The consensus seems to be that right now is not a good time to be in the print magazine business. Across the industry, newsstand sales fell 6.3 percent in the first half of 2009 and overall circulation has been flat. The narrower gaming niche is still reeling from the January shuttering of Electronic Gaming Monthly after a successful 20-year run. All over the media landscape, you don’t have to look very hard to find people proclaiming matter-of-factly that magazines are dead.
So it seems an odd time to announce a new 148-page quarterly magazine, focused on a single game, with no advertising pages, no newsstand sales and expensive, high-quality paper stock. Yet that’s exactly what Future Publishing is doing with World of Warcraft: The Magazine (WoW:TM), announced last week at Anaheim’s BlizzCon fan festival. What’s more, Future is doing it with a unique editorial and business plan that might just be crazy enough to work.