The 22-year-old magazine, which previews and reviews videogames,
has a digital replica circulation of nearly 3 million, making it
the top circulating digital edition, the Alliance for Audited Media
said. The gulf between Game Informer and every other magazine is so
vast that the digital circulations of the next 24 magazines
combined -- including
Cosmopolitan and US Weekly -- barely crack 3 million.
Game Informer is owned by videogame retailer GameStop, which
bundles subscriptions to the magazine with its PowerUp Rewards Pro
Card. When customers sign up for the loyalty card -- which costs
$14.99 -- they receive discounts and coupons for the store, as well
as the magazine.
Single-copy print sales of Game Informer, which are not widely
available outside GameStop locations, total just 2,825, a fraction
of the title's overall print and digital circulation of 7.8
million. Meanwhile, the magazine's digital replica edition is
available to subscribers on iPads, Android tablets and PCs and
A loyalty program
More than 99% of Game Informer's subscriptions stem from the
loyalty card, according to Rob Borm, the associate publisher at
Game Informer, which is based in Minneapolis. (The stores offer a
free loyalty card that does not include a subscription.)
When GameStop rolled out its loyalty program in 2010, Game
Informer's digital circulation was just 4,844. It climbed to
223,000 in 2011, 1.2 million in 2012 and nearly 3 million today.
GameStop has ramped up marketing around PowerUp in Europe and
Australia and has seen growth in Game Informer subscriptions in
those areas, the company said during its second quarter earnings
Game Informer also has an impressive print circulation of about
Packaging magazine subscriptions with loyalty or membership
programs or in-store purchases is a long-held tradition. AARP members receive the organization's
magazine, which is the top circulating print title. Conde Nast and the Gap have partnered to offer
subscriptions to Lucky magazine with specific Gap purchases.
Public radio stations often give magazine subscriptions to their
Across the magazine industry, digital replica circulation has
increased slowly but steadily in the last year. Although the total
circulation remains small, it doubled in the first six months of
Some publishers have touted digital readership as a way forward for
the magazine industry as advertisers warm up to iPad editions. The
58 magazine iPad editions tracked by the Publishers Information
Bureau posted a 24.5% gain in ad units through June. Still, tablet
circulation has not increased as rapidly as publishers had
Mr. Borm attributed Game Informer's high circulation partly to
the success of the PowerUp Rewards program. He also credited the
overall popularity of video games and readers' trust in the
"While getting the same dependable and entertaining coverage of
games as found in our print editions, our digital editions satisfy
the techy side of a gamer's appetite with embedded videos,
animations and rich screen shot players," Mr. Borm said.
The publication and its editorial direction and staff are
managed as a completely separate and independent subsidiary of
GameStop Corporation, according to a GameStop spokeswoman.
Tony Sarcone, SVP-marketing initiatives and insight at MPA - The
Association of Magazine Media, said Game Informer's digital growth
is an example of magazine media's cross-platform success.
"We see that digital edition circulation for many magazine media
companies have been growing steadily," he said in an email. "This
is a trend that we expect to continue for some time."
GameStop has struggled to regain its footing in a shifting
marketplace. On Thursday, the company posted its second-quarter
earnings, which showed net earnings of $10.5 million, down from $21
million in the same period last year. Still, the company beat