iPad game magazines: dead

Atomix: no new issues since June 2012, was a few bucks an issue and went free. Can still download multimedia-heavy issues through iPad app

PXL: raised $3500 on Kickstarter meeting their (admittedly tiny) goal, eked out two issues on Mag+ platform, disappeared in summer, promising to come back in fall as a quarterly at “reduced price” – I blew (should have gone for the 99c/issue) $9.99 on a subscription and now can’t redownload the 2 issues that did come out previously since Mag+ seems to have turned it off. Domain is dead, Kickstarter backers never got their rewards.

EGM Digital app: hasn’t updated since around June as well

MCV: industry sales rag, wants something like $50/year for a subscription after being free initially for a few months

Zinio, Imagine publishing and Newsstand “replicas” of the print issues of PC Gamer, Official Xbox Magazine, Edge UK, GamesTM still exist for now. The Edge UK and GamesTM are a little steep at $40/year but still beat $20/issue a month late on Canadian newsstands.

It’s not just games. Look at The Daily, which was probably multiple orders of magnitude more expensive to produce and maintain than any of those you mentioned.

Shutting down in December.

And that’s with 100,000+ subscribers.

There has to be a way to do it. Hopefully Marco Ament’s “The Magazine” survives.

For some reason I have a hard time spending money on mag subscriptions. It is not that they’re terribly expensive but I hate recurring payments and it’s hard to find the time to actually “consume” that content. Also iTunes makes finding good content impossible. The storefront on iTunes is filled with the same junk as your supermarket cashier’s stand.

The editor in chief of PXL seems to just have walked away and ignored the past life and debts as PXL. He’s still there on Twitter doing freelancing games writing with no comment on the magazine debacle. Each of these always starts with chest-thumping on how they’re going to reinvent games journalism…

The pricing model of this clearly can’t paying the bills if Mag+ has turned off the download pipes.

The Daily was absolutely terrible, though. Poor writing, poor content selection, bloated downloads, and slow app… People will blame the business model (perhaps correctly, perhaps not), but with a product that bad, it’s not a viable scientific conclusion.

I might have been interested in The Daily if it had been better. And not published by NewsCorp.

Atomix actually managed 9 issues before going silent. Their website is still up at least.

Games journalism is an oxymoron anyway. There’s criticism and there’s enthusiast. It’s like how 90% of car mags have covers of exotics that most readers will never touch or see much less drive or own. They’re enthusiast press that can’t help creaming themselves when given the chance to drive a Mazerati. And that’s what game press is - wicked cool previews and standing next to Doritos bags or monk on a mountain criticism. There’s no place for a profitable monthly journalism magazine. Maybe a quarterly (IMO). But 20 something hipster indie web publishing is the best it can do.

Why would I pay for a magazine when I can just open up Zite and get curated content delivered intravenously?

Or open up my favorite RSS client and read all my subscriptions, also for free?

It’s not like I’m exactly starving for content. There’s way more than I could ever read, and more is constantly pouring in.

The only way to get me to pay is to offer high-quality content that is unavailable elsewhere. Like the never not funny podcast, I pay for that.

I like Flipboard personally, but yeah, I’m not sure why you would pay for magazines (especially game magazines), when there is so much free content accessible through a Google Reader account and a bunch of cool apps.

I like to pay for good content and good (print) design but I guess I’m in a dwindling group. Also, the amount of superfluous crap in these digital mags is disgusting. A PDF version is roughly 50-100MB but loading Popular Science and Wired onto my new iPad 4 reveals that each issue is an average of 700MB with the #1 retrospect of Wired weighing in at 1.4GB.


Flipboard is a stunningly gorgeous view of your google reader feeds and links from twitter etc. It contains content you’d already see in another less attractive (but probably more functional) context.

Zite discovers new content-- I purposely don’t even link it to my google reader account, because I use the google reader website (desktop) Reeder (iPhone) or Mr. Reeder (iPad) for that. It isn’t as attractive as Flipboard, but it offers semi-curated/intelligent content discovery, which is very cool. Give it a shot.

Yeah, the iPad publishing thing is hard.

I think the only way to make it work is transfer an existing print brand across: trying to launch something new into the app store or Newsstand is just ridiculously hard. In every circumstance, you’re fighting a) all the free content and b) all the established magazines.

Future’s strategy was very smart in retrospect - they built their own magazine app layer and an import/export pdf tool so every magazine could launch on the App Store as soon as the Newsstand went live. They then cherry picked the most popular pdf conversions to do hi-def rethinks with bespoke page layouts and video content.

They’re doing alright with that strategy: http://paidcontent.org/2012/09/27/future-has-made-5-million-from-ipad-magazines-in-a-year/

The only thing is: moving from a pdf conversion to a hi-def version is actually incredibly hard, puts extra strain on already stretched mag teams, and costs a load of money. I’m pretty skeptical as to whether it actually makes a real difference to subscriber numbers.


I’ve got a theory that very high-traffic games websites should try and figure out a way to build a magazine app and put a small editorial staff on it.

Put together something acceptable, and market it through your normal reach and via any unsold inventory. I reckon that you’d probably make more from selling the subscription, long term, than ever putting Google ads in to your site.

But then, I don’t work in magazines any more.

I read somewhere that in the newspaper industry, for every $25 of print advertising lost they are gaining $1 in online ad revenue. In other words, there isn’t a good model yet for profitability with online newspapers.

I would imagine magazines transitioning from print to online would also have some difficulties.

I’m very happy with the iPad version of Edge. I used to subscribe to the print edition, and this is about half the price. Videos and other multimedia content are just gravy.

I think Time is doing a great job with their digital versions of Entertainment Weekly, Money Magazine, and a few others (Time included, I imagine). It’s just a proof of concept test run for now, since you can only get the digital version (for free) if you subscribe to the paper version, but the digital versions are very high-quality.

They’re laid-out well - formatted nicely for 7" screens like the Kindle Fire or larger screens too, and they contain every bit of content from the print versions without forcing you to pan around and zoom in/out. They just reformat everything for the right display size. With some videos added like movie trailers where appropriate.

If the transition is handled well, I could imagine those magazines as being really successful if they were to offer a digital-only version.

The problem isn’t figuring out how to deliver good digital content. It’s trying to replace the print ad dollars with digital ad dollars. I haven’t heard of any traditional magazine or newspaper that has been successful in doing that. There’s some digital advertising revenue to be had, but it’s not close to what paper ad revenue used to bring in.

Yeah for sure. Ideally, part of those ad dollars will be replaced by modest subscription dollars, with reduced costs thanks to the lack of printing and distribution. But of course, it’s about getting over that hurdle of convincing someone that it’s worth subscribing.

Of course, it’s not like the old model didn’t have subscriptions/newsrack purchases, too, and in most cases, that made up a very small portion of overall income. Unless online advertising turns around bigtime, most of the old media enterprises can’t reliably operate in the same way they did with print–lowered costs or not.