Blizzard and Future have teamed up to create World of Warcraft: The Magazine, a full-gloss quarterly print publication that will debut later this year.
To most observers, this might seem like a bad time to start a new magazine. Advertising is down, subscription rates are down and the entire print medium is looking increasingly irrelevant in the face of the inexorable march of digital. But that's apparently not a problem for the folks at Future and Blizzard, who have decided that this is the perfect time to launch the "official" World of Warcraft magazine. And not some cheap, throwaway rag, either; this sucker will run almost 150 pages of high-quality, ad-free goodness.
That's right, ad-free. WoW: The Magazine will rely entirely on subscription fees for revenues, a bit of a gamble but also, as CNet points out, a way to avoid being clobbered by the ups-and-downs of the volatile advertising market. Subscriptions will cost $40 per year and that's the only way it will be available; there will be no single-issue or newsstand sales.
"The magazine market is suffering a rough time, but only those magazines that are based on advertising models," said FuturePlus International Director John Gower. "We've seen our magazines increasing across the board, especially the hobbyist" titles.
The magazine will be published in English, French, German and Spanish, and will include "commissioned art, in-depth articles written by veteran journalists and behind-the-scenes access" to the world's most popular MMOG. Editor-in-Chief Dan Amrich said he hasn't had any trouble attracting top-notch writers to the magazine and noted that many of them are experienced World of Warcraft players themselves. "It would be foolish not to have people on staff who understand" the game, he said.
World of Warcraft: The Magazine is set to launch this fall in time for World of Warcraft's fifth anniversary, with the premiere issue featuring a look back at the game and the many events that helped shape it. Will it be able to buck the trend and become a dead tree success story? The odds might seem long, but given the size and dedication of the World of Warcraft fan base, I sure wouldn't bet against it.