In France, the video game press loses life points

Content outsourcing, paper prices, competition from influencers, lack of prospects: specialized media look gray despite the popularity of the sector and its growing turnover.

The paradox is cruel. While the video game market grows year after year at an international level and has surpassed the music and film sectors in turnover, the specialized media continue to struggle to survive, while their journalists wonder about the future. Last example, the announcement at the end of June by TF1 of the sale of its Unify digital division at Reworld Media (Automatic More, Grace, science and life), caused a stir in the world of video games, raising fears for the future of Gamekult, one of the reference media in France.

Launched in 2000, the specialized site continues to be highly regarded by its community of readers and subscribers, who identify it as one of the few that investigates the video game industry. Get ready to conquer video games at the end of 2021 when acquiring Melty (La Crème du Gaming, SuperSoluce and GameLove), Reworld accelerated earlier in the year by buying Eclypsia, a storied esports brand, and, a more mainstream brand. Previously, Reworld also took over the popular science magazine in 2019. science and life, causing the resignation in March 2021 of almost the entire editorial staffconcerned 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 your affairs”An employee of the press group told AFP on condition of anonymity. Methods that aim to make discounted sites profitable as quickly as possible are struggling for approval. “The place the cream of the games it’s disgusting, there are ads everywhere, lots of bugs“, Y “since everything is subcontracted to Reworld, there is no point in denouncing it”criticizes the same source.

cult of performance

The Reworld group intends to take second place on the French podium in the video game sector within five years, occupied today by Webedia, with the portal, or Breakflip, owned by the communication agency WSC. “Reworld presents itself as a great structure, but often remains very amateurish internally.supports another employee of the group. Almost every week, someone quits or burns out., he says. Added to this is the slowness of independent journalists.

Asked about it, the co-founder of Reworld, Jérémy Parola, acknowledges “some mistakes when paying”but he defends himself “the technical platform and advertising power of the group», that allows you 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 payment model is ultra virtuous, ensures, on the condition that it is 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 newsroom in the spring, ‘worrying signs’ it had already appeared with the announced merger of Gamekult and the technology portal Les Numériques, as well as the transfer of the newsroom to the TF1 tower in Boulogne-Billancourt.

work in hard mode

Journalists’ concern is exacerbated by accelerated media difficulties in the sector: the magazine computer duck announced at the end of June that it had to reduce its pagination and eliminate 3 publications, due to the explosion in the price of paper. Relaunched in 2021, six years after a first closure, Clubic-owned closed 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 video. As a result, editors have become videographers, like Julien Chièze and Carole Quintaine (over 800,000 subscribers on YouTube) or Gauthier Andres (Gautoz) on twitch.

“For a publisher it is much more interesting to send game codes to streamers. The public is broader and the gaze a little less critical.believes the journalist Julie Le Baron, ex computer duck. “Most journalists last 5 or 10 years, but after a while, if the remuneration does not continue, you think about changes”Valentin Cébo believes. “For a long time it was a dream to be paid to play video games, which was reductive, concludes one of the Reworld journalists. But in recent years, fewer and fewer people see journalism as an end.” However, the game is not over yet for the specialized press.

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