Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure

News.com.au tells the tale of Toby McCasker, a former deputy entertainment editor for the magazine ZOO Weekly, who claims he was fired for blowing the whistle on efforts by Rockstar Games to influence coverage of Red Dead Redemption. McCasker posted excerpts on Facebook of an email allegedly from Rockstar saying: "This is the biggest game we've done since GTA IV, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world," going on to say: "Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here." The Facebook posting is now removed, and McCasker is no longer with ZOO Weekly. "I did not sign up to become a journalist to write advertorials masquerading as editorial," he says. "This 'cash for comment' culture that is fast becoming the status quo within print media bothers me a lot."

Kotaku has a response from ZOO editor Paul Merrill saying: "I would like to make it clear that at no time has Rockstar EVER sought a preferential review in return for advertising. In fact no games company has ever suggested this. And Zoo would never give a positive review to a game we didn't rate in return for ad dollars. Toby McCasker was sacked for a number of reasons, one of which was his decision to post a private email on his Facebook page. This email was not referring to a game review. He should not be considered a credible source of information on this matter." News.com.au also has a comment from Rockstar Games Australia: "We are not clear on what the story is here. We always try to present our games in the most compelling way to media and fans alike and of course we, like every other video game publisher in Australia or anywhere else for that matter, want to have our games seen in a positive light." The article also says: "It is understood McCasker had earlier received two official warnings about his behaviour."
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Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure
Apr 7, 2010, 16:36
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Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 16:36
Apr 7, 2010, 16:36
 
I read the email to suggest "other people are already hyping game of the year, don't you forget that when you write about the game". Even if there isn't a dollars for metacritic points style deal going on, it's still the manipulation of a supposedly "neutral" third party.

Exactly, it's subtle manipulation. Are they trying to influence the outcome to a third-party article/review? Yes. Is it wrong? That's up for debate, but the email was also easily ignorable by the recipient.

It's nothing more than that. Toby McCasker took it too far, and went about it stupidly. There was no "cash for comment" here as he is suggesting. If you are going to post a private email online...do it anonymously, and black out the names, etc, etc. You got fired for being dumb and crossing a line that you apparently had no trouble treading on in the past.

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