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How Publishers Punish Game Sites

From the perspective of a game publisher on Sore Thumbs offers a description of the occasionally tense relations between game publishers and journalists written by "Anonymous Guy from Big Publisher," whose bona fides are vouched for by respected game journalist Dan "Shoe" Hsu. The AGfBP describes some of the behaviors and attitudes of game writers that drive developers and publishers crazy, including shoddy review methods and how: "A great unspoken truth is that those involved in games development and publishing feel that many journalists feel a sense of entitlement – that they deserve to have their asses kissed because of the power they wield over the sell-in." A quote I find interesting is one that I've heard expressed by developers: "The fact is game journalists – of which there are hundreds at the moment – are living off the blood sweat and tears of creative people." He also outlines some of the methods the devs and pubs use to try and get even, saying "I have pulled ad buys in protest of what I felt were unfair review scores. I have spoken to the “boss” of publications before, and complained about certain journalists. I have “banned” certain media outlets from getting pre-release access to games, because of previous unfavorable coverage." Thanks Mike Martinez and Ars Technica.

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38 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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38. Re: gamefaqs Sep 8, 2008, 16:58 g_mann
 
"game jornalism = Fox News + Overon"

"Don't trust all three of them of them. They're biased, and full of lies to brainwash you.

Fix it for you

 
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37. Re: No subject Sep 8, 2008, 16:21 zirik
 
The game "review" process has been broken for a very - very - long time now. Why is this even news?

its news because someone who claims to be from a big game publisher admits to manipulating game reviews by tying advertising money with positive reviews. if that is not corruption i dont know what else to call it.

When you take away the onus and credibility from the creative minds and then rely on a third party to gauge the work, not only do you BETRAY those who worked hard on the game, but you also give the reviewers more power than they deserve.

nobody should take away the onus and credibility from creative minds. but then again, creative minds should not lie to the consumer. just because somebody says that they created something great does not mean it is true. nobody should be that naive to take someones word at face value. thats why there is a need for game reviews to at least get an idea if a game is worth buying. or the publishers could at least make demos available but not every publisher does that.

This comment was edited on Sep 8, 16:22.
 
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36. so, in other words Sep 7, 2008, 19:39 Creston
 
"I'll threaten gaming sites with financial boycotts and restricted access if I do not get the score I feel my game deserves. What score is that? Why, 100% ofcourse! We spent 4 million dollars hyping this game!"

Some choice quotes : "This is not to say a bad game should get a free pass, but every game should be given a fair appraisal, with considerations made for target market and price."

You already get that. Has there ever been a console game that received lower than 70%? How many console games are pretty mediocre and will still get 80-90%?

And consideration for price? You mean that 50 and 60 dollar price tag? If your game had literally "hundreds of people" working on it, somehow I doubt you were selling it for 20 bucks.

And even so, if a 20 dollar game is bad, it should get a bad score. It shouldn't get a 70% because, well, it's only 20 bucks!

"Lets say you have a game that takes 30 hours to complete, and reviewer plays 2 hours of it and gives it mediocre review based on the first few levels, just because he has 10 other games to review and can’t put in 20 hours."

Yes, this is really problematic issue, with all these hundreds of new games that take 30 hours to complete. Oh wait, most of them now take 5-8 hours.

"Or when an editor of a big games website gives his FPS guy a sim racing game to review. "

Which happens how often? I've literally ONCE read a review in PC Gamer by a guy who said "I don't like RPGs," when he was reviewing an RPG.

"Or when someone looks at all the other reviews online for a game, and just follows the crowd by posting a similar review (look at what’s happening to Too Human right now… does that game deserve scores that bad?)"

Here's the lesson kids : If dozens of review sites give the game a bad score, all harping on the same problems, they're just parrotting each other. It couldn't POSSIBLY be that the game is just bad.

I mean, Too Human spent a gigantic amount of money on ads and hype. It CAN'T be this bad!

"And if they don’t act professionally, who can blame a publisher for fighting back with any means necessary?"

It's important to note that "professional" in this instance means : Lick my PR nutsack and give all my games 95-100%. And if you only give it 95%, there had better be some damn fucking good explanation for it!

It in no way means "Review the game fairly and if you think it sucks, tell everyone it sucks."

"The game journalist’s word means more than anything in terms of a game’s chance of success."

I think it's fairly safe to say that whether a game is GOOD or not means more than anything to its success. And ofcourse, whether it's in a popular genre. (Before I get the "Not all good games sell well!" rebuttal.)

If you make a good game, a reviewer will give it a good score. Unless it's a fucking cockmongrel. If 40 reviewers give a game between 80-90% on gamerankings, and one guy gives it a 42%, then it's fairly safe to assume that dude apparently has a problem with your game.

Mr PR dude would like to have you believe that if his games get a bad score, it means ALL reviewers are just assholes who hate him. (which is probably true, since who DOESN'T hate fucking marketing peons? It still doesn't mean they'll act unprofessionally and just blast a game for the sake of blasting a game.)

"What this means to me is not harsher reviews, but thoughtful analysis about games, real knowledge of game development, and a deep history of playing games. And ultimately, gauging who the game would be fun for, and scoring it accordingly"

Read : Scores of 95% and above. Because the game is MEANT for people who enjoy buggy, repetitive and shallow four hour fluff pieces! So for that target market, it should get 100%!

What's sad is that the dude genuinely believes this. If hundreds of people work thousands of hours on a game, it does not deserve a bad score. It should be praised to high heavens.

Toolshed.

Creston

 
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35. Review sites Sep 7, 2008, 13:15 Tumbler
 
I think the major game review sites, IGN, Gamespot, etc., are fully infiltrated by publishers atm.

I pay more attention to sites like Metacritic, and player ratings on sites like gamefly.com (which is getting targeted by devs/pubs lately, on release day there will be a ton of perfect 10 reviews, and as time goes on and more people vote it gets closer to reality.) And Bluesnews of course.

Spore had warning signs all over the place with the embargo on reviews. When you don't want people reading reviews before they can buy the game...what does that tell you?

This comment was edited on Sep 7, 13:16.
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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34. Re: No subject Sep 7, 2008, 11:42 Fibrocyte
 
Who cares if someone worked hard on a game? For all we know, George W. Bush "works hard".

If it is poorly coded, poorly designed, poorly delivered, or anything else - this should be reflected in the review and the reviewer should not be punished for it.

Honesty != betrayal.

 
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33. Re: No subject Sep 7, 2008, 11:03  dsmart 
 
The game "review" process has been broken for a very - very - long time now. Why is this even news?

The biggest issue is that these fuckers get to propagate this shit when they move from one publication to the next given how the whole review scene is one mega revolving door.

If I were a publisher and a site gave our game a poor review, let alone a poorly written one, I'd pull my ads too. Nothing wrong with that.

The fact is, the industry gives far too much credence to reviews. Case in point: Wasn't it recently that EA's head honcho said - to investors no less - that Metacritic was their yardstick? How about Microsoft, pulling games with low Metacritic scores from XBLA?

Bottomline is you reap what you sow and you just can't have it both ways.

When you take away the onus and credibility from the creative minds and then rely on a third party to gauge the work, not only do you BETRAY those who worked hard on the game, but you also give the reviewers more power than they deserve.

Unlike the movies and book reviews, which I don't think anyone pays attention to for their moving going to book buying experience, game reviews are far more passionate and subjective that these other medias.

Plus gamers are - for the most part - finicky, two timing twits who can't make up their own damn minds either way. How else do you explain why companies like EA can regurgitate the same old shit year on year and still sell gazillions? Yet, everyone is complaining. Yeah, they're complaining, but still buying them.

A niche game like Sins of the Solar Empire would *never* have been signed by *any* mainstream publisher. Period. Look what Stardock did. Over 500K units sold.


This comment was edited on Sep 7, 11:06.
 
Avatar 9141
 
Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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32. Re: No subject Sep 7, 2008, 10:58 sliv
 
Without demos to tryout, all you have to rely on is pre-release reviews or, if you can wait long enough, reviews from those who actually bought it and played it. This is only speaking for PC though. Consoles don't have to worry about this since I can go to my local video store and rent it for $7; if I like it I buy it. ...And then everyone wonders why publishers are moving towards consoles.

Concerning the relationship between publishers and the media, this is business as usual. The publishers spend a lot of money and time on a product and then pays the media to advertise it. Hopefully this apparent breakdown will force the publishers to start putting out more demos since they're not able to fully rely on pre-release reviews. The other option is to decide not to develop for the PC at all and push consoles. Of course, there are more ways to advertise than just relying solely on a group of reviewers and then complain when they review it poorly, that's just laziness on the side of the publisher.

 
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31. No subject Sep 7, 2008, 10:38 tuddies
 
Shoot the messenger rather than let the game stand on its own merits, or lack thereof. Not the best approach to take, and burying a turd won't get rid of the horrible stench.

Look at Spore.

This comment was edited on Sep 7, 10:39.
 
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30. Re: No subject Sep 7, 2008, 10:11 Reactor
 
The professional Blues whiners club continues...

EDIT: Whoops! Wrong thread... please delete.


This comment was edited on Sep 7, 10:21.
 
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29. No subject Sep 7, 2008, 09:46 Hump
 
The fact is game journalists – of which there are hundreds at the moment – are living off the blood sweat and tears of creative people.

unless, of course, they give a glowing review to your product in which case they turn into "partners"
 
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----------------------------------------------------------------------
"Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue."

- Jim Goad
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28. Re: Fixed Sep 7, 2008, 09:36 Verno
 
If these jerk off developers actually made good games then they'd get good reviews; petty simple is it not?

If I do a shitty job where I work I don't expect to get a good review for my pay raise, why should it be any different for these guys?

Well because sometimes game reviewers are in a rush, don't play the whole product and pass judgement as if they had. I mean yeah it sucks to play through an entire shitty game but I when I read a review I want to look at text by someone who actually saw everything the game had to offer before damning it. Likewise if you just play the first few hours of a game and then review it, you aren't getting the whole picture. It could royally suck after an awesome introduction. If you just play the first three hours of Spore, of course you're going to love it and score it high. If you stick around for the entire game you might change your tune as that's when it's deficiencies come to light.

This comment was edited on Sep 7, 09:39.
 
Avatar 51617
 
Playing: Shadow of Mordor, Peggle 2, TIE Fighter
Watching: Capturing the Friedmans, The Jungle, Person of Interest
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27. Re: Fixed Sep 7, 2008, 05:25 Kxmode
 
I think Willy Wonka best sums up what we're all saying
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKG07305CBs


-----
http://www.gamemusicjukebox.com/
Game p/reviewer for http://www.gameindustry.com/
EA advocates nakedness instead of patience when dealing with problem services!
 
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26. Re: Fixed Sep 7, 2008, 03:45 Ravor
 
If these jerk off developers actually made good games then they'd get good reviews; petty simple is it not?

If I do a shitty job where I work I don't expect to get a good review for my pay raise, why should it be any different for these guys?

 
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25. Fixed Sep 7, 2008, 02:40 Paranoid Jack
 
game journalism = Fox Any News Media

Don't trust either of them. They're biased, owned by the people they're talking about, and full of lies to brainwash you


Fixed it.

As if the other networks aren't pushing their agendas? Every source of media that relies on ad dollars and/or is owned by the filthy rich will always be used to spread propaganda for one reason or another. Either to make more money or to help get their candidate in office... to help them make more money.

The whole system is corrupt. Just like Govt. Just like Corp America. Just like Religion.

Anything... any business that can control any aspect which will impact their bottom line (profits) will do just that. No matter what. Damn the possible negative ethical and morale implications.

It's called Capitalism. The worlds biggest religion.

This comment was edited on Sep 7, 02:42.
 
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24. Re: gamefaqs Sep 7, 2008, 01:44 everyone
 
game jornalism = Fox News

Don't trust either of them. They're biased, owned by the people they're talking about, and full of lies to brainwash you.

 
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23. Re: gamefaqs Sep 7, 2008, 01:34 Overon
 
Okay what reviewers/review sites actually engage in critical game journalism? I want links!

 
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22. Re: gamefaqs Sep 7, 2008, 00:14 Verno
 
I haven't trusted a gaming review site since the Black and White days. I think just about every gaming "journalist" loved up that turd with ridiculous scores. Nowadays I just find someone with a podcast who seems to share my taste in games and I listen to what they think, weigh it versus the press the game received and make a decision.

 
Avatar 51617
 
Playing: Shadow of Mordor, Peggle 2, TIE Fighter
Watching: Capturing the Friedmans, The Jungle, Person of Interest
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21. gamefaqs Sep 6, 2008, 22:42 Hyatus
 
When I need to see how a game rates I look at gamefaqs and check out all of the negative reviews. If I see the same complaint a few times and it's a major one, I avoid the game. At least the consumers aren't writing for dollars.
"Official" sources for reviews are so freakin' untrustworthy. God bless sites like gamefaqs and imdb for telling us how things really look.

 
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20. No subject Sep 6, 2008, 22:22 Verno
 
This is nothing new and happens all the time in regular print advertising as well. It's just the nature of the relationship between advertisers and their customers. If I felt someone had reviewed my game unfairly without giving it a full play and so on, I would pull my ads too. Some of these people waste years of their lives on something to see some Lit major rip it apart in a few minutes. If you make a bad product, fine fair enough but there have been cases of game reviewers obviously not having even played through the entire product before passing judgement. There's also plenty of cases where game reviewers love up a game despite it's flaws. Half the article is complaints but the game still scores 8 out of 10? Uhhhhh ok.

It's a shitty situation to be reviewing games but these guys aren't so innocent themselves either.

This comment was edited on Sep 6, 22:23.
 
Avatar 51617
 
Playing: Shadow of Mordor, Peggle 2, TIE Fighter
Watching: Capturing the Friedmans, The Jungle, Person of Interest
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19. No subject Sep 6, 2008, 22:04 zirik
 
A great unspoken truth is that those involved in games development and publishing feel that many journalists feel a sense of entitlement – that they deserve to have their asses kissed because of the power they wield over the sell-in.

extortion.

I have “banned” certain media outlets from getting pre-release access to games, because of previous unfavorable coverage.

blackmail.

The fact is game journalists – of which there are hundreds at the moment – are living off the blood sweat and tears of creative people.

i didnt know creative people had the god given right to rip off consumers by forcing journalists to only give positive reviews of their crappy products. nice.


This comment was edited on Sep 7, 06:42.
 
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