Many magazines are created to fulfill a specific interest
, and their name is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
— Game Informer
shows Video Game
news and reviews, Shonen Jump
shows shonen manga
, and so on.
Some magazines, however, are not as wedded to their original concept as others. Meddling executives
at your magazine realizes that they could attract more
people in your demographic by, say, adding some dirty humor to your video game magazine. Or adding celebrity gossip to your housekeeping magazine. After all, housewives like housekeeping and like George Clooney, so why not combine them? (Adding in ever-more celeb gossip figures in more than half of the below examples).
Some changes can be chalked up to the changing landscape of print media, especially considering the competition with new media — traditional comics give way to Web Comics
with an Infinite Canvas
, news magazines give way to news websites that can be easily up-to-date, actual print give way to e-books and the internet, and so on.
See Network Decay
for the television and radio equivalent. See also Artifact Title
, They Changed It, Now It Sucks
, and Bishonen Jump Syndrome
. Public Medium Ignorance
may be a cause for some of the listed magazines. If it starts overlapping with politics, then it can cross over into Strawman News Media
Nothing to do with
characters having to reload their guns more frequently
Examples (sorted by original media focus):
open/close all folders
- Details was originally an independently-owned gay activist magazine. It was bought out by Condé Nast and relaunched as Vogue for straight guys.
- Newtype USA's last issue was in February 2008, due to the fact that ADV was stuck in a crappy contract with the Japanese (pay all the costs, get none of the revenue, you get the idea) and wanted out. It was immediately replaced with PiQ which covers not only anime and manga, but also American comics, movies, gaming, and similar subjects. While technically a separate magazine, Newtype subscriptions carried over to PiQ and since the Newtype name was licensed, it wouldn't have made sense to keep the name when changing the magazine content. At any rate, it only lasted four months.
- Animeland was the very first (1991) anime magazine in France. It dealt with Western Animation in addition to anime, and occasionally had articles on very old series. Since the 2000s, it's been imitating its rivals by solely focusing on recent Japanese shows, and adding more and more articles on Japanese culture.
- Megami Magazine had a major shift changed that pretty much reduced the amount of nudity shown in its eroge section to nothing while censoring all tits as well as removing the H-OVA section. While it still does cheesecake pinups, it has stopped doing Wholesome Crossdresser pinups. Nyantype, a spinoff of Newtype magazine except with more Mecha has picked up the slack for the crossdressing part.
- Car and Driver used to be famous for abusing their position as one of the two biggest automotive magazines in existence to get away with insane and sometimes illegal stunts for the magazine — locking two writers in a diesel VW Jetta modified for long range driving and driving across the country non-stop without getting out of the car; taking eight sedans to test in Baja California and returning with six after multiple encounters with the Federales, a devastating El Nińo season and an errant cow; and covering the original Cannonball Run cross-country rally, created by staff editor Brock Yates in protest of the national 55 mph speed limit. The writing at the time was fresh and honest, and could sometimes be properly described as "gonzo".
Now, though, the pressure to appeal to the advertisers by not condemning anything and giving every car at least a somewhat positive review, not to mention significant tightening of editorial control has neutered the magazine and made it into a shallow, milquetoast version of itself. In 2009, it took a turn for the worse with the replacement of longtime editor-in-chief Csaba Csere with Eddie Alterman, leading to even blander writing and more sophomoric humor (which is really saying something, as the humor was already pretty crude by the end of Csere's tenure). Car and Driver is still arguably the best American car magazine, but with major chain bookstores carrying Car and Top Gear Magazine from the United Kingdom, you can really see What Could Have Been.
- Ironically, C&D once ran a small article decrying rival mag MPH's infatuation with excessive references to one's posterior. MPH originally had Alterman as editor-in-chief.
- Sport Compact Car, during the era Dave Coleman worked there, was notable for being pretty much the only "import car" magazine that didn't feature bikini babes sprawling over ridiculous show cars. Instead, you had a (often freakishly-thick) magazine filled to the gills with performance modified cars, generally featuring multiple pages of technical information. And columns explaining the maths behind key automotive performance parameters. And truly unusual (and interesting) project cars, rather than elaborate product placement features. Virtually nothing about the magazine was about the "import scene". However, after some management shakeups and multiple editor changes, turned into Import Tuner without training wheels. It finally died in 2009.
- AutoExchange, a free weekly magazine which was circulated in the United Kingdom between 1996 and 2009, started to fall victim to this trope towards mid-2010, when it was reduced to a mere two regional editions, namely Staffordshire, Cheshire & Shropshire and South & West Wales, with all the others being phased out, despite the fans not being pleased. Admittedly, it was an advert magazine, nothing more, but the designers tended to be Doing It for the Art with their adverts in the 13 or so years of its existence.
- The main problem (well, for the Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire & Warrington edition at least) was the paper size being too large to be portable, and the loss of the familiar header and footer on opposing pages which read:
- TO ADVERTISE TELEPHONE 0000 0000 000 - SAY YOU SAW IT IN AUTO EXCHANGE (or variants).
- Yet, despite that, fans still want it back.
- Same for the related Auto Freeway published by GMG Media, which ceased in 2008 (except in South Africa). British car-buyers wanting their fix of automotive dealer adverts will need to get the Auto Trader and that's got lean on print adverts — for now, unlike the other two which were print-advert, not private-advertiser heavy.
- The free auto magazine market is on the periphery of Deader Than Disco and Popularity Polynomial, for now, anyway.
- Disney Adventures was once a nearly educational magazine aimed at children, covering varied and sundry topics (one issue, for example, covered the Vikings and Norse Myth). It also used to have a lot of comics of the Disney Afternoon properties, including one ambitious effort to tie all the different series together into a shared canon, despite how unlikely this seemed. As the years passed, however, it narrowed its scope to the point that it became yet another facet of Disney's marketing department. Its last issue was November 2007.
- Literally, as well. The magazine switched from a glue binding to staples and a thinner, glossier paper in January 1998, and the staple-bound issues aren't as durable as the glue-bound.
- The magazine decay of Disney Adventures was actually brought up by Roy Disney Jr. in an article for his "Save Disney" web site in 2004. His argument was that because of Disney's inability to create popular new characters at the Turn of the Millennium, the magazine had been reduced to featuring puff-pieces about popular non-Disney characters like Harry Potter and SpongeBob SquarePants in order to sell copies, and it reflected poorly on the company's overall creative health at the time.
- Dinosaurs!, a children's magazine about, well, dinosaurs, started out as being solely about dinosaurs. Then it stretched out to other prehistoric animals at issue 45, with some dinosaurs thrown in. Then it broke from its tradition of having the main creature of the 'Identikit' section on the cover by featuring one of the two others. Unlike many other examples here, though, it was not canceled, and instead finished with an issue containing an index to the entire series.
- Materidouskanote is a Czech magazine for children founded in 1945. It's supposed to be for youngest readers — children from 7 to 10. It was initiated by a poet Frantisek Hrubin and it always included lots of original illustrations, funny rhymes and poems, short comics, fairy-tales and stories. The cover usually featured a picture by an illustrator, sometimes a renowned artist. After 2000, the focus shifted and the cover has a Hollywood blockbuster, usually some 3D animated movie, never mind it doesn't go too well with the original gentle-looking logo. Compare◊ the covers of the first issue and an issue from 2010. One issue caused a major "what the hell"; people blogged about it and shared their utter shock and disbelief. There was was Edward Cullen on the cover◊, plus a blurb about "Vampiric Ten Commandments". (It was close to Halloween... a holiday not celebrated in the country). 7-to-10-year-old kids shouldn't watch an almost-horror film with abusive relationships and the infamous biting birth/miscarriage. Not only does it lack taste, but also common sense.
- Hungary's Tudorka, an educational magazine aimed at ages 7-13 went through a slight shift. Originally, a good chunk of its content was made up of comics featuring the publishers' original characters. The rest was divided into themes (history, dinosaurs, the human body, home craft, etc), and the pages of each section could be cut out to be collected into mini-encyclopedias. They also dedicated a page to parents, discussing various pedagogic topics. These were gradually phased out — the pages aren't collectible, the issues don't have a set selection of themes, the comics ended and their characters got either "relocated" to other magazines or forgotten (including Tudorka himself). The magazine also prominently features pop-culture, from the latest animated movies to whatever else kids are into, and introduced new "hip" comic characters to replace the old ones. However, it is still primarily educational, even if many pages are taken straight from books published by the company instead of being original content, and its biggest problem — that they get a lot of their info from outdated sources and most of the artwork relating to educational articles is plagiarized — has been there from the start.
- National Geographic, for years, had a children's magazine called National Geographic World, which was more or less a kid version of their classic magazine — articles about nature, travel, etc. Then in the early 2000s it was changed to National Geographic Kids, and became more pop-culture driven, with lots of ads disguised as articles. It also had the infamous feature on the movie version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which praised the movie for having "Harry and the gang now dress in hip street clothes instead of their stuffy Hogwarts uniforms."
- InQuest, a magazine covering the rise of collectible card games (especially Magic: The Gathering), started introducing content for RPGs. Still a good time. Then they began adding more and more content about computer games, eventually adding the word "Gamer" to its name. It died around the same time as its sister mags Wizard and ToyFare.
- After years of being a more or less open copycat of Mad, Cracked magazine began to slip greatly. Tabloid owner Dick Kulpa took over the mag and cut pay to the artists and writers, causing longtime contributors such as John Severin to leave, and stuffing the magazine with filler out the wazoo. Newer issues were few and far between during Kulpa's tenure. The mag then retooled itself with Maxim-esque production values and adult lifestyle humor more akin to Spy. (It says a lot when a mag that was always considered an inferior Expy of Mad still manages to decay.) It finally went to an online-only format in 2007, becoming the website that it is best known as today.
- The website incarnation of Cracked, meanwhile, began as a comedy website with a focus on list-based trivia articles and absurdist humour. But its focus shifted towards more serious subjects, with an increase in opinion pieces on current events and social issues, and interviews exploring the lives of people from varying occupational and social backgrounds. Needless to say, this has turned many people away from the website while bringing in others.
- Arguably, Puck (roughly, the more political, 19th Century precursor to MAD) after creator and main artist Joseph Keppler died in 1894 and was replaced by his son, Udo. The actual decay took some time, as between the elder Keppler’s death and the turn of the century, some of the magazine’s most famous and enduring cartoons were produced.
- MAD itself has been accused of suffering from this, relying only on gross humor when it's not aiming Take Thats at almost Anything That Moves; the former is rather factual, while the latter fits more to its animated adaptation, itself Lighter and Softer than South Park or Robot Chicken
- One major milestone of shame was the addition of actual advertisements in 2001, which were previously the subject of vicious lampooning.
- National Lampoon, the groundbreaking politically incorrect magazine that in the 1970s got much acclaim and even inspired movies based on articles published there - Animal House, National Lampoon's Vacation - starting in 1985 begun a decay with worse content, less issues and editorial problems (including a hostile takeover!). In 1998, the magazine was cancelled as The Harvard Lampoon (who licensed the "Lampoon" name) forbid them from doing new issues under that name. Now the National Lampoon name survives as a brand, both of movies of varying quality and social network pages.
- Wizard, once the most well-known comics magazine, went from a title with reviews and an actual focus on comics to "Maxim For Nerds", and their reviews were frequently little more than blatant toadying to comics writers. It became measurably thinner with each issue, going from issues that were as thick as dictionaries (as late as 1999) to issues in the late '00s that were only about twice as thick as the game manual for Gears of War. Maybe. Including ads, of course; remove those and it becomes about even. The magazine fired nearly everyone, to the point that one comics review podcast claimed that the only evidence there was still anyone working there was that they kept on firing people long after you'd have expected them to have run out. It finally died in January 2011.
- Wizard's sister publication Toyfare began a slump around mid-2006 when head writers Matthew Seinrich, Tom Root, and Doug Goldstein left to focus more on Seth Green's Robot Chicken.
- DC Comics' The Brave and the Bold began as a historical adventure anthology featuring knights, viking princes, Roman gladiators, etc. After two dozen issues, it switched to being a tryout title for new characters and teams (most famously the Justice League of America). Then, after a couple dozen issues of that, it switched to being the Alternate Company Equivalent of (or predecessor to, if you prefer) Marvel Team-Up.
- Undoubtedly the biggest comics examples are those of Detective Comics and Action Comics, which went from anthologies to focusing exclusively on their most popular features, Batman and Superman respectively.
- Action Comics tried going back to an anthology series when it went weekly following its 600th issue in the late 1980s, but this concept didn't last a full year (42 issues) before it reverted to a regular Superman comic.
- From 1991-2004, Superman's name dominated the cover logo of nearly every issue of Action Comics (aside from the occasional Supergirl issue or Action #1 homage). Detective Comics has vacillated much more, with Batman's name dominating the cover logo as early as 1968 (with the Batman logo side-by-side with "Detective Comics" beforehand). The New52 relaunch has settled on putting the heroes' names in smaller text above the nominal titles, so that the words "Detective" and "Action" are again the most prominent words.
- A good portion of the Silver Age Marvel heroes started in other books. Tales of Suspense, Journey Into Mystery, Strange Tales and Tales to Astonish became books for Iron Man, Thor, Doctor Strange and the Incredible Hulk, respectively. None of these are running anymore, although Strange Tales has been converted to an indie anthology mini-series.
- Journey Into Mystery has been restored twice - the first while Thor was in the Heroes Reborn world, where the book featured other characters from the Marvel Universe; the second when Thor moved to a new series, with Journey focusing on Thor's supporting cast, and now currently starring Sif.
- Now that Writing for the Trade is standard operating procedure, "mainstream" Comic Books have turned into vehicles for shilling the graphic novels. Phil and Kaja Foglio came right out and said this when they converted Girl Genius into a webcomic.
- The Pleasant Company toy company and its daughter magazine, American Girl, were once fun, interesting ways to get young girls into American history. Then Mattel bought Pleasant Company, and American Girl's articles on historical events and characters were replaced by manufactured crap about cutesy hair, nails and arts and crafts designed to appeal to "tweens". The original intent of the company was pushed to a back shelf, leaving a lot of dedicated history fans and doll collectors rather annoyed.
- Seventeen began in 1944 as a fashion magazine for teen girls, true enough, but with enough intelligent content to separate it from its rivals. Sylvia Plath got her start at Seventeen when they published her short story, "And Summer Will Not Come Again", in 1950. There was even a time when the magazine encouraged girls to be happy with the shape their body had taken, instead of shoving stick-thin models as an "ideal" down their throat. Now, it might as well be the Twilight rag. All that jazz about loving your body whatever its shape? Pfft. Those real-life "it happened to me" stories that used to get featured and even blurbed on the cover? They've been reduced to a single page and less than 100 words.
- Fortunately Seventeen is at least improving in one area: after an internet petition, they will be featuring unaltered (as in no Photoshop) photos of girls,
- Cosmopolitan used to be a well-respected sophisticated magazine that would cover a variety of topics and also included short stories — a mere step or two below The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and an excellent place to get your start as a journalist or writer (Ken in Mad Men gets a story published in Cosmopolitan in Season 2 and earns the envy of every male Sterling Cooper employee under the age of 35). Now the magazine is solely geared towards women with articles like "9 Ways To Please Your Man" and a much bigger emphasis on sex and fashion overall. Now, it's still popular, and worthy of your time if you get interested, but for very different reasons than before.
- Cosmo's sister mag Cosmogirl averted this, as while they did have articles relating to thing like celebrities and fashion tips, they still maintained focus on serious teen issues and in 2008 added a section called JSYK (Just So You Know) which talked about shocking real life stories, how people fell in love, embarrassing stories etc, they kept faithful up to their last issue in December 2008/January 2009. Cosmogirl lived on as a website for a few years, then decayed once it was aborbed into the Seventeen website; it's now a sad shell of its former self.
- SET was the most popular movie magazine in Brazil. It was common to see articles done with set visits and exclusive interviews. The magazine was accused of decaying in its last few years for various reasons — adding not-film-related music, questionable cover choices (Van Helsing and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow were covers instead of both Kill Bill parts, which were released around the same time), and excessive comic-book-movie covers. But the real decay came after problems led to a change of publisher and staff. In a month containing the second Transformers, the sixth Harry Potter, and the high profile Public Enemies, the new team put on the cover...Drag Me to Hell, with a badly-designed work◊ (image will certainly scare you and may be NSFW)! That phase lasted three issues, then the publisher changed again and the former editor-in-chief returned. Then the only decay was in periodicity, to the point that only five issues were ran between October 2009 and the last issue in November 2010. The editor-in-chief was hopeful to restart the title, but seemingly let it go due to various issues (including but not restricted to lawsuits by previous subscribers).
- Star Wars Insider used to have interesting articles that really were considered to be "insider" — concept art, exclusive features on the expanded universe, behind-the-scenes features on the "Lost Cut" of A New Hope and the marketing of the films, etc. Now, it's only good for retreading the movies and advertising Star Wars merchandise. Once in a while, the magazine will have a genuinely great issue (as they did with their issue-wide tribute to The Empire Strikes Back), but most of the time it's just promotion for another property associated with the franchise.
- Less well-known is Star Wars Galaxy Magazine, which hit this trope with record speed. When it premiered in 1995, the magazine focused on a variety of aspects of the Star Wars universe — toys, radio dramas, comic books, novel excerpts, and the evolution of the series over the years plus exclusive features and columns. The magazine also included rare collector cards, one-shot comics, and posters. After three years, the magazine changed to Star Wars Galaxy Collector and most of the content was jettisoned in favor of appealing to toy collectors. The "new" magazine was canned after eight issues.
- When it started in 1994, Girls' Life was aimed at 8- to 14-year-old girls and featured "regular" girls as cover models and had great, age-appropriate stories on how to deal with crushes and be assertive and how to deal with the usual things that plague late elementary school-aged/middle school-aged girls. They were even associated with the Girl Scouts for a short time in the mid-1990s (ala Boys' Life's longstanding association with the Boy Scouts). But now it features "bikini body" tips, has celebrities on the cover, and has put a laser-like focus on relationships and dating. It's aimed at 10- to 14-year-olds, so a small amount of articles devoted to boy problems is understandable, but devoting nearly every freakin' article to it is insane. It seems to think that all pre-teen and teenage girls are boy-crazy. The only redeeming quality is that they now feature an article about real issues in society in every issue, such as one about texting while driving.
- Beginning in January 1924, The American Mercury was a world-class literary journal edited by H. L. Mencken and publishing and promoting the likes of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Saroyan, Sandburg, and Dreiser; although the Mercury, like Mencken himself, maintained a fairly consistently conservative editorial line, it was also open to other ideas and was suspicious of any form of hysteria. After the Stock Market crashed, the magazine began trying to keep with the times, and did so admirably; its most lasting influence came in 1945, when it debuted Meet the Press on the Mutual Radio Network (the show moved to NBC-TV on November 6, 1947 and remains a network stalwart). Unfortunately, in August 1952 George Lincoln Rockwell, future founder of the American Nazi Party, became editor and turned the journal into a vehicle for extreme-right politics, anti-Semitism and neo-fascism. Circulation and respectability plunged, and by June 1966 (after changing hands twice to other neo-Nazi and hard-right figures in the intervening years) the Mercury was a quarterly hardcore white-supremacist rag with 7,000 subscribers...and it only got worse as the years wore on. It finally ended in 1981 and, per The Other Wiki:
"The last issue concluded with a plea for contributions to build a computer index with information about the 15,000 most dangerous political activists, actual or alleged, in the United States."
- Gargoyle, a student-run magazine at the University of Michigan, started as a literary magazine with a jokes page. It has since turned into a humor magazine reminiscent of MAD in its prime. Lampshaded in some issues, poking fun at how it went from respectable to pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator, which could very well be an example of Tropes Are Not Bad.
- TV Guide was, for decades, a convenient source of regional program listings and articles about television; the program listing section made up the center of the magazine note . The "shell" (typically 30 glossy, full-color pages) included news and commentary about television programming, and drew widespread critical acclaim for its content — serious reporting on the industry and its programs rather than fluff pieces, celebrity gossip, etc. In October 2005, the magazine was completely overhauled, changing from "digest" format to tabloid, and eliminating the 140 regional editions then in place with two (one for the Eastern and Pacific timezones, one for Central and Mountain timezones). Due to the prevalence of on-screen program listings and the internet (and the sheer number of channels that sprang up at the Turn of the Millennium, which included an actual TV Guide Channel), the assumption was that people no longer needed a print magazine to find television schedules. The other major change was including fluff pieces, brief excerpts from interviews (which ultimately had little insight), photo spreads and celebrity gossip, the very content that — with very few exceptions — the "old" TV Guide strove to avoid.
- The Mexican version can be best described as a gossip magazine with TV listings. It ceased publication in 2009 after dwindling sales.
- With the exception of Radio Times (which is obsessed with Doctor Who), all British listings magazines are obsessed with lifestyle and soap operas these days. The Radio Times also has an Artifact Title — it was originally just radio listings, but when The BBC added TV listings they kept the original title.
- Katso, which for a long time was Finland's primary TV magazine, similarly eventually transformed into a celebrity gossip magazine that also lists TV programs.
- Most of the earliest Entertainment Weekly readers remember it as the magazine that covered The Simpsons and The X-Files, since they brought the magazine the most success (along with Star Wars stories as The Nineties wore on). But it also stood out from other entertainment industry-focused weekly mags (like People and US Weekly) with its in-depth coverage of movies and TV, treating celebrities as real people/artists rather than gossip fodder, and nurtured under-appreciated hits, like Arrested Development and The Wire. But since 2008's major administration change, the magazine has gotten a bit wonky. With the decline of printed media, EW has focused much more on their web content, and the mag's usual depth diminished as a result. Compare a 1990s issue to one from The New Tens, and the difference is noticeable. The TV coverage is mostly limited to longtime TV writer Ken Tucker, for instance. The coup de grace to many longtime readers, which coincided with the 2008 changeover, was an infatuation with Twilight, presumably to attract its fanbase into purchasing the magazine. While their borderline manic coverage has toned down since 2010, the multiple covers and articles turned off non-fans before then — in the second half of '09, covers seemed to alternate between those and Michael Jackson retrospectives.
- US Weekly has spent so long being the trashy tabloid we all know and loathe that few remember that it actually used to be a pretty good monthly entertainment magazine called Us. By the end of The Nineties, however, decay set in as they switched to pure cheap celebrity gossip and photos, then became a weekly.
- This blog post complains that Soap Opera Weekly devoted most of its cover that week to American Idol, which is not (despite the cover) a soap. Or maybe it is — hard to tell with all the filler. In any case, the decline of U.S. network soaps made change inevitable. With only four such shows remaining in 2012, Soap Opera Weekly came to an end that year, making way for the unfortunate Reality Weekly, which completely flopped after a half a year of desperate cover price flailing.
- The UK's Heat magazine started out as the closest thing Britain had to Us, but then EMAP decided that in a magazine landscape filled with stuff about the soaps, fashion, gossip, and body Fascism (oh, and reality TV stars) what the people wanted was...another mag filled with stuff about the soaps, fashion, gossip, and body Fascism (oh, and reality TV stars). Unfortunately, they were right.
- Popular Mechanics started as a magazine for mechanically-inclined people, and consisted primarily of plans for building stuff. Today, most of the magazine is spent shilling for gadget manufacturers with the remaining space devoted to stories about "cutting-edge" military technology and UFOs. You're lucky if you get 10 pages of plans in an issue.
- Penthouse was more or less Playboy with a racier edge — full-on nudity, simulated sex, slightly more "sophisticated" (read: sluttier-looking) centerfolds...then somewhere around the late 1990s it turned into a virtual fetish mag with golden showers, full-on hardcore sex, and porn starlets galore. After sales plummeted (a drop that the Gucciones still blame on the Internet), Penthouse actually regressed, eschewing even the softcore simulated sex of their heyday and going with photospreads (and models) virtually indistinguishable from any dozen high-end adult pay-sites. And the articles (which Penthouse did actually have) now read like rejects from Maxim's staff (a move duplicated by Playboy, by the way, but at least they keep the faux-Maxim content segregated to one section).
- Speaking of which, Playboy once held as much of a sense of sophistication as it was possible for a magazine featuring naked women. It was once genuinely possible to say "I only read Playboy for the articles" and be dead serious. It's really quite astonishing to see some of the articles Playboy ran in the 1960s-70s — interviews with Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Speer, and Vladimir Nabokov; short stories by John Updike, Philip Roth, and Ursula K. Le Guin — basically, half the great American writers of the late 20th Century. And some non-Americans, too: Arthur C. Clarke published a few stories then, as well.
But with "men's interest" magazines cluttering every single magazine shelf in stores, even the ones that won't hawk full nudity, Playboy has tried to compete by simply turning into a Maxim clone where the girls actually show their nipples. And the damnedest thing about it is that, even though they're now trashier than ever, they actually show fewer naked women than they used to.
- The Brazilian version is accused of decay for both "fewer naked women" and "more pseudo-celebrities" (about four Big Brother contestants a year!), not to mention "questionable cover choices" (a surfer that some compared to Gerard Depardieu, and a writer which had a nice pictorial... except for the model, of course◊ (image is SFW). As circulation fell due to both less captivating cover models and internet piracy, the magazine got shorter and with less articles, and at time even rumoured to stop circulating.
- Giant started out as a men's magazine which, unlike the rest of its ilk, was presented intelligently, featuring interesting articles (one of its staff writers was Kevin Allison of The State) and good interviews, including one where rock musician Beck announced the existence of his then-upcoming album Guero. Then in 2006, it was bought by the former editor of a hip-hop magazine, who essentially turned it into an urban Maxim...but not before he fired all of its writers and canceled all subscriptions.
- Esquire and GQ. Esquire was once a monthly digest that consisted mostly of short stories, features and interviews from some of the top writers of the time (including Gordon Lish, William F. Buckley, and Truman Capote), while GQ was a fashion magazine for the men's clothing trade and was aimed at wholesale buyers and retail sellers. In 1979, Conde Nast acquired GQ and subsequently turned it into a general men's interest magazine to compete with Esquire, and ever since then the two publications have mostly become carbon-copies of each other and engaging in a mutual race to the bottom — they contain similar feature stories, advice columns, reviews, human-interest stories, a "Sexiest Woman Alive" yearly poll, advertisements, and cover interviews (including racy photoshoots) with reigning stars and starlets.
- Rolling Stone has done this several times over the course of its run: it began in 1967 as a rock version of older genre-specific music magazines such as Down Beat and Sing Out, with some pretensions toward being a hippie version of Newsweek. note By the mid-to-late 1970s it became a corporate rock fanzine (they were notoriously slow to pick up on Punk Rock), and by the 1980s it was pretty much People for pretentious folks.
- The mid-1980s success of Spin forced Rolling Stone back into a music-heavy format, which it followed for the rest of the century. The rise of the internet gave them strong competition in the music coverage arena, forcing them to look for another hook...which they found in left-wing political reporting. Lately, they've been cutting down on the length of their news coverage and returning to music, which has drawn charges of decay from people who were fans of their political articles — they often exceeded "legitimate" news sources in scope, with Matt Taibbi in particular becoming a significant name in journalism.
- The Source can be called the GamePro of hip-hop. There was a time when it had journalistic integrity in its articles and reviews — albums that received five mics were truly regarded as classics. Its "Unsigned Hype" column featured up-and-coming MCs who actually grew to be famous (including Notorious BIG, DMX, and Eminem). The Source even dealt with social and political topics in every issue. Nowadays, it's entirely glossy and irrelevant, much like the rest of the rap industry. Anybody with the cash can get a cover photo and shining album review (Lil' Kim isn't physically capable of recording a five-mic album by the old standards). It doesn't help that the magazine was partly owned by rapper Benzino, who placed his own likeness on the cover despite being relatively unknown, gave preferential treatment to his friends, and brought his various feuds into the pages.
- VIBE magazine kinda got this hard when a new editor took over in the late 1990s. Then readers started seeing non-urban artists like No Doubt appearing on the cover, which is likely the magazine's attempt at avoiding Pop-Culture Isolation.
- After a regime change in 1996, Sassy, a teen magazine that had come to cater to female fans of indie rock music, became a bimbo teen-girl mag in the vein of Seventeen. Naturally, it failed pretty quickly with the audience it had before, and it was gone within a year.
- For almost the first year of its existence, Revolver was one of the most eclectic and cool music magazines available. Content to interview anyone from The Police to Korn, they also featured sidebars on Frank Sinatra, Niccolo Paganini, Fiona Apple and Jim Morrison. But it was not meant to last, and they abruptly changed to an all-hard rock magazine. Though worthwhile articles pop up occasionally, it hasn't been worth subscribing to for non-rock listeners in a long time.
- Alternative Press. What once started as a punk magazine and guide to indie bands is now pretty much a large advertisement for the Warped Tour.
- Kerrang! started out as a one-off special devoted to Heavy Metal (or what was categorised as HM in 1981) with Angus Young of AC/DC on the cover. Metal fans bought it in sufficient numbers to make the magazine a going concern, and it went from monthly to fortnightly and finally a weekly. The rot started when they tried to persuade the readership (the metal crowd tends to know what they like and don't like) into more mainstream acts, first featuring Duran Duran (cue angry letters), then putting Prince on the cover (cue deluge of hatemail), then allowing Alternative Rock to creep in. Once the grunge boom hit, they totally turned their back on the bands they previously featured in favor of the latest trend, something they continue to do to this day. They've jumped on every bandwagon from Ska-Punk to Nu Metal, and jumped straight off again once the next thing rolls around. AC/DC were shunted out in favour of Gwen Stefani and Ozzy Osbourne elbowed aside for daughter Kelly. In short, it's a trendy pop magazine nowadays.
- Metal Hammer is similar — as the name may suggest, the original intention was for metal (generally heavier than other magazines at the time), but it fell victim to similar mainstream influences as Kerrang!, seeking a wider readership (which has generally not worked) at the cost of its main emphasis. Metal Hammer these days mostly covers Metalcore, Nu-Metal, and even types such as soft rock and indie, with the occasional nod to classic metal bands. Cue one hell of an Internet Backdraft.
On the whole, they have managed to maintain themselves as more alternative than Kerrang! and good bands are still found in it (although often not without some searching), but most former fans will say it's heading the same way, and it has largely been abandoned by its original audience and is a joke to much of the wider metal community.
- RAW was a British rock magazine launched in the late 1980s by some former Kerrang! writers who wished to explore areas of rock music beyond pure Metal; it lasted about a year before it was bought by the large publisher EMAP. Soon after, EMAP went on to buy Kerrang! itself and the decline of RAW was complete by the mid-1990s, as it was relaunched to capitalise on the Britpop boom. Having completely alienated its existing readership and totally failed to attract the Britpop crowd it was hoping for, the magazine was quietly closed after a handful of Britpop-orientated issues.
- Top of the Pops magazine started out as a magazine featuring backstage news on the show and the latest chart stars. Slowly, even before the show was canceled it started featuring more TV shows, fashion, and real-life stories. You can hardly tell it apart from all the other preteen magazines that surround it on the shelf.
- The country music magazines Country Music and Music City News decayed not because they stuck primarily to their original purpose (intelligent news and commentary about country music, frank album reviews, and such) but because it skewed in later years to older audiences who didn't accept many of the younger artists (in particular, Garth Brooks) as legitimate country performers. Meanwhile, weekly and semi-weekly publications (most notably Country Weekly) emerged that did appeal to the 18-39 age demographic. While Country Weekly does carry stories and features about pre-1990s artists regularly, only one magazine — Country Music Greats — caters primarily to fans of classic country artists.
- The pop magazine Idolator was launched and meant to be a smart, often contrarian outlet for music journalism and an alternative to the shallow coverage it got elsewhere. After the site was bought from Gawker's network by Buzz Media, founding editor Maura Johnston was replaced with new staffers who were widely seen as fluffier. The site is now completely unrecognizable.
- Buzz Media also bought alternative Long Runner SPIN. The future of their print product, which was in the same boat as Rolling Stone but which had just gotten a widely praised redesign, is now uncertain.
- U.S. News and World Report used to be even more hardcore hard news than Time in its heyday and TV ads for subscriptions presented that as a point of pride. But it too succumbed to the banal and shallow, in particular putting out a Special Christianity Issue every few months. Aaaaand now it's online only.
- One of Johnson Publication's flagship books, Jet, used to clock in at a decent 80+ pages chock full of interesting national news about black Americans and civil rights. For example, it published unedited photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. after his assassination while most media outlets glossed over his murder. It also had a bikini centerfold, usually on Page 43. Nowadays, the centerfold pretty much appears anywhere near the back because the magazine on average barely reaches 35 pages anymore, and most of the civil rights coverage and national news has been shafted in favor of celebrity fluff.
- In a fictional example, on 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy once commented that Jet was originally a magazine for airplane owners, and wonders how the editors could have made that drastic a change.
- Newsweek, once situated just behind Time Magazine as one of America's most respected newsmagazines, has fallen far from its once-lofty perch, causing detractors to nickname it "Newsweak". The decay began once the Washington Post Company (which owned Newsweek from 1961 until 2010) bought Slate from Microsoft in 2004, with staff writers like Daniel Gross and Dahlia Lithwick brought over from the site and the magazine starting to take on its style. Coverage drastically shifted away from firsthand and secondhand information gathering and towards opinion pieces, prompting one letter in the Feedback column to ask, "Where's the news?"
After a few years of rapidly shrinking circulation, combined with growing indifference for news magazines in general, Newsweek was sold to the 90-year-old founder of a speaker company, who paid a pittance of $1 plus debt for the title. Soon after, it merged with The Daily Beast, the current pet project of bouncer-around and failed CNBC talk show host Tina Brown, which is considered a highly inferior competitor to The Huffington Post. Not surprisingly, every name writer with the magazine fled anywhere else upon seeing the blood on the wall and facing Brown's diva reputation.
From there, journalism took a backseat to sensationalism, with the magazine devoting covers to stuff like the trashy erotica novel Fifty Shades of Grey, fanservice-y pictures of Sarah Palin in form-fitting workout gear◊, and headlines asking things like "is your baby racist?"◊ They also ran an inflammatory article claiming that openly gay actors like Sean Hayes and Jonathan Groff come off as self-hating, artificial, and too gay in straight roles, which sparked massive backlash from Ryan Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, and other supporters of the LGBT community. They finally announced that they were following U.S. News and went online-only for a time.
In 2013, Newsweek was sold to the digital news organization IBT Media, which announced it would relaunch the magazine in print. Some expressed concern about IBT's editorial influence over the new Newsweek, as the company is indirectly controlled by a controversial Korean evangelist and runs right-wing religious news sites like The Christian Post. The relaunch turned into an embarrassment when it turned out the inaugural issue's cover story misidentified the inventor of the Bitcoin.
- The Magazine Decay of both Time and Newsweek is made all the more ironic with the success in the past two decades of The Economist, which so far averts this trope pretty hard.
- The New Zealand Listener, since Pamela Stirling took over as editor in 2004. Its focus on serious current affairs was diluted in favour of an increased consumerist-lifestyle approach.
- Maclean's is roughly the Canadian equivalent of Time, and while it's always had a fairly prominent editorial board, it was seldom overt in its politics. Accompanied with a questionable aesthetic makeover (very quickly dropped after many reader complaints) were fairly sensationalist headlines and some genuinely controversial articles from a source that simply wasn't known for it. Its treatment of Stockwell Day practically finished any respect a lot of Western Canadians had for it.
- Time Magazine. As recently as the 1980s, it was primarily politics and current events (with one section covering entertainment in a similarly thoughtful manner), and arguably superior to The Economist in its heyday. While politics is still a big focus, celebrity gossip with sensationalist headlines is also featured now, along with fluffy media reviews and whatnot. The Onion skewered the dumbing-down of Time in their video feature "Time Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults".
- Time's annual Person of the Year award could be said to have undergone its own form of decay. The award wasn't originally meant as an honor, but was given to the person whom the magazine deemed to have had the most influence on that year's events, for good or for ill — it was given to Adolf Hitler in 1938, for example, and Josef Stalin in 1939 and 1942. The choices were often Americentric (every US President since FDR, apart from Gerald Ford, has won the award at least once), but that's a given for an American newsmagazine. Time consistently argues that being elected to the presidency of the most powerful nation on Earth is in and of itself a huge impact on the world.
However, the choice of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 proved to be hugely controversial, as many readers were disgusted with the magazine for "honoring" an enemy of the United States (even though Person of the Year was never meant as an honor). Decay set in as Time stuck with safer choices from then on, such as giving it to Rudy Giuliani instead of Osama bin Laden in 2001 in order to avoid a similar backlash, which only reinforced the false perception that Person of the Year was meant as an honor. The same issue named Albert Einstein as Person of the Century...and did so in an article that seemed to tacitly admit that Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler would've been the most logical selections (under the official "not an honor" standard). From there, recent years have brought such strange choices as "You" (representing the rise of the online community) in 2006, as well as the creation of a hype machine around the award — the cover is now unveiled either on CNN or Today, as if they're naming the nominees for the Academy Awards.
- Time artificially darkened the mugshot photo of OJ Simpson to make him seem scarier and were called out on it. Jon Stewart declared it the day Print Media "Jumped the Shark".
- They also lost credibility after they published their (in)famous cover story "51%" (% of American women who aren't married), claiming it was the death of marriage now that the majority of women are choosing to remain single. The count included 15-year-olds and widows.
- This infamous collage compares Time 's U.S. cover to its foreign covers, showing just how far that magazine has gone with regards to this trope. For example, Time 's Europe, Asia, and South Pacific cover story was the continued unrest in post-revolutionary Egypt. Its U.S. cover story? "Why Anxiety Is Good For You." While all four versions contained the same articles, the choice of which one to promote on the cover as being the main story speaks volumes.
- The Brazilian equivalent of Time, Veja. They used to be a standpoint of good journalism, especially as they started the same year the military dictatorship got stronger and censored the magazine copiously for about 15 years...but in the 2000s, it started being tarnished by both a right-wing political bias and questionable cover choices (which were at times done to avoid subjects they didn't want to talk about). Add that in 2012 the editors and journalists were accused of suffering influence by a convicted lobbyist...
- Radar magazine was intended to be a title about a smart and sarcastic look at pop culture when it launched in 2005. It attained that goal, but very few subscribers and newsstand purchases beyond the hip Manhattan and DUMBO fringe. Three issues later it was gone, then relaunched a year later with a different look but the same focus. This version did much better and attained accolades, but the economic meltdown doomed it from building any momentum, and thus petered out in November 2008.
Then the owners of the National Enquirer and Star bought the magazine's Radar Online website and were interested in launching a competitor to Perez Hilton, Jezebel, Gawker and the numerous other gossip sites. The result is a site that's now your official and authoritative source to all things celebrity-related, including Octomom, Lindsay Lohan, Jon and Kate, non-political coverage of Sarah Palin, everything regarding Mel Gibson and his feud with his former girlfriend, and tons of random and pointless paparazzi footage note . The magazine eventually came back in 2011 under the title Radar Weekly which is very similar in style to celebrity mags like Star, a far cry from Radar's roots, nevertheless, it quickly became TV's #1 new selling magazine.
- Speaking of Gawker, it used to cover primarily New York media, earning it exactly the (small) audience you'd expect, but after several successive editorial changes A.J. Dauliero taking over and explicitly saying the site'd focus more on "traffic-whoring" and "SEO bomb-throws", hiring Daily What editor Neetzan Zimmerman to write significantly less snarky posts, etc. — it's now more comparable to a slightly meaner Buzzfeed. This is happening to most online news/pop culture magazines, but Gawker's the most open about it.
- WWF Magazine, in its early days, primarily catered to younger fans of what was then the World Wrestling Federation; even though most of the articles were written at the sixth-grade level and in kayfabe, they rarely deviated from the sport of wrestling. The coming of the internet age didn't hurt the magazine, but change in its core content did: a large portion of what was WWE Magazine ended up dedicated to fitness, comics, video game reviews, and other material that rarely has anything to do with wrestling. The magazine would ultimately cease production in September 2014, one of the victims of the WWE Network budget cuts.
- Guideposts for Teens was once essentially filled with stories of a religious bent, but didn't come off as heavy or preachy about it. The interesting stories were slowly devoured, and it took on a more and more teenybopper-oriented bent. It's so decayed now that one can almost smell the festering.
- Omni started as a magazine combining science fiction and science fact. The portion dedicated to science fiction started to shrink, however, until it was mostly science with only a little bit of fiction. Then it became more and more dedicated to the paranormal, with actual science being squeezed out. Then it died.
- Brazilian magazine Mundo Estranho. Originally a spin-off of Superinteressante packed full of trivia and answering scientific questions, now it's focused on young readers, full of articles about sex and other things that would catch the eye of a teenage boy. There's still trivia in it, and for the most part it's an enjoyable read, but female readers complain a lot about the shift towards male interests.
- Superinteressante itself! In its origins, it was a magazine devoted towards explaining scientific discoveries, be they new or older, with a user-friendly approach (similar to the American Science News, with plenty of diagrams and illustrations). Lately, however, it's nothing more than a magazine devoted to random, useless trivia, ridiculous conspiracy theories, and harebrained pseudo-science. However, most articles are still worthy (even if subjects such as Jesus and Nazism have been overused to death), and it's more reader-friendly than most science magazines in Brazil.
- Ditto for its Mexican counterpart Muy Interesante, except that the articles are not even worthy anymore.
- Scientific American was once the premier scientific journal for the educated reader with an interest in science. Every article was written by a researcher in that field, and nothing was dumbed down. Now it is distressingly skinny, a mere 82-96 pages per issue. The layout has moved some of the few remaining decent features such as "50,100 & 150 Years Ago" to the back of the magazine. There is usually about two "full length" articles written by actual research scientists - the rest of the fluff is penned by "science writers" from failing institutions such as the New York Times or grad students! Issue after issue goes by without a single equation appearing anywhere. Even the few decent articles, written by real scientists have been shortened to 6 pages or less, and the quality of the writing has deteriorated.
- Dragon Magazine, the official mag of Dungeons & Dragons, started as a general RPG culture magazine with ads for many systems, but went to a just-D&D mag during the 1980s. They then slowly added more and more features relating to non-D&D Tabletop Games, but later "recayed" by dropping all non-D&D content in what many considered a golden age.
After Wizards of the Coast bought out TSR, they contracted the writing of Dragon and its sister Dungeon to another company, Paizo. Around the time the new edition of D&D was announced, Wizards ended their contract with Paizo and relaunched the two magazines as online-only, as it exists right now. Paizo launched their own magazine, Pathfinder, which has everything they used to put in the other two magazines.
- White Dwarf, the magazine dedicated to the tabletop battle games Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, used to include such things as original stories, comic strips, pages on modeling ideas, strategies, and other original content with an appendix at the end that dealt with listing the new releases. It still has those things now, but in a much reduced quantity as most of the magazine is dedicated to simply advertising Games Workshop's latest releases. They also ran articles with material for Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop games (indeed, a lot of White Dwarf articles were adapted into D&D sourcebooks), but along the line cut down to Warhammer, Warhammer40000, and their Lord of the Rings game, with an emphasis on the latter two.
Even then, the decay proper didn't set in until Guy Haley left as editor. Soon after that, White Dwarf became a glorified catalog with even the editorial pieces previously used for a bit of humorous commentary given over to telling you what the new releases this month were (in case you missed the ten solid pages of them). Not only has the magazine become increasingly content-free, but it's actually been getting much slimmer, so the number of pages given over to advertising the latest shinies increases even while the total number of pages decreases. It's like magazine decay squared. Oh, and the price has been going up all the while.
In White Dwarf's defense, though, the cover does read "Games Workshop's Monthly Hobby Supplement and Miniatures Catalogue". It also seems to be improving with the recent Spearhead expansion.
- This isn't just limited to GW's tie-in house magazines, where you'd expect that sort of thing. The nominally independent Wargames Illustrated magazine, which serves the wider wargames hobby outside GW, always appears to tie its major illustrated features into extended advertisements for one or two favoured figure and accessory manufacturers.
- More from Brazilian magazines, Info was about computers and technology. In the 1990s? Programming hints, tips for power users, reviews of useful and high-quality hardware and software, and ads for pretty much anything computer-related you might need. Now? The internet made the magazine pretty much useless and boring for anybody with computer-themed interests beyond gadgets and games.
- PC/Computing's decay from an irreverent hobbyist publication that featured Penn Jillette's industry satire on the back page to a more straightforward computer magazine was probably inevitable as computers became mainstream in the early 1990s. Much less so its abrupt switch from hardware and software reviews to buzzword-filled puff pieces on the "new economy" in 1999, especially considering how the "new economy" went belly-up a few months after the switch.
- This was pretty much universal for hobbyist-oriented computer magazines in general from the time they first emerged in the 1970s; each of them would start drifting away from hobbyists, geeks, and computer enthusiasts into the more lucrative corporate business computing market, but most would fail at this and go defunct, to be replaced by a new generation of magazines following a similar trajectory.
- This goes for Family Computing Magazine as well. It started as a magazine with topics for the whole family, with a focus on educational titles and games for the kids, and productivity for parents. Over time, especially in the aftermath of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 , the focus on gaming and educational software declined, and there came a greater emphasis towards the home office (a rising trend in the late 80s). It changed its name to Family and Home Office Computing, then completed the shift when it renamed itself again to Home Office Computing. This was less a decay, and more a shift in audience trends, since by the 1990s, computers were no longer the mysterious boxes that families wouldn't know what to do with. The publication has a longer publication history in its home office version than the family version.
- The ZX Spectrum magazine Your Spectrum was once a magazine discussing all sorts of software- and hardware-related issues, with type-in listings for every kind of application from games to business programs, and always a subtle undercurrent of subversive humour. When it was renamed and relaunched in 1986 as Your Sinclair (a change made due to reports that the replacement for the ZX Spectrum probably wouldn't be called a Spectrum — turns out it did), it became a magazine that occasionally discussed games and spent the rest of the time being completely off the wall (one issue came with a free copy of Viz!). The kicker? Most people think these changes were for the better. The rot set in for good around 1990 when Future Publishing bought the mag and prices started spiralling, page numbers fell, and the system itself was on the wane...although it took a further three years to finally fold, by which time the main discussions in the magazine were about PCs emulating it!
- In the early MacAddict era, they would do fun things like Photoshop the entire staff's facial features into a new person, videotape themselves destroying PCs, have actual children review children's games, allow users to write in their own "reasons why the Mac is better than a PC", and include funny stories and pictures in the letters section. They also had a stick-figure mascot named Max who was used in their ratings system ("Freakin' Awesome!", "Spiffy!", "Yeah, Whatever", and "Blech!"), and even included a full cartoon page in the back. By 2000, they began shifting more and more serious, culminating in the retirement of Max for a five-point scale, an overall more serious tone, and finally a rename to Mac|Life.
- Computer Shopper started as a phonebook-size magazine with advertising from just about every computer-based company in the United States. Once the internet made it irrelevant, the magazine slimmed down and became a generic computing publication.
- An uncountable number of teen magazines went from dealing with significant health and social issues that many teenagers have to deal with...to focusing only on the latest fashion and makeup accessories.
- One notable example is Twist. In the 1990s, it was more varied; sure it discussed celebrities, but it also had real-life stories and other various features. Nowadays, it's a Tiger Beat clone.
- Another example is J-14, a magazine geared towards pre-teens which used to have stories about teens (usually about embarrassing moments or tragedies) and strongly rebelled against the thin body type other magazines gave out. Nowadays it focuses on celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, etc. along with teen gossip, quizzes, and fashion-related articles; those all used to be part of the magazine, but now they're much more emphasized and the teen stories and self-help articles soon vanished.
- Game Players Magazine started as a straightforward game-reviewing mag. Eventually, the reviewers gained personalities and jokes were made about them followed by wacky humour and gag letters pages. After that, they started going completely nuts — often having video game characters do reviews or Gazuga the three-eyed demon monkey answer letters. Eventually, the craziness hit a peak and they suddenly turned to Ultra Game Players and became way more serious. They didn't last another couple years.
- Most gaming magazines have gone through a form of proto-decay over the last decade, particularly since the rise of GameFAQs, IGN, Gamespot, and similar sites. Magazines that used to focus mainly on game strategies, tips and tricks, and whatnot have shifted more towards the review end of things ever since the information they provided was put up online for free. Things like exclusive strategies printed very close to the game's release date and maps that would be otherwise difficult to put online delayed the change, but even that content has found its way onto the Internet. Nowadays, most of the magazines' content is reviews, previews, and interviews with the actual tips and strategies relegated to a few pages. Oh, and Fanservice.
- It's also safe to assume that at least a few gaming magazines bit the dust thanks to the rise of free walkthroughs and previews on the internet. Electronic Gaming Monthly was bought out by another company which immediately axed all the staff of the magazine and canned the title. In 2010, they returned when the original founder of the magazine bought the rights to it back and rehired a bunch of the writers, as well as other respected game journalists.
- EGM itself was also a victim of this trope before its cancellation. It began as, essentially, "Famitsu America". However, as advertiser dollars dried up, the magazine employed numerous Maxim-like gimmicks to keep reader interest that were only tangentially related to video games (such as interviews with Henry Hill and various E3 "booth babes" who clearly didn't know how to use the medium they were advertising on their T&A).
- Amusingly, after it was canceled, it was replaced by Maxim. Without giving subscribers much notice.
- The magazine also got thinner and thinner over time, although a lot of this was probably the decrease in advertisements. Someone on the interwebs somewhere did a comparison — for some magazines, pagination has increased...but thickness has decreased due to using thinner, cheaper paper.
- Averted in the reincarnation of EGM. It's almost exclusively about gaming, even as it proudly lists "iPhone" and "iPad" as the consoles it covers. To be fair, mobile gaming is getting rather big, so long as EGM only focuses on the gaming part of it.
- Game Informer used to point out games that were bad on their own merits. That is, before 2006...in which the reviewers suddenly began driving Bias Steamroller and begun to target the "Casual Hating" demographic, not finding any games bad on their own merits, but finding them bad because they're casual games. The review of FarmVille was arguably the worst, and makes one wonder if they even played it. Many Eye Toy games (like Eye Toy Play) were actually "casual" by their standards, yet they had no problems giving some of those games a 9/10. However, the magazine may have reversed the decay (in recent years) by putting a strong focus on getting world-exclusive features, to the point that the announcement of a new issue with a highly-anticipated game on the cover has caused widespread anticipation. Partnering with Game Stop (and offering cheap subscriptions) has also seemed to help.
- For that matter, they used to be pretty good about actually playing the games, even delaying the review for World of Warcraft Burning Crusade specifically so they could play it more in-depth. Nowadays? You can spot their low-budget reviews/games whose publishers didn't drop enough advertisement money...their Tales of Legendia review was practically trashing the game because it wasn't Tales of Symphonia and barely mentioned what it was about. Their Halo reviews also pretty much only mentioned multiplayer, or mentioned single-player for a bit and then spent the rest of the review heaping praise on the multiplayer.
- Averted by Gamefan, which only had one botched scoring in its long run, they apologized for it, and then they died out due to oversaturation prior to the internet, though when they began adding an anime section there were fears of this. (Which turned out unfounded; the editor personally wanted them in to drum up sales of anime he liked/warn people about those he found terrible.) As costs grew so did the amount of ads, but they tried their damnedest not to lose pages to the ads. Also, they had a comic series which starred the avatars of the reviewers, which caused cries of this when it ended as it put a handful of game refs in sequential order with what they were reviewing. Nifty idea.
- Like EGM, Gamefan returned in 2010 when the original owner bought back the rights!
- This was welcome for N64 Magazine, which slowly pushed its N64 coverage out in favour of the GameCube. Rather than go to all the hassle of launching a new magazine, the publisher just renamed it NGC and continued the issue numbering.
- However, if you want to consider Super Play -> N64 -> NGC -> N Gamer as a Verse, you could argue that the decay from an import- and Japanophilia-centric games magazine to the straighter product it is today is worth mentioning.
- Some argue that IGN has seen a certain amount of website decay — what used to be a purely games website is now a general entertainment site aimed at men, covering gadgets, film, music, and so forth. However, the front page is almost entirely about games, and given how departmental the site's overall navigation is, coupled with the fact that being online means they can expand with their focus, rather than having to cram it into the same number of pages/hours of airtime it's not immediately obvious that this has come at the detriment of the (quantity of) games coverage, if it has at all.
- Daily Radar, however, is a different story — beginning as an IGN lookalike for the US market, the site closed, but not before extending the brand to the UK, which remained open. Eventually, the UK site rebranded to Games Radar, and reduced its original content in favour of reprinting content from Future Publishing's print portfolio. After Future acquired Computer And Video Games, it took on the "all reprints" mantle, and GR re-focused to light-hearted features with the odd review to give Future three games sites — CVG in the comprehensive coverage IGN space, jokey Games Radar, and Edge doing industry news. Daily Radar soon re-emerged as an aggregator site for Future's male-oriented online content.
- Official Playstation Magazine dipped into this briefly, when it started giving increasing coverage to other products. A couple pages of DVD reviews made sense (the PS2 was the first DVD player many people owned and the cheapest investment in one at the time of its release), but did enough people really use the PS1's music CD playing function to justify a page of album reviews, even if all the albums were by artists whose songs were featured in skateboard games and the like? And two or three for toys, many of them not related to video games? And a page of weird weblinks? And a page or two on general movie news? Luckily, this decay was reversed a few years into the run of the PS2.
- Online magazines count! The Escapist, best known as the home of Zero Punctuation and Unskippable, has gone wildly off-topic lately. The News page (already known to some readers as the "why-is-this-news page") now features many stories about movies and TV shows considered to have geek appeal. They also have two video series by Movie Bob, and neither of them is "The Game Overthinker" (which is a Screwattack exclusive for several reasons, all of which are beyond the Escapist's power).
- Nintendo Power for several years focused its content on game secrets, walkthroughs, and gaming news. On top of that, the magazine held monthly sweepstakes for pretty awesome prizes (such as a trip, a gaming console, and a game as an example for the grand prize) and had a monthly catalog to buy things such as strategy guides or Nintendo themed toys. Comics based on Nintendo's games were also published, such as Pokémon and Metroid Prime. As time went on, it was apparent that Nintendo was cutting its budget to the magazine and losing interest as the sweepstakes prizes were reduced to winning just games or a shirt, the comics were no longer made, the Nintendo catalog was no longer produced, and ads started to appear on many pages in the magazine. When Nintendo outsourced its magazine to a different publisher, the magazine content was reduced to just covering games and showing interviews with the game developers. After Nintendo no had any interest in renewing their contract with the magazine, Nintendo Power was canceled at the end of 2012 after over 20 years of publication.
- The outsourcing of NP also eroded some of the core features of the magazine. For instance, while Nintendo Power was originally famous for including mini-guides of recently released games (such as maps, FA Qs, walkthroughs of early levels, etc.), and the writers typically wrote the official game guides (which were outsourced to Prima after the shift), the twilight years of the magazine omitted this entirely to the point where a game was almost never mentioned again after being reviewed (aside from the yearly awards). Articles which were not strictly focused on a new release were also cut (for example, the mock scientific article on turning a new gamer into a pro on the Wii, or the attempts to merge cooking game logic into the real world with predictable results, and community events like the monthly Caption Contest had disappeared. By the time that the plug was pulled on NP's 24-year run, it had been reduced to a shell of what it had once been.
- Metro Gamecentral fell victim to this in 2012, when years of being told by their readers that they were perfect and could do no wrong finally went to their heads. Previously, they had a reputation for being difficult to please, but giving praise when it was due. In 2012, this attitude was flanderized, as they resorted to nitpicking in order to avoid scoring games above 7, as if admitting to liking a game a lot would kill their credibility. They also embraced the Four Point Scale, resulting in some negative reviews coming off as inflated and toothless, from a group known for not pulling their punches. Examples include New Super Mario Bros. 2 (7, but read like a 5 throughout; the final paragraph Handwaved the score with "It's Mario.") and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (7 again, but read like a 3, their main criticism being it wasn't on 3DS; this time, they didn't bother handwaving the score, instead settling for calling it the most pointless game ever put to cartridge). The writers and the cult-like readership became increasingly insular, and were big fans of the "Our review is different from everyone else's so we're right and everyone else is wrong!" argument. The head writer became a Small Name, Big Ego, and the readers took mean-spirited cheap shots at anyone they disagreed with, sometimes going into full-on bullying. So much for a supposedly mature and tolerant community.
- Largely forgotten UK Playstation magazine Playzone attempted to seize some of the popularity of Pokémon by featuring articles on Game Boy games, and the already small magazine became confusing. Its reviews were often totally at odds with other magazines (like giving Simpsons Wrestling 8/10 when others gave it less) and sometimes were more interested in the novelty of the game than whether it was actually fun. What really brought it down was that they printed bogus cheats for games that they had found on the internet without actually realising they were hoaxes. They got many confused letters about it, and the magazine closed down several months later.
- Retro Gamer magazine has something of a Base Breaker amongst fans. It was originally founded to cater towards fans of early 80s consoles popular in the UK, such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Colecovision, Intellivision and Amstrad CPC, to name a few. However, the magazine expanded the consoles it covered to include later ones like the Sega Mega Drive, SNES, Playstation, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy. It sometimes has features on modern games if they are sequels to older ones. Whilst many of is readership grew up with 90s consoles and have no interest in the 80s ones, fans of the 80s consoles believe it has gone into decay because of its reduced focus on them.
- Jetix Magazine — the Italian version, at least. It started as a magazine about the cartoons aired on Jetix during that period and other stuff. Starting from Issue #5, the whole magazine was written using only Xtreme Kool Letterz and started to expand the "and other stuff" part. The only Jetix toons they talked about were Sonic X and Dragon Booster, the mail section was filled with letters asking stuff like "Why Dragon Ball isn't aired on Jetix?" or "Can you make a Kingdom Hearts anime and air it immediately?", and they added a Detective Conan section. The video game section stopped using votes and replaced them with one-word comments like "Cool" or "Great", and the articles about villains screwed up adding dangerous animals in it (they said that a DUST MITE is more powerful than Sephiroth!)...and then it stopped at Issue #8.
- The UK version of Jetix magazine changed its name to Nitro and broadened its coverage to all kids franchises instead of just Jetix's, as a consequence of the Jetix TV channel's rebranding as Disney XD. They also dropped the comic strips at this point, making it just another generic boys magazine.
- Cosmopolitan used to have more articles about women's social issues. While they do still run such articles, they run fewer of them, and those articles are overshadowed by articles about fashion, makeup, celebrity gossip, and sex advice. See also "Fashion", above.
- This happens to a lot of women's sites too, sort of an adult version of "Teen Interest" above.
- People argued this happened to Astounding Science Fiction when it changed its name to Analog back in 1961. Or when editor John W. Campbell died in 1971. Or at various other points in the past 40 years.
- UK magazine Bizarre started off as an uncatagorisable melange of genres (the tagline was "For Humans", highlighting the fact that although it had a large amount of female fanservice, it was more about showing interesting things to everyone regardless of gender), usually with a common theme for the issue (e.g., the Crime issue would have articles on criminal slang, true crime photos, interviews with forensic crime scene workers, pieces on unusual laws across the world, plus an attractive woman clad in just a policeman's hat and a belt) along with other random articles about things you've never heard of and a healthy dose of anarchic humour. Around 2009 there was a change of staff, and it slowly became obsessed with tattoos, tattooed porn stars / pinups and tattoo conventions. All sense of themeing was lost, the interviews with the models devolved into soundbites to be pastes next to their photos, and the sense of humour left with Chris Nieratko. Currently it is essentially the same as lowbrow "Lad's Mags" Zoo and Nuts, with more tattoos.
- Hustler's Taboo was published to show off the various fetishes that would not "fit" into the traditional Hustler (BDSM, Latex, Smoking, Foot Fetishism, etc.), and to celebrate it. Till it featured a pictorial of pissing and the proverbial floodgates opened. Pissing/Urine Fetishists began to buy the magazine in droves, and heaped numerous praises and accolades on the editors for bringing "legitimacy" to this particular sexual fetish. This however did not sit well with other sexual deviants, who began to see their favorite fetishes being "pissed upon" (in some cases, quite literally) and Urine getting more print coverage than other fetishes. Sexual deviants demanded that the pissing should stop (or at least be treated on-par equally with other fetishes). It didn't help the editors began to outright side with the Urine Fetishists (citing said sales bumps) and print letters that had urine aficionados openly attack and be hostile to people who weren't pro-urine (and describing how much they loved being into pee; one letter of a Master expounded the joys of pissing on his slave to assert his "dominance" over her. It has to be said sexual fetishism is a finicky bunch at time with different ideals clashing with each other sometimes......