the way through. It’s a little on the expensive side, but that’s what funds its quality.

Game News in a Duel of Print and Online [New York Times]

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