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The Duel Between Gaming Magazines and Websites

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-bring-a-magazine-to-a-web-fight dept.

Games 84

The New York Times has up a piece looking at the ongoing battle between websites and magazines in the world of games journalism. With magazine subscriptions falling every year and a non-stop churn of news online, the article examines the ways that mags try to stay competitive, and the views of the gamers that read them. "The circulation for PC Gamer, a leading magazine from Future US, shrank to 210,369 this year from 300,271 in 2003, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Magazine publishers say that readers want longer features and in-depth articles as a counterpoint to the short, bloglike pieces they find online. But Kyle Orland, a freelance journalist who writes a media coverage column for Gamedaily.com, wondered if that strategy was working, saying that when a large feature is published, it doesn't get read. 'Attention spans are just getting so small that readers don't know what they want,' Mr. Orland said."

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Nonsense (3, Insightful)

Cy Sperling (960158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338771)

Magazine publishers say that readers want longer features and in-depth articles as a counterpoint to the short, bloglike pieces they find online. But Kyle Orland, a freelance journalist who writes a media coverage column for Gamedaily.com, wondered if that strategy was working, saying that when a large feature is published, it doesn't get read. 'Attention spans are just getting so small that readers don't know what they want,' Mr. Orland said."

That is just plain ridiculous. If I am eagerly anticipating game X, and a magazine has an in-depth 8 page preview- of course I am going to read it. Are we all such twitchy ADD zombies that nobody can maintain their attention for more than a page? I call bullshit on that...

Re:Nonsense (3, Insightful)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338909)

That is just plain ridiculous. If I am eagerly anticipating game X, and a magazine has an in-depth 8 page preview- of course I am going to read it. Are we all such twitchy ADD zombies that nobody can maintain their attention for more than a page? I call bullshit on that...

If it's an 8 page preview because it has 1 paragraph and 15 ads per page, then it's not going to keep many people's attention.

Re:Nonsense (2, Interesting)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339535)

I can tell you that the Ads are what caused me to cancel my Subscription to Official Xbox Magazine (OXM). I bought it strictly for the disk because there would inevitably be 1 or 2 discs a year with something I wanted and at $24 for an annual subscription and $10 a mag in the stores it was worth just subscribing.

In the span of a year the magazine went from 80-100 pages down to about 40-50, the disc cases went from nice plastic DVD thin packs down to printed cardboard sleeves and then down to generic white paper sleeves. The disc content went from at least 1 exclusive demo/bit of content a month to nothing more than a 1 month lag of regurgitation of Xbox Live...

Despite the frustration with all of that there were still some decent articles in the actual magazine mostly industry insights and developer interviews. I canceled my subscription last month however, when they decided to SELL THE COVER as advertisement space. Yes thats right the FRONT COVER of the magazine was an advertisement for the crap-tacular Clive Barker's Jericho. I'm not talking some stick on piece of cardboard that replaced the real cover, the actual cover was an ad. The first page of the magazine displayed what would normally be the cover image and it was your regular flimsy paper magazine page material.

You might think "well maybe they didn't have a worth while cover article that month" Unfortunately this was also the issue of OXM with their multi-page review/expose of Halo 3... I mean really... People would have bought that issue for memorabilia's sake alone, but I doubt anyone even noticed consider the cover was an add and the issues on the newsstand are sealed because of the disc. GOOD JOB.

Another thing that bothered me was that the newsstand editions of the magazine were lower quality than the subscription editions. Whatever happened to treating your LOYAL customers well? I seem to remember subscribing to many other magazines before and always getting a higher quality version of the product as a thank you for subscribing.

The speed in which the information is received was not the issue for me, it had everything to do with the fact that I was essentially buying a poorly crafted product with an overwhelming emphesis on advertisements over anything else.

Re:Nonsense (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340575)

at $24 for an annual subscription and $10 a mag in the stores it was worth just subscribing.

Dude, just goto the store and pop the disc out of the mag -- no purchase necessary.

Buy EDGE instead. (2, Interesting)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21347141)

$24 annual seems pretty low, if you want quality go buy EDGE [wikipedia.org] which is the only gaming magazine that I would buy, they don't give it to you for $2 each though... From my own experience with printing 4 color newspapars, it's impossible to good quality and sell for that little.

Re:Buy EDGE instead. (0, Flamebait)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21348555)

$24 annual seems pretty low, if you want quality go buy EDGE which is the only gaming magazine that I would buy, they don't give it to you for $2 each though... From my own experience with printing 4 color newspapars, it's impossible to good quality and sell for that little.
EDGE is a fantastic publication, unfortunately it's not offered in the USA. Even the UK version of OXM (which is completely different from the US version) is a much better magazine. Last time I looked into importing a subscription it was well over $150/year which is just too much for a magazine IMO.

You make a good point about the cost of printing and personally I would have been more than willing to pay twice as much for the OXM subscription had they offered a higher quality product... nice plastic snap cases for the DVDs larger footprint and more pages with less ads would be well worth a $50/year subscription to me. But even at $24 the quality was so ridiculously low it wasn't worth even that.

It seems to me that some bean counter decided that people weren't subscribing/droping subscriptions because of the cost and then continually added more ads/less content/lower quality to drive their costs lower... it's a damn shame.

Re:Buy EDGE instead. (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357555)

I've never commented on a moderators judgment before, on the rare occasion that I get modded down I take my lumps, but I'm seriously at a loss for how any of what I said here could be construed as "flamebait".

Re:Buy EDGE instead. (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 6 years ago | (#21349803)

It's impossible to accurately give a price to what it costs to publish a magazine without knowing how much ad revenue you get from it and how many subscribers it has. For example Metro [metro.us] is an international five-times-a-week newspaper that prints in 4 colors. They were obviously entirely ad-supported, but at least aesthetically they were pretty high quality.

Periodicals like to almost give subscriptions away because it means they can increase their subscriber (guaranteed) reader base and charge more for ads.

Re:Buy EDGE instead. (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21444395)

Metro is high volume, printed on lowgrade paper and has almost no editorial staff, all praise to Stenbeck [wikipedia.org] for launching that idea. Lots of things is easier in that kind of paper, e.g. you are not looking at the picture with a magnifying glass to look at new features in games.

Re:Nonsense (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340671)

If it is an 8 page preview, we are talking about an 8 page preview. Not talking about the ads. The ads on the websites are even worse than the ones in the magazines so your gripe is largely made up.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Araxen (561411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340961)

Most people here surf with Firefox + Adblock and never see those flash ads for the most part.

Re:Nonsense (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341121)

Or opera. I never saw any ads at all even with FF. The only problem is I have not been able to block google text ads or the ads in search results on google with Opera. With FF I just used customizegoogle plugin but I can't find anything for Opera that's similar.

Gaming websites are pretty bad, usually having at least one of those ugly flash ads and some other random stuff. What is worse are those inline ads when you click a link and it takes you to an ad page first then forwards you. It's always funny to see a big blank space marked advertisement with nothing in it because the actual ad content was block :P Still annoying that you have to click through an extra page to get where you wanted to go.

Re:Nonsense (1)

SethraLavode (910814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21349309)

Or opera. I never saw any ads at all even with FF. The only problem is I have not been able to block google text ads or the ads in search results on google with Opera.
I haven't done it myself, but you should be able to use user stylesheets to disable the Google search ads. Check this article [mtsix.com] for some user styles that are linked in the comments.

Re:Nonsense (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342283)

The original quote was from a writer for a web site who claimed that long stories don't get read. He was speculating on how well long stories work for magazines based on his experience with the web.

Hence my point that it's more likely the amount of advertising than the amount of content that's causing the trends he's seeing.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340855)

If it's an 8 page preview because it has 1 paragraph and 15 ads per page, then it's not going to keep many people's attention.

So is this complaint aimed at the gaming magazines, or the gaming websites? I can't tell.

Re:Nonsense (2, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339013)

If I am eagerly anticipating game X, and a magazine has an in-depth 8 page preview- of course I am going to read it.

Whereas I would go to their website and read it. And if it's not on their website, I'm not going to read it, but I'll find the best indepth review that is online. Not all "review" online are stubs. I know I'm sorta-off you anti-ADD point here. But I think the real point is that it's not short vs long articles or whatever. It's that compared to the internet magazies and newspapers are horrid.

Magazines and newspapers are being killed by the internet, we all know that. NewScientist I pay for. Just to get access to the website since all their mags are on it. I hope what we don't lose is the quality content like NewScienst, so I hope their subscription model works.

So what magazine publishers need to be saying is "Crap. We're like the horse salesman when cars came along. Time to start selling cars." Financially, sure, some people still aren't online. I don't see how video game mags apply to them though. And airports, sure, last time I read a newspaper, the paper version, was the last time I flew. But even that'll be not needed in a few years as mobile devices with internet capabilities improve and grow in use and features.

Re:Nonsense (4, Informative)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339031)

You actually trust magazine reviews to tell the honest truth in a review? I remember buying Outpost [wikipedia.org] based on reviews, and it was quite disappointing when it came to actual gameplay.

Quote from wikipedia:

Initial reviews of Outpost were enthusiastic about the game. Most notoriously, the American version of PC Gamer rated the game at 93%, one of its highest ratings ever for the time. It was later made known that the reviewers had in fact played beta versions of the game, and had been promised certain features would be implemented, but never were.
Indeed, many of the features described in the game's own documentation simply did not exist in the game at all. These included the ability to enter diplomatic relations with the rebel colony and the ability to build roads, among other things. Many of these gameplay aspects were later patched in, though in appearance only, as many of them failed to have any meaningful effect on gameplay.
Following the release of the game, the game's general bugginess and perceived mediocre gameplay, along with the lack of features described in most of the game's reviews and the game's own documentation led to a minor backlash against the computer game magazines of the time by consumers who bought the game based on their reviews.

Re:Nonsense (2, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339157)

because of that incident (it might have been a different game but same situation) , PC Gamer now only reviews the final copies of games, and not pre-release versions. the pre-release may make it into the "Previews" section though, which doesnt have ratings.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Cy Sperling (960158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339391)

If you read my post- I talked about PREviews. Anyway, I have the basic understanding of the concept of "opinion" to know that reviews, and even previews, are presented from a subjective point of view and thusly may not be reflective of my own tastes. Any time you purchase a game, there is a chance you might not like it- even if it is rained upon with critical favor. As far as covering a Beta- a good writer will disclose that they aren't playing a finished build- something I routinely see in both print and online articles.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Schnapple (262314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21349919)

In all fairness, that was a review from 1994, thirteen years ago and in the first year of the magazine. The situation has improved since then, though PC Gamer is still guilty of the "hey you let us review the game early and put it on the cover of course you get a high rating" syndrome. In a recent episode of the PC Gamer Podcast, columnist Gary Whitta actually blasted the rest of the staff for giving Crysis 98%.

Re:Nonsense (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339083)

Magazine publishers do want longer features as a counterpoint to... something. I didn't read that far but I see what you're saying and agree that the article is right.

Re:Nonsense (0, Redundant)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339267)

Sorry, I stopped reading halfway through your post. I started to get to "has an in-depth 8 page preview" and then just blah-blah-blah. I guess what I'm trying to say is...

Oh look, a bunny!

Re:Nonsense (1)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340287)

Are we all such twitchy ADD zombies that nobody can maintain their attention for more than a page? I call bullshit on that...

I agree. I often find myself reading long articles when using the facility and I

Re:Nonsense (1)

Araxen (561411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340903)

Odds are the information in that 8 page preview can be found on a gaming website a month or more earlier.

I let my PC Gamer sub finally expire this year and they sent me 4 months worth(iirc) of "last issue" magazines. You can tell they are pretty desperate to keep any subs they can by that.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341499)

The issue is that both magazine and website compete for exposure of hype. The fresher the hype, the bigger 'impact' you have. This is one of the reasons why blogs have been such a successful hype machine - places like digg, engadget, and slashdot (although /. is "slow" compared to the other sites). You don't have to wait 30 days to hear anything new, or if [hyped game xx] has some new screenshots - you can see them online within minutes of release.

Magazines cannot compete with that. If they release screenshots or artwork from [hyped game xx] next month, most people that were interested in the game in the first place would have seen in weeks ago. Considering the fact that video gaming has strong visual emphasis, trying to drum up hype for something that's been out there for already for weeks is a pointless endeavor. And then there's the video clips of the gameplayer, trailers et cetera.

Hype online is served in trickles. You get a new screenshot every 3 days. By the end of the month, you'll have 10 images. Hype in print is served in tidal waves - where you get the editorial, the interview with the devs/producers/key people, and 10 images all at once, although one month later.

I wouldn't necessarily say that attention spans have shortened so much that we don't know what we want, but that since popularity dictates hype online, most people stumble across the 'loudest' content on the web regarding their subject of interest.

Magazines need to have a different approach. Emphasis on unique artwork, quality editorial content and graphic design that cannot be duplicated on the web is where it seems to be headed. Some of these new fangled gaming magazines are quite beautiful, I admit.

Why I still get a couple gaming mags in the mail (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338805)

I still have active subscriptions to Game Informer and PC Gamer because they make for great reading while on the toilet...yesyesyes, I know I could just bring my laptop in there, but...well...I'd rather not melt the plastic, if you know what I'm saying...

Plus, while this happens rarely, there are times when I get a gaming mag in the mail and there is an article on a game that I haven't heard of from checking the normal sources online...again, doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

Re:Why I still get a couple gaming mags in the mai (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339065)

I still have active subscriptions to Game Informer and PC Gamer because they make for great reading while on the toilet...yesyesyes, I know I could just bring my laptop in there, but...well...I'd rather not melt the plastic, if you know what I'm saying...
I have to agree. Most mags are 90% screen shots. That means very little to read and so you can just dip in and out. Edge is the only exception aand that probably has too much writing.

Re:Why I still get a couple gaming mags in the mai (2, Insightful)

Cy Sperling (960158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339487)

Plus, while this happens rarely, there are times when I get a gaming mag in the mail and there is an article on a game that I haven't heard of from checking the normal sources online...again, doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

That is a very good point. Magazines are great for stumbling across a game that you might not click-through to on a gaming blog. If your only exposure to a game is through the banner ads that most of us disable, or the single sentence link on a game-sites front page; you might be overlooking something.

Re:Why I still get a couple gaming mags in the mai (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340721)

PCGamer subscriber for over 10 years now...each one read cover-to-cover...on the toilet. My laptop is too cumbersome to comfortably use there (but it's definately doable).

Well worth $20/year (I stopped getting the CD once I got broadband).

Duel? (4, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338823)

Doesn't a duel imply that both parties are actively attacking each other? Game sites don't -care- about magazines at all, except for Japanese ones where they can scan the page and show that Mega Pony X3 is coming out over there sometime in the future. Local magazines get no attention whatsoever.

Gamers only want game news. The interviews with developers and demos are nice, but the best stuff is always available online somewhere. And any developer that ignores the websites in favor of magazines loses a -lot- of free advertisement that gets to the target -immediately.-

I really don't see anything useful in magazines any more... The stuff they used to have like cheats, maps, etc... All of that is gone. Now the companies sell the maps and walkthroughs directly to the consumer, and cheats are always available online without having to figure out which backissue of Generic Gamer Monthly it was in.

No, it's not a 'duel'... It's 'I'm not dead yet!' Sorry bud, 'You will be soon!'

Re:Duel? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21347863)

If I don't have a good book to hand, I never take a long train journey without buying a couple of magazines. I think a lot of people read magazines in this kind if situation. Until we get lightweight and portable (or even disposable?) net access we'll still need magazines around to stave off the boredom. Even if there is only enough market demand to support one magazine per gaming platform.

You only need to go to a big book store where magazines are sold to see that there are some pretty niche products out there. Can there really be that many people buying 'Trout Fishing Monthly'? Yet there it is on the shelf...

Delay (4, Informative)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338829)

Its all about delay. I have a game informer subscription that came with the purchase of my 360. At the end of the magazine they have what will be featured in the next magazine. Unfortunately, whatever is usually featured next month is already online with write-ups and also videos to go along with it at sites like gamespot or IGN.

Either way though, Its good reading material on the pooper.

It's a pleasure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338849)

... to watch the plagiarizing shills suffer and die.

Lower the price (2, Interesting)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338855)

If sales go down, lower the price.

People on the whole prefer reading something tangible to staring at a screen, especially for in-depth articles, but those magazines put off a lot of people with exorbitant prices (at least on this side of the Atlantic).

Re:Lower the price (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339095)

Well, if they make the mags cheaper, then they have to make it up in ads. Those mags are already 90% ads, and that is one of the factors that made me give up on them.

Re:Lower the price (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21349681)

Well, if they make the mags cheaper, then they have to make it up in ads.
That's the kind of misthinking that led to the slow death their suffering now: We must squeeze every red cent out of every magazine.

Imagine if they cut the price by 25% and didn't jack the ads up to compensate. They'd lose money, oh noes!!!
Of course, if after a short time thier readership increased 34%, they'd profit.

What? Long run thinking? Stupid me.

Re:Lower the price (2, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340613)

I subscribe to Maximum PC and I love it. It's only $10 for a year. That's less than a freaking dollar an issue. (Ok, so I just looked and they've increased it to $12 for a year... but still, a buck an issue is an amazing deal.) I agree that the newsstand price ($8.99) can be a lot, but if you're a subscriber, it's a heckuva a deal.

I think it's a great mag. They cover everything from hardware to games and I actually recently built a machine based almost entirely off of reviews from their magazine. I checked around online a bit too but I didn't find anything that I hadn't already learned in Maximum PC. Additionally, they have a number of policies in place to keep reviews and articles objective.

The only time I read is when I travel (1)

voxel (70407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338861)

The only time I read them is when I travel on an airplane and don't have access to the net. I'll be at the airport waiting to board, so I'll go over to a magazine rack and pick up a few and one usually is a gaming magazine.

Otherwise, I never buy them, I can read just about anything online for free before paying for it in a magazine.

The one thing they can do, if not already, is get exclusives with the game developers and publish only in the magazine.

The overall problem though I think is, it's cheaper to publish online, and more profitable with targeted ads to boot. The game magazines will probably be all gone within 5 to 10 years.

I used to be an avid Electronic Gaming Monthly SUBSCRIBER, back in the early to mid 1990's...

Ads (2, Interesting)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338869)

My biggest complaint with print media is the ads- almost every other freaking page. I can understand ads when I'm not paying for access to a website, or ads when they lower my subscription costs (not that that seems to have had any effect), but every other freaking page? If I'm lucky, they're back to back, and I can rip out the page entirely.

Even worse, there are some advertisements that act as if they are part of the magazine. For the most part, these have "ADVERTISEMENT" across the top in small-to-regular print, but if the layout is similar to the regular magazine layout, you can easily read a bit before you realize what's going on. I don't want to have to check the top of every damn page to see if I'm reading some advertising bullshit or the magazine's bullshit.

I still like print media- it's useful for when the internet goes down, when I'm on the can, or when I'm on a bus or riding with my family. It's not great for immediate news, but I like it for the reviews and features. However, some of the tactics being taken by various magazines (not just gaming) are making it much harder for me to justify continuous purchase.

Re:Ads (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340675)

I think that that is more of an American disease than anything. I read Edge and GamesTM in the UK, neither of which have ads distracting from the editorial.

Having seen EGM in the past I really don't understand why you all put up with it. Especially the 'infomercials' which are made to look like reviews, they really suck.

Re:Ads (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21343121)

We (Americans) "put up with it" because there's very little else out there, so its either put up with it or do without. I'm not going to say one or the other is better, just filling in some facts.

Personally, when I ditched dial-up, I also ditched the print magazines. There are times I miss them (as mentioned above, they did make great materials for quick bathroom reading) but I've traded game magazines for other hobby magazines that aren't quite as bad. Yet.

Re:Ads (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341549)

but if the layout is similar to the regular magazine layout, you can easily read a bit before you realize what's going on.

Good one - I fear, though, that the group you so sublimely mock here probably won't get the joke.

Of course, you did mean that as a joke, right? That, if the "content" and "advertisements" look so similar, you effectively have bought a magazine for the ads?

Re:Ads (1)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21346199)

Sadly, this is actually the point of most magazines. I forget where I saw this article (it was the one where an insider explains how the PR industry works), but basically magazines make more off their advertisers than they do from direct sales. This is true for pretty much everything except a small handful -- academic journals, mostly, I expect. The exact phrasing, I believe, was to the effect of "Magazines would just give subscriptions away, but the advertisers won't let them -- they think if they give it away, people won't pay any attention to it."

That's why subscriptions are SO much cheaper. Some of it is that you're basically signing a (usually) one-year contract agreeing to buy 12 issues in advance. But a subscriber is not anonymous. They don't have to get approximate numbers on sales. They know exactly how many subscribers they have -- and their names, addresses, and (through various companies that specialize in collimating this kind of data) can usually figure out exactly who you are based on how you pay. Then they get all kinds of demographic info that's quite valuable to advertisers. When was the last time you saw a life insurance ad in any gaming mag? As the demographics shift, eventually that market will be looking to get life insurance (same as everybody else). And the subscriber info is the easiest way for them to track this.

Re:Ads (1)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21353911)

As a long time PC Gamer subscriber I have to admit the 20-30 page cellphone section, which is really a big advertisement, is really irking me. I put up with it for the toilet time reading factor, but I'm guessing we're going to see a further eroding of the number of magazines and an increase in ads so they can continue to function. Why PC Gamer hasn't developed a concurrent subscription model for online and started putting content there I have no idea. Maybe they have and I haven't visited the site in a while..

Reason for decline.. (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338969)

If someone wants video game *news*, they go online. A story/new game/preview/delay that I read about today will be in next month's magazine. Old news is no news.

Next Generation Magazine and sometimes EGM (3, Insightful)

Ang31us (1132361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339033)

As far as I am concerned, the day of the video game magazine died when Next Generation Magazine died. They simply covered the industry very well from many angles. After its parent company cancelled the publication, I no longer had any reason to read video game magazines, because I could obtain the content online. Sure, I picked up Electronic Gaming Monthly from time to time when they covered a game that I was very interested in, but Next-Gen magazine was the gold standard as far as I was concerned. I'm glad that some of the editors got back together and formed the www.next-gen.biz website.

Re:Next Generation Magazine and sometimes EGM (1)

KrazeeEyezKilla (955150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339167)

Next Gen was really good, I was sad that I started getting into it right before it went away.
1990s PC Gamer was another game magazine high point; I still subscribe but the new ones have very little in common with the old classic issues.

Sadly I do like to read GI occasionally for the nerdy side bits but not the adverarticles.

Magazines and me (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339109)

I still get two video game magazines (EGM and Computer Gaming... I mean Games for Windows) and I read them quite thoroughly. I also get Wired Magazine, Fast Company, and Game Developer. These are all subjects where I could easily get the exact same information online weeks in advance (and quite often I do), but I simply find it enjoyable to crash on the couch and flip through the magazine. There's still something to seeing video game screenshots in print to me, something I don't get from looking at image after image online. I can't really put my finger on it all, but it must be something or I simply wouldn't subscribe anymore (or seek out the many free offers out there).

The one thing that annoys me are the ads. The ads themselves are usually fine, some of them can be really cool or actually clue me in on something I wasn't aware of before. It's the quantity of ads, there are so incredibly many of them. But I suppose that's why many of my subscriptions are free.

Ads or Articles? (1)

dank zappingly (975064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21344537)

My main problem with magazines is that they are almost entirely advertisements. There are the advertisements that look like articles (with the small advertisement listing on the top), but there are also articles that are usually thinly-veiled product placements. Then there are the regular advertisements, which seem to be there just to trick you into thinking that everything else in the magazine must be non-ads (articles). Mostly I read magazines on the crapper, and even when I look at the table of contents, by the time I find something to read it is too late (lack of page numbers on most pages doesn't help). And if you pay close enough attention to things you can find even sketchier things in the reviews.

Example 1: Guitar World lists the best guitar solo ever as "Machine Gun." Incidentally, guitar world writer Andy Aledort was touring with the Band of Gypsies at the time. It is a darn good solo, but also a pretty suspicious coincidence.

Example 2: Rolling Stone gives the new Springsteen album an unprecedented 5 stars. They never give anything 5 stars. (Ok Computer= 4 stars, Nevermind= 3 stars) Incidentally, Springsteen's manager is a former writer. This is not a coincidence.

Example 3: There is the cozy relationship between muscle mags and supplement makers detailed in Game of Shadows. For example BALCO managed to market an entirely fake supplement called TMG. I could keep going on forever. I guess my point is that when I'm reading the internet, there is a short article and a bunch of ads I can completely ignore most of the time. There is also a chance that the small piece of information is a bit of real news, or someone's actual opinion, rather than another advertisement hidden in some flowery prose. Why should I pay for a magazine that purports to review products, when it is actually in the pocket of the reviewee? This bullshit should be illegal.

Game magazines have a similar problem going on. First you have the "official" magazines of the various platforms. Even sketchier, the earliest magazine reviews of games tend to be the most positive. The earliest review of Lair (Play Magazine) gave it a 9/10. I don't know if this happens all the time, but it's just something I noticed

That's not the problem. (2, Interesting)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339177)

The fact is that we see massive shifts in game technology on a daily and weekly basis. A monthly magazine is just going to be completely destroyed by online journalism. If they want to fix the problem, they need to shift to a weekly or daily format and completely change their organization so that it works that way. You might end up with some issues that are underwhelming, and some that are packed with new stuff, but it'll be a lot easier to keep people's attention when you can keep them coming back for more.

In my website design classes, they called it "heroin content" because it was something that kept the consumer coming back. It's the reason blogs and websites like slashdot or magicthegathering.com have so many repeat visitors, whereas other websites are really just there to establish a corporate or personal presence on the web.

Compare the magazine to a newspaper, and you see the difference between your newspaper and the internet. If your audience is shrinking because of the timeliness of your news, then tell the news more often, so that they aren't tempted to just drop you.

Right now PCG is surviving pretty much solely due to its exclusives, which are an opportunity for big game businesses to prepare news releases ahead of time to a specific audience, and to reach as many people at once as they can, with minimal investment. Somebody needs to point it out to them that it's not working. If they shifted to a more regular schedule, they'd pick up more readers, sell more copies, they might be able to save paper, they'd be able to integrate it with their website and as a result, become a big, respected name in PC gaming again. I read PCG every now and then if there's something on the cover that interests me, but it's really turned into a novelty magazine.

Longer articles (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339181)

I for one enjoy the longer articles that are in magazines. Not just reviews, but in-depth behind-the-scenes and interviews as well. Online just doesn't cut it for me. I want something I can read on a subway, an airplane, in bed, in a conference room before the start of a meeting, and on the toilet. Can't easily do that with 1up.com.

The short blurby reviews are useless. If I want to review a game I will do research at gamerankings.com. I want something sevreal pages that takes me 10-15 minutes to read.

Re:Longer articles (1)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339377)

Exactly. Competing with online gaming news is stupid, because even a magazine with an incredibly short publishing cycle is always going to be a couple weeks behind the curve. On top of that, they can't include video previews of upcoming games. The way for magazines to compete is to go smarter. Write long, thoughtful articles about Game And Society, Games And Childhood Nostalgia, Games and The Meaning of Life, &c. People are interested in those, and they can't necessarily be found just anywhere online, and since they don't rely on up-to-the-minute news or videos, they aren't liable to being scooped out of existence.

Mags must go online or die (2, Interesting)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339333)

Mags can't compete with websites for several reasons:
1) space, websites have unlimited space, size, and coverage possible
2) time, websites can publish immediately
3) media, websites can show pictures, video, sound, and link to demos seamlessly
4) cost, websites are a fraction of the cost of anything printed
5) promotion, websites can better integrate with relevant and targeted advertisements
6) user interaction, websites can offer real time discussion of any article or issue

In order for mags to compete they must evolve into something different than what websites can offer. Some ideas:
1) switch to full page color ads with little to no text (I find most ads are quite enjoyable if they are simply/mostly images)
2) focus on quality of reviews and previews rather than quantity, exclusivity, or breaking news, websites can easily beat you on these so you must focus on quality.
3) clean up the format so it is super clear and uncluttered

Ultimately I think all magazines and newspapers will shrink and be shoved in a corner to very specific uses for travel, bathrooms, waiting rooms, basically any public place where you are forced to wait.

If I owned a print only magazine, rather than trying to beat back the online media torrent that will dissolve your format, I would embrace it and move all resources to my online presense, then allow people to print free mini versions of the magazine for use in the public waiting places mentioned above.

Only the latest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339385)

My problem is this month's issue of Gaming Magazine is less likely to have the information I want. I don't buy games that frequently, and usually I'm not buying the lastest stuff on the rack. So a magazine including reviews/player's guides for only this month's releases just isn't that useful to me. Instead I can go online and easily find whatever I want to know about this 3 month/6 month/1 year old game without having to track down a specific back issue.

Change. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339579)

Print-based magazines are just as lacking in substance as their online counterparts. Unfortunately, the over-saturation of advertising in print manages to be even more intrusive than it is online. And the lifestyle magazines, gaming including are particularly insane with the advertising. So I find it funny that these guys are talking about the so-called quality of writing in print.

If they were serious about competing with online publications they'd make significant changes. I'd take an approach similar to that seen with design magazines. Improve the overall quality of the publication. By this I mean, choose higher quality paper and good printing.

Don't try to cram every last shred of gaming information into a single issue, especially since the magazine is going to be outdated the day it goes to print. Instead, focus on fewer, higher quality stories. Write substantive reviews that actually mean something and don't come off as marketing.

And to the authors and editors, stop thinking you're celebrities. This is a particular peeve of mine, even online. These guys have a tendency to rub it in the face of the reader that they've gotten access to games before the reader. They seem think they're God's gift to gamers. Just focus on the damn games and stop trying to convince me you're cool.

I might even suggest raising the price of each issue for the sole purpose of reducing the number of ads. Perhaps it may make sense to go to a bi-monthly schedule. It means a longer wait, but it translates into more time to produce a quality issue.

That's the approach taken by some of the design magazines I subscribe and I always feel like each issue is worth the subscription. They're worth holding on to. Unlike most gaming magazines I see which are obnoxious crap barely worth picking up off the newsstand.

Like anything, if you want to be competitive you have to be a bit creative. Complaining about the competition while doing more of the same isn't going to fix the problem.

Re:Change. (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341675)

I might even suggest raising the price of each issue for the sole purpose of reducing the number of ads. Perhaps it may make sense to go to a bi-monthly schedule. It means a longer wait, but it translates into more time to produce a quality issue.

That's the approach taken by some of the design magazines I subscribe and I always feel like each issue is worth the subscription. They're worth holding on to. Unlike most gaming magazines I see which are obnoxious crap barely worth picking up off the newsstand.

It's not really a fair comparison though. Good design never goes out of style. Gaming news is stale the next day.

Ebay subscriptions (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339709)

I get PCGamer and CGW (or Games for Windows Magazine as it is now called) and I used to get Computer Games Magazine. Why? Because you can get subscriptions to these and many other magazines on ebay for incredibly low prices. I think I got 4 years of PCGamer for $10. That's like 21 cents an issue. Sure they aren't the cd or dvd versions but still, at that price it is a no brainer.

Demo Disks! (2, Informative)

FataL187 (1100851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339749)

The only reason I have bougt a game mag in the last several years is for the occasional demo disk. If the mags included playable demos with each issue I would subscribe to them all. I like to be able to try the game before I drop $60.00 on it and find out I don't like it despite it getting good reviews on the web or in print.

If game companies were smart they would give playable demos to the mags like crazy. Too bad I have yet to see one demo disk for the Wii, it might have prevented me from buying NBA 07, Rapala Fishing and that horrible piece of trash chicken shoot (I thought my 5 & 7 year olds would like it, I was horribly wrong)

-FataL

Re:Demo Disks! (1)

AnotherSteve (447030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21343451)

I used to subscribe to Official Playstation Magazine for exactly that reason. It was worth the US$40/year for me to get the demo disks, sort of as an inoculation against all the crappy games that come out.

But think of that from the game publisher's point of view. Every time someone plays Spyro: Some Crazy Dwagon on the demo disk, learns that the game is crap, and gives it a miss in the store, that's a fail.

Re:Demo Disks! (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21346629)

If game companies were smart they would give playable demos to the mags like crazy. Too bad I have yet to see one demo disk for the Wii, it might have prevented me from buying NBA 07, Rapala Fishing and that horrible piece of trash chicken shoot (I thought my 5 & 7 year olds would like it, I was horribly wrong)

Then I guess they're not so dumb for not including demos of crappy games, eh? Oh, and a tip... next time try some of the game reviews online before purchasing a non-AAA game (Rapala fishing got an awful 3.0/10 [ign.com] - VERY unheard of). I like IGN's reviews personally. Not because I agree with them (I often don't), but they rarely give a game 9+ without it being excellent.

... In Japan (4, Interesting)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339839)

Actually there is a solution and the Japanese know it. A few years ago a Japanese magazine emailed me requesting to add a freeware tool I had made to the CD they include with their publication and asked if I also wanted a free subscription. Sure I said, but I must say I was not prepared for what I would start to receive every month for the following 3-4 years...
So, their magazine was all about games, and multimedia, and naked girls! There was no coherent order of things, on one page there was a game review with adult ads, on the next there was a nude model pictorial, further "decorated" with (regular - non-nudie) pc-software ads, then an article on p2p full of adult, game, software etc ads. There were "combination" articles, like nudie web site reviews, or adult PC game reviews and always in no "sensible" categorization/order in the magazine. The included CD was similar. Game demos, multimedia software, japanese porn videos, all nicely aggregated within the autoplay interface.
After surviving the culture shock, I decided they probably knew their target audience too well and I should just appreciate the publishers ingenuity.

Re:... In Japan (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340233)

What magazine was it?

Re:... In Japan (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21346285)

Well, I don't have the magazines with me, but going through my emails for permission requests from 5 years ago, I found a couple of titles: "Download DX" and "PC Maxx", but I am not sure these are the ones I actually received (I even remember that every few months I would start receiving a new publication in place of the previous, but they were similar in format - just as I described).
Also, they are only in Japanese, so you won't get the most out of the articles ;)

Re:... In Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340377)

soooooooooo... what was the name and where can we subscribe?

Re:... In Japan (1)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21353933)

Coming in here talking about a magazine with both boobies and game info without providing a direct link to the subscription page brands you a troll in my book.

Dish with the name of the magazine or prepare for the rantings of hundreds of angry geeks!

PC Gamer has one problem (1)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340125)

The Vede. When he took over as editor the mag went down the toilet. I canceled my subscription after the format change. Don't blame the attention span of the reader. Look at what changed in the last 4 years if you want to find a cause. This used to be a great magazine, it was sad to see it go. X-Play is now in danger of doing the same thing. Constantly changing it's format and selling out to sponsors. Stick with what works.

Magazines! (1)

Hanging By A Thread (906564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340231)

Unless you wanna take a laptop to the can...

Of course if you're doing that already....well, I'll never put my finger on anyone else's touch pad again!

It has nothing to do with attention spans (1)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340311)

My switch away from print had nothing to do with a short attention span. I subscribed to PC Gamer from 1994 until 2001. In the end, I dropped my subscription out of disgust. The magazine kept getting thinner and thinner while the ratio of ads versus actual content kept growing, and the editorial quality fell off of a cliff. At the same time, I could get more timely updates from the internet at a comparable level of quality (which speaks only ill about the magazine's writing).

You can see it in the mags themselves (1)

BulletMagnet (600525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340313)

I've been a subscriber to both the print versions of PCG and MaxPC for something like 8 years now. Back in the early days (I remember the 1st one I looked at had a picture of a then-hot Stevie Case on the cover - maybe I was thinking it was Playboy) you could always count on the same certain writing styles from the various editors - nowdays, I think the EIC moves on every quarter. I think PCG has been through 3 EICs this year - and the current one was a new employee 12-18 months ago.

Hang around for another month Kristen, you actually can form a sentence better then the overly full of himself Vederman ever could.

PC Gamer (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340371)

As a reader of PC Gamer from issue #1 I can understand the falling sub rates. The Magazine in the last two years or so has been in SHARP decline. I am questioning if the next re-up is going to happen for me.

The Mag was originally a VERY good source of news, information and previews in the PC games world. Now its become a big old pile of fluff for the most part. It doesn't really tell you anything anymore. I no longer seem to even be able to get the disc with it when I subscribe, that was always nice.

The articles no longer seem to go in the depth they used to in the past. I think the difference is in the past the articles were written by journalists, now they are written by fan boys. The columns have all but dried up, I can't remember the last time I read an actual interesting one that contained any good information.

Its all flash over substance now. Perhaps its a change in target audience,I think it used to be written for adults. Now its the PC equivalent of EGM or GamePro.

Re:PC Gamer (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356531)

I never got to read the real early issues, but in 2001-03 I had a subscription... I liked most of the articles, except for the one near the back, IIRC "The Hard Stuff". It had some good information, but the articles were full of so much *expletive deleted* that I could barely read them. I checked who the editor of the current magazine was, and you guessed it, the same "Vede" Vederman that wrote "The Hard Stuff" way back then...

In short, I blame the "Vede."

Evolution of Gaming News (2, Insightful)

Amigori (177092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340381)

Magazines are declining for the same reasons as newspapers, readers are going online daily, hourly, etc. Quality articles and objective reviews have been replaced by lots of pictures, advertisements (well, more than ever), and "non-objective" reviews. Some will argue that last point, but seriously...aside from the games you know will be lousy, everything else is usually in the 6.5-8.0 range. Statistical Bell Curve..yeah yeah, kinda defeats the purpose of a 10-point scale.

Remember Next Generation? I had a subscription for a very long time, quality articles, in-depth reviews along with caption reviews, interviews with developers and company execs, extensive trade show coverage. Thankfully, its back as www.next-gen.biz . Even PC Gamer was pretty good back in the day. I still have a few 3.5" floppies around with demos on them and a stack of demo CDs (including one with the Halo E3 video, ah...what could have been). I stopped that subscription when the discs started containing fewer demos on them, everything got a 80% or better rating, % of ad-content rose, my 56k connection went broadband (thus eliminating the reason I needed the demo CDs), and the net sites improved.

Additionally, many of us older gamers who bought subscriptions to GamePro, EGM, PCGamer, etc. were still young when we had 'unlimited' free time to spend playing games for hours at a time, memorizing articles and cheat codes, highlight the games we wanted in the Funcoland ad, and dream about winning those "Ultimate Gaming Rig, 52"TV, D-VHS, Stereo Sound, big speakers, 4 Systems, 100+ Games, etc." advertisement contests where you just needed to solve successively more difficult puzzles. We've grown up and have higher priorities which take time, so we just look for concise reviews, user opinions, and aggregators like gamerankings.com, assuming we're still playing games. Newer gamers can always remember IGN.com, 1Up.com, Gamespot.com, [insert your fav game site here], etc., but give a cursory glance through the magazines in the store, thinking "I read this X months ago." or "I have the full strategy guide at home."

Is there a fix for gaming mags? No. People will always buy magazines from newstands, especially at the airport/subway terminals, the publishers will just need to adjust their circulation accordingly. Game websites will continue to grow and be purchased by conglomerates, for better or worse.

As long as I have.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340607)

an Ass... I need to take a Dump... as long as I need to take a Dump... I need to read for 5-10 minutes... as long as I need to read for 10 minutes... I need SOMETHING quick to read.

Wow, the Video Game magazine with Pictures and quick articles and a Letters section. Perfect "Taking a Dump" reading material.

Learn to love it, or accidently flush it.

Well... (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341313)

I cancelled my PCGamer subscription because they refused to refund me after I paid up for 1yr and never got a magazine. That kind of customer service will quickly lose many readers. They didn't even offer to start a fresh subscription from that point and send me the magazines for which I had already paid. So I'll stick with my FREE reading online thanks.

Re:Well... (1)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342041)

I had the same problem with PC Gamer, but the complete opposite result. I missed about 3 issues because my Post Office deemed it "undeliverable". Ironically, this was after I received a couple of issues. I told them of this fact, and next thing you know, I'm getting PC Gamer. I called them, explained what happeend, andthey extended my subscription 3 months. I have received PC Gamer (PC Entertainment WAY back in the day), since the early 90's. I love their style.

History (1)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342065)

I will always have game mag subscriptions because they act as a sort of history. Electronic information is generally volatile, and it's quite a hassle to archive it indefinitely - formats change, websites close or prune. Print, on the other hand just demands physical space, and the format only becomes incompatible when the language itself changes. I can't see myself printing out articles, but I'm more than happy paying for the service. I still enjoy pulling out 17-year-old issues of EGM and waxing nostalgic, or having a good chuckle about how things used to be. Maybe having this record of gaming past isn't of value to most people anymore, but I'll have subscriptions as long as print magazines are available.

Same Ad Revenue (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21344085)

PC Gamer may have dropped from 300,000 to 210,000 but their cunning plan to cut from the previous, heady 6 pages of actual content, to a leaner 4, along with increasing from 60 to 90 pages of advertising ensures they still make the same revenue targets.

I joke but it's really not that untrue. I subscribe but am left wondering why. The magazine is virtually unreadable with a couple of pages of letters, half a dozen pages of previews, maybe ten pages of reviews (with half given over to one or two games and the rest being shorter than the average web review), a brief hardware section that can't compete with Anandtech or whoever, and a couple of one page columns at the back. All of this scattered through so many pages of ads, fold out ads and inserts that it's just about unreadable. What I can find amongst the ads is so brief (accepting no one's in to every genre) that it's become a half hour read and you're done for your five bucks.

Their challenge isn't that the market's no longer viable (there are plenty of design sites yet dozens of design magazines, there are plenty of digital photography sites and yet endless magazines). The problem is they've made so many commercial decisions, they've designed straight past anything for their readers to actually enjoy.

Bulk the tech section out to a five machines from a given price point multi review, a section on performance tuning, one on things like in game voice, one on graphics cards and you've suddenly got a valid section. Change the three brief columns at the back in to half a dozen that really cover a niche and build their own reason for being there. If you're going to preview games, write something rather than a full page graphic and 30 words. If you're going to review, review everything that comes out rather than two key games and a couple of embarrassed half page pieces that tell people nothing.

Reclaim the magazine for the readers and it might be worth reading. Keep seeing it purely as a vehicle for ads and there's no point in readers picking it up. With no readers, you can't sell any ads.

Some Mags seem to do well (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21347573)

Over here in Switzerland, I've noticed a lot of Wii and/or DS game mags that are obviously targeted at female adults. They're usually predominantly white, feature fashion sections and models on the front. Some of them have "games my kids could play" sections, but they seem to mainly be for adult females who play stuff like Brain Training on their DS.

No idea how well they're doing, but every few months, a new one seems to be added to the selection.

I guess this is one target audiece which is more likely to buy a magazine than to look up stuff on kotaku.com or ign.com.
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