Best Buy's @Gamer print mag hitting in-store newsstands this month

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We heard about @Gamer, Best Buy’s planned in-store games magazine, last month when it was confirmed as being real. The rumor was that the first issue would hit in June, but the first issue has “July/August” on the cover, so it looks like it will be a bimonthly mostly monthly job, for sale later in June. Their hook is that the magazine will not just be game reviews and previews, but will be full of delicious and nutritious savings:

The annual subscription price for 10 issues of @Gamer is $19.99 while the in-store edition is priced at $5.99 per issue. The first issue will include nearly $150 worth of exclusive offers for discounts on games and gaming accessories with subsequent issues including at least $20 worth of exclusive offers in each issue. Anyone can subscribe or purchase a single issue of the magazine. However, customers must be enrolled in Best Buy’s free gaming loyalty program, Reward Zone Gamers Club, in order to redeem the @Gamer offers.

My question is how we are supposed to reconcile ourselves with the fact that they are selling the same games they’re reviewing?

The objectivity of games reviewers is already being called into question in cases where the writers have nothing more to sell than pageviews to advertisers (though the advertisers may put out the games), so I suspect there may be a good faith barrier to overcome before Best Buy will sell many of these mags. Especially at $6 per issue. If the magazine is designed as a loss leader, a gateway product for buying more expensive items like games and so on (with the exclusive coupons), they should be letting it go for significantly less than what competing magazines are charging.

That’s just my opinion, though. The truth is the magazine has yet to hit the shelves, and it’s totally possible that the contents and coupons inside will be worth the $6 or $20/year. They do after all have real writers and editors, and the people in charge (Future) of the magazine also run quite a few worthwhile publications. We’ll do a follow-up as soon as we get our hands on one of the issues.

Update: Future US and Best Buy wanted to address some of the issues I brought up. They assure me that the editorial team is totally separate from Best Buy, which is reassuring. Although they won’t be offering full reviews so much as recommendations of the best games out there. This raises a different issue, of course: what value does the magazine have other than in coupons if it is mainly offering summary and generalized recommendation? Perhaps customers will find adequate value in the money-saving offers inside, but that depends a lot on the offers themselves. If you’re a frequent Best Buy shopper, though, you might be able to save quite a bit with the combined offers from a year’s worth of issues.

Also, it’s a mostly-monthly publication, with 10 issues a year; the July/Aug and Feb/March are combined issues. A factual mistake on my part.

Here’s the full press release:

Best Buy Launches @Gamer, A New Magazine for Gaming Enthusiasts

First Issue Available in Stores and by Subscription This Month

Minneapolis, MN., June 11, 2010 – Leading gaming and entertainment retailer Best Buy today announced the launch of a new publication for gaming enthusiasts. Developed in partnership with Future US, @Gamer will be available by subscription and in all Best Buy locations in the United States this month.

@Gamer will focus on providing both hard-core and casual gamers with relevant information on the hottest games and gaming hardware. Additionally, subscribers to @Gamer will receive exclusive offers, worth hundreds of dollars in savings annually, towards their future gaming purchases at Best Buy.

Each issue of the multiplatform games magazine will contain at least 100 pages, covering roughly 30 of the best gaming products. Industry veterans William O’Neal and Andy Eddy lead the editorial team as Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor. O’Neal formerly acted as G4TV’s gadget and technology correspondent on “Attack of the Show,” while Eddy has been a journalist and consultant in the game industry for more than two decades. Chuck Osborn, Group Editor-in-Chief of Future Plus, and Julian Rignall, Future Plus’ Editorial Director will oversee @Gamer. Combined, their experience includes PC Gamer, NVISION magazines, and the launch of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine.

“By developing @Gamer, with its compelling content and exclusive offers, we hope to create a trusted go-to resource for gamers,” said Chris Homeister, senior vice president and general manager for the home entertainment group at Best Buy. “We’re thrilled to partner with Future to provide fresh, knowledgeable and expert industry insights for our customers.”

“We’ve assembled a stellar editorial team – a who’s who in gaming – to ensure @Gamer is an independent and modern multi-platform magazine that will engage the most enthusiastic gamers,” said John Gower, Vice President, Future Plus. “By combining easy-to-digest games coverage with a cutting-edge design, we aim to make it really easy for readers to find games they’ll love to play.

The annual subscription price for 10 issues of @Gamer is $19.99 while the in-store edition is priced at $5.99 per issue. The first issue will include nearly $150 worth of exclusive offers for discounts on games and gaming accessories with subsequent issues including at least $20 worth of exclusive offers in each issue. Anyone can subscribe or purchase a single issue of the magazine. However, customers must be enrolled in Best Buy’s free gaming loyalty program, Reward Zone Gamers Club, in order to redeem the @Gamer offers.

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