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
On 19 February Crimson Publishing will launch PC Strategy Games. It will
target older readers and will focus on just one genre of computer
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
PC STRATEGY GAMES
Print run: 30,000
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
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
’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.’ -
Print run: 300,000
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.’ -
OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION MAG
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.