Photograph by James Estrin/The New York Times
“I can find out on the Internet information that won’t be in magazines for another month,” said Mr. Goodman, a 30-year-old electrician in Newport News, Va., who took Halloween off to play video games. The magazines, he said, are “always going to lose when it comes down to content. I can get everything online.”
While video game magazine publishers beg to differ, that is precisely their challenge — retaining readers as the Internet grabs their audience and advertisers. Why wait for a monthly mailing when the Web has fresh game reviews, articles and tips on how to beat the games?
In the last few months, the two biggest publishers — Ziff Davis Media and Future US, which control most of the major game magazines in the United States — have been trying to tip the balance back in their favor.
The two companies have been bulking up their online content, trying to develop a symbiotic relationship. Their magazines offer portability and visual power, and their Web sites provide interactive features and nonstop information flow.
To keep print subscribers, Ziff Davis aims to offer better writing and reporting than is available from competitors’ Web sites, as well as striking visuals. Ziff Davis is also embracing the financial power of the special issue: a September issue that came out before the release of the blockbuster game Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 from Microsoft included a 19-page feature section.
“We’ve integrated our organization, and print is an important part of the proposition,” said Jason Young, the chief executive of Ziff Davis. He added that despite the problems in the business, the company plans to keep its game titles. “Certainly, peeling off individual pieces is not part of our strategy at this time,” he said.