With Official Xbox Magazine recently announcing its closure, it’s time to reexamine the place print journalism has in the gaming industry.
Do We Still Need Print Gaming Magazines?
The short answer is no, but I don’t believe it’s as clear cut as that. I still read Official Playstation Magazine in print, but I’m old-fashioned, and I’m very aware most people get their gaming news online for free. It’s much more current, much more up-to-date, and you can watch footage of the game you’re reading about. Print magazines are starting off further down the ladder.
With the internet containing literally everything your little gamer-nerd brain could want, what could you possibly get out of a print magazine? Well, here are some things:
- Freebies — gaming magazines often come with freebies, which has to be a winner, right? I’ve had things like soundtrack CDs and coasters through print mags, and if you’re a fan of game artwork and posters, print magazines are definitely for you, as any print mag will keep you well-supplied with them.
- Quality journalism — if you’re a fan of high-quality gaming journalism, print mags are the place to find it. A lot of the journalists you see at ceremonies like the Game Awards are from print magazine teams.
- A direct connection to the brands — subscribing to a major magazine like OPM or Official Xbox Magazine is a direct line to all the Sony or Xbox news. Or was, in the case of Xbox. If you want accurate news about everything to do with one brand, their mag is an excellent place to start.
- You want to collect them — some people like to keep their mags. OPM usually comes with gorgeous subscriber-exclusive covers, and they do make great collectibles. I don’t know where you’d keep them all, but hey, if you’re into that, do it.
- You’re old-fashioned like me — here’s me, gamer, tech fan — reading an old-timey print magazine. There’s still, and always will be, something enjoyable about reading in print. Say it with me: I LIKE PRINT MAGS, AND I CANNOT LIE.
So why don’t we need print magazines?
Well, the internet is the biggest problem. Why read a mag that’s been on the shelf for three weeks when you can get updated news from today, for free? You’re getting the rough end of the deal if you get your gaming news in print; there’s no denying that. And a print mag also can’t compete with all the bells and whistles of trailers, gifs, and audio snippets.
Another reason is that they are expensive and people mostly don’t have the money, especially now. They aren’t essential, they’re luxury items, and they’re being aimed at a very techie audience. From a business perspective, it doesn’t make sense.
But you’re still reading them?
Yes, I am. My head says, “Wow, these are never going to last,” but my heart says, “I love them.” I appreciate good journalism and official news, and that’s what I get from magazines. Having a passion for print that I can’t deny, I still love magazines.
I don’t keep my magazines, leave alone and collect them, but I enjoy reading them the old way, with real paper under my fingers, and I like to support excellent gaming journalists like Jess Kinghorn.
I like to believe that as long as there are people who want them, print magazines have a place in gaming. We just have to work out how they could fit better, so their businesses aren’t pushed out by the internet. I realize the stupidity of me arguing for print magazines while writing on a gaming website. I’ll redeem myself by buying a mag! Maybe that’s what it’s about — balance.