The History of Electronic Gaming Monthly and Steve Harris, Founder
Electronic Gaming Monthly was founded by Steve Harris
Steve Harris - US National Video Game Team 1986 Steve Harris - 1982
Steve Harris was one of Twin Galaxies' superstar players during the early 80s.
He was a founding member of Twin Galaxies' U.S. National Video Game Team and
competed in Twin Galaxies' North American Video Game Olympics, which was televised
by ABC-TV's That's Incredible on February 21, 1983. Link
Steve Harris - Photo Published Replay Magazine Feb. 1985
As a video game bimonthly magazine from May 1989 to 1990 and then became A monthly
magazine and has been bought out by a Ziff Davis Media in 1996 and many more color
photos were added to keep up with the glossy look of magazines today.
Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) is the oldest (independent) American console game
magazine currently in operation, and is also considered to be the most prestigious.
Electronic Gaming Monthly
The Founder of EMG, Steve Harris was a high-school dropout and classic-era video
game enthusiast who was one of the best coin-op players in the world in the
beginning of the golden age of video games. He got his first job in the game
business by managing an Iowa-based arcade starting in 1984. Through these
connections he was able to purchase the U.S. National Video Game Team,
a group of "professional" gamers who started with Twin Galaxies arcade and toured
the country and held game demonstrations And exhibitions. Before EMG he founded
Fanzine and Top Score Newsletter an irregular Jaunt at the gaming business for his
high scoring friends to keep track of the who's who Of video games and the score
to beat as well as tips and tricks of playing the games of the day.
Steve Harris wanted a classy magazine so in 1987, Steve Harris partnered with his
friend Jeffrey Peters to hold the 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament, a Video Game
Team-sponsored national arcade game championship. He used the proceeds from that
tournament to start Electronic Game Player, a "precursor" to EGM that closed after
four issues. In 1988 after the last issue of EGP in mid-1988, Harris received a
call from Harvey Wasserman, a small magazine distributor in Chicago, which
reinvigorated the idea of a monthly gaming magazine. Harvey Wasserman gave Steve
Harris $70,000 to start a new magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, in exchange for
exclusive distribution rights.
The new magazine debuted with a one-shot buyer's guide in early 1989. This issue
was successful, selling 107,000 copies (60,000 of which were sold in a deal with
Kay-Bee toy stores) and leading to the launch of a regular magazine. The periodical
EGM (which "officially" debuted with the May 1989 issue) became profitable by the
end of the year, and Wasserman used that to leverage a deal with Time Warner's
magazine distributor, bringing it to 50,000 supermarkets and drug stores
EGM was the magazine of choice for many hardcore gamers in the early 1990s, thanks
to several innovations (most of which were borrowed from Japanese game magazines).
Although EGM was not the glossy look of today's magazine, it held the readers
attention with the detail and consistency of good writers who were good players,
who could relate the facts of the game in distinct detail.
With their "Review Crew" section, EMG was the first US magazine to offer multiple
reviews and scores for each game they covered.
Young gamers liked EGM's writing style, as well as characters like Quartermann
(who ran the rumor column) and Sushi-X (the mysterious game freak who was the
"voice of the hardcore" in the Review Crew).
By 1993, EGM had grown in audited circulation from 64,000 to 152,000. Sendai
aggressively expanded as EGM grew, launching new titles like Mega Play, Super NES
Buyer's Guide, Computer Game Review, and Super Gaming. Steve Harris sold most of
Sendai's magazines and websites to Ziff Davis Media in 1996, and after a
large-scale redesign to make it look more professional, EGM became the flagship
publication of ZD's new game-magazine section.
There was a lengthy circulation battle with rival GamePro, EGM broke 500,000 in
circulation starting in 2002 and briefly broke 600,000 after a massive redesign in
2002 that emphasized short features and larger screenshots. Although Game Informer
has it soundly beaten in circulation, EGM is still among the most respected
magazines in video games, and it still attracts the most advertisers of any
EGM's ABC-audited circulation for 2005 was 608,133. Hopefully EGM will continue
to gain subscribers although competition is quite furious and fast paced in the
ever changing fast pace of video gaming.
Year 1989: EGM is the way Steve Harris Spells "Influence"
The Scoop: When Steve Harris founded Electronic Gaming Monthly, I'm not sure he
ever expecting some of the earthquakes that have shaken our industry. Who would
have thought that Nintendo would not be number one, or that movies would be playing
in your favorite system (unless you're a GameCube person), or that Sega would drop
out? But here we are almost 14 years later, and Electronic Gaming Monthly is around
and bigger than ever.
Like many other magazines of the 1980s and early 90s, EGM offered mainly previews,
codes, and reviews of popular games. However, it was the review crew that set them
apart. Using four reviews, EGM was the first place many gamers turned to when
trying to buy a new game. Electronic Gaming Monthly was also the first to get the
companies on their side with hard hitting articles, and even a rumor section.
Electronic Gaming Monthly also managed to introduce the gaming world to award
shows, system reviews, and unbiased year-end wrap ups. While other magazines were
claiming that "one system may be better for you than another, depending on what
kind of gamer you are", EGM actually told you their opinions, and finalized it
with a number rating. Their buyers' guides are often referred to here at Defunct
Games, and quoted all over the internet. And it's a feature almost every other
magazine has adopted since.
The Other Side: In 1989 the industry was a much different, and smaller, place.
For the most part, gamers were only buying the Nintendo Entertainment System and
GameBoy, so the coverage was geared mostly towards Big "N". This offered a problem
since Nintendo's own Nintendo Power was doing basically the same thing. Other
magazines, like GamePro and Video Games & Computer Entertainment, also offered
almost carbon copy previews, reviews, and articles. And none of them focused on
the Genesis ... until a little Hedgehog named Sonic came about.
The Impact: While Electronic Gaming Monthly was hardly the first game to offer
coverage of video games, it certainly set the standard for which all magazines
would be judged in the future. To the dismay of Game Player, GamePro, or Die Hard
Game Fan, no matter how good your magazine was, it was always trying to get from
under the shadow of EGM.
This competition, however, spawned bigger and better magazines, and vast
improvements to existing publications. These days there is no shortage of magazines
to read, no matter what interest you have. If you're a PlayStation 2 loyalist, or
a sports gamer, or just want to find the most insulting things about each video
game, there's a magazine for you.
It should also be noted that sites like Defunct Games would probably not be
around if it weren't for Electronic Gaming Monthly. This little publication
actually showed the world that a game magazine can make money and survive in
a tough environment. If I thought Defunct Games was going to die in a couple of
years, I certainly wouldn't have put the time in . and I'm sure others feel the
Where Are They Now?: Electronic Gaming Monthly is still one of, if not the most
popular video game magazine going. It has lived through several system life
cycles, a number of failed competitors, and a market downturn. Let's face it,
this thing has legs. Just like Rolling Stone magazine, and even the Wall Street
EGM has grown from covering only games and the systems, to offering a much wider
selection of articles. They examine the industry of gaming, as well as delve deep
with cutting exposes and articles about much more than just video games.
Electronic Gaming Monthly Coming Back
Founder Steve Harris acquires rights to mag from Ziff Davis.
By Ray Barnholt, 05/29/2009
Here's one pre-E3 announcement we weren't exactly expecting: The re-emergence of
Electronic Gaming Monthly. EGM founder Steve Harris, who left the magazine in the
'90s, has announced to the world that he has made an agreement with Ziff Davis
Media to "re-acquire certain assets, including trademarks and publishing rights"
related to the EGM brand, and operating under the name EGM Media, LLC. Although
both print and online-based publication is mentioned in the website's press
release, it's not 100% clear whether EGM would be brought back as a magazine, a
website, or both. There is, however, a note that much more information will be
revealed during E3 next week and beyond. In the meantime, you can keep up with
the news by visiting egmnow.com, the EGM Facebook page or the EGM Twitter feed.
UGO Entertainment and Hearst Corporation acquired 1UP.com from Ziff Davis Media
in January, but was not interested in the EGM property, and with increasing risks
in the print business, Ziff Davis decided to cease publication of EGM at the same
time. Any other party could have stepped in and acquired the rights, but it was
the man who originally created it to be the one to get it back.
UPDATE: For some extra bits of info related to the upcoming EGM re-launch, check
out James Mielke's blog on his recent meeting with Steve Harris. Link
'Electronic Gaming Monthly' Founder Executes Contract to Acquire Print and Online Publishing Rights to EGM Magazine
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., June 2, 2009 -- Steve Harris, founder of "Electronic Gaming
Monthly" magazine, announced that he has entered into an agreement with Ziff Davis
Media to re-acquire certain assets, including trademarks and publishing rights,
with plans to re-launch EGM in the second half of 2009. Link
"The re-launch of Electronic Gaming Monthly represents a welcome opportunity to
continue delivering quality content to gaming enthusiasts," said Harris. "I feel
honored to once again be associated with this respected magazine. The talented
writers and designers who built upon EGM's original vision have left behind a
publication that is uniquely positioned to be successful."
"Electronic Gaming Monthly is and always has been one of the most respected
publications among the gaming enthusiast community," said Jason Young, CEO,
Ziff Davis Media Inc. "We are pleased that EGM is now in the hands of its
original creator, Steve Harris, and wish him and the publication the best of
success in the future."
"We have exciting plans for the evolution of what will once again be a leading
independent voice for the gaming community," Harris continued. "The twenty year
success of the EGM brand has always been built upon a commitment to its readers
who I believe will enthusiastically embrace the changes we are planning to
Additional details and future announcements will be made during the E3 expo
and posted on the magazine's official website at www.EGMNOW.com or via the
official EGM Twitter account at www.twitter.com/EGMNOW.
ABOUT ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY:
Electronic Gaming Monthly (aka EGM) was launched in 1988 by Steve Harris to
provide independent news, reviews, and other content of interest to video game
enthusiasts. The magazine enjoyed rapid success that continued after Harris sold
the publication to Ziff Davis in 1996. It has remained an industry leader for more
than twenty years and has enjoyed a strong and loyal readership base during that