Updated 24 Nov 11 at 19:14 by Michael Dorosh
Nooooo! While I haven't read F&M in years, I remain very fond of that magazine. I used to eagerly await its arrival in my mailbox back during the 90s. Unfortunately, I lost interest when F&M paradoxically veered away from wargaming for a while and started covering board games in general. IIRC, that was a short lived experiment.
I also disagree with the idea that the internet killed this mag. Sure, the internet does chip away at those casual gamers who wouldn't be inclined to pay for a subscription anyway, but I don't think it really has any effect on the target audience.
Look at Chess. Chess content on the internet is exploding, yet New in Chess is still the premier magazine, one that successfully charges $94 for a single year. Why? Because their reportage (I hate that word) is stellar. You just can't get that type of 'on the scene' news, interviews, photos and analysis from free internet material.
The internet is just another competitor, one that can be beaten with superior and exclusive offerings. But it seems a lot of magazines/newspapers just don't want to compete. They rather close up shop and blame the all-power internet for their lack of an ability to come up with something unique that people would be willing to pay for.
Exactly. Military History Quarterly is another example of "good" journalistic type writing that you simply can't get anywhere you turn to on the internet. After the Battle is another one. Quality pays for itself.
Funny you should mention F&M's content struggles. I think Moves also veered away from wargaming too. No doubt in an attempt to pick up sales. I note the guys at BGG talk despairingly about "Euro" games. Moves seems to have a lot of content devoted to them. Of course, even The General made a move to cover more games like Kremlin and Wrasslin' towards the end, also.
The trick with a publication is to come up with that publication's unique voice, something that just isn't available anywhere else. Needless to say, that can be quite difficult to discern, but it is essential.
Unfortunately, a lot of hobby mags have been content to dish the same content that can be had on the internet for free; they still haven't figured out that the game changed when the internet became the premier free content provider. I think part of the reason is that to kick things up a notch takes money (which is why free internet content is free). That is why a lot of these mags are closing up. To do what they need to do (hire reporters, photographers, artists, etc.) costs way more than many of these guys can afford. To run a hobby mag today you need to be more like GW's White Dwarf (fantastic quality) than a B&W newsletter.
In short, the internet will only destroy those publications that are of internet quality.
Originally Posted by Scott Tortorice
To run a hobby mag today you need to be more like GW's White Dwarf (fantastic quality) than a B&W newsletter.
White Dwarf is able to do what it does because it has a far larger fan base to work with than a mag like F&M. I've seen some wargame mags that were serviceable, but never anything as professional as White Dwarf. And I doubt I ever will.
I don't believe there is any such thing as "Internet quality." There is only high and low; the medium matters little.
Originally Posted by Michael Dorosh
The notion that the Internet is "competition" for magazines is false...
Sorry, don't buy a word of that. The digital medium has it's pros and cons, but it is most definitely competition. Just ask all those out of work newspaper editors.
I am surprised F&M survived as long as it did. I have purchased it on and off over the years, simply to try and fill the void of board wargames related information before the internet, but it just did not do much for me. Any given edition might have about a third of the articals that were of interest to me, but they never seemed to cover anything in enough depth.
S&T and Moves did a lot better, as did the General. Still, it is a sad day when yet another wargames publication passes away.
The digital medium has it's pros and cons, but it is most definitely competition. Just ask all those out of work newspaper editors.
But with respect Don, if you are really "into" a subject, as I said, you will scarf up all the content you can, as long as the content is good, timely, and affordable. Newspapers are - in my opinion, and I suppose I am not alone - garbage writing. They never get their facts straight, as anyone who has had any contact with newspapers knows. It's the nature of that medium. People read newspapers because they are convenient to carry out to lunch; that's the only reason I do. I suppose some people could take them on the morning train - but now with Blackberries, etc., they can get it digitally. But newspapers aren't hobby magazines, and people read them for entirely different reasons, so I don't think you can honestly compare the two.
There is a radio ad here on the local all-news station - if you are reading about it, it's history; if you're hearing about it, it's news. It's a cute poke at the newspapers, but it's also true when it comes to publishing. A magazine about World War II is also history. And people read history for different reasons than they do the newspaper.
I disagree. I used to buy a lot of magazines. Now I buy very few. Any wargame/military history/WWII magazine is only going to have so much content in it that will interest me. At $10 -$15 a pop, it is just not worth the money, no matter how good the presentation is.
Armchair General certainly has a nice appearance, and is well written, if perhaps a bit jingoistic, but I just do not get bangs for the buck out of it, particularly with the amount of information freely available on the internet.
You mention that the last edition of F&M had an editorial asking for submissions, which I image every edition had. This is because the magazines rely on submissions by wargaming enthusiasts. Now, if there is something I want to say about a wargame, I can put it on a blog and people can be reading it within minutes (or not read it at all if they are not interested). Not noly that, people can respond immiedately.
I spend $65.00 a month on the internet, it replaces the money I spent on magazines and newspapers, and I get great value for money from it. Sad to see magazines go, but that is evolution.
You're not disagreeing with me though. Armchair General is not good, timely or affordable. Perhaps "value for the money" is a better way to put it. I agree completely on the relative worth of most magazines, and especially the ones you name/describe.
Let's put it another way. There are many free scenarios for ASL on the internet - and more official scenarios now than anyone can reasonably expect to play in a lifetime, especially if one includes HASL. Yet people keep buying stuff from LFT and BFP. Why? Because they are value for their money. Despite the fact they could easily live to the end of their days and only play official scenarios and stuff for free off the internet, they choose to buy third party stuff.
Because it is of high value to them.
If F&M would have been of high value - the way, say, Battles or Against the Odds are - things may have been different. And most successful gaming mags (like S&T) now do so because they offer what the Internet can't (LFT does this as well) - maps and die-cut counters. I don't think that "value added" has to necessarily be a "game in the magazine" format, but it certainly doesn't hurt. c3i is adopting a similar model to LFT in offering die-cut variant pieces/cards/etc. as a "lure" to differentiate it from mere "internet" content. So be it.
Delivery model may be the next big thing with publications - Print on Demand coupled with online delivery is a relatively new way to go as opposed to the rigid "periodical" model; I'm experimenting with that with TWJ, obviously. I think a magazine like Le Franc Tireur can experiment with it successfully also (not saying they are, just as a hypothetical). If they have warehouse space to keep back issues, they can "emulate" a print on demand style by having an online ordering service and provide copies on demand, unlike a "periodical" like F&M. There are other models, such as providing a combination of print and pdf versions, etc. Newspapers are certainly turning to online subscriptions - New York Times, anyone? - to augment their paper sales.
In other words, the magazine itself may not be the outmoded medium, but perhaps the delivery system. Why print something subpar every two months just to adhere to a schedule, in order to get it into the hands of a dwindling consumer base who doesn't want it? With a print on demand system, or an emulated POD system, you just print as many as you need, in theory, and sell to the people that indicate a desire to own it.
That's even without touching on the notion of pre-orders.
Originally Posted by Michael Dorosh
But with respect Don, if you are really "into" a subject, as I said, you will scarf up all the content you can, as long as the content is good, timely, and affordable. Newspapers are - in my opinion, and I suppose I am not alone - garbage writing. They never get their facts straight, as anyone who has had any contact with newspapers knows.
Well, I don't really disagree with you. And that's my point. There is good stuff and bad stuff in print, and there is good stuff and bad stuff online.
I do agree that it is sad to see yet another wargame mag go down for the count. But then I'm unhappy to see any game magazine disappear. In the last two years about half the mainstream gaming magazines have ceased publication as well as several of the smaller mags like F&M. Just as bad, about half the game sites I used to visit have gone under or have been bought and consolidated into other sites. The advertising drought isn't just killing newspapers and big corporate news sites, it's killing game sites and magazines too.
All of this is bad news from my perspective because I like choice. I didn't buy Dragon magazine regularly, but I did buy it from time to time and it really upsets me that I no longer have the opportunity. I just don't think it's as simple as saying the good stuff will survive and the bad stuff won't. There are a lot of variables in play.
You make some very good points. I would buy scenarios over the internet rather than the publications if they were available, but I woiuld not buy maps or counters over the internet if I had to print and mount them myself. This is where the print industry needs to go, to provide what cannot be provided on a computer screen.
The Swedish Volunteer Pack is a good example. I hear people rave about it, but it just does not push my buttons. I think its popularity has to do with the fact it also provided a set of high quality counters. I have also purchased LFT products because they have counter sets in them, alothugh I have only ever played one scenario with Spanish Blue Division counters and have never used the paratrooper counters!
The print media needs to adjust to the internet age, some within the industry will, and will survive, others will not, and will fade away.
Has anyone here tried the new Battles magazine? I've just ordered a copy. Check out this review with lots of pictures on bgg - looks very good.
I'll post a review when my copies of issues 2 and 3 arrive.
Do you have a link to your review?