A new games magazine will launch in a month’s time from the company behind the Beano, MCV can reveal.
DC Thomson will launch 110% Gaming on October 15th and has invested £500,000 on the launch, with support from EA, Sony and Warner Bros already secured.
It’s a new monthly games magazine targeted at younger gamers that’ll set readers back £3.50. And crucially it’s a print-first title designed to share age-appropriate information to an emerging generation of core gamers.
KNOWING THE MARKET
110% Gaming comes following on from two years of market research by DC.
“We identified a group that is ultimately the eight to 12-year-old age range, who have access at home to many devices – a tablet and laptop, plus a games console. But more often than not they have a console passed down from their parents, usually their dad,” says DC Thomson head of publishing Neil O’Brien.
“Gaming is obviously massive for that audience, but they aren’t all consuming the newest releases or the same titles as your typical core gamer. And in terms of getting advice or information on games it was coming from their friends, or they were going to magazines or websites that weren’t exactly age appropriate.
“Children are warned so much now about safety online that they can be good at self-censoring and they don’t engage as much with those sites as you might think. And on the parents’ side, parents are concerned about the types of content out there for children.
“Those things together presented us with the opportunity to create something that has the design and production values of a grown up gaming magazine, but feels entirely age appropriate.”
"Kids told us that parents mostly limit their screen
time and that they would rather have a physical magazine to
read through when they weren’t playing games."
Neil O'Brien, DC Thomson
But a print magazine? In this climate?
O’Brien isn’t phased by the over-egged view that print is dead. Because it’s alive and kicking for those who do it right – especially someone like DC Thomson, not just famous for the misadventures of Dennis the Menace, but a brand with a strong line in licensed kids magazines.
“The Beano, which is 76 years old now, sells 32,000 copies a week. Our WWE Kids sells over 30,000 copies a month. Look further than our titles and you see titles like the Moshi Monsters magazine are still selling well, and that was spun off from an online property. So we see and know the demand is there.”
110% Gaming is headed up by Gareth Whelan, also editor of DC’s WWE Kids magazine. He led rounds of focus tests looking not just at the designs and tone of the new magazine – but the delivery.
One of the big bits of feedback there was that the target audience, which you’d assume as pure ‘digital natives’, wasn’t actually that interested in reading games media content digitally – they rejected digital editions of magazines out of concerns it would eat into their screen time actually playing games.
“Kids told us that parents mostly limit their screen time, and they would rather have a physical magazine to read through when they weren’t playing games,” says O’Brien.
“We will, of course, have an online site that promotes the mag and a digital version – but our audience don’t want anything that takes away from when they are actually playing games.”
That ultimately is no huge surprise to DC Thomson’s team, given the firms’ tranche of successful kids titles, but it does challenge the assumptions others may have made about ‘digital youngsters’.
“Where we come from as a publisher is that we know this market very well,” says O’Brien, pointing to Whelan’s work managing WWE Kids. That publication has to approach a very physical and gratuitous sport from a very specific point of view and talk about it in a way that makes it appropriate for children.
Editor Whelan cut his teeth on girls’ magazine Shout before moving over to the WWE title. He told MCV that 110% Gaming will draw on that title’s more wholesome approach to its content but with the levels of reader interaction expected of a games magazine.
“This is not a case of pageafter page of straight up reviews. We’re talking about ways people can experience
their games more – be that perfecting your FIFA skills, or building your own Minecraft models, or even revisiting older titles,” he says.
"It isn't going to be page after page of reviews. We're talking
about ways people can experience their games more."
Gareth Whelan, DC Thomson
Readers’ contributions will also help showcase people’s contents and views.
The staples of these magazines – posters, freebies and giveaways – are also an important part of the mix, something the research highlighted as important to readers and a key part where publishing partners get involved. That’s where Electronic Arts, Warner Bros and PlayStation come in for Issue One.
Whelan also points out that a print magazine, read by readers when away from their devices, will aid discovery of new content for these kids, especially in an area like mobile when the alternatives are cluttered app stores or fragmented platforms.
“We can do a lot in terms of introducing our readers to games they might not have heard about, whatever the platform, as well as helping them get more out of the games they already have.”