egm-0606-thumb.jpg Kevin Gifford's recent article on the state of U.S. game mags has elicited _lots_ of commentary, both in the post itself and elsewhere online, and poking around in the Slashdot thread on the post, we found a very neat comment by Backbone Entertainment's Chris Charla, formerly EIC of Next Gen magazine, about the game magazine industry.

Charla is great at explaining the difference between the U.S. and UK game markets, by way of rebutting complaints about the amount of ads in game magazines: "In the US, magazine distribution is really inefficient -- there are hundreds of thousands of places to buy magazines, and to reach the realtively small number of people interested in a nich publication (games, fishing, knitting, etc), you need to print way more copies than you can possibly sell. Selling through 20 or 22% of your newstand copies is considered good, and hitting 30% or higher is fantastic. That means you're wasting the cost of 70% of your newstand distribution, which is a lot. At best, your newsstand sales might break even."

He also explains: "Then you have subscriptions. The $12.99 or $19.99 you pay for a year of a magazine doesn't come close to paying for the printing and shipping. It's a total loss leader. What it does, however, is ensure a certain level of readership for the magazine (vs. the uncertainty of newstand/retail sales). This number of readers -- the guarenteed circulation -- can then be shown to potential advertisers, along the lines of "hey, look, a quarter-million people subscribe to this magazine! Our research shows they each spend $600 a year on software! You should advertise, because this is your core audience." And then (hopefully) you sell some ads. Advertising is the *only* place a typical US magazine makes any money at all."

He concludes: "That all said, magazines are a fanastic bargain, and given that the ads are really very targeted, I don't mind seeing them in games mags, the same way I enjoy looking at the ads in car mags or other technology magazines." Do you feel likewise?