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Game Informer is rated fifth-largest consumer magazine

GameInformerPIC1The fifth most popular consumer magazine in the United States by circulation is now a video game magazine. In case one hasn’t noticed, gaming has become much more than a niche pastime for geeks and nerds. Rather, it has proliferated into mainstream through family-friendly devices like Wii and Kinect, and woven itself into Internet culture and social networking sites.

According to the December 2010 Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Fas-Fax Report released on Feb. 7, Game Informer’s six month average circulation is 5,073,003. That’s over 1.8 million more than Sport’s Illustrated’s circulation of 3,174,355. In terms of gaming publications, Gamepro comes next in line with a distant, albeit substantial 2,454,000. Is the growing popularity of these magazines an indication that gaming has become America’s new favorite pastime?

A report from the Electronic Software Association (ESA) says yes. The recent report noted that 67 percent of American households play computer or video games. What is particularly interesting is that the average game player is around 34 years old and has been playing games for 12 years. In addition, the report notes that 26 percent of Americans over age 50 played video games in 2010. With such a dedicated built-in audience to cater to, you might think marketing a gamer magazine would be a slam dunk.

But not all gaming magazines are created equal. Facing the rising costs of distribution and online competition, popular video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly folded in 2009, but re-launched under new ownership in 2010. EGM’s story seems to indicate that a growing market of readers still prefer and appreciate print. Game Informer, for example, gains access to exclusive content that is not available online. “We keep our audience on their toes by consistently surprising them with unique stories that they can’t find anywhere else,” said associate publisher Rob Borm in an e-mail interview.

Many are left speculating about what gives Game Informer the edge over other gaming publications. Some publications, such as VG24/7 and Joystiq, are referring to Game Informer’s partnership with GameStop, a brick-and-mortar retailer of video games, as a major part of their success. GameStop offers a yearly discount card, which includes a subscription to the magazine. Borm admitted that their partnership with GameStop is “a good partnership” and that selling a video game magazine in a video game store is “like selling candy in a candy store.” Game Informer’s bold point-of-sale approach has made itself quite available to their demographic.

As to the longevity of Game Informer, which was launched in 1991, Borm affirmed that the print edition continues to grow and is the foundation of their business. However, the company’s “digital strategies will keep us moving into the future by meeting the evolving demand of our readers,” he said.

Clever marketing and feature-rich content may have helped Game Informer gain subscriptions, but cultural trends continue to show us that electronic software will continue to flourish in the mainstream. As companies invest in technology that was once thought of as science fiction, such as motion control or voice recognition, it’s not surprising that video gaming magazines are thriving.

— Eric Sanchez & Mario Munoz

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