Content outsourcing, paper prices, influencer competition, lack of prospects – specialty media appear gray despite the industry’s popularity and growing revenue.
The paradox is cruel. While the video game market grows year after year internationally and has surpassed the music and film sectors in terms of turnover, the specialized media still struggle to survive, while their journalists are wondering about the future. The latest example to date, TF1’s announcement at the end of June of the sale of its digital division Unify to Reworld Media (More cars, Adorn, Science and life), caused a sensation in the world of video games, arousing fears for the future of Gamekult, one of the reference media in France.
Launched in 2000, the specialty site remains highly regarded by its community of readers and subscribers, who identify it as one of the few to investigate the video game industry. Starting to conquer video games at the end of 2021 by acquiring Melty (La Crème du Gaming, SuperSoluce and GameLove), Reworld accelerated at the beginning of the year by acquiring Eclypsia, the historical eSport brand, and JeuVideo -Live.com, more generalist. Previously, Reworld also got its hands on the popular science magazine in 2019 Science and lifecausing the resignation in March 2021 of almost the entire editorial staff, worried about the independence and quality of the title and the growing outsourcing of productions.
A reputation that does not reassure the journalists of the Unify division. “Reworld will inevitably interfere in their business”, an employee of the press group told AFP, on condition of anonymity. Methods that aim to make sites acquired at a discount profitable as quickly as possible struggle to pass. “The Web site The cream of the game it’s disgusting, there are ads everywhere, lots of bugs“, And “since everything is entrusted to Reworld, it makes no sense to report it”criticize the same source.
The Reworld group intends to conquer the second place of the French podium in the video game sector within five years, today occupied by Webedia, with the portal JeuxVideos.com, or Breakflip, owned by the communication agency WSC. . “Reworld looks like a huge facility, but it often continues to be very amateur internallyclaims another employee of the group. Almost every week someone gives up or burns out., he says. Added to this are the late payments for freelance journalists.
When asked about this, Reworld co-founder Jérémy Parola admits “Some errors at the time of payment”but he defends himself “The technical platform and the advertising force of the group“, which allows it to be “more efficient”for lack of having “A miraculous editorial recipe”. The manager also wants to reassure about the uniqueness of Gamekult and its 12,000 subscribers. “The paid model is ultra virtuous, ensures, provided that this entails creating new services so that subscribers want to pay a little more“.
Contacted, the Gamekult teams did not respond to AFP requests. According to Valentin Cébo, who left the editorial office in the spring, ‘worrying signs’ it had already appeared with the announced merger of Gamekult and the technology portal Les Numériques, as well as with the transfer of the editorial office to the TF1 tower in Boulogne-Billancourt.
Work in difficult mode
The concern of journalists is heightened by the acceleration of the media difficulties of the sector: the magazine PC duck announced at the end of June that it had to reduce its layout and cut 3 posts, due to the explosion in the price of paper. Re-launched in 2021, six years after an initial closure, Clubic-owned Jeuxvideo.fr went out of business again in May, 7 years after its previous disappointment.
According to a French representative of a major game publisher, “The specialized press is always the one that structures the stories. But new media have emerged., especially videos. As a result, publishers have turned into videographers, such as Julien Chièze and Carole Quintaine (more than 800,000 subscribers on YouTube) or Gauthier Andres (Gautoz) on Twitch.
“For a publisher, it’s much more interesting to send game codes to streamers. The audience is wider and the gaze a little less critical.believes journalist Julie Le Baron, an ex PC duck. “Most journalists will last 5 or 10 years, but after a while, if the salary doesn’t follow, they think about the changes”believes Valentin Cebo. “For a long time it was a dream sight to get paid to play video games, which was an understatement, concludes one of the Reworld reporters. But in recent years, fewer and fewer people see journalism as an end ”. However, the game isn’t over for the trade press yet.
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