It's a terrible time for the print magazine industry, anyone with half a brain and access to Google News can tell you that. Despite the recession and severe difficulties all print media publications face these days, games media publisher Future has decided to launch a quarterly title based on World of Warcraft. This may seem crazy on the outside, but Future has a cunning plan to stay viable; they've cut out the advertisers.
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Cnet.com reports that World of Warcraft: The Magazine will be a 148 page behemoth, loaded down with high-quality artwork, game lore discussions, development sneak-peaks, and information on new features. None of this content will be weighed down or interspersed with advertisements. While this sounds a little crazy on the outset, relying on subscriptions rather than ad revenue might just be the way to stay afloat in the current market.
Future will charge readers $40 per year for a subscription to their magazine. One forty dollar payment per annum is chump change to people who drop $15 bucks a month on WoW (more if they buy gold). $10 for a large, ad-free, presumably gorgeous magazine is a pretty fair price. The magazine is fully supported by Blizzard, so they shouldn't have trouble being the first people to break major stories about new expansion packs and patches.
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If playing WoW for three years taught me anything, it's that fans of the game are more than willing to drop some extra scratch for 'insider' information about changes to their hobby. Future's venture is still a risky thing, but I see a lot of potential in the idea. With 11.5 million worldwide subscribers, they have one of the best built-in audiences of any magazine. Whether or not they can turn those subscribers into a readership remains to be seen.