Op-Ed

Op-Ed
AOL Buys GameDaily

Russ Pitts | 16 Aug 2006 16:06
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The Floundering Media Giant Takes Another Stab at the Game Space

Best known of late as the site that has aimed to save the game industry from its weak-chopped journalists, GameDaily has made news again this week by becoming the latest gaming news site to get snapped up by a corporate media conglomerate.

Announcing today via press release that they'd been purchased by AOL, GameDaily reports that the sale includes both GameDaily, and its sister publication, GameDaily Biz, and that "the AOL Video Games editorial team will be integrated into the GameDaily editorial staff to create the new GameDaily editorial team."

How this will affect GameDaily's branding as "The Independent Voice of Gaming" remains to be seen. I'm assuming that "The Sold Out Voice of Gaming" doesn't have quite the same ring.

With IGN's recent acquisition (and subsequent tweaking) by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, GameDaily's acquisition suggests that the future of game news sites may be as placeholders for advertising. According to Ralph Rivera, Vice President and General Manager, AOL Games, "Video game sites have become a valuable resource for advertisers wishing to reach the young male audience."

Meaning that all those eyeballs looking for news and reviews of the latest videogames are prime targets for eye-ball-searing advertisements and synergistic media distribution. It also suggests that advertisers and content creators in other media aren't as pessimistic about the game industry's "bad reputation" as Peter Moore and Phil Harrison of Microsoft and Sony, respectively.

The male, 18-24 demographic has long been the holy grail of target markets for advertising, and the fact that these boys in their bedrooms are driving the push for acquisition of gaming sites by the media industry's biggest players would seem to belie concerns that the market isn't large enough to support profitability. Or perhaps all this browsing for news is taking time away from valuable game buying time.

In any case, this is surely only the middle of the independent game site gold rush. Look for more media companies to jump into the game space through merger and acquisition in the weeks ahead. I would make a prediction here, but I've been known to be wrong about these kinds of things. So I'll close with the suggestion that anything could happen (and perhaps already has).

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