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Atari Tries To Supress Bad Reviews, Claims Piracy

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the such-small-portions-too dept.

Censorship 275

im_thatoneguy sends in an account up at Shacknews about Atari's actions to get early reviews of its upcoming game Alone In the Dark pulled from Web sites in Europe. Atari sued the German site 4Players, alleging piracy, and also cancelled an advertising deal on the site, after a pre-release review gave the game only 68%. 4Players posted a commentary (translation) alleging that Atari is doing this bcause the review is unfavorable. Shacknews reports that Atari has also demanded that both Gamer.no and GameReactor remove early reviews — both reviews gave the game a score of 3/10. Kotaku editorializes: "[Does Atari] fear that, because these outlets may have received copies of the game 'early' (i.e. from pirated copies), that they're somehow reviewing incomplete code, which could affect their opinion of the game? Maybe. Pessimists could, however, be forgiven for thinking it's a convenient excuse for Atari to attack negative reviews of the only game they're releasing in 2008 that has any chance of making them some money."

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Hmm.... (4, Insightful)

ArIck (203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896685)

If they have improved the game from the earlier 'privacy' version then i am sure all these sites would be willing to re-consider their reviews based on the new game play.

What Atari fears is that the earlier review was the 'final' version of the game and these reviews may harm purchase from people who may accidentally buy the game thinking it to be better than it is.

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896763)


If the reviews are based on a pirated copy of the game, and the released versions game play is different then Atari has every right in the world to not only sue these guys, but put them out of business.

Re:Hmm.... (4, Informative)

ArIck (203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896819)

oh yes they do have the right to sue them but it only depends if the pirated version is different than the released version. If they are the same then the review still stands.

There may be an issue with regarding to ho they got the copy of the game but the review still stands. So it all boils down to "Is the review of the pirated version the same as the released version"

Re:Hmm.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896835)

No the pirated version is not the same as the final version. The pirate version lacks annoying DRM and so provides a more enjoyable experience.

Re:Hmm.... (1, Insightful)

ArIck (203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896859)

I am only replying to AC since I might be drunk but still here goes...

You are missing my point.... the gameplay of both versions would be the same regardless of the DRM. I am commenting on the game itself and not any other stuff. Its life saying the pirated version has a .bat file for installer whreras the real version has a setup.exe file

Re:Hmm.... (4, Informative)

Arimus (198136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897247)

And from the TFA they didn't use a pirated copy. Someone broke the embargo on selling/giving the proper official boxed copy of the game prior to a set date.

Re:Hmm.... (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897659)

Don't you just LOVE the translated text "What comes next? 4P bangs frogs in office ignite? Wives of editors with footballs bewerfen?" What are those scummy Atari people threatening to do to those poor editors wives with them soccer balls?


But seriously if they did manage to get their hands on a boxed version prior to release I don't see how they can scream. It also might be a good test to show their true motives if someone set up a fake review praising the game and pointed out to Atari that they did the same thing. I'd bet Atari wouldn't say a word. Do they really think that this kind of crap is going to help in ANY way? Have they never heard of the Streisand effect? Now the story has been slahdotted and I'm sure it'll spread to most of the tech and gamer sites so instead of being able to sneak their bowel churner past the gate now everyone will know that it sucks. A really stupid move by the legal department at Atari IMHO. If they wanted to get the review changed they should have wined them and dined them and bought a bunch of ads. Instead the just stirred up the hornets nest. But that is my 02c,YMMV

Re:Hmm.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897499)

Do people tell you that you turn into a humorless prick when drinking?

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897907)

Man, how much must the final suck, then?

Re:Hmm.... (5, Informative)

dascritch (808772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897169)

I do remember when Infogrames (was would be renamed Atari) owned Game One, the first game channel in France. Marcus did a very bad review from one of their games, he was fired, and nearly the whole staff. I don't think it was because of picary...

Now they (the first staff from Game One)found their own game channel, Nolife. http://nolife-tv.com/ [nolife-tv.com]
The Ankama company games just put money into this tv, but I doubt they will do the Marcus incident again.

Re:Hmm.... (-1, Troll)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897223)

What a pathetic joke. Why should anyone take the reviews of a site that is obviously willing to break the law to do what it wants. I can't believe there are actually people defending the review site. "Oh, this is only cause they said it sucked".

God I love Slashdot's fluid moral code.

Re:Hmm.... (5, Insightful)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897339)

What a pathetic joke. Why should anyone take the reviews of a site that is obviously willing to break the law to do what it wants. I can't believe there are actually people defending the review site. "Oh, this is only cause they said it sucked".


God I love Slashdot's fluid moral code.

Break the LAW how, pray tell?

The same article that reported the take down request / suit, reported the copy reviewed as a legal distribution copy designed for reviews. I don't see any indication where the site was obviously willing to break the law.

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897577)

"a legal distribution copy designed for reviews" - wait, so you're saying a copy designated as being for review came from Atari, and then Atari sued them for using it, saying it was pirated? That's gonna be a funny lawsuit. "Your Honor, we'd like to introduce Exhibit 1, a waybill from FedEx for a copy of the game being delivered from Atari Marketing"...

Yeah.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897805)

that is why its innocent til proven guilty. less atari and prove they used a "pirated" copy it does sound like they are unhappy with bad review

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

slawo (1210850) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897631)

Pathetic you are. Have you never bought a product before its release date?
There is no reason to release a review when no "non disclosure agreement" was signed.
The suit is just a move to remove bad reviews before the official date and to get the origin of the retailer who leaked the game.

Also you might be an international law expert and will be able to argue that, but I don't think buying a product before release date is a crime in any country in Europe. Neither is posting reviews of a product.

Also just to make sure anyone remembers, Atari is an evil French company.

Re:Hmm.... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897929)

Because people maybe don't give a fsck where they got the copy from, as long as they keep them from dropping some hard earned cash on crappy games?

If gamers care where they got the copy from, it's at best wondering how a review page got a game a few weeks earlier when the review is outstandingly good despite the game being mediocre at best...

Re:Hmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897001)

The german site states that they've got the retail version early from an befriended software retailer. It's not uncommon to get games a week early depending on where you order them online. If you got direct connections that would be even easier. So these allegations just queue up with the MGS4 review catalog and the "Gerstmanngate" incident.

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

IAmAI (961807) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897015)

A review is an opinion and attempting to remove such reviews would be censorship. If they want to sue them for copyright infringement, fine because there are laws against that. However, if Atari were successful in getting the reviews removed would be, in my mind, unjust.

Re:Hmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897051)

Umm... why?

Seriously, why? I don't get it, not at all. Atari of course has the right to sue, but why would they have any standing? You don't need to illegally copy a game (or anything really) in order to review it, anyway, and even *if* you do, I fail to see how publishing a review of the game would be illegal just because copying the game was.

I really wonder how drivel like yours gets modded to +5.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897455)

I'll give you one very valid example. "Proceeds of criminal activity". In this case, revenue to the site is page views and ads, provided by viewers coming to read articles about things that were illegally obtained. Tenuous link, and you can debate the merits, but it's similar in theory (if not severity) to seizing a drug dealer's mansion.

Re:Hmm.... (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897117)

Atari has every right in the world to not only sue these guys, but put them out of business
Yes, because god forbid anyone should have the right to freedom of speech, right?

Re:Hmm.... (1, Interesting)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897227)

If the reviews are based on a pirated copy of the game, and the released versions game play is different then Atari has every right in the world to not only sue these guys, but put them out of business.

That's bullshit. It's Atari's and the developers fault for allowing such a leak like that to happen in the first place. If they can't keep tighter wraps on their content, why should the people who are previewing it get in trouble?

Re:Hmm.... (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897807)

SUUUUUURE.... improving a 3/10 game to 10/10 in only a month. I got an idea. Let's hire THESE guys for Microsoft and see what miracles they can do with Vista in only 30 days.

Re:Hmm.... (4, Informative)

Mascot (120795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896781)

At least one site (gamer.no) that gave an early review have confirmed they reviewed a store-bought retail version. Granted, the store may have broken the intended street date, but it wasn't some shady downloaded copy that was reviewed.

At least it has gotten Atari and the game some publicity.

Re:Hmm.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897255)

The German site also claims to have their version legally bought, which means that they could immediately charge Atari for making unfounded claims against them (based on the laws of coersion/intimidation and also the laws against threatening with legal action).

Re:Hmm.... (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897269)

That's not insightful, that's funny!

OTOH.. that's not funny, it's insightful!

"all publicity is good publicity"... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896697)

... once again. Before I read this I didn't know about "Alone in the Dark". I guess their strategy worked

Re:"all publicity is good publicity"... (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897153)

Me neither, and now I know for certain that I don't want do buy it. 3/10? That's epicly low for a game review - usually a bad game doesn't get below a 5/10 on most sites.

Re:"all publicity is good publicity"... (1)

Tailsfan (1200615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897613)

Yep. Then again, I don't care. Still, censorship is wrong.

Atari Speaking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896715)

This is Atari speaking. This game is the best game you ever didn't play. You WILL believe this, because we at Atari believe that as opposed to good coding and game design, intimidating reviewers is the best way to make a great game.

Atari Sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896729)

I keep bending the 'stick to the left hard and stupid Harry doesn't run faster :(

Hard to say. (-1, Troll)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896737)

I'd normally be skeptical of any game publisher for doing something like this, but none of the sites mentioned recieved official review copies of Alone In The Dark, which means they're all pirated. I'd say Atari's justified in that regard alone, not to mention AITD has recieved incredible press thus far (the tech demos alone are worth watching). I'd hate for a good game to sell poorly due to bad or no coverage... but I guess the opposite is also true.

Re:Hard to say. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896785)

> but none of the sites mentioned recieved official review copies of Alone In The Dark, which means they're all pirated

You lie.

And your logic is super fail.

Re:Hard to say. (2, Insightful)

HybridJeff (717521) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896863)

Or some store simply sold it too them before the official release date.

Re:Hard to say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897093)

but none of the sites mentioned recieved official review copies of Alone In The Dark, which means they're all pirated
Besides the entirely false notion of 'not review copy == piarated' it's worth mentioning that the release date in Europe for this game was June 20th. If nobody has received review copies then it's because review copies aren't being sent out and that really does mean only one thing: The game is bad enough that they don't want it reviewed.

Re:Hard to say. (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897271)

I'd normally be skeptical of any game publisher for doing something like this, but none of the sites mentioned recieved official review copies of Alone In The Dark, which means they're all pirated.
I read Edge magazine, and it also never, NEVER I say, mentions anything about having received an official review copy. Damn those shameless pirates!

And I didn't receive any review copies of any of the games I have in my house, which can only mean I must be a wretched pirate too! Arrr!!!

Arr, wait: I actually bought those games. You know, in shops. With money. Maybe the review sites did the same thing?

Re:Hard to say. (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897627)

Arr, wait: I actually bought those games. You know, in shops. With money. Maybe the review sites did the same thing?
Is this even legal ?

Re:Hard to say. (4, Funny)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897899)

Arr, wait: I actually bought those games. You know, in shops. With money. Maybe the review sites did the same thing?
Is this even legal ?
Well, I downloaded the money from the pirate bay, and printed it on a color laser I stole from the office, so I reckon I'm still ok with the pirate code...

Re:Hard to say. (1)

desenz (687520) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897935)

Obviously not! Its silly to even ask.

Here be Streisand effect (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896751)

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

From the TFA - Gamer.no says game bought legally (5, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896753)

Kotaku article has an update:

Gamer.no was the second publication in the world to publish a review, and we also gave it 3 out of 10. The review was based on a retail copy obtained from a store on Tuesday this week. Atari contacted us just minutes after it was published, claiming that our review is probably based on a preview or pirated copy, and requested it to be removed. We never removed it, of course.

Just take it (5, Interesting)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896761)

So I guess no one has learned from the wise ways of Penny Arcade's ad campaign [wired.com] .

On another note, if you get a bad review, you should take it. Crying like a baby only emphasizes the ratings. You may get sales from a small fraction of people who play it to verify that it sucks, but sooner or later all the review sites will say the game sucks and it will only make the situation worse. The whole "bad publicity is good publicity" paradigm is long dead in this age of gamers.

The 'incomplete code' thing (1)

Fuzzlekits (909093) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896767)

I think that were this the case, Atari could have easily saved their own bacon by coming out and saying 'These reviews are probably based on incomplete code', etc. After all, there are plenty of other games where code was shown or released that wasn't 'up to snuff', and the producer / developer acknowledged that, and the game went on to be a lot better than that initial sneak peek.

Then again, since Atari isn't _Atari_ anymore, and just a boilerplate, I don't feel like I ought to be defending them so much.

Re:The 'incomplete code' thing (5, Funny)

ximenes (10) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896821)

These sites probably did base their reviews on incomplete code, and its probably the same thing being shipped to stores on CDs right now.

Re:The 'incomplete code' thing (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897057)

Doesn't calling it 'incomplete code' imply that there might some day be a complete version? This is the new 'Atari' we're talking about here.

(Note to lawyers from Infogrames/Atari/Hasbro/Shiny/StuffthatIfoundonmyshoe: I will consider reversing this position when you ship me a complete copy of Master of Orion 3. No sooner.)

Re:The 'incomplete code' thing (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897205)

If it's based on incomplete code, not only is that Atari's fault, it's also the developers fault. Both should know better than to allow leaks like that out.

I don't see why people think it's a good idea to allow people to preview a shitty, incomplete version of your product.

They are right, really (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896789)

Okay, I am not claimining that Atari would do the same if they had gotten 9/10 so they might be assholes because of *that* but let's face the facts, shall we?

If there are a lot of large websites whose owners have pirated copies and write about the games on their websites, announcing the whole wide world of gamers "It has leaked and can be pirated already!", Atari is well within their rights to say "You guys just broke the law. And announced it on your websites. Stop it." and actually they are nice not to press legal charges which they well could and have enough evidence.

I am not saying that that is necessarily the real reason or that it helps at all for this case (by now, the damage has happened) but it might help in future cases. Really, I think that this is not only within their rights but a good thing to do. I don't claim I wouldn't pirate at all (though haven't done that in a year or so) but honestly, those who break the law and announce it on their websites should face consequences. If the only consequence is to that "Remove the review and we won't press any charges", Atari is going easy on them.

Otherwise they would be telling everyone "Piracy is so acceptable that you can announce to thousands of people publicly that you do it and tell what exactly you have pirated and it is still okay!".

I think that Atari might also have been pressed by some game reviewing magazines. If they have promised exclusive right to certain magazines to get their copy and early review, all the websites reviewing it isn't exactly good.

So while this *might* not have happened if the ratings were 9/10, I think that this isn't exactly "Censorship" and was the right thing to do.

They're liars, that's what they are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896837)

Actually we know that Atari did NOT go after a couple of reviews that gave a decent score. Just RTFA at shacknews.

And the 'pirated version' angle is just some claptrap justification they're using, this really just is about stopping the low-score reviews from helping people stay clear of this, I gather, turkey of a game.

By the way, by saying it's pirated, aren't they saying that their snazzy SecuROM Activation Scheme [shacknews.com] is a total bust?

Re:They're liars, that's what they are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897017)

Just RTFA at shacknews.

I can't read you insensitive clod!

Re:They're liars, that's what they are. (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897547)

Or did they not go after those sites because they /KNEW/ /THEY/ had supplied those sites with copies?

When will they learn? (5, Interesting)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896805)

When will these gaming companies (and others) learn that this isn't the 80's anymore. This news spreads like wildfire and makes them look really bad. Its a much better idea to try to promote positive news instead of repressing and pretty obviously trying to force a lack of journalistic integrity.

68% is unfavourable? (5, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896807)

In the UK, if you get 68% in your final year exams at university you get an upper second class degree, and might be able to talk your way up to a first. So 68% is a masters/PhD candidates mark at most places.

Game ratings are ludicrous in that they use perhaps the top 40% of the scale. Not since the days of Amiga Power have I seen a dire game get a single digit % score.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

ArIck (203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896841)

Ok in UK 33% is a passing grade. That is sad!

Disclosure:And this is coming from someone who took GCE A Levels and studied in Canada for undergrad

Re:68% is unfavourable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896989)

Ok in UK 33% is a passing grade. That is sad!

Rubbish. A-level grades or lettered, with passes from A-E. The E grade is currently 40-49% and A is currently 80%+ (apparently an A* for 90%+ will be introduced in 2010).

Disclaimer: This is coming from someone who graduated with something like 6% score in finals - mind you it was highly recommended only to answer 4 questions out of 34ish per 3 hour paper, since each would take 40 minutes or more to answer well.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897385)

It's impossible to tell from the number itself what is "good" and "bad".

I hope you're not studying something analytical, like anything, for example.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897663)

You probably passed. That is sad!

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896885)

In the UK, if you get 68% in your final year exams at university you get an upper second class degree, and might be able to talk your way up to a first. So 68% is a masters/PhD candidates mark at most places.

Might this be connected to the constant complaints that the UK is falling behind in most every academic subject?

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896957)

Might this be connected to the constant complaints that the UK is falling behind in most every academic subject?

No, those are more connected to the fact that whining about academic standards sells newspapers.

Look, "68% = 2:1" doesn't mean that a 2:1 is easy to get; it means that the examinations are very difficult, and the grading is set up to make it easier to distinguish between the scores achieved by top-ranking students, i.e. at the end of the scale where it matters.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897025)

In the UK, if you get 68% in your final year exams at university you get an upper second class degree, and might be able to talk your way up to a first. So 68% is a masters/PhD candidates mark at most places.

Might this be connected to the constant complaints that the UK is falling behind in most every academic subject?
Not at the 'good' universities (everyone knows which these are -- Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, LSE, UCL, Warwick etc, and knows which aren't). Getting more than 70% is difficult ;-).

Getting less than 50% still gets you a degree, but it isn't a very good degree. Most employers say "2.i or above", which would usually equate to 60% or more.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897035)

No, it's that the humanities, at least, are traditionally marked so that it takes a prodigy to hit 80%. Or at any rate that's how it works in my uni.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897333)

From my experience, Physics and Computer Science are much the same.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897549)

Might this be connected to the constant complaints that the UK is falling behind in most every academic subject?
Depends on how hard the exams are.

Generally speaking, the marking is as follows:

40% : Third class.
50% : 2:2
60% : 2:1
70% : First

The work is (or at least it was when I did my degree) engineered so if you can make it to the end of the final year, you'd have to screw up pretty badly to fail altogether. However, the difference between each grade means you'd also have to work pretty damn hard to get a first.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

IAmAI (961807) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897087)

Unlike university degrees, where 68% is always an upper second class degree (though maybe not if you're somehow able to 'talk' yourself into another one), what rating of 68% means is going to depend on the individual. While 68% might indicate a good game to one individual, another might not buy a game if its less than 80%.

Interestingly, in a likewise fashion, while 68% is always a upper second class degree, whether that is good or not is going to depend on the employer considering your application (although I'd hope most employers would consider an upper second 'good').

Re:68% is unfavourable? (2, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897367)

I agree, it's absurd. They use only the upper range of the spectrum, except when a game is incredibly bad. Also, you can't be so precise with something so subjective; that's why I think magazines should use the old "star" rating. Some examples, in my opinion:

0 star = abysmal: Big Rigs, Action 52, ET, Extreme PaintBrawl.
1 star = crappy: First Samurai, Gods, Hook, James Bond Jr, Sword of Sodan.
2 stars = weak: Daikatana, Power Rangers, Outlander, 3 Ninjas Kick Back.
3 stars = good: Mickey Mania, Cool Spot, Final Fight, Prey, Elite Force.
4 stars = excellent: Castle of Illusion, Streets of Rage, Road Rash, Socket, Tempest 2000, Halo, Out Run 2006.
5 stars = the absolute best: Strider, Zelda LttP, Final Fantasy VI, NiGHTS, Half Life 2, Ikaruga, Shenmue, Super Metroid.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (2, Interesting)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897407)

I don't know much about games, but most films fall into one of three catagories;
  1. Worth watching for people who don't hate the genre
  2. Worth watching for people who like the genre
  3. Not worth watching
I find reviews of films useless in the decision process for watching a film. I am only able to isolate the third category through rotten tomatoes/imdb (obscenely low scores = category three). The only genre I intensely dislike is slasher films and action films, so they are easy to weed out via the promotional material.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897827)

Yup. I've put some thought into how I would grade games and I've come up with pretty much the opposite of what's common today: 100% equals the best possible game technology and human storytelling can make. In short, absolute perfection. Yes, that would mean that those games that regularly get 100% at "traditional" reviews would end up somewhere in the 60-80% range with good games netting maybe 40-60%. You couldn't call a game bad unless it was somewhere below 20%.

I would probbly last for three reviews before either some publisher tries to sue me, a bunch of fanboys DDoSes the server for days or I get talked into abandoning my review practices because of <insert pile of money here>.

Re:68% is unfavourable? (2, Informative)

slyguy135 (844866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897697)

Did you never read the UK edition of PC Gamer? I haven't looked at it for a few years now, but they regularly gave single-digit scores for games that were so awful there was no other non-violent response possible. They also gave Worms 1 40%, which confused the hell out of everyone...

Re:68% is unfavourable? (1)

deepershade (994429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897753)

That's the main reason I don't read review sites. I don't understand how anyone can believe that a gaming experience can be quantified to a percentile.

Pirated == different? (3, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896823)

In all my swashbuckling years (gone by, that is - I've since grown up and can actually afford to buy my games), I've only ever played 2 games where the pirated version's gameplay is actually different from the retail one - Postal (might have been postal 2, actually) and Red Alert 2. Oddly enough, both games had the same "different" gameplay in that certain pirated/cracked versions would work for about 30seconds and then everything on screen would explode and/or die.
Oh how I laughed.

Anyway, the point is that I very much doubt any pirated versions are different from the retail version of the game and Atari is just trying to stir up shit for publicity's sake - and good luck to them, but I still doubt there is actually a difference between the two (unless in-your-face-DRM counts as gameplay these days).

But for the sake of a good conversation, what other "different" anti-piracy schemes have you all come across in games, such as the above mentioned "kill everything after 30s" technique?

Re:Pirated == different? (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897041)

But for the sake of a good conversation, what other "different" anti-piracy schemes have you all come across in games, such as the above mentioned "kill everything after 30s" technique?

My version of Sim City would have a 'disaster' every 2 minutes if you didn't correctly answere the copy protection question (I think it was the "second word from line five, page three of the manual" type protection).

Re:Pirated == different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897421)

Man, my parents once bought a pack of games for our first computer that had that kind of copy protection. THe problem was, they didn't come with the book. So some of the games were completely unplayable.

Re:Pirated == different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897459)

I couldn't get the Swat 4 I bought legally to work so I had to pirate a version that worked. Does that count as different gameplay?

Also, on several other games the game has worked a lot better as pirated version.

That said and more seriously speaking there can be difference. For example, a cracked version can crash more often, have lower framerate, etc. that can all affect negatively in a review.

I've never encountered these "Something in the actual game happens if the version is pirated" though.

After you stopped laughing about the translation (5, Informative)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896833)

The details of the story are:

Because of AitD previews, Atari pulled already paid for ad campaigns. Requests for testing versions were completely ignored.

Literally minutes after the reviews were online, Atari lawyers demanded that 4Players.de pulls the reviews, claiming they were "not actual objective product tests" (product tests as in refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, not something like games that can't objectively tested and which therefore do not fall under regulations regarding product tests). Also, because 4P tested based on the retail version before the street date, they alleged that 4P had downloaded the game illegally (they bought it early from a retailer they have contacts with). They allege that 4P just wanted "first review!" (ignoring that print magazines had even earlier reviews). The lawyers set the value of the case at 50,000 Euro.

Later, they tried the same to 2 Norwegian online mags, Gamer.no and Gamereactor.no, with the same results, namely none.

Re:After you stopped laughing about the translatio (5, Informative)

schnipschnap (739127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897341)

Hey! I just finished translating the whole article ;_;
Since it reveals some things about the magazine's attitude as well, I publish it here anyway:
(Note that I didn't proof-read it)

Atari really tries everything to obfuscate our reports: First they ignored our questions about Alone in the Dark in its early stages of development, then they canceled an already arranged advertising deal after our preview, then they didn't provide us with samples of the test version even though we asked, and now they're even getting out their lawyers and want to instill fear in us with a 50,000 Euro lawsuit. What's next? Activating firecrackers in our offices? Throwing soccer-balls at the editors' wives?

It's getting more and more ridiculous. The fact that publishers like to interfere with the freedom of the press has been demonstrated by JoWooD in 2006 in a most demonstrating way in the case of Gothic 3: They wanted us to take our report offline after a threatening call, and the magazine PC PowerPlay was to vanish from newspaper stands. Both magazines resisted and have in doing so strengthened the Culture of Criticism of the German press landscape.

Atari is now demonstrating that publishers tend to lose their nerves when their games receive unfavorable reviews. And now, with their specious accusations of laughableness, they're [making it worse]. [Here's the order of events:] Yesterday afternoon, we published our review of Alone in the Dark. The game got 68% and therefore got a satisfactory rating. Yesterday evening, we got a facsimile from Atari's lawyers, extracts of which we can't help but share with you. If Germany shouldn't be able to laugh about anything anymore after tonight's match with Portugal, check this out:

'By publishing this "review" (original: "test") you are violating applicable laws and infringing upon Atari's rights.'

Hello? Are we in China now? Or in Iran? Here I had to gag on this as a journalist because Atari with its sloppy dubs against the rights of German listeners - Are they now allowed to sue for damages because they are avoiding paying for professional voice actors but still want the full price for a game with amateurish voice acting?

And now the quintessence of the ridiculous accusations:

'Your "review" isn't. The game is to be published on June 20, 2008. Your "review" must therefore be based on the pre-release version that was only to be used for preliminary commentatorship.'

So is it the job of lawyers and publishers now, to determine what constitutes a "review"? The fact that some printed magazines didn't use the pre-release version either for their test, because their articles were published much earlier than ours, doesn't appear to concern Atari. Because it is quite common now that printed reviews aren't always based on the final versions of a game - See Gothic 3.

Just too bad that we actually reviewed the final version. Atari's thinks (in surprising ignorance about distribution channels), that we can't even have the offical final releases - because Atari, as a precaution, didn't even send us those, even though we asked for them. However, we're used to such methods after years of reviewing and bought the final versions for the Wii, PS2, Xbox 360, and PC already on Monday at a retailer that we trust, who gets almost all games a couple days before their official release date.

Instead of thinking about that, Atari speculated freely about how we could have managed to get ahold of the game, and accuses us of criminal activities:

'The only possible explanation is that your "review" is based on an illegally downloaded version.'

That isn't just extremely naive, that's insolent. But let's go on:

'At the same time you're ignoring standards that usually apply to product reviews. Because product reviews have to be based on objective and informed analyses.'

And "informed" is probably everything that gives a rating of more than 80%, right? And "objective" begins at 85%? Just for the lawyer who wrote this outrageous stuff: We don't review vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, or grills - we review games. And these reviews don't belong into the category "product review", in much the same way that book reviews or movie reviews don't. But it gets even more absurd:

'Because of these violations, you've got an unfair advantage over other, more serious game magazines. The so-called "review" was obviously written just to publish the first review of the game in Germany and thus, because of the perceived exclusiveness, to garner high numbers of readers and therefore to make more money.'

At this point we really all had to laugh heartily. Our boss, our marketing department, our janitor, and even our pets. Are those guys at Atari blind when it comes to printed magazines, which had reviews of the game much earlier already? Do the guys at Atari even know that we don't make even one cent through when a reader clicks on one of our reviews? Well, we don't care: We don't want to get our reviews online before a game's release because we make more money that way, but to inform our readers about the quality of a game prior to purchaising it.

To sum it up: So they want us to pull the review before 2 PM, today, delete all images, and declare, under penalty of law, that we will not do it again*; and we will not get an extension because of the severity of the violations of the law.

Hello, Atari? Fuck off.

Joerg Luibl
Editor in chief

PS: Atari canceled the game's advertising deal with us after our review was published. That's perfectly fine, but the fact that it can be done differently and more professionally has been proven, since other publishers, especially Ubisoft, after our 66% rating for Haze, didn't cancel their deals with us after their games received unfavorable reviews.

PPS: It wasn't just this magazine that was accused in this way. Two Norwegian magazines now report that they also were attacked by Atari in the same way.

Better start learning German (5, Interesting)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896851)

This is surprising. Maybe I'll have to start learning German if I want to get honest game reviews now. I have a feeling the North American game reviewers will probably be a lot more accommodating to Atari's threats.

I recall the same thing happened with Anarchy online. They released the game for sale but then told reviewers to hold off on their reviews because the game wasn't actually 'final'. Sure enough, reviewers didn't do their job and waited around till the Anarchy folks actually felt their game was 'ready'. This all boils down to game companies not wanting to be accountable for their lousy work. Really if you're going to be spending millions and millions of dollars on a game, you should at the very least make sure it's actually worth playing.

only game that has chance of making money? (0, Offtopic)

the_olo (160789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896855)

be forgiven for thinking it's a convenient excuse for Atari to attack negative reviews of the only game they're releasing in 2008 that has any chance of making them some money

This one [atari.com] looks quite nice too.

Nah. (2, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896889)

Surely The Wither was released in 2007? Though we're still waiting for the 'enhanced edition'

Re:Nah. (1)

the_olo (160789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897181)

Oh, you're right. Time passes so quickly.

Re:Nah. (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897859)

What do they want to enhance? Will you be able to talk every NPC into having sex with you now?

Re:only game that has chance of making money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896933)

And anyone who thinks otherwise will be sued!

Re:only game that has chance of making money? (1)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23896969)

Yeah, but that game was released last year ;)

Re:only game that has chance of making money? (1)

the_olo (160789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897217)

Moderated Offtopic? How on earth can a comment on an Atari game to a story on Atari game reviews be offtopic?

Surely I've forgotten to somehow find a way to bash Microsoft in order to be more Slashdotically-correct.

(BTW, in addition, notice my perfect grammar! It seems I'm inherently out of place over here...)

Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23896995)

You spelled because wrong in the summary.

as devil's advocate... (1)

papabob (1211684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897003)

if the german game bussines plays in the same league than the america's one, that reviews can be caused by

a) the game sucks.

b) atari refuses to pay to obtain that relaxes critics that some crappy games get by big editorials.

It would be interesting when the game get finally published...

Did Atari steal the game - probably (0, Redundant)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897107)

Alone in the Dark was out LONG before Atari started making trouble...
What is this game about - the same thing as the original previous version and it's offshoots? It sounds and from screen shots it looks like a rip off of the originals....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_in_the_Dark_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_in_the_Dark:_The_New_Nightmare [wikipedia.org]

Shut the fuck up Atari - go steal another game! I OWN Alone in the Dark and Alone in the Dark the New Nightmare. I sure as hell won't buy your RIP OFF!

Re:Did Atari steal the game - probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897191)

It's actually the fifth in the series. Check the wikipedia before slamming it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_in_the_Dark_%282008_video_game%29

It's gonna backfire (2, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897149)

Now, no matter good the game really is, the game and Atari have been stigmatized.

What a bone-headed thing to do. Like the other thread a bit earlier about google-bombing McCain, trying to suppress information rarely works, and often backfires.

Lifetime boycott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897163)

I'm tired of such retards.

I'm adding Atari to the Lifetime Boycott list, right next to SONY.

ATARI: (2, Funny)

dodecalogue (1281666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897203)

from "pew pew pew!" to "p.u. p.u. p.u.!" .... awful. sorry.

Does Atari Still Exist? (2, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897211)

Seriously, you'd think that they'd use the opportunity to get people involved and improve their releases rather that trying to shut the door on their customers.

Re:Does Atari Still Exist? (2, Informative)

m8nkey (1312359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897521)

Atari in it's current form is simply a brandname, bought by Infograms who produced the original Alone In The Dark games. According to wikipedia, Atari has been a wholly owned subsidiary of of Infograms since '07. They've been releasing games under the Atari name for years though. First game I recall seeing released by Infograms using the Atari name was Unreal Tournament 2003.

wait a minute (4, Funny)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897267)

Atari still makes games?

Re:wait a minute (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897729)

No, Infogrames do, but the Atari brand that they own is thought to be more "marketable".

This clear up one thing for me... (4, Funny)

haaz (3346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897359)

I didn't know Atari was still in business.

Re:This clear up one thing for me... (2, Interesting)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897599)

It's Atari in name only. Infogrames renamed themselves Atari to try to "reinvent" after people wised up to the fact that everyone was used to mediocrity out of them.

Re:This clear up one thing for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23897769)

You have to define "still in business." This is like, the 6th company to use the name. Every time it changes hands it goes for less and less. In a few years I'm going to buy the Atari name and use it on the crap I sell at the arts fair.

DRM (5, Informative)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897437)

I don't care if the reviews were giving it a perfect score, I was giving this one a pass anyway. It has even more restrictive install limits than Mass Effect - you can only install it on a single PC at a time so I can't have it on my desktop and laptop for example. I don't mind the online activation, but I refuse to buy any software that limits the number of installations. http://www.aitdunlock.com/ [aitdunlock.com]

Re:DRM (2, Insightful)

Mascot (120795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897665)

Granted, I don't approve of online activation of this type at all. But that really is exceedingly ridiculous.

And, hilariously, the only way those sites managed to review the game early, was because Atari turned on the activation servers. Way to use that DRM you paid good money for to prevent early leaks, Atari.

I've seen the game... (2, Interesting)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23897705)

...and I think it's pretty true to the movie it's based on. I know the movie is not what the gme is (spposed to be) based on, but feeling-wise it does fit.

I can also see where the game is annoying - sometimes you go quite long distances without healing items so you might end up in a battle where you die if anything hurts you just a little bit - and if you don't want to do the battle twenty times over you have to either replay the previous part of the game or skip to the next scene.
Also, it feels badly tested; for example, if during a cutscene the camera is away from your body and passes by items on the ground the game will offer you to pick them up. Also, sometimes the game doesn't make much sense; for example, during the car escape scene there are cars parked in the middle of the street with no fleeing people around that might explain them. Getting to the car is convoluted in itself.

The game does have potential for being unintentionally funny, though. In one cutscene a homing smoking crack in the floor races towards the player. Once, the (heavily injured) player stood on a burning item when the cutscene was triggered; when the camera came back to the player he was already lying on the ground, burning. The game's deadpan delivery of this made the scene exceptionally funny.


Overall, it's a nice game but definitely not great. I can understand why Atari doesn't get rave reviews although I do think 3/10 is a bit low. I'd place it more around a 6.
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