Future Publishing has shut down the PlayStation magazine PSW, driving yet another nail into the increasingly crowded coffin of print media.
PSW was launched in 2000 and acquired by Future in 2003. While it was billed as “the U.K.’s Best-Selling Independent PlayStation Mag,” it found itself the odd man out among the publisher’s slate of PlayStation magazines, which also includes Official PlayStation Magazine and PSM3. “It’s always incredibly sad when we close a title as established as PSW, but the decision was taken in response to decreasing demand,” Future’s James Binns told MCV.
“By focusing our efforts on Official PlayStation Magazine and a single independent PlayStation title in PSM3, we can strengthen our position in delivering the number one and number two print titles in the sector,” he said. “We continue to invest in our traditional print brands, but games is a rapidly changing sector, so our portfolio needs to constantly evolve to meet the needs of consumers in a vibrant and diverse market.”
Future also announced today that it would break with tradition and not reveal the ABC sales figures for any of its gaming magazines. ABC is an analyst firm that “independently verifies and reports on media performance” in the U.K., according to the company’s website, including print, digital and other “evolving” platforms.
Future normally releases the performance figures for the first six months of each year in August, but times have been tough for print magazines and as the digital medium continues to assert itself, there’s no sign that will change anytime soon. Future’s ABC numbers for the whole of 2008 showed that five of its 11 gaming magazines posted gains, but circulation numbers in its PC and multiformat magazines were down; Edge slipped from 31,304 subscribers to 28,898, while GamesMaster plunged from 51,389 to 40,940.
It’s hard to see the future of print magazines as particularly rosy and I freely admit that it’s been an awful lot of years since I bought one myself, but their decline nonetheless strikes me as vaguely sad. What they lacked in immediacy, they made up for – at least the good ones – in depth, not to mention a certain tactile pleasure that only dead trees can offer. I hope that someday, someone will figure out how to return magazines to relevance, but even if that happens, I don’t expect the culling to end anytime soon.