The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures from the UK show that once bustling British video game magazine market is continuing its overall numerical decline, in the face of increased competition from online sources.
Although the market remains one of the most vibrant in the world, with no less than five concurrent Xbox 360 magazines from various different publishers, trends still show an overall decline in demand, despite increased diversity in UK next-gen magazines.
The UK game magazine market continues to be dominated by Future Publishing, but with notable circulation decreases - Official PlayStation 2 Magazine circulations fell by almost 32,000 to 100,117 in the first 6 months of 2006. Official Xbox Magazine fell by almost 24,000 to 40,497; PSW fell by 9,000 to 34,500; PSM2 (now PSM3) decreased by around 4,500 to 35,993; PC Gamer dropped by 3,400 to 45,295; PC Zone fell by more than 3,000 to 30,022; and GamesMaster declined by around 2,000 to 53,360.
There was some positive news for the company, though, with the Official Xbox 360 Magazine (published separately to Official Xbox Magazine) debuting with a circulation of 42,680 readers, and the newly acquired Official Nintendo Magazine starting things out at its new Future home with a total of 35,569.
High-end game magazine Edge saw sales increase for the third year, running with a 8.1 percent year-on-year increase for an all-time record of 33,597. Xbox World 360 also saw a rise in readership of over 4,000 to 23,183, and Official PlayStation 2 Special Edition increased by just under 1,500 copies to 33,274.
Putting a brave face on the results, Future’s group publisher James Ashton commented: “These ABC results are a testament to the hard work put in by our editorial, circulation and marketing teams. Many of these ABC figures are encouraging, even in a transition year where gamers are waiting for an influx of new consoles and games. The first half of the year is traditionally quieter for sales of games magazines, so it’s pleasing that we are seeing plenty of encouraging signs across our next-generation focused titles and we have clear plans for other areas of the games portfolio.”
Results from Future’s main rival Imagine Publishing, which publishes titles purchased from the now defunct Paragon/Highbury Entertainment, are more difficult to judge, since ABC figures were not published for some of the company's titles for unspecified reasons. These publications include Play, which averaged 53,102 copies through 2005, Powerstation on 19,946 at last audit, and GamesTM on 21,671.
However, Imagine's Xbox 360 magazines did make an appearance in the latest figures, with X360 performing reasonably at 21,876, and 360 debuting at 13,098. Uncooked Media’s 360 Gamer magazine was the only other magazine to be included in the latest ABC figures, with a circulation of 9,133.