OFT to Investigate Future

I’ve just seen that the Office of Fair Trading is set to investigate the potential acquisition of Highbury House (they own Highbury Entertainment, a games and computer magazine publisher who I’ve worked for in the past) by Future Publishing, the juggernaut of UK games journalism. Naturally the biggest company buying up its biggest competitor is going to do no good to the industry when it’s pretty much a two-horse race anyway. Many of the new magazines are simply one of them responding to one of the other’s publications – just look at the apparent synchronicity between the review scores of gamesTM and Edge. Would there be any reason to run two directly competitive magazines from the same stable? It’s only going to lead to people who might buy both picking one and sticking with it since they’ll be perceived as so similar.

I’m no big businessman and so can’t even attempt to try to put a spin on how this would affect the economics of games journalism if it is allowed to go ahead, but as someone who hopes to have a future (no pun intended) in this sector of the industry I would definitely support anything to keep as much variety and vitality around as possible. Combining Future and Highbury would be like combining EA and Ubisoft or Microsoft and Apple. There would be no synergy and no creativity coming from it, resulting in it being ultimately bad for everyone.

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