New ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) figures released today show a continuing decline in the British video game magazine market, once the most dynamic in the world. However, the major losses have all been with unofficial console magazines, with some other publications actually recording an increase in sales.
The most popular magazine continues to be Future Publishing’s Official PlayStation 2 magazine, down less than one percent to 132,069 issues sold per month, in the sixth month period between 1st July and 31st December 2005. Sales of Future’s Official Xbox Magazine fell more precipitously from 85,072 to 64,403 during the same period, while the Official Nintendo Magazine (now owned by Future, but at the time of this survey published by EMAP Active) weathered the storm of falling readerships somewhat better, with a drop from 44,195 to 37,578.
Future’s competing PC games magazines, PC Gamer and PC Zone, bucked the falling trend of console magazines with slight increases for both to 45,530 and 48,699, respectively. Multiformat Edge magazine had the most significant increase of any games magazine, with its best performance ever at 33,522 – up 16.4 percent on the previous six months. Future’s more massmarket GamesMaster remained steady at 55,520.
Results for GamesTM, or indeed all but one of the Highbury Entertainment titles recently purchased by Imagine Publishing
, have not been revealed by the ABC, and the fate of many magazines remains unknown – with only GamesTM, X360 and Play confirmed as set to continue. Unofficial PlayStation 2 magazine Play is the only one for which new readership figures are available, with a drop of over 20,000 to 46,567.
Figures for Future’s unofficial magazines have also been uniformly disappointing, with PlayStation World (PSW) losing more than 25,000 readers to 43,708 and PSM2 down by 5,000 to 40,428. Nintendo magazine NGC lost almost 25 percent of its readership, falling to 11,200. Future’s new Xbox World 360 magazine debuted with a circulation of 19,048, while rival 360 Gamer from Uncooked Media registered 10,047 readers in its first six months.
These poor UK results are no doubt in part due to the awkward transition period between generations of consoles, but also due to the continuing erosion of print magazines, as many consumers choose to get timely information about video games online. However, the fact that the multiformat and PC games magazines have increased their circulations could be seen as evidence that certain sub-markets may continue to hold their own.