Ziff Davis Cancels CGW, Hints at Buyouts


Ziff Davis Game Group, the “largest integrated gaming media publisher in the United States,” announced today via press release that it will be closing the doors on its storied Computer Gaming World magazine, after 22 years, and replacing it with a magazine and website devoted to Windows-based computer games called Games for Windows.

From the ZD press release:

Microsoft will drive traffic and readership to the magazine and to the 1UP Network, and will promote the Games for Windows magazine as part of their Games for Windows marketing efforts. The magazine and integrated online components will launch in Fall 2006.

This, barely two days after Yahoo published ZD’s second quarter ’06 report, which quite clearly indicated that a number (if not all) of ZD Media’s “groups” may be on the auction block.

In response to recent interest in the Company’s assets, the Company has retained Evercore Partners and Lehman Brothers as its financial advisors to assist it in exploring strategic alternatives to maximize investor value, including the possible sale of some or all of the Company’s groups.

Emphasis mine. A reliable source within ZD (who wished to remain anonymous) had this to say:

Ziff Davis Media has been owned by a holding company ever since Softbank sold it … and holding companies build value, and, depending on the holding company, either hold onto it, or sell it. And in an era when [some sites] are selling for large dollars … and web companies with no income are issuing releases [saying] “we think we’re only worth 600 million, not 1 billion,” I’m sure the holding company that owns Ziff Davis Media would like to consider whether or not anybody’s willing to drop large coin.

A full list of ZD “groups” which may soon be up for sale can be found here. The Game Group includes (included) print publications CGW, EGM and PSM and the 1Up network of web sites. In the long term, we may see a spinning off of some of these sites, which in the post-E3 Announcement era could have an interesting impact on the world of gaming press.

As for the new mag, Games for Windows, ZD will apparently be reassigning the existing editorial and art staff of CGW, and essentially re-branding their efforts for the new launch. How a magazine devoted to covering solely windows-based computer games will differ from their usual fare remains to be seen, but aside from the investment from Microsoft and perhaps some pretty new graphics, I don’t think it’ll be all that different. Show me a computer game that doesn’t play on Windows these days and I’ll eat my red hat.

“We share Microsoft’s passion for expanding the Windows gaming market,” said Scott McCarthy, President of Ziff Davis Game Group. “This alliance will enable us to reach a wider audience than ever before, both in print and online, and it affirms Microsoft’s commitment to gaming on the Windows platform. We’re looking forward to working with Microsoft.”

Aren’t we all.

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