With the dawn of March, we are beginning to see the magazine development come together, and with that comes the responsibility for me to open the window a little bit; allowing everyone to take a sneak peek at what we are thinking about in terms of content, distribution, and monetization.
First things first: The Goal and Vision of the Magazine.
The Indie Game Magazine will be a monthly digital publication – although we’re not opposed to getting back into print if all goes well – aiming to provide vital indie game information and original entertainment to our audience. We have determined that our audience consists of two groups of people and because of this, we want to include content for both; those groups being Indie Game Fans and Game Developers.
To do this, we’ve decided to divide the content into two sections: The first portion will contain the more informative segments of the magazine — a mixture of articles geared toward developers. A few examples of these would include; tech reviews written by guest programmers, opinion pieces from developers commenting on great software tools to help upstart devs get started, cautionary tales as told by peers on how to avoid common indie development pitfalls, marketing and PR tips, and even interviews of fellow developers. The goal here is to help educate and encourage dev teams by bridging the information gap with stories and technology.
The second portion is for the indie game fans and gamers. We recognize that developers fall into this category as well, so this section will be a little bit larger. In here, we will put the entertainment content. This would include early access previews, a bigger Screenshot Monthly segment (due to the popularity of Screenshot Weekly), traditional previews, and first looks, game reviews, plus some game trailers.
Next up is our distribution and monetization plan. We have partnered with Magzter.com to distribute our digital magazine across mobile devices. It is a little too early to say what the price is going to be on Magzter, but I would estimate that it will reflect our previous price point, which was $25.00 for a yearly subscription. Magzter’s policy is that we split the revenue 50-50, so IGM would see roughly $10-12 per subscription after fees.
Additionally, we are working on a Pay What You Want promotion for April’s release, which will allow you to buy the magazine here on the main site at a price of your choosing.
In addition to magazine sales, we have two forms of monetization within the magazine: Featured Content and Advertising. Featured Content should not be confused with game reviews. Instead, Featured Content will be exclusive looks at games and dev teams in the form of in-depth cover stories and interviews. The cover of the magazine is a great example. By purchasing the cover feature, developers get their studio or game displayed on the front cover of the mag. In addition, that month’s issue will contain a four-page cover story which will spotlight and take a look at the team and the game which they are working on. The cover story will also be a focus point of our social media campaign for the Magazine each month.
The second form is advertising. It has been a long time belief of mine that it is more beneficial to IGM — and less distracting to our readers — to sell ads displaying indie game-related content, rather than take higher dollars for soap or ketchup ads. In that case, the ads become part of the experience, rather than a nuisance to avoid. That said, the obstacle that we face is determining a price tag that the developer community can afford. What I decided upon, was to think about it in terms of seeking real-estate and paying wages at the same time. Until we gauge the audience’s response to the magazine and have a stable stream of income – which is something we can’t count on while gambling on a Pay What You Want format, selling advertisements is currently the only guaranteed way to compensate our staff. They will be paid a commission for each piece they write, but we’d like to be able to give them so much more than that. Hopefully you do too. As a side-note, you will never have your own ad appear next to your own game review.
The exact breakdown is not established yet, but here are the tentative prices for magazine feature content and advertising:
(Editor’s Note: To avoid confusion, the featured stories will be clearly labeled as promotional pieces. These pieces will highlight a development studio and the individuals that make up the team, with mention of their upcoming games and any features of note. We will decide which games/studios make the cover based on genuine interest in their project.)
Cover Feature $250.00
Sub-Feature $150.00 (The Sub-Feature will first appear on the back cover of the previous month’s issue, teasing the next month’s secondary cover story. The story will then be included in the upcoming month’s issue. Example: If you purchased the Sub-Feature for April, your image would be on the back cover of April and your feature article will appear in May issue.)
Inside cover $150.00
2-page spread $125.00
Full page $75.00
Half page $50.00
Quarter page $25.00
Again, the goal here is to make the ads as affordable for the developer community as possible. Don’t assume that you can’t afford it! I am totally committed to helping everyone be able to afford advertising space. Whatever we need to do to be able to help you guys advertise your games and keep cable TV ads out of the magazine, I am onboard!
Before I conclude this article, Vinny Parisi, IGM’s Editor-in-Chief, wanted to chime in with some additional comments and thoughts. He has been instrumental in establishing Indie GamePlay, the magazine layout, and the social media movement, so he has earned the right to speak.
The mic is yours Vinny!
Thanks, Chris! I just wanted to share a few thoughts with the indie community, so everyone understands my mentality and approach to re-launching the Magazine and the IGM Network as a whole moving forward. The indie scene is anything but traditional, so our approach going forward has to match the unconventional nature of our peers. With that said, we’re going to need the support of the community if we’re going to succeed in our efforts to promote and nurture the indie game space.
Support Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
For the past few months, IGM has been firing on all cylinders in anticipation of relaunching not just our Magazine, but the whole of our Network as well. Initiatives like Indie GamePlay, Indie Arcade, creating original YouTube content that’s coming soon, our reinvigorated Forum, our Developer Community Zazzle store, and of course the Magazine itself are all platforms intended to service both developers and the gamer audience alike. But all of these platforms take a lot of time and effort to maintain, and that’s where our readership comes in. Well, our newly-christened “Indie Armada” to be exact, as voted on by the community. Because the truth is, we can’t pull this off without the support of the very community we’re doing our best to promote and celebrate.
The great thing about support though, is that it can come in a variety of ways; each as equally important as the others. It’s not all about dollars and cents, as crucial as those are. The key to surviving in the indie community is symbiosis; helping others in a way that is mutually beneficial. With that said, here are a few examples of ways you can support both IGM and the indie community simultaneously:
Subscribing to the Magazine: When our Magazine re-launches in April, we’ll be following a pay-what-you-want model for that month. If you don’t have the money to spend, please don’t. Take a look for free and enjoy the same Magazine content as everyone else. The larger our subscriber base, the more exposure we can offer developers, and the better quality content we can provide our readers.
One-time donations: If a paid subscription doesn’t suit your style, we’ll also be accepting one-time donations during promotional pay-what-you-want periods. Again, please don’t donate money you can’t afford to give away. (We know how eager you are to support your fellow peers, just make sure it’s not to your own detriment.) Remember, there are other just as meaningful ways to help support the community, without forking over your hard-earned cash. Should you choose to donate though, know that you have both our eternal gratitude, and our promise to turn every dime we make into ever-improving content for our Network and our audience, both developer and gamer alike.
Share with Friends: If you enjoy our content, and appreciate the effort we’re putting into promoting and celebrating the indie community, then one of the most vital ways to show your support is to simply share that content with your friends. Crowdsharing will be the next major step in getting the mainstream gaming audience’s attention; so if we want to share the spotlight with those AAA folk – and give Indies the limelight they deserve — we’re going to need our Indie Armada to storm the beaches in full force. Tweet the articles you enjoy, post a Facebook status when you back a Kickstarter you believe in, remind your friends that there is an indie marketplace on the PSN, Xbox Live, and Virtual Console, blog about Game Jams, and share the quirky projects that look interesting; whatever you can do to help get that information out there. It doesn’t matter how many followers or “friends” you have, the internet has a way of finding everything you post. (That sounded less menacing in my head.)
For Developers: We know what being indie is all about, we’re indie ourselves here at IGM. So we know what it feels like when money is tight, and we also know that being an indie dev feels like playing against a stacked deck from the start. It’s always an uphill battle. The good news is, if you’re a developer who wants to give back to the community, there are ways of doing so without tossing us money that could be better spent elsewhere. Participating in community events like Screenshot Saturday, and offering words of both encouragement and constructive criticism are invaluable to your peers. It’s funny how there are way more indie studios than we could ever count, yet so many often feel lost or alone during the development process, with no one to turn to for feedback or support. We can be each other’s support systems. If you have advice to give, we invite you to write a guest post in our Magazine – want a free copy of a software program? Review it for us! If you have a cautionary tale, we also invite you to write a guest post in our Magazine. There’s a large informational gap between upstart developers, and those who’ve already carved out a path along the same tangled forest. If you can’t donate money to the cause, donate the knowledge of past experiences. (Or you could sponsor upcoming giveaways ;) That would be lovely as well!)
Whitelist our Network: Finally, and we‘ve all heard this before; one of the easiest ways to support the IGM Network is to simply whitelist our sites. By that we mean, if you‘re using ad-blocking software, please add IGM to your exemption list. We don‘t particularly enjoy ads — especially ones that seem irrelevant to the interests of our audience – but they are way to eek out just enough funds to keep our websites sustainable. The problem is, like so many other gaming websites, over 50% of our audience block ads. Which makes sense, because as gamers we’re usually pretty tech-savvy, so we definitely don’t blame you. Cards on the table, we’d rather not have to resort to things like Cosplay Galleries and “Top 10 Sexiest Ladies in Gaming” lists just to reel in an audience that doesn’t realize there’s a way to block ads. In exchange for your support on this front, we promise to never use intrusive, screen-filling ads, or have pre-roll trailers before an article. Nobody likes those, and we don’t ever want to have to rely on them. It might not seem like a big deal, but every little bit helps.
We at IGM are willing to wager that good will goes a long way. If we do our part to give back to this community we work so hard to promote, and also provide the original, quality content our audience is looking for, we believe the community will respond in kind. We hope you feel the same way!