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Future blames console transition for poor magazine sales

Future's James Ashton has blamed the publisher's falling magazine sales on the next-gen console transition and the rise in the amount of videogame coverage in the mainstream media.

Future's James Ashton has blamed the publisher's falling magazine sales on the next-gen console transition and the rise in the amount of videogame coverage in the mainstream media.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Ashton said the ABC figures released yesterday were "totally in line" with the publisher's expectations.

When asked if he believes there is an overall decline in gaming magazine sales at present, Ashton replied, "It's very tough trading conditions at the moment, yes, definitely," pointing out that both Microsoft and Nintendo went through a transition last year while the PS3 is yet to launch in Europe.

"Those things always depress the magazine market... Games magazines sell to the most committed members of the gaming community, and with PlayStation in a transition, the numbers are what the numbers are," he added.

According to the ABC figures, sales of Official PlayStation 2 Magazine fell by 24 per cent in the last six months to hit 76,351, while Official Nintendo and Official Xbox 360 were up by 17 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

However, their monthly circulations of 43,000 and 56,000 are still far below the six-digit sales OPSM enjoyed at the height of its popularity, and although no figures for OPSM3 were released they're also unlikely to match up - a fact which Ashton attributes to the increase of videogame coverage in the mainstream press.

"The situation with Official PlayStation Magazine and the astronomical sales numbers that generated are rather an unfair comparison. The explosion in interest in gaming that PlayStation inspired led to a very fertile market for specialist interest magazines," he said.

"Prior to PlayStation, videogames information existed in videogames magazines alone. No other media outlet would touch them or treat them credibly. Now they're accepted as mainstream entertainment, they're in broadsheet newspapers, tabloid newspapers, men's magazines, women's magazines... So there's a diversification of information options."

Ashton conceded that readership of consumer gaming websites is going up, but observed that sites of all types are also experiencing a rise in the number of users. "The fact is that the Internet is a booming new medium and obviously everyone publishing on the Internet is showing growth.

"The Internet can deliver information for games and has significant advantages over print for delivering that information. It also has significant disadvantages in some areas, so Future's position has always been that we'll be committed to both."

When asked whether Future is equally as committed to its print magazines as to its online publications such as CVG and Games Radar, Ashton replied, "As a business, we'll maintain the commitment according to profitability and audience interest.

"If the Internet got turned off tomorrow, we wouldn't bother publishing websites; likewise, if there was a worldwide shortage of paper, publishing magazines would be rather difficult. So we have to tailor our output to audience expectations and market requirements."

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Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.