MD Damian Butt speaks out

How were the ABC results for you?

We have the number one title in the unofficial Xbox market, which is good. I think we were slightly jipped last year by some export copies – we’re about 200 sales behind last year, so we’ve got that back. Between X360 and 360 we do 46,000 copies a month, which is good.

Play did what we expected – we’ve just come out of the worst PlayStation period there’s ever been. As an average, it’s exactly what we thought, but it’s an annual result – and the good news for us is that in the latter part of the year it’s been going up and up. We know this year is going to be better for PlayStation – we seem to come out of a dip, thank God. GamesTM continues to grow and has won two Games Media Awards, so it’s all good on that one too.

Can GamesTM ever catch Edge?

Yes absolutely. It’s just a matter of time. If you break it down to what they sell in the UK, we trade places on number one or number two slot on a monthly basis. But when you add in subscriptions, which Edge has had a long time to build up and drive forward, and then you add in export sales, which take time. The thing that looks great is that it’s only subs and export that differentiate us, both of which we’re pushing forward with.

What’s the thinking behind having two Xbox 360 mags on the shelves?

If we had just one title, would we still be selling 46,000 copies a month, or would the sales of the title we dropped spread equally amongst our competitors? It’s a strategic, market dominance argument. Not only are we the market leader in our own right in terms of one title, but you add in the other and we’re streets ahead. Both have got their place. X360 is the market leader, a really dominant title. 360 was a thing we launched originally and it occupies a different market position.

You launched Total PC Gaming this year. How is it going for you?

It’s bang on target. It’s doing what we expected it to do and that’s a solid basis for us to push forward. Now it’s a question of building on a successful launch, getting subscription levels up. We’re up against two pretty tough competitors that have been going since the early ’90s, so it’s a bit of a standard start, but we can build on that. We’re pretty confident. Irrespective of how big or small the PC games market is, it would still be achievable to get the sales we want from it if it was a quarter of its current size.

You also closed PSU3 – is there any chance you’ll bring it back?

We have no plans to resurrect it. Would it have done better launched at this time? Yes. Just statistically because of the installed base. But that’s hindsight. That market, although better, is still very, very tough. It’s nowhere near where it’s been before. I don’t think it will get to where it was before, but I think the magazines that are there should be okay. There isn’t a need for another title.

Why has the Nintendo market proved difficult for you?

Nintendo products are stupendously great at appealing to people who are not interested in buying a specialist magazine. The Nintendo mag market is doing alright – particularly Official Nintendo Magazine.

As the industry drives towards the casual market, is it a headache for specialist publishers?

If a specialist mag doesn’t adapt and isn’t good enough full stop, it doesn’t deserve to survive anyway. The biggest disappointment overall with the whole mass market gamer thing is when the core companies in the market – software publishers and the companies driving it – squander their budget in a vague attempt to try to attract that type of consumer.

That comes at the expense of those who are at the core of the scene. The most annoying thing isn’t that it exists – I love that fact – but I wouldn’t want that to be at the expense of the very magazines that are fuelling the industry.

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