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17 February, 2014

Building a Games Magazine that's Organic to the Format

For my second diary entry on the production of Grab It, I thought I’d tackle the topic of why the publication is focused on iPad games, and why it can only be experienced on an iPad. Also, why this philosophy can transcend to other formats.

For my first entry on Download Size vs. User Experience, head here.

The indie gaming scene has become much like sand, embedding itself in every little crack and crevice it can find. There isn’t a channel that has been able to withhold the tide, with quality developers from all over the world flooding your favourite format with fabulous games. We could have launched Grab It and focused on any or all of them and found more than enough content to create hours of entertainment and insight. But I didn’t and here’s why.

It makes sense to me that modern games media should exist in the format of the product it talks about. There’s an intrinsic conflict in reading about a game in an environment foreign to the product, or in a way that doesn’t behave natively to that format. We could have done a bunch of PDFs and put them on a PC, but that wouldn’t have felt like an iPad magazine about iPad games as you lose the ability to assume all users will have a touchscreen. Plus, you would not have been able to discover something cool, press a button and start playing it without some static in the user-experience - such as changing devices - as you leave that environment to complete your goal.

Part of what Grab It is as a brand, is being within the ecosystem of the format it covers.

This also has inherent benefits in design as you don’t have to hedge your bets by making a product that is compatible, or is at least fun to experience, across multiple formats. You can make something organic and fresh, that doesn’t crash on you or deliver content in a way that doesn’t make sense in order for it to function in many channels. It only has to function on iPad. If I wanted to think about a PDF version of the mag while designing the iPad version, for the sake of production costs I’d have to strip out so much of the interactivity or else I'd have to create two completely different versions - it would amount to a critical hit for a small indie like us.

Despite these benefits, the risk is huge. You’re basically closing off a huge potential audience from being able to engage with your content. In this respect, the path I’ve taken with Grab It is a gamble/experiment whereby I hope the quality of an experience developed ground-up to exist within the iPad universe attracts a big enough audience to survive.

If it does more than that, and excels, then I can look to taking this philosophy into other formats, with other variations of the Grab It brand. I'd love to be on all formats in the future.

I invite you to try the experience for yourself and grab Issue 1 from here. It’ll take you about 15-hours to experience everything it has to offer – it really has a lot of content.

Previous Publisher Diary Entries:
    - Download Size vs. User Experience

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