Gourmet Live isn’t gaming, it’s feudalism

There’s been a fair bit written about Conde Nast’s Gourmet Live application (actually, not sure it is an app or just a website, but never mind for now). Most commentators have taken the bait given in the claim that the app introduces “gaming” to the magazine. Well, I’ve just watched the video (see below), and the only “gaming” I see is that if I do certain things, I am “rewarded” with access to content that other people can’t see.

So let me see if I understand this. Gourmet Live is hiding some content from most users (so isn’t this a kind of paywall I can’t see?). And if I do things in a certain Gourmet-approved kind of way, I get to see that content.

This is wrong for two reasons. One, it hides content away, so all the paywall arguments apply here, but doubly so, because at least there’s a simple way to unlock paywalled content – by paying. Here, I have to jump through some hoops.

And there’s the second problem. It changes the relationship between publisher and reader. It makes the reader a kind of supplicant, willing to perform tasks to get treats. And, frankly, it’s just a magazine, you know? Who can be bothered?

And another, unrelated, thing. All these new magazine apps have TONS of video and TONS of photography. Who’s paying for all that stuff?

YouTube – Introducing Gourmet Live.

3 thoughts on “Gourmet Live isn’t gaming, it’s feudalism

  1. “And, frankly, it’s just a magazine, you know? Who can be bothered?” Well, anyone who finds the additional content engaging and entertaining! Magazines have passionate fans, who will travel to live events, wear masthead-branded t-shirts and journey to specialist newsstands to get hold of titles. If iPad versions can pick up on the level of engagement that print magazines have achieved, they will have no problem in getting readers to “jump through some hoops”.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Paul. And to some extent I agree with you – magazines (or at least some magazines) do have passionate fans. But there is a danger in confusing the subject with the material. If I’m passionate about a magazine, chances are it’s because of the subject matter as much as the content (there are obvious exceptions, such as the New Yorker, where the writing is the point). So if that magazine forces me to jump through hoops to get at that content, it’s going to become annoying. I’ll travel to a live event *because it’s a live event*. It’s unique. But to deliberately mask content from people to encourage their participation – that’s just dumb and annoying.


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