"Gaming magazines had a tough six months, PlayStation 2 titles in particular, as it hasn't been a stellar time for new game releases," Tara Weathers, the games division publisher at Dennis, said. "Xbox is the only sector that has grown because of the excellent Christmas campaign."
As consumers have become more technologically sophisticated, interest in general computing titles has begun to wane. The response by publishers has been to launch more specialist titles, the most notable being the dramatic success of Future's Microsoft Windows XP The Official Magazine.
"The period has been tough for us but it has stabilised," James Tye, the managing director of the computer division at Dennis, said. "It is harder to find new readers as manufacturers find it harder to shift PCs but we are diversifying the portfolio with launches such as Custom PC to hit specialised readers."
Most expect a lift for console titles, especially official magazines that offer free games demos; they attract new console owners in the stronger six-month run to Christmas.
Verdict New technological developments, such as online gaming, will continue to grow the console sector with the potential for more launches. Expect more revamps - and maybe some closures - in the computer magazine sector.
TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period on Year on
period % year
Official PlayStation 2 Future 188,079 -4.70 -3.70
Personal Computer World VNU 121,566 10.20 n/a
PC Pro Dennis 117,150 -3.30 -7.40
Computer Shopper Dennis 100,135 -9.00 -17.30
Official UK Xbox mag Future 80,179 38.70 108.80
PC Gamer Future 65,573 -13.80 -18.50
Play Paragon 64,686 10.50 7.60
Microsoft XP Future 61,163 21.50 47.10
Games Master Future 59,222 -9.20 1.00
PSM2 Future 58,527 -16.40 -28.20
PlayStation World Computec 53,349 -30.10 -40.20
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (Jan-June 2003).