Do you believe that magazines are dead? I don’t. I still love reading them; however, with the internet drastically changing the way we consume information in the last couple of years, it’s obvious that not all magazines will survive.
So, when someone starts a magazine that deals with a five year old game (World of Warcraft was launched back in November 2004), it’s a brave move and a good litmus test to see whether the magazine market can still support innovation. Yes, WoW does have some 11.5 million players, but it’s not a huge market as far as magazines go. The magazine plans to lure players with promise of beautiful WoW-related art and in-depth game information, which does sound good, but there’s no lack of those two online, especially the latter.
Then there’s the question of price. Future, the publisher, says that World of Warcraft: The magazine will be offered as subscription only, for $40 a year (35 euros in continental Europe and 30 pounds in Great Britain). It’s not a huge price, but WoW players already have one subscription to pay; it might be hard to convince them to purchase another.
Furthermore, each monthly issue will be 148 pages long with no ads whatsoever. This means that the magazine has to survive on subscription only; on the other hand, users will be more likely to subscribe to a mag that’s ad-free.
Can it work? It’s hard to predict, but international director of FuturePlus, John Gower, said something interesting: “The magazine market is suffering a rough time but only those magazines that are based on advertising models. We’ve seen our magazines increasing across the board, especially the hobbyist titles.” If he’s right, the paper magazine market is going in a completely opposite direction than online mags, which rely almost solely on ads for revenue. I’d like to see it succeed: a new course for paper mags might be exactly what this industry needs.