The Needles: Can Best Buy Save Gaming Mags?

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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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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

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.

Jaredin:
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.

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.

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.

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

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...

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.

Hurr Durr Derp:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Andy Chalk:

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?

likalaruku:
Why is this article black text on a black background? [Snip]

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.

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.

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..

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.

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 :)

AC10:

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.

Magazines tend to have their own websites, where readers can leave their comments. Of course, it might seem like leaving comments about an article in a forum dedicated to a magazine isn't quite as easy to do, but it's hardly difficult either.

Telperion:

AC10:

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.

Magazines tend to have their own websites, where readers can leave their comments. Of course, it might seem like leaving comments about an article in a forum dedicated to a magazine isn't quite as easy to do, but it's hardly difficult either.

Well, if I read something in a magazine I'm going to have to be seriously motivated to find a PC to reply to it, that is even if I don't forget about it by time I get to a PC.

When the article I finish reading has a "comment [xx]" button right at the bottom it's just so inviting! Like this article, I really don't care what happens to printed medium (unless 1000 page novels don't get printed anymore) but here I am, talking about it :P

Telperion:

AC10:

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.

Magazines tend to have their own websites, where readers can leave their comments. Of course, it might seem like leaving comments about an article in a forum dedicated to a magazine isn't quite as easy to do, but it's hardly difficult either.

Which only further supports the OP's point about online being the future of magazines if readers are being encouraged to go online in order to chat about the articles within the magazine.

Mind you, I'm not saying that gaming magazines should go away. Console-specific gaming magazines are undeniably a thing of the past, but I think that gaming magazines as a whole can still have their place. Firstly, there are many people who don't like sitting at computers for long periods of time. Whether it's sitting on the john or just lounging on an easy chair, there are many people who simply prefer a printed medium. Sure they could have gotten that info about a month ago if they kept-up online, but they're okay with that.

Another thing that magazines need to start doing is looking at what websites can't do (or don't do). After-all, since I'm content to just check the Escapist and maybe Kotaku for my gaming news, why should I bother with a gaming subscription if it's just gonna be more of what I read weeks ago? If a gaming magazine covers things that I'm not getting here though, then I suddenly have more of a reason to want to pay that $30 a year (are they still going for $30 a year?).

Andy Chalk:
*Poke*

Just outta curiosity, what was your reaction when Microsoft bought-out CGW and made it into their own personal ad magazine? Frankly, that's when my subscription ended, with much remorse. Much as I loved those guys, I just couldn't support what Microsoft did to them. :/

WhiteTigerShiro:

Mind you, I'm not saying that gaming magazines should go away. Console-specific gaming magazines are undeniably a thing of the past, but I think that gaming magazines as a whole can still have their place. Firstly, there are many people who don't like sitting at computers for long periods of time. Whether it's sitting on the john or just lounging on an easy chair, there are many people who simply prefer a printed medium. Sure they could have gotten that info about a month ago if they kept-up online, but they're okay with that.

The magazine I have supported for the better part of 10 years started out pretty much all PC, but these days it's about just about every conceivable gaming media out there. And, although I only own a PC and an XBox, I really enjoy reading reviews about games on other platforms.

WhiteTigerShiro:

Another thing that magazines need to start doing is looking at what websites can't do (or don't do). After-all, since I'm content to just check the Escapist and maybe Kotaku for my gaming news, why should I bother with a gaming subscription if it's just gonna be more of what I read weeks ago? If a gaming magazine covers things that I'm not getting here though, then I suddenly have more of a reason to want to pay that $30 a year (are they still going for $30 a year?).

The thing that strikes me about the Escapist is that the website doesn't cover nearly everything. I don't spend several hours every week looking for stuff that might interest me, which is what I would realistically need to do to get the kind of news coverage I'm used to. It's why I pay for a subscription.

Sartan0:

likalaruku:
Why is this article black text on a black background? [Snip]

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.

It's likely you guys have AdBlocker or some other such thing running. I had the same problem a day or so back and when I turned it off I was able to get back to seeing things properly. However, once I figured out what it was I just resigned myself to highlighting the text.

I doubt that Best Buy can save Game Magazines. Most likely to compete against GameStop and GameInformer "unbiased" reviews so that the users can buy games from their shop.

Most likely if every magazine is stuffed with coupons that give discount on games, people will be leaning towards the magazine.

WhiteTigerShiro:
Just outta curiosity, what was your reaction when Microsoft bought-out CGW and made it into their own personal ad magazine? Frankly, that's when my subscription ended, with much remorse. Much as I loved those guys, I just couldn't support what Microsoft did to them. :/

I gave up on CGW probably less than a year after George Jones took over as Editor-in-Chief, long before the Microsoft thing. There was a very obvious change in direction that I just didn't care for and I ended up leaving. Subscribed to PCG for three or four years but near the end I was only really buying it for the demo discs anyway, so when broadband showed up in my little town, that was that.

I almost went back when Jeff Green took over. Maybe it's the age thing, but I always enjoyed his style and thought he'd make a great editor. But it was so irrelevant to me at that point, particularly one the Games for Windows thing happened, that I never followed through.

Virgil made an interesting point about double-dipping but it still strikes me as a dodgy compromise: Trading integrity (maybe) for revenue streams. I'm not naive, I know money must be made, but if I'm going to take any sort of publication seriously I have to be confident that it hasn't been "corrupted," to use an overly-dramatic term.

Everything changes. Even magazines these days are so different from the ones of 10 or 15 years ago. Old game reviews were ridiculously detailed things that literally went on for pages and pages, whereas now it's a couple of columns and on to the next thing. Guess which I prefer?

I really enjoy reading PC Gamer. And this is why I keep reading it other than becouse it's not on the computer and it's something I haven't seen on the Escapist or their webpage, I think:
Starcraft 2
Every combat unit detailed!
Single-player secrets!
14 battle strategies!
I'm definetly not going to bother to check that online, even if I would want to. And, of course the demo disks and sometimes some other cool posters and stuff. Like the Supreme Commander 2 paper dinosaur which I never bothered to try to put together.

great read, in any case it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Hell, it'll probably be worth it for the coupons alone and we'll probably get a couple good features otu of it.

Ironic this article comes up on a website that prides itself for having the advantages of a magazine!

I hope so

Still read PC Gamer as well...for now.

Is anyone thinking what the headlong rush to crush all gamers into one of two online gaming pipelines for the game company's comfort is going to cause in other areas?

Magazine options will be only that much more a dead end when all of gaming consists of nothing but XBOX or PS# to choose from. No matter how much a fanboy someone is for one of those, doesn't that lack of options cause a chill to everyone?

Two companies own all control and access to your gaming.

It's a nightmare.

Andy Chalk:

I almost went back when Jeff Green took over. Maybe it's the age thing, but I always enjoyed his style and thought he'd make a great editor. But it was so irrelevant to me at that point, particularly one the Games for Windows thing happened, that I never followed through.

Ah yes, I loved Tom. Back when they got rid of his section I was tempted to be done with them, he was always so hilariously insightful, truly a case of "saving the best for last". The guy who replaced him was just... no. I tried reading his articles, but he was trying too hard to be a bad-ass, only without the cynical sense of humor that makes things like Zero Punctuation so great. :/

Hurr Durr Derp:
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...

They also had a ton of Alpha Protocol ads and gave AP a rather negative review.

[shrugs]

I liked everything in the article with one exception: The Jeff Gurtsman thing. I know I'm going to get flamed to hell for this, but I don't think him giving a negative review on Kane and Lynch was the only reason why he got shit-canned. If you watch the video review, he was being overly negative to the point that I couldn't personally take him seriously. It looked like he knew he was getting fired (my theory is that he was already told before the video that he was getting let go, and decided to vent indirectly at Gamespot by blasting Kane and Lynch). That being said, I never followed up on the situation (chances are both sides stated their opinions on it), and the internet is one of those kind of places where information gets skewed based on individual bias anyways. Most people agreed that Gurtsman was let go because of the review he did, thus most of the info was bias on his side.

Again, just my opinion, don't know all the facts, but if memory serves me, I don't think anybody got the final answer on this anyways.

AC10:
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.

Maybe that's what happens here (competent moderators FTW), but comments have the disadvantage that in many parts of the internet, you get ridiculous amounts of stupid; just look at YouTube. In print, you don't have page after page of "stfu noob this articel suxx0rz" and "lolol +1". In print, the closest you get is letters, of which only a select few intelligent ones are actually published.

P.S. Thanks

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