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The Zzap Rrap

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:43 pm 
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So Long Ago wrote:
CraigGrannell wrote:
I do, however, agree that this pretty much closes the chapter on games mags in the UK, unless something very drastic happens. No other publisher is going to go up against Future's titles now - it's just too risky.


For existing formats maybe. But as new formats emerge the market is open unless Future choose to flood the market with lots of titles but that makes things less profitable.

The other thing to bear in mind is that smaller/new publishers may have lower operating costs. An organisation like Future would attract a lot of ancillary/support costs that a small organisation wouldn't require (ie HR departments, Accounts departments etc.) They may also be prepared to settle for less profit per title.


But would a smaller publisher be able to compete with Future's titles, especially with marketing and sales? Looking at the ABC's, there doesn't seem to be enough readers to go round the Future and (current) Highbury titles.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:55 pm 
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What new formats though? All "new" formats are pretty much upgrades. The DS can be covered in Nintendo gaming mags, the Xbox 2 can be covered in Xbox mags, and the PS3 can be covered in PS"X" mags. The PSP is probably the only "new" format, and even that'll likely be rolled into PlayStation magazines.

As for admin costs, even small organisations require HR and accounting—the overhead may be less, but it's not going to be significantly different per title or per head-count.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:22 pm 
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CraigGrannell wrote:
What new formats though? All "new" formats are pretty much upgrades. The DS can be covered in Nintendo gaming mags, the Xbox 2 can be covered in Xbox mags, and the PS3 can be covered in PS"X" mags. The PSP is probably the only "new" format, and even that'll likely be rolled into PlayStation magazines.

As for admin costs, even small organisations require HR and accounting—the overhead may be less, but it's not going to be significantly different per title or per head-count.


Yes they can be covered in existing magazines in the same way that Zzap was used to cover the Amiga. That doesn't mean its the most effective way to address users of those new systems. Look at the number of titles that have lasted 10 years or more - relatively few.Surely this is indicative of a market that is continually changing. What's the tendency when a new format comes along - launch a new title or two (one to cover it and one for playing tips). Do people by a title because it is Future/Paragon/Highbury or whoever - vast majority nope. The only reason I ever look at a masthead on a mag is to see if someone I know personally is working on it. Games titles, is there any kind of brand loyality I don't think so.

Things like HR/Accounting for small companies tend to get absorbed into other roles. The company I consult for at the moment has undergone a significant amount of growth in the last few years:- the growth in support roles certainly outstrips the growth in roles that directly produce money. There's a world of difference to employing a book keeper who comes in once a month to having someone full time on the payroll, taking up a desk, taking up computing resources using lighting, heating, water, employers NI, holiday pay. When you're small there are certain things you can do without. How much has absenteeism cost Future? How many working hours are lost to staff moaning about the company?. All these costs have to be passed on either to the customer or the advertiser. I don't doub that economies of scale claw some this but I don't believe for one second that Future buying Highbury makes it harder for a new publisher to emerge than when Highbury existed in its own right. In that regard its changed nothing.

I would bet money that new publishers will emerge over the next year. There are people who benefited from the sales of Paragon to Highbury then Highbury to Future (staff share incentive schemes) who won't want to become wage slaves to another publisher they will want to control there own destiny but the only thing they know is computer magazine publishing.

As for Lee T's point about marketing muscle. How exactly is a games title marketed? Normally just by advertising it one of your other magazines. Marketing for computer mags is nowhere near as sophisticated as it is for books, Cds or films. If you're lucky it may get a semi prominent display in Smiths for one issue


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:37 pm 
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Don't certain publishers employ rep's to go around the likes of WHSmug and place their mags in more prominent positions? I'm sure IPC do this with 'Uncut', so do any of the computer publishers use this method?

As for new titles springing up from new publishers - The way things are going, Future have effectively created a monopoly with the acquisition of Highbury, and even if another large publisher (like IPC for example) wanted to launch a major gaming title, I think they would find it hard to enter the market and make it a success. Therefore a small company with the lack of marketing muscle would surely find it twice as hard? (Bearing in mind my first paragraph and cover gifts etc, plus gamers would rather buy established titles).

I do agree that there is likely to be PSP and DS titles launched - Obviously the PS2 mags are currently covering the PSP but they will have to make the decision whether they will continue to do so after the launch (and when the specific titles are launched). My guess is that the likes of PSM2 will create a monthly supplement as they won't want to risk losing readers who might have moved over to the new machine.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:09 pm 
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LeeT wrote:
Don't certain publishers employ rep's to go around the likes of WHSmug and place their mags in more prominent positions?

The way things are going, Future have effectively created a monopoly with the acquisition of Highbury, and even if another large publisher (like IPC for example) wanted to launch a major gaming title, I think they would find it hard to enter the market and make it a success. Therefore a small company with the lack of marketing muscle would surely find it twice as hard? (Bearing in mind my first paragraph and cover gifts etc, plus gamers would rather buy established titles).


I can't see any publisher using this tactic for a 20 - 30k circulation magazine

Future have created the illusion of a monopoly but it isn't a true monopoly. They certainly don't control entry to that market and the cost of entry isn't prohibitive.

Whilst I can't see major publishers becoming interested in computer titles: the real profit doesn't come from individual titles but from having a good portfolio. Small publishers starting with a handful of titles will appear. This has been the pattern of publishing throughout the history of computer magazine titles. I don't see that Future buying Highbury has changed that. Yes the market has consolidated but it has gone through periods of consolidation in the past.

Would gamers really prefer established titles. Where's C&VG this days, Ace anyone. Gamers are not loyal. They maybe loyal for a year possibly two but 5 years, 10 years no. A significant part of any magazines figures comes from a floating readship


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:17 pm 
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So Long Ago wrote:

Would gamers really prefer established titles. Where's C&VG this days, Ace anyone. Gamers are not loyal. They maybe loyal for a year possibly two but 5 years, 10 years no. A significant part of any magazines figures comes from a floating readship


Well, I bought Zzap for 7 years non-stop. :wink:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:57 pm 
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For what it's worth, the Future buyout was blocked, and Future's withdrawn its offer. This leaves Highbury with a debt of £65m and no buyer.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:32 pm 
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CraigGrannell wrote:
For what it's worth, the Future buyout was blocked, and Future's withdrawn its offer. This leaves Highbury with a debt of £65m and no buyer.


..which opens up a whole new can of worms!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:35 pm 
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Anyway, getting back on-topic (!), I was reading an old issue of 'Amiga Computing' today (I know, I know!), and there was an old advert for a Commodore Computer show at the Novotel - Theres an illustration of a moustached bloke who just happens to resemble Phil King - I wonder if this was officially allowed by Newsfield, as they have basically used the reviewers head, minus the initials on his chest?

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