Back in May last year, MCV ran a story that announced Future was planning to close Computerandvideogames.com.
It came as a shock. CVG was not only very good, it was also still hugely popular. What's more, Future had only just invested in a new CVG website.
There was a backlash and an overwhelming surge of support for the brand across social media. CVG had been running for 33 years, and both nostalgic industry folk and the website's loyal readers reacted with heartfelt dismay.
It was enough for Future to temporarily halt its plan. Instead, it reduced the website's headcount and kept it going. But this proved only to be a stay of execution; just before Christmas, Future announced that CVG would be closing in February.
MORE THAN CVG
CVG is the headline name in the story, but it's not the only website to fall under Future's axe. Edge Online and the official PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo sites, as well as the SFX and Total Film portals, were also closed as part of the process.
Instead, Future is now placing all of its entertainment content onto one website – GamesRadar+.
We are at the end of a long process where we have been simplifying our offering from a digital point-of-view,” explains Declan Gough, Future's head of content and marketing for film, games and music.
It was a complicated scenario from a commercial perspective and from a user experience. We had lots of different websites doing lots of different things in slightly different ways, and we actually wanted the opportunity to corral all of our great journalists together and bring them to the fore.”
GamesRadar may be a popular video games website – especially in America – but it doesn't boast the credibility of CVG. GamesRadar is best known for its Buzzfeed-style list articles, the sort of features that get shared on Facebook and generate plenty of search engine hits. It's not the sort of website where you'll find deep critical analysis or long-form features or breaking news.
"We wanted the opportunity to corral all of our great journalists
together and bring them to the fore."
Declan Gough, Future
Future says GamesRadar+ will now incorporate some reviews and news pieces. But it's no sure thing that CVG's loyal readers will simply migrate over to the new site.
It's not just about CVG, we're talking about a bunch of websites and audiences here,” says Gough.
You can never guarantee anything, but what I do know is that gamers want to read great content, and I think our 50-plus journalists working across the globe in games can stand up against any other group of journalists.
They are a fantastic, challenging group of people – and this is our opportunity to bring them altogether under one digital roof, and offer access to all of our content. Time will tell, but I genuinely believe that over a period of time we can migrate those audiences across to the GamesRadar environment.”
Gough adds that the firm doesn't plan to simply replicate CVG on GamesRadar+.
It will be a new look and a new feel,” he explains. If you check the reviews, for example, what a lot of it will be about is surfacing the many wonderful reviews that currently exist in the print products, and at the moment do not come to life digitally. I think that is an opportunity that we are criminal in not surfacing. So you will get different perspectives from different reviewers, giving people the opportunity to take as much or as little as they want from that but getting lots of different views.
From a news perspective, there are lots of sites that generate a lot of content on a day-to-day basis, and what we have to try to do is break that down to anywhere between six and ten stories a day where we look to go behind the news. Of course, if there's a big story, we will break it as well. But we would like to move away from that and towards the analysis side of things – maybe make better use of the Edge team in the digital space.”
Another major undertaking for Future has been moving out of London and uniting all of its games teams on the same floor in one office in Bath. Gough says this is part of its new way of looking at its writing talent.
We see them as one games editorial team. The days of this almost feudal, legacy print ideology of ‘I work for a particular brand' is coming to an end. Yes, these people are important to those brands and those brands are important to us, but we see ourselves as a single games editorial team. That is the key thing for us with GamesRadar+ – we won't be pulling in different directions.”
Of course, there's no shaking the feeling that Future is making a mistake. With the notable exception of Official Nintendo Magazine, Future's various print brands are unscathed, while the digital side of things have suffered. Online journalists, including video experts, are the ones that have found themselves out of work. It seems archaic – surely it would be better to cut the old-fashioned ink and paper products?
The print titles are in incredibly rude health, that's the thing,” defends Gough. It wouldn't take a genius to work out that if they weren't delivering, they wouldn't still be here now.
As a business, our five print brands are key pillar products for us. They are out-performing where we hoped they would be at this point in time. They have had a stellar few months. Official PlayStation and Official Xbox in particular are both producing wonderful results for us at the moment – long may that continue.
For us it is not about being print or digital; it is about delivering the right content to the audience and letting them choose how they want to digest that.”
"The print titles are in incredibly rude health. It wouldn't take
a genius to work out that if they weren't delivering, they wouldn't
still be here now."
Declan Gough, Future
From a pure, cold, business point-of-view, GamesRadar+ makes sense. It is the website that produces the most popular content, and uniting Future's movie, sci-fi and video game editorial under one umbrella brand is a sensible move. All of those great journalists, from Edge to Official Xbox, working together in one publication is something that should excite people.
But it doesn't. Creating an IGN-like websi