MEDIA: Games Magazines - Identify targets as gamers grow up. As the computer games market grows ever larger, publishers are finding niche audiences, either for game genres or for specific games consoles

The world of the computer games magazine has traditionally been a rather staid one. Getting good reviews in magazines is a key part of the PR and sales process for the games industry. A recent survey in the software industry trade magazine M.C.V. suggested that reviews have a direct influence on the buying decisions on as much as 85 per cent of hard core gaming consumers.This leads, however, to something of a media problem. Essentially there is a series of magazines in the same sector consisting entirely of review after review . Until this year, that is.

The world of the computer games magazine has traditionally been a

rather staid one. Getting good reviews in magazines is a key part of the

PR and sales process for the games industry. A recent survey in the

software industry trade magazine M.C.V. suggested that reviews have a

direct influence on the buying decisions on as much as 85 per cent of

hard core gaming consumers.This leads, however, to something of a media

problem. Essentially there is a series of magazines in the same sector

consisting entirely of review after review . Until this year, that

is.



On 19 February Crimson Publishing will launch PC Strategy Games. It will

target older readers and will focus on just one genre of computer

games.



Computec Media has also launched a new PlayStation title, PlayStation

World, which aims to take on Future Publishing’s Official PlayStation

Magazine, by adopting a much more lifestyle approach in terms of look,

feel and content. The magazine has more pagination devoted to each of

its sections and at pounds 2.99 is also pounds 2 cheaper than its rival.

The second issue of PlayStation World has recently appeared in the shops

and 70 per cent of its 300,000 print run sold after just ten days.



’It will be an amazing feat if PlayStation World can keep this up and

properly challenge Official PlayStation Magazine,’ says Charlie Fox, PR

Manager at Bastion - which handles a number of games manufacturers. ’But

at the end of the day, there is still no cover disc and that’s what

PlayStation players seem to want. It will be very interesting to see how

well PC Strategy Games does,’ she says.



’Traditionally magazines that focus purely on one sector have

struggled,’ says Fox.



As Brown points out, PlayStation World’s biggest problem is that

Official PlayStation Magazine is the only PlayStation monthly with a

cover disk - which has helped it to secure market leadership with a

circulation of 350,000. Meanwhile Dennis has secured the official deal

with Sega’s Dreamcast console. Official Dreamcast Magazine is less than

six months old and has already gained a stronghold on the market by

using a demo disk to pull in readers.



The magazine’s lifestyle approach presents the Dreamcast as a must-have

gadget and its owners as the cool, clubby type. While PC Strategy Games

and PlayStation World are seeking to buck the covermount trend with a

new direction in editorial, official wisdom suggests the disks are the

things that count. Right now, the games industry is holding it’s

collective breath.





PC STRATEGY GAMES



Print run: 30,000



Frequency: Monthly



Position: Editor



Publisher: Crimson Publishing





’The market is full of titles that are console specific - such as

PlayStation and Dreamcast - and they’re very general in the type of

games they cover.



We’re only covering strategy games. These make up 40 per cent of all PC

games sold. In the games charts carried by the software industry,

strategy games held the number one spot for 43 weeks last year.



’Our readers will be older and better educated than the usual games

magazine reader and won’t respond to the blanket of big pics, reviews

and cheap gags that make up the rest of the market. We’ve got an initial

print run of 60,000 and we hope to settle down at 30,000 with a heavy

subscription bias.’ - Martin Croft.





OFFICIAL DREAMCAST MAG



ABC: 50,000



Frequency: Monthly



Position: Editor



Publisher: Dennis Publishing





’We launched in October after winning the licence in a competitive

pitch. We believe there are 250,000 Dreamcast owners in the UK, which

means we’re read by one-fifth of all the owners. Being the official

magazine means you can covermount disks every month. It also means you

get a better line of information from Sega such as what products are in

development.



’Our readers are into the reviews, of course. We used to have more

lifestyle stuff, but we’ve changed the balance a bit recently. We’re now

emphasising the games far more. Our readers are in their early-20s,

which surprised us a bit. We thought they would be a little older.’ -

Warren Christmas.





PLAYSTATION WORLD



Print run: 300,000



Frequency: Monthly



Position: Managing director



Publisher: Computec Media





’The computer games market is huge, and with five million PlayStation

owners in the UK and games at pounds 30 to pounds 40 a time, it was

clear to us that there was a market out there.



’We researched it heavily, initially with plans to launch a younger

title but we found, with research and some editorial gut instinct, that

there was an older player who wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the

magazines on sale.



’We decided to launch a lifestyle title that is focused on games. That

means that games dominate everything we do, but there’s more to our

editorial than just screaming reviews, pics and tips that don’t work.’ -

Marc Swallow.





OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION MAG



ABC: 351,000



Frequency: Monthly



Position: Associate editor



Publisher: Future Publishing





’We are the UK’s best-selling video games magazine and aim to deliver

our readers everything they could want to know about PlayStation in a

concise and entertaining style.



’The licence does not compromise our editorial integrity. The Official

PlayStation Magazine is 100 per cent independent, and we’ve attained our

market-leading position because our readers know they can trust our

reviews to steer them clear of the chaff.



’It’s my impression that the people who buy games magazines do so

because they actually want to know about the games in the market. Games

magazines that try to pretend they’re something else are missing the

point.’ - Mark Donald.



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