The Needles: Can Best Buy Save Gaming Mags?

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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The Needles: Can Best Buy Save Gaming Mags?

Will @Gamer be the boost that videogame print media was looking for?

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Jared

The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
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I really think, no matter what, physical media is going out of fasion now, with it all moving online.

I know hardly anyone aside from really hardcore or dedicated people who read magazines
 

Chrysocollus

Wandering Umbrella Fiend
Sep 7, 2009
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Hey Mr. Chalk, I like your writing and stuff and the E3 PS3 stuff is getting a bit old too. xD So I've read this article. And I dunno abou this @Gamer stuff, but I do enjoy my Game Informer magazines whenever they bother to show up. Always fun to read with the abundance of screenshots and stuff.
 

DeadlyYellow

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Jun 18, 2008
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Jaredin said:
I really think, no matter what, physical media is going out of fasion now, with it all moving online.
With a world of information at your fingertips, and most of it free to boot, I completely agree with you.
 

Virgil

#virgil { display:none; }
Legacy
Nov 17, 2020
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Here's another thing to consider, to help make sense of this deal.

When a game gets marketed, there's two different sets of funds. They're usually completely separate from each other. On one hand, there's a pool of money designated for purchasing ads. This is where TV, radio, web banners, movie pre-rolls, and standard magazine ads would all come out of. It's what you normally think of as advertising.

Then there's another set of advertising money. This is what is called "MDF" - or market development funds. This is money that is paid out to retailers to get them to promote the game. It covers better placement on shelves, better positioning in stores, ads in store fliers, those fancy displays and cardboard cutouts you might see. All that fun stuff that you think the store is doing to sell the games, they're actually getting paid to do.

Magazines are hurting because they're having a hard time getting subscribers, and they're having a hard time getting advertisers because of that. But if you link a magazine directly to a retailer, you can artificially inflate subscriber numbers. That's how Game Informer works, and that's what Future/Best Buy are hoping that all the coupons will do. But that's not the best part.

Because you're tied to a retailer, you can then get advertising from both the standard advertising and MDF pools of money. You're double-dipping. For Future, that means that they now have a whole different set of people to sell ad space to, and for Best Buy it means they can potentially charge a lot more for MDF because they can offer print ads as a bonus. As a side bonus, anything in the magazine (like the coupons) that encourages people to shop at Best Buy could convince them to get new customers - and games media generally don't promote Best Buy as a purchase destination (they'll point to Amazon or GameStop first).

It's really quite clever, though who knows if it will actually work.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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I love reading the magazines. I don't know why, I just find them fun to read. Its a shame they're not doing better.

Also, has anyone at The Escapist ever thought of doing a magazine? Maybe not a monthly thing, but more like a "one time only" deal? Sounds like a neat idea to me, not sure how well it would work though.

For what its worth, I'd buy it.
 

Covarr

PS Thanks
May 29, 2009
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Reading this article, it's like EGM doesn't even exist. I know, they don't exclusively cover PCs like PC Gamer and CGW, but does that really mean EGM isn't worth mentioning? @Gamer can't "bring back" something that has already been brought back.

P.S. Thanks
 

Hurr Durr Derp

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Apr 8, 2009
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It's funny how you're questioning the objectiveness of a retailer-sponsored magazine at a time the entire Escapist has turned into one big New Vegas ad...
 

Caliostro

Headhunter
Jan 23, 2008
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I think print is to media today what broad swords are to modern warfare. Sure, back in the medieval times charging at your enemy with a sword sure was better than punching it out, but as any sword fan quickly and begrudgingly realizes, you won't go far with a sword when you're facing your standard military issue run-of-the-mill M4.

Print media is the same these days. It was "the shit" back when the other option was looking at store shelves, but nowadays the internet has rendered it obsolete in the same manner that gunpowder, Kevlar armor and stealth bombers have rendered metal swords, armors and catapults useless. There's just absolutely nothing a print magazine can offer that a virtual one can't. Virtual magazines can update instantaneously to and from anywhere in the world, have significantly less costs than print media, and can offer pretty much anything from in-depth articles (provided writers and researchers are given the time), to "hands-on" gameplay videos and reviews long before their physical counterparts are anywhere close to shipping.

As you've put in your article, if I'm wondering whether or not to buy the latest sensation du jour, and assuming for a moment that "journalistic integrity" is equal in both prints, what should I do?
a) Wait till the end of the month, drive/walk to the nearest retailer, shell out 5 bucks (give or take) for a copy, and browse the article;
b) Instantly go to my online magazine of choice, for free, type in the game's name in the "standard" search bar and read a similar article on it, usually accompanied by a video of the gameplay?

Even TV is struggling to keep up these days. For all the "visual flash" characteristic of TV programs, usually offering more gameplay videos and such, they're still restricted to the kind of schedule, usually weekly, websites are simply not. A virtual gaming mag can update their website whenever, constricted only by whatever times their employees will work, and has a global (and permanent) reach by default.

Internet is the future. Will I miss print media? Yes. I still have several Magazines laying around that I also never look at. The glossy cover designs, the flashy articles, the sheer fact that it's a print... I'm gonna miss all of that, much like I miss the days of sword fighting. Yet I wouldn't send a soldier to Iraq with a katana instead of an M16.
 

Caliostro

Headhunter
Jan 23, 2008
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Hurr Durr Derp said:
It's funny how you're questioning the objectiveness of a retailer-sponsored magazine at a time the entire Escapist has turned into one big New Vegas ad...
"No such a thing as a free lunch". Everyone needs ads. The issue is, virtual magazines rely on ads to pay salaries and server costs. Print media relies on ads for salaries, companies to send them the latest game builds earlier so they can ship reviews and previews in time and not a month after everyone decided for themselves, and retailers to carry and sell their copies. It's not so much that virtual magazines are incorruptible (as proven by Gamespot), but that print magazines are far more dependent on the same people that have high stakes in the works they're judging.

You can set fire to damp leaves if you try hard enough and if the leaves give you something to work with, but it's a whole lot easier to set fire to dry leaves... Or ones wet with rocket fuel.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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I personally would rather print magazines focus on the people of gaming, both creators and players, and take the long view in their format, than on next-big-thing reporting.
 

ccesarano

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Oct 3, 2007
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The big problem with online is that it makes it tough to focus on any one thing. Sometimes I can relax and read through an article, but other times, despite really liking the writers like Shamus Young, Christian Ward, Sean Sands on Gamers With Jobs and Tim Rogers on Action Button.net (and of course the rest of you folks here writing columns on The Escapist), I inevitably feel a sense of "get through it quick". Sometimes I pay attention, but a lot of times I want to move from one site to the next.

Studying web design and development, I know this isn't a foreign concept. People skim information online trying to glean what appeals to them and discarding the rest. This is why I like the idea of print, and I feel GamePro and EGM at the very least are trying to go a better route. They aren't going for news, but a more editorial spin with a few reviews of major games in there.

Unfortunately I don't like their reviews on the whole, but that's what happens when you're a wannabe critic. However, I enjoyed the editorials in both magazines, and I look to keep up with them. I like a magazine that I can sit back with once in a while, getting an article or two out during a relaxing sitting and then moving on. It's relaxing and I don't worry about pushing onto the next thing.

So I think print has its own room of worth, but the real question is, are old gamers going to buy it and are younger gamers going to bother with content meant to make them think? Because being a columnist at a "social gamer site" like GameKrib.com, I can definitely tell you a lot of those kids are a lot happier with the less activity their brain is making.
 

likalaruku

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Nov 29, 2008
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Why is this article black text on a black background?

Hmm, I was subscribed to 5 game mags. Only 1 is still around; my least favorite to boot.
 

StriderShinryu

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Dec 8, 2009
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I still love to read well crafted and well written gaming magazines, but I don't know if I'd ever actually buy one anymore unless I needed it for a plane trip or something. Magazines for me used to be about the information, the screenshots, the strategies, etc. and I was a voracious reader of them. I almost always had active subscriptions to 2 magazines and would still pick up and read other ones on the side. Now, I get all of that from the internet. The only thing I miss is the feel of sitting down to read a paper magazine and some of the personalities involved.

As for the marketing issue; whether or not it's true, I can't see myself trusting a magazine created in that environment. I would always feel coverage would be slanted towards the advertisers and reviews would be biased towards generating sales for specific titles regardless of the truth.
 

Telperion

Storyteller
Apr 17, 2008
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Andy Chalk said:
But as The Escapist itself has proven, the net can (and increasingly does) offer thoughtful, in-depth content, while the steady march of technology has quite literally put the Internet in almost every crapper in the Western world. (Or, you know, wherever.)
And yet I want to pay 80 ? per' year, so I don't have to rely on this site for reviews, news and whatnot. Could it be that you are not as up to par as you think you are? I certainly don't value this site's reviews anywhere near as much as I do compared to the mag I read. In all honesty: I just don't trust you to deliver the good stuff on gaming yet, but maybe that's because this site is so damn new. The effort the reviewers on this site put into reviews is...nice...but it's not great by any means. It's enough to maybe make me believe that a game is worth buying, but not enough to make me go out now to buy a game armed with all details I want. Or, make me read your review 2 - 3 times over, because it was just that good of a read. Sure, I occasionally watch Yahtzee's reviews, but those videos offer more in the way of slapstick humor than actual content. The stuff you write on the site is better, and the video content is nice, but again: in-game coverage of a game I might buy is really easy to get online. Finding a great review that sees eye-to-eye with me as a consumer & gamer is really difficult. Hey, maybe that's the deal: there's not a single reviewer on this site that really resonates with me the way a certain mag's reviews do. They tell me the stuff I want to hear about - giving praise or take dump on a game. When was the last time I saw a review of a game on the Escapist that really sucked? Never, because you don't have space for bad reviews? Never, because you don't do bad reviews?

Also the Escapist coverage of the game industry is really limited: you do reviews of the hottest console games out there that are hip and now. Hey, nothing wrong with that. It's just that while you are tooting EA's, Ubi's or Activision's horn there are some real gems out there that never show up on your site. Guess where I read about those?
 

Sartan0

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Apr 5, 2010
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likalaruku said:
Why is this article black text on a black background?
Yeah I had the same issue. I had to highlight the words to read them.

On topic- as I am more likely now to get my old games from good old games and my new ones from steam and impulse what best buy is doing is not as relevant to me.

Something funny- I found my old copies of escapist stuff on CD's from back in the day last year. Sadly I did not keep them.
 

Seventh Actuality

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Apr 23, 2010
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Print media is going down the pisser. Gaming mags just have the bad luck to be marketing to the demographic who are mostly likely to know it.
 

Miumaru

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May 5, 2010
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I used to get GameInformer and Electronic Magazine. EM was my fav though and its gone. Though I guess Escapist has filled the void, but still...its fun to look at old issues, Especcially stuff about rumors and such. Reading about the Nintendo Revolution, and all that knowing what I know now..
 

Weaver

Overcaffeinated
Apr 28, 2008
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One of the things magazines will never have...
COMMENT SECTIONS!

How many times have you read a great article that presents it's points, go to the comments, and someone has written basically their own, equally well researched article with equally valid counter-points? Or just another view on the topic (like Vigil's post right in this comment section!). That's what I love most about online media like this.
 

Plinglebob

Team Stupid-Face
Nov 11, 2008
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I still get a gaming magazine regularly.

The problem with a lot of gaming magazines (especially the lower end/console specific ones) is that they mainly rely on previews and reviews. This is information that is more quickly available online. However, if they focus more on in-depth articles that they don't publish online then there is a good reason for people to keep buying. Also, staring at a screen all the time is annoying and you can't surf the internet while on the toilet :)