In France, the video game press loses life points

In France, the video game press loses life points

Content outsourcing, paper prices, competition from influencers, lack of prospects: the specialized media are looking gray despite the sector’s popularity and growing turnover.

The paradox is cruel. While the video game market is growing year after year internationally and has exceeded, in terms of turnover, the music and cinema sector, the specialized media are still struggling to survive. , while their journalists wonder about the future. The latest example to date, the announcement at the end of June by TF1 of the sale of its digital division Unify to Reworld Media (car more, Grace, Science & 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 remains highly appreciated by its community of readers and subscribers, who identify it as one of the few to investigate the video game industry. Set out to conquer video games at the end of 2021 by acquiring Melty (La Crème du Gaming, SuperSoluce, and GameLove), Reworld accelerated at the start of the year by buying Eclypsia, a historic esports brand, and JeuVideo -Live.com, more generalist. Previously, Reworld also got its hands on the popular science magazine in 2019 Science & Lifecausing the resignation in March 2021 of almost all of the editorial staff, worried about the independence and quality of the title and the increasing outsourcing of productions.

A reputation that does not reassure journalists from the Unify division. “Reworld will inevitably interfere in their affairs”said an employee of the press group to AFP, on condition of anonymity. Methods that aim to make profitable sites acquired at a discount as quickly as possible are struggling to pass. “The website The Cream of Gaming is disgusting, there are ads everywhere, many bugs“, and “as everything is outsourced to Reworld, there is no point in reporting 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 JeuxVideos.com portal, or Breakflip, owned by the communication agency WSC. . “Reworld presents itself as a huge structure, but it often continues to be very amateurish internallysupports another employee of the group. Almost every week, someone quits or burns out.he says. Added to this are late payments for freelance journalists.

Asked about this, the co-founder of Reworld, Jérémy Parola, concedes “a few failures at the time of payment”but he defends “the technical platform and the advertising power of the group», which allows him to be “more efficient”for lack of having “a miracle editorial recipe”. The manager also wants to be reassuring about the uniqueness of Gamekult and its 12,000 subscribers. “The paid model is ultra-virtuous, he assures, on condition that it involves the creation of new services so that subscribers want to pay a little more“.

Contacted, the Gamekult teams did not respond to AFP’s requests. According to Valentin Cébo, who left the editorial office in the spring, ‘worrying signs’ had already appeared with the announced merger of Gamekult and the tech portal Les Numériques, as well as with the move of the editorial staff to the TF1 tower in Boulogne-Billancourt.

Work in hard mode

Journalists’ concern is heightened by accelerating media difficulties in the sector: the magazine Duck-PC announced at the end of June that it had to reduce its pagination and cut 3 posts, due to the explosion in the price of paper. Relaunched in 2021, six years after a first closure, Jeuxvideo.fr, owned by Clubic, went out of business again in May, 7 years to the day after having 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 turned into videographers, like 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 the codes of a game to streamers. The audience is wider and the gaze a little less critical.believes journalist Julie Le Baron, former Duck-PC. “Most journalists will last 5 or 10 years, but after a while, if the remuneration does not follow, you think about changes”believes Valentin Cébo. “For a very long time it was a dream sight to get 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 endgame.” However, the game is not yet over for the specialized press.

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