You might think that starting a brand-new, high-quality, full-glossy magazine in one of the worst publishing environments in years would be a suicidal business idea. After all, take a look at just about any magazine you can think of, and, thanks to the veritable collapse of advertising, odds are it's about as thin as can be.
But to the folks at Future--a leading games media publisher--the time couldn't be better to launch World of Warcraft: The Magazine, a new quarterly title that is expected to be unveiled at this weekend's BlizzCon event--the world's biggest World of Warcraft fanfest--in Anaheim, Calif. The magazine will be the "official" WoW magazine, and is both endorsed by and produced with the editorial cooperation of WoW publisher Activision Blizzard.
And, indeed, the timing for the forthcoming magazine is clever: The first issue is planned for sometime this fall, just as WoW celebrates its fifth anniversary. And with an astounding 11.5 million players of the game now spread out around the world, Future is hoping that by promising potential readers stunning artwork, behind-the-scenes looks at ongoing development, deep dives into the game's lore, and perhaps even occasional scoops about new features or other WoW elements, it will offer fans an invaluable experience. In fact, Future sees this magazine as something along the lines of a collectible coffee table book.
Still, Future has chosen a difficult business model for the new publication. Each issue is expected to be 148 pages long, with precisely zero ads, which means that the title is shut off from traditional magazine revenues, and therefore will rely entirely on subscription fees. On the other hand, that same dynamic also means that it should be shielded from the vagaries of the advertising market, something that is currently taking down one magazine after another.
According to Future, World of Warcraft: The magazine will be offered for subscription only--no single copy sales--with U.S. readers paying $40 annually, those in continental Europe 35 euros and the British 30 pounds. The magazine will be published in English, French, German, and Spanish.
"The magazine market is suffering a rough time," said John Gower, the international director of FuturePlus, the title's publisher, "but only those magazines that are based on advertising models. We've seen our magazines increasing across the board, especially the hobbyist" titles.
That may be true, but in order to support what the publishers say will be a costly blend of commissioned art, in-depth articles written by veteran journalists and behind-the-scenes access, Future will have to convince a great deal of its players that it's worth their while to pony up $40 on top of their $15 monthly game subscription fees, even as those same players can find an enormous amount of WoW-related information online.
And that proposition is clearly not for everyone, even some of the most passionate WoW players. … Read more