- Now, I'm sure a number of you have spotted the news that Ziff Davis is closing Official PlayStation Magazine in North America after the January 2007 issue - a sad state of affairs, due to the fact that the magazine "no longer fits its strategic vision" - and likely declining subscriptions, too.

I wonder also if it's because Ziff is reducing its reliance on print (even at the expense of lowered revenues) to make the Game Group a more attractive acquisition prospect - but that's neither here nor there.

What _is_ interesting, however, is that the Audit Bureau Of Circulations numbers for game magazines in the U.S. never tend to get reported widely, unlike the UK versions of the ABC, where they tend to get quite some press. I did actually find a list of Future's Jan-Jun 2006 US ABCs [.PDF link] somewhere on their site, so it got me thinking - what's the current state of circulations, and how is it trending?

The latest data (Jan-Jun 2006) is available on the ABC site, if you look closely enough. But we wouldn't have easy access to historical data, except for a 2004 Electronic Gaming Business story archived on FindArticles.com, and somewhat ironically named 'Magazines Hold Their Own In an Interactive Age', which lists several specific ABCs from 2003 and 2004.

So we're going to do a little list for each magazine with paid circulation specific figures from Jan-Jun 2006, Jan-Jun 2004, Jan-Jun 2003 - and if anyone can get us Jan-Jun 2005, that would be even better - ping us if you have access. (Also worth noting: since the Jul-Dec figures include the holiday season, they are often slightly higher, and average the yearly circ out a bit higher.) Here we go:

Official PlayStation Magazine (Ziff Davis)
Jan-Jun 2003: 283,827
Jan-Jun 2004: 264,432
Jan-Jun 2006: 252,267 (plus another 46,129 unpaid)

PSM (Future)
Jan-Jun 2003: 403,617
Jan-Jun 2004: 400,318
Jan-Jun 2006: 305,951

[So both magazines are taking a significant circulation dive, but with the cost of the license and official disc manufacturing, looks like Ziff have decided it's not worth it to continue. Interestingly, PSM has declined by the largest percentage since Jan-Jun 2003, though.]

PC Gamer (Future)
Jan-Jun 2003: 300,271
Jan-Jun 2004: 304,110
Jan-Jun 2006: 250,147

Computer Gaming World (Ziff Davis)
Jan-Jun 2003: 260,012
Jan-Jun 2004: 202,359
Jan-Jun 2006: 216,484

[Though I'm guessing that Computing Gaming World picked up a bit in the second half of 2004 and into 2005 before starting to decline again, its recent rebranding as Games For Windows is explained by the fact that it's currently running significantly under 2003 subscription levels. Mind you, so is PC Gamer, despite pulling ahead in 2004, and still holding an overall lead.]

Game Informer (GameStop)
Jan-Jun 2003: 1,095,841
Jan-Jun 2004: 1,647,350
Jan-Jun 2006: 1,994,488

Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff Davis)
Jan-Jun 2003: 505,569
Jan-Jun 2004: 514,058
Jan-Jun 2006: 594,393

GamePro (IDG)
Jan-Jun 2003: 554,335
Jan-Jun 2004: 480,021
Jan-Jun 2006: N/A

[In the multiformat realm, there's some interesting results. Game Informer's gigantic surge in subscriptions from its GameStop loyalty card bundling has got it out in front, and there it seems likely to stay - it's an impressive #31 on the Top 100 U.S. magazines by subscription numbers for Jan-June 2006. EGM has also been holding its own and even creeping up, whereas GamePro was dipping as early as 2004, and I can't find any ABC results past Jan-Jun 2004, which may or may not be ominous.]

Official Xbox Magazine (Future)
Jan-Jun 2003: 344,731
Jan-Jun 2004: 406,176
Jan-Jun 2006: 425,243

Tips 'N Tricks (Larry Flynt Publications)
Jan-Jun 2003: 145,925
Jan-Jun 2004:146,566
Jan-Jun 2006: N/A

[Mopping up the other ABC-audited publications in the field, Official Xbox Magazine has been doing extremely well, even after the Xbox 360 launch. This is at least somewhat to do with its often excellent cover-disc, but I do wonder how well it will perform now that most Xbox 360 demos are available online? We'll see. Meanwhile, Tips 'N Tricks, from the ever-wondrous Larry Flynt, is hanging on in there, but doesn't seem to have any recent ABCs, which make us wonder whether it's having notable circ declines. But maybe it isn't, we can't tell!]

[UPDATE: A commenter asks about Nintendo Power, which I didn't list because it's never been ABC-audited - or at least not recently, as far as I can see. However, our wonderful Kevin 'Magweasel' Gifford notes: "Nintendo Power's circulation is not audited by ABC. Its guaranteed subscription rate base at the end of 2005 was 435,000."]