Electronic Gaming Monthly (often abbreviated to EGM) was an American video game magazine published by EGM Media, LLC. It was originally published by Sendai Publications and later by Ziff Davis as part of the 1UP Network. It released 12 issues a year (and an occasional extra "13th" issue for the Christmas season, also known as the "Smarch" issue, a reference to the "Treehouse of Horror VI" episode of The Simpsons). EGM was a news-and-reviews magazine, with a notable, exclusive focus on console and handheld gaming, as opposed to competing magazines that incorporated PC coverage. EGM stood out from the pack for a variety of reasons: Brutal Honesty, an adult-aimed sensibility, and a multi-reviewer format.
EGM was created by the U.S. National Video Game Team, one of the first Professional Gaming teams, in 1989 and its founder and first editor-in-chief was the team's captain Steve Harris. The magazine was highly regarded for having a fair look at the industry, including being unafraid to call out games that weren't up to snuff, even ones on their own cover.note While this drew ire from publishers, who would sometimes yank advertising (and money) from the magazine in retaliation for poor scores, they were respected for their journalistic integrity instead of being corporate shills, and were given high-profile exclusives as a result. Notably, they were the only publication that Hideo Kojima allowed to have early preview access to Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty beyond public trade-show footage.
EGM also carried a more adult, PG-13 sensibility, with swear words peppered throughout (although they would censor "fuck" and "shit"), some crass and sexual jokes, and a lot of references to classic movies (to the point of having giveaways for readers who could spot them). This caused no end of letters from Moral Guardians who bought the magazines for their kids, but they stood steadfast about writing as adults for an industry that shifted to older demographics over time.
EGM's calling card with reviews was assigning multiple writers to independently review the same game, drawing inspiration from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. This allowed multiple perspectives to assess a game, making it more trustworthy if they collectively believed a game to be good or bad, or opened the floor for readers to think about each viewpoint if there was a more polarizing reaction. For the first decade-plus of the magazine's run, there were four reviewers to a game, but as software and hardware became very prolific in The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games, this was pared down to three for the rest of its lifespan, with single reviewers being assigned for smaller games and certain multi-platform ports.
EGM published a annual Buyer's Guide throughout the 90's, compiling review scores past and present, yearly Game of the Year awards, and expanded strategy sections and previews. In 1994, EGM spawned EGM2, which focused on expanded cheats and tricks (i.e. with maps and guides). The spin-off publication eventually became Expert Gamer, and finally the defunct GameNOW. From 2001 to 2008, the editor-in-chief of the magazine was Dan "Shoe" Hsu, who had been with the magazine since 1996 and stayed almost to the end of its original incarnation.
Publication of EGM was suspended on January 6, 2009, following the acquisition of the online element of the 1UP network by Hearst Corporation. It was announced that the January 2009 issue would be the final issue of EGM.
On May 29, 2009, EGM founder Steve Harris announced that he has acquired print and online publishing rights for the magazine for relaunch in the second half of 2009. The "lost" February 2009 edition of EGM was the first issue released for the relaunch using a new digital publishing platform called ScreenPaper, and appeared in March 2010. It ran quarterly for four years before closing up the print side for good, while still active presently as a traditional news-and-review site like IGN, Gamespot, etc. In 2019, EGM began to run a series of long-form articles and features that earned praise, but these were scaled back in 2020 and the website now runs smaller game features and interviews instead. Harris remains the publisher, and the EIC is presently Josh Harmon
Any and all tropes and trivia for Hsu and Chan (even the comic's EGM run) can be found on its own page.
- April Fools' Day: Every April issue has a trick. Several of them, such as Sheng Long in Street Fighter and Sonic in Super Smash Bros. Melee eventually became reality in subsequent entries.
- Artifact Title: EGM was only published quarterly in its revival and is now a daily-news gaming site.
- Broke the Rating Scale: Their review of the infamous Mortal Kombat Advance, an atrocious port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 crapped out in a two-month development cycle for the Game Boy Advance. They couldn't find anything positive to say about the game, so it was the first game in their magazine to have the dishonor of earning a 0 out of 10 from a reviewer (Dan Hsu), and across all three reviewers, averaged a record-low 0.66 out of 10.
- Cast Speciation: Although the magazine's reviewers could generally flex into most genres, EGM would typically assign reviewers to types of games they were best at or personally preferred, as well as avoiding genres they did not care for. The staff's idea was to make sure games were reviewed by people most knowledgeable about what they were playing, although some reviews would have one reviewer going out of their comfort zone for a more "casual" viewpoint. Every Review Crew bio would typically list their genre preferences and expertise, such as Shoe with fighting and puzzle games, Greg Sewart and John Davison with racing games (particularly sims), and a "Team EGM" lineup that specialized in sports games, with mainstays like Dean Hager, Todd Zuniga, and Dan Leahy.
- Caustic Critic: Every Review Crew member would dip into this for really bad games. The Sushi-X personality was usually considered the harshest critic of the bunch, especially towards Game Boy titles. Once Seanbaby was hired as a regular contributor, he took this role over with his "Rest of the Crap" column, which primarily covered crummy children's and licensed titles that would not have otherwise gotten full Review Crew coverage.
- Depending on the Writer: After several review staff changes, the character reviewer, Sushi-X, who famously despised turn-based Role Playing Games and pretty much anything on the Game Boy, lightened up on both, famously giving Pokemon Red and Blue Versions a 9 out of 10.
- Four-Point Scale:
- Averted, they were well-known for using the entire scale, and having four (eventually) three reviewers per game casted a wider net of scores. In 1998, the magazine retooled the score of 10 after they went three years without a reviewer giving one (since 1994's Sonic & Knuckles). A 10 was originally defined as perfect, but since there was no point in having a ten-point system if they were only going to use nine and one could find faults in any game if they wanted, the philosophy changed to where a 10 would represent the gold standard of gaming. The first month with this scale, Tekken 3, scored a 10 from three out of four editorsnote , and later that year, Metal Gear Solid and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time became the first games to score 10s from all its reviewers.
- Late in the magazine's run, EGM switched to a letter scale after readers continued to be confused by their lack of a four-point scale, feeling that games that got 5s and 6s felt like failing grades when they would qualify as average, playable games under the scale. Despite an ALL CAPS clairification of "5.0 IS AN AVERAGE SCORE" on the Review Crew page each issue for years, they finally switched to letter grades to make it more clear cut.
- Hostile Show Takeover: Their August 2000 issue's EGM Fall Preview feature (rebranded as Hsu & Chan's Fall Preview-O-Rama!) has the entire magazine staff being held hostage or forced into hiding by the cast of the Hsu & Chan comics featured in the magazine.
- Mascot Racer: One of their April Fools jokes was mocking up a Lord of the Rings kart racing game.
- Schmuck Bait: April Fools jokes that involved gameplay secrets would turn into this. For instance, their April Fools prank of an unlockable Sonic and Tails in Super Smash Bros. Melee came with the requirement that it would take 20 K.O.s in the Cruel Melee modenote to make them playable. They delighted in several readers writing back in the throes of gamer-rage at trying to accomplish an extraordinarily difficult feat.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: EGM got threats by several companies over the years, especially Acclaim, that they would yank advertising if they didn't publish favorable reviews for their games. EGM would let the readers know when incidents like this happened, noting that they would stick to their guns and be honest, as reader trust was more important to them than having their reviews bought off. It's worth noting that even with EGM's eventual death, they lasted longer than Acclaim, which eventually shut down after one too many failures.
- Secret Identity: The man behind the infamous Sushi-X character was never named for years, causing a bit of fan speculation about who it was. Later on it was revealed that it was passed between several writers throughout the magazine. David Siller claims to have written for him the first year, then passed it on to Ken Williams.
- The Smurfette Principle: Jeanne Kim as the lone regular female reviewer on the Review Crew, followed by Jennifer Tsao.
- Spin-Off: Had one in the 90's and early 2000's with its own interesting history. Originally called EGM2 and published roughly two weeks after that month's EGM, this second magazine would cover news and previews that came in after press time for the mother magazine. After a couple of years, EGM2 would shift focus to emphasize cheat codes and tricks, and in issue 50 would change its name to Expert Gamer. The magazine ran under that name until October 2001; the following month it would change again to GameNow, and would again expand focus to include news, reviews and previews. The increasing usability of the internet (not to mention redundancy with the main EGM still running) would kill this magazine after 27 issues.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: The magazine itself in the earlier days was modeled after Weekly Famitsu. Sushi-X's handle was even inspired by Taco-X (named after the Japanese word for octopus, not the Mexican food).
- Uncanceled: As detailed above, it was canceled in 2009 and relaunched in 2010.