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Adverjournalism - The Role of Ad Dollars in Media

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the swimming-in-a-dirty-pool dept.

91

Gamer 2.0 writes "The Gamer 2.0 site has a look into the role of advertising in gaming journalism, with a few reflections especially topical given the Jeff Gerstmann controversy. From the article: 'It should come as no surprise that just about every gaming forum on the internet is ablaze right now following the news of GameSpot's termination of long-time editor, Jeff Gerstmann. This article, however, is not an exposé or look into what really happened at GameSpot this week. Rather, consider this a look at the direction of gaming journalism, advertising, and how this all plays a role in the content you read.'" There have been a few more developments in the situation since Thursday night, with rumours, scuttlebutt, analysis, and cynicism reigning on every message board from here to C|Net. There has even been a spontaneous act of solidarity from elsewhere in the games journalism field.

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Mandatory PA link... (3, Funny)

MLopat (848735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549645)

Penny-Arcade has a great comic [penny-arcade.com] about the whole situation.

Re:Mandatory PA link... (1)

Symbolis (1157151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549691)

The news post for that comic is amusing, as well.

Re:Mandatory PA link... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21550405)

PA all but BROKE the story for many. This comic went up on a Thursday evening, well before Gerstmann's blog was flooding with WTF? comments. Despite some sporadically reliable Ruby on Rails scripts, THAT early is definitely against their norm. Most thought it was a joke until the news post came up in the morning.

Re:Mandatory PA link... (5, Interesting)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550745)

PA's coverage has been great. What I find amusing is the fact that anyone is remotely surprised by any of this. Perhaps it's my own experience in the industry (I reviewed games for a living for several years, and I too lost my job because of an unfavourable review I gave a particular title. This was five years ago), but the sheer surprise so many people seem to be experiencing over this is just staggering. How could people not see this is the case? In an industry that relies on whoring itself to the games developers and publishers, why is everyone so surprised that someone up and got pimp slapped? Is it just because it was such a notable name this time? Because that I could understand. But if it's shock and surprise at a writer losing his job because he dared upset an advertiser... Then you've clearly been living under a rock.

He was not the first (and I certainly wasn't either) nor will he be the last. The entire reviewing industry is corrupt. Anyone paying attention knows this. Some groups are more corrupt than others, certainly, but this is not news. Certainly no more so than "the sun rose in the east today".

Re:Mandatory PA link... (1)

cyberformer (257332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552365)

The surprise is that it's so blatant and public. What usually happens is that the people who toe the line are more likely to get raises or promotions and those who don't are more likely to get layed off. There doesn't even need to be any actual corruption or selling out at the level of individual writers (though there usually is, of course) because lots of people lack critical thinking skills anyway.

This is an industry where layoffs are very common, so firing people can usually be blamed on something other than annoying an advertiser. The companies usually make people targeted for layoff sign NDAs as a condition of getting severance, meaning we rarely hear the true reasons.

Re:Mandatory PA link... (1)

DigitalWallaby (853269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21556273)

I wouldn't say the entire reviewing industry is corrupt.

I've reviewed a few games on my blog, http://stroppsworld.com/ [stroppsworld.com] , and would like to think I've given a reasonably fair assessment of the games I've reviewed. For instance, I marked Hellgate: London down strongly for the bugs and crashes in the multiplayer game, while giving the much less problematic single player game a higher score.

There are plenty of smaller players like myself out there, who honestly put down their impressions. Would we take graft for good reviews? Maybe some would, but the smaller players have more to lose than the big review sites. It's hard to get readers, but much easier to lose them.

If you're finding that you can't trust reviews on the big sites like Gamespot, then track down the blogs that do give their honest impressions.

Re:Mandatory PA link... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558341)

that's because you may not depend on doing this for a living. ask any "professional" outfit and they'll tell you just how carefully they have to tread when it comes to editorial. Ad $$$ and review samples. Do you think any company would fork these over to a site that says their game/hardware sucks?

large websites or small, the business model stays the same.

7000th post! (0, Offtopic)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549647)

Yeah yeah yeah keepin it real in the field.

Re:7000th post! (1, Funny)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549693)

And such a worthwhile contribution it is, too! I raise a glass for you sir, that you have come this far, and here's to another 7000 mindblowing epistles from such a great poster! Cheers!

Re:7000th post! (0, Offtopic)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549835)

And keepin the cliches in play! Peace out brotha ... or something.

I don't get it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549679)

This is news? to who?

I've long known that all the top 'review' sites are just paid shills. Every single game is rated 'game of the year' even when its a total piece of crap that barely runs.

You can't trust any reviews other than SOME user reviews since many of those are astroturfed as well..

The same is true for any sort of review. hardware, software, games, cars, books, movies, music...

Nobody should be suprised that its the product companys who have the real power in the review process.

cap:filthier

Re:I don't get it... (1, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550407)

Every single game is rated 'game of the year' even when its a total piece of crap that barely runs.

Care to mention some examples? Because despite this "common wisdom" being repeated so often I haven't seen that happen. The only way you could even think that's happening is if you think "gaming has been downhill ever since 3d was invented" and think all modern games are just bad games with pretty graphics that don't stack up to Pong. That's a delusion, modern games are not worse than old ones and in many cases they are even better because we made progress in interface design and figuring out how to make a game not frustrating to the user (making the player start over from the start of the game when he dies? Forcing the player to pay a lot of money or find secret items just to save his progress? Making secrets mandatory to progress to the next level?). Sure, games are no longer so difficult that you need ten attempts to get past the tutorial but shouldn't that kind of difficulty be relegated to the late game anyway?

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21551381)

So which company do you work for that this issue touches on?

The rest of the world would agree that most game reviews are total bullshit that rarely have anything to do with the reality of the game.

From my point of view, You are part of the astroturf the parent was talking about.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21557863)

So your argument is "Everyone knows that reviews are nonsense and only paid-for people will disagree"? If reviews are that bad, why can't you point out a game that got reviewed highly despite being (objectively!) total crap?

Why is anyone shocked at this anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549683)

Honestly as long as any site takes ad money they should be viewed with skepticism the same way any magazine based review of item X should be. Unless the reviewers are actually going out and spending their own money instead of getting reviewer/screener copies the fix is in to begin with. If you want the gravytrain to continue keep it positive. The biggest shock of this should be the review was actually published/scored as it was without the persuasion on the site from the publisher in the first place.

Re:Why is anyone shocked at this anyways? (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551385)

It depends on their policy [penny-arcade.com] (see Gabe's post at the bottom) really.
Perhaps we'd all be better off if more sites only advertised products they genuinely liked. A site may get fewer adverts but those it did get would be far more valuable to the advertiser.

Re:Why is anyone shocked at this anyways? (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552345)

How would you tell the difference between a reviewer who advertised only the games he liked and one who "liked" all the games he advertised?

Re:Why is anyone shocked at this anyways? (1)

LunarCrisis (966179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21555559)

> How would you tell the difference between a reviewer who advertised only the games he liked and one who "liked" all the games he advertised?

If every once in a while they decide they were wrong and start criticizing the product _while the add is running next the criticism_, you have a pretty good clue. If you actually read the post that was linked, you'll see that's what happened with penny arcade and PoP2.

Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549687)

No, really - let's include all of tech journalism in the pile. I've lost count of how many articles that are more than obviously bought-and-paid for either by a vendor, or because the whole damn site is nothing more than a front for the vendor and its buddies (yes Microsoft, I'm looking in your direction when I say that).

While we're at it, how about a solution to the other two big problems on tech and game journalism's part? Even The Register [theregister.co.uk] is starting to show cracks of laziness (and occasionally outright fanboyism) in their articles nowadays.

The dead tree media may not be perfect, but at least they do have one thing they can rightly claim over most tech and gaming journals online: they have and at least halfway adhere to a code of ethics and diligence.

There's a couple places online which still do at least some due diligence and hold onto their ethics (hexus.net comes to mind), but they're getting rare. Question is, how do you fix it (short of hunting down the paid-for/fanboy shitheads like, oh, Rob Enderle, and subjecting them to a public stoning)?

/P

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549731)

People have been questioning the likes of PC Magazine, PC Week, InfoWorld, and other publications for years and years. It's not like this whole issue is anything new.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549769)

Agreed for the likes of those particular pubs (and others similar to it), but they were usually outnumbered by a cadre of smaller yet honest (and more probing) sites which didn't give a damn about who got their panties bunched-up about what they wrote. That's what I'm increasingly beginning to miss these days.

I think I might have found a partial solution to it, though it wouldn't work for everyone: If you run a games review site, only accept advertising from hardware vendors and the like, but none from games publishers, or businesses which sell games (this means, for instance, no MSFT money, since they sell xboxes and games for it). Hardware review sites could happily take ad money from app and games publishers, but none from Intel, AMD, etc etc. At least this way you can get some related ads still put up and money coming in, but at the same time you don't end up with the dilemma.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549813)

People have been questioning the likes of PC Magazine, PC Week, InfoWorld, and other publications for years and years.

How soon before they have to start questioning posts and moderation on tech sites like Slashdot?

Can somebody with Microsoft HR confirm or deny that they have position descriptions for "Blog Reader" and "Commenter"?

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (3, Interesting)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550069)

"Blog Reader"? Of course Microsoft employees read blogs and other tech sites. It's not like we disappear off the web once we're hired (I'm a dev in Windows Server). Sure, some people do it as part of their job: gathering customer feedback, analyzing product launch coverage, watching for security issues or other bugs, etc.

"Commenter"? Honestly, MSFT employees would be lost in the noise. Teams at Microsoft tend to be incredibly small compared to the number of people using the product or its competitors. Take Windows, for example. The number of people that are fans of Windows (yes, they exist!) and the number of people that hate Windows both far out number the number of people that actually work on Windows at MSFT. So if you're suspecting astroturfing, chances are you're just seeing a legitimate fan/supporter of the product. That said, many of us consider it part of our jobs to post online where appropriate. If I see somebody with a question on a product I work on or am familiar with, I'll answer it or point them toward somebody who can.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550197)

When it comes to comments, I (mostly) agree (because it would make no sense to troll the small sites... but a big site like, say, C|Net?)

OTOH, the Acer Ferrari laptop debacle was proof enough that there's more than just a little purchasing on the sly... which is why I mentioned Microsoft specifically.

It's not like it's unexpected or anything... or even a new or Internet-only phenomenon. I guess it points to a larger, lazier picture in journalism these days.

On that note, I'd much more easily trust the known and respected cynic who gives the occasional positive review than a bubbly human mimeograph of a reporter who damns anything that's not the object of his or her affection.

/P

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550697)

Personally, I wish it hadn't been the Acer Ferrari laptops. I wasn't at Microsoft at the time, but if I had to guess, I think MSFT wanted two things: reviewers would see Vista on new hardware, and reviewers would see the mobile experience. Everyone was aware that Vista wasn't really intended for the past five years' worth of hardware; it was designed for the next 5+ years. And there were significant improvements to the out-of-box experience on laptop hardware. With previous versions of Windows you absolutely had to have your manufacturers software. With Vista you can do pretty well without it.

Had we relied on bloggers to just install Vista on whatever machine they had handy, they'd probably install it on some old throw-away machine. This wouldn't be the target hardware for Vista, so the reviews would be based on an experience that is significantly different than the target consumer experience. But the Acer Ferrari was probably too flashy (to be fair though, we have a large number of those laptops in use on campus, so maybe it was just that we sent out the same models that we use here).

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (0, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550023)

People have been questioning the likes of PC Magazine, PC Week, InfoWorld, and other publications for years and years. It's not like this whole issue is anything new.
Interestingly, a *substantial* number of stories right here at Slashdot are submitted by shills from the very publications you mention. I've often wondered if there was some kind of relationship between the high number of such "stories" and advertising at Slashdot.

Let's stretch that a bit, damnit...Goatse.cx. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549775)

"No, really - let's include all of tech journalism in the pile. I've lost count of how many articles that are more than obviously bought-and-paid for either by a vendor, or because the whole damn site is nothing more than a front for the vendor and its buddies (yes Microsoft, I'm looking in your direction when I say that)"

Yes I agree. Anything positive about Micro$oft is obviously bought and paid for by a M$ shill. Now Apple however...

"There's a couple places online which still do at least some due diligence and hold onto their ethics (hexus.net comes to mind), but they're getting rare. Question is, how do you fix it (short of hunting down the paid-for/fanboy shitheads like, oh, R"

Someone should invent an economic process of reward/punishment in which the viewpoint of the majority are reflected.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit...Goatse.cx. (3, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550079)

Anything positive about Micro$oft is obviously bought and paid for by a M$ shill. Now Apple however...

No, not "anything" positive, just a nice, healthy chunk of it. Take the recent Zune story [yahoo.com] we played with on /. this morning for instance... it was quickly disassembled and found to be pure marketing bullshit - with not even five minutes' checking. Any decent reporter could've done the same thing, and should have.

A real tech reporter would've done this checking and would have tempered the story with at least those caveats (that is, no, the Zune isn't the hottest selling portable music player overall, just the hottest selling 'year-old-model-in-this-narrow-category' item). Yet our intrepid "Tech Diva" was too enraptured by the Zune to do even the most cursory checks.

But MSFT aside, my big complaint is that basic cynicism in tech journalism ("rule #1 - if a vendor posts a press release, it's liable to be bullshit") is about as rare as virginity in a porn flick these days.

/P

It's all about traffic (1)

cyberformer (257332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552429)

Rewriting press releases usually isn't pure corruption. It's just that the reporters have a daily hit quota to meet and their editors know that time spent thinking or fact checking could be "better" spent (from a traffic-generating perspective) writing another PR-driven story.

An obviously inaccurate story can even be a good way to generate hits and ad revenue, because lots of well-meaning bloggers will link to it in order to debunk it. The point is to stir up controversy, not to get the facts right.

Re:It's all about traffic (0, Troll)

WNight (23683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560961)

Oh wow, they had a quota of lies to meet, which totally excuses them from having to have any ethics!

The only bigger scum than you is someone who tries that excuse. Don't blame me for my actions, I'm only following orders!

Well how about getting a job you're not incompetent at?! Ever think of that? One where you can meet the requirements and not lie to do so? It might mean you have to pass up jobs from bosses who lie.

I imagine GameSpot is hiring though and you'd fit right in. A corporate culture of dishonesty and a liar to defend it. With some luck you'll get through life never having been helpful to another human.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (2, Insightful)

vitaflo (20507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549883)

As someone who was a game journalist for 5 years and knows many who still are in the field (working for most of the big game sites and magazines), I can say without a doubt this is not a rampant problem.

From TFA:

when any publication gets to a certain size and generates a certain amount of money in advertising revenue, the question of journalistic integrity becomes an issue. And let me be the first to come out and say that what happened to Jeff Gerstmann happens all the time.


This is patently false. These things do not happen "all the time". Of course there are pressures from advertisers when they do not like a review or a score, no doubt, but this does not affect the review or score of the game. Most publications have a strict separation between advertising and editorial and this is intentional. In fact, I would say the larger the publication, the less likely this is to happen. Most smaller publications are more apt to take any advertising they can get, because they get so little.

I keep seeing people say "they know" editors are paid off for positive press, but nobody ever backs it up with proof. And there's a reason for this, it so rarely happens there usually is no proof to be had. Just read the article for example, it takes one horrible event (which should have never happened), and extrapolates it across the entire industry with nothing to back it up other than conjecture. One bad decision by the management at CNet/Gamespot does not mean the entire industry is corrupt, because it's not. Take off the tin foil hat.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

evil agent (918566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550109)

But why should we trust you? When reviewing a game, we expect you to be impartial. But when the game's publisher/creator is paying you to review it, there is a clear conflict of interest.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (2, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550113)

Nice... you assume automatically that I meant the entire industry fully does it. No... just most of them. It doesn't take much more than reading the articles half the time, and then checking said against the relevant vendor's press release. It's frightening how often the two items mate up in tone and tempo. It's even more frightening how quickly it is to disassemble a lot of the articles for the barely-masked marketing bullshit that it is.

Also, note that there are still good sources of tech journalism out there, just that they've become rarer as time goes on. The reason hexus.net stands out clearly enough to mention is because a year or so ago, they exposed a flat-out attempt of extortion on a vendor's part. From a big-name gamer rig vendor, no less (IIRC Alienware, but I'd have to dig around and check before I'd say for certain).

Finally, there's no way you can sit there and say with any honesty that a large (or even moreso a medium-sized) outfit wouldn't at least give pause towards giving vendors editorial/review leeway when said vendor is spending a metric shedload of cash to advertise on the same site. No. Fucking. Way. Even in dead-tree land, Consumer Reports stands out specifically because they accept no advert dollars of any kind, which gives them the perfect freedom to call crap/overprised products for what they are.

/P

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

vitaflo (20507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552831)

Nice... you assume automatically that I meant the entire industry fully does it. No... just most of them.

It looks as though you've already made up your mind, which is unfortunate, because you have no idea what you're talking about. But I realize it's easier to jump to conclusions than think about it critically.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21555079)

No, it isn't that I've "already made up" my mind, I'm just relaying what I've seen. Your semi-elitist dismissal aside, you've provided no rebuttal at all aside from anecdotal evidence. If you're so certain that this isn't a problem, then please, show us examples. That's all you have to do.

I've provided a very simple means to check against this (and actively encourage anyone in the IT or games biz --respectively-- to use it). You've provided little more than "tin foil hat" and "you have no idea what you're talking about" coupled with a variation of 'because I say so' as evidence.

I'm afraid that you'll have to do far better than that, unless you're simply trolling.

/P

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21554715)

I keep seeing people say "they know" editors are paid off for positive press, but nobody ever backs it up with proof.

We've plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Those are...kinds of evidence.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21557067)

I'd have an easier time believing this if reading game magazines didn't leave me with the impression that the gaming media is staffed almost entirely with 15 year olds who want to be in the gaming industry but can't hack it as developers, artists or writers.

By tech journalism, electronic vote tabulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21550123)

let's get real, the real journalists don't have access to the corporate media anymore. The FCC Chairman (cough Bush appointee) wants even more consolidation. That will take this show down from FIVE sources to TWO. Fuck the newspapers. they aren't journalists.

Get ready for "McCarthy-ism Junior." er SENIOR?

The years ahead are going to be really fucked up.

FUcked up by that Fucking Piece of Shit BUSH.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551165)

Even The Register [theregister.co.uk] is starting to show cracks of laziness (and occasionally outright fanboyism) in their articles nowadays.
That's not new. The Register's claims of independence have always been just that -- claims. They have exhibited bias on numerous occasions. There's no evidence to back up their claims of independence.

Plus, how can you trust the opinion of "journalists" who put an "!" at the end of every word in every Yahoo related headline, that regularly trawl eBay for pictures of breasts reflected in listed objects, or make up some preposterous story about an artifact on an Google Earth Image? They also use stylized language to the point where reader comprehension is zero. To call the register "tabloid" is generous, and an insult to tabloids -- it's like a closed, more structured version of Digg.

I strongly suspect there is no-one over the age of 14 working for The Register.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21553245)

You mean they're not REALLY biting the hand that feeds IT? Who'd of thunk!

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551353)

Even The Register is starting to show cracks of laziness (and occasionally outright fanboyism) in their articles nowadays.
I guess it's a matter of personal perspective, but I stopped reading El Reg several years ago when the rampant pro-Linux, anti-MS bias just got too much for me. I'm not great fan of MS or their products, but damn the Register were blaming MS for absolutely everything they could, no matter how tenuous the link, and defended Linux and open source no matter how damning the evidence. Objective? Not in my experience.

Re:Let's stretch that a bit, damnit... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559961)

I'm not mentioning any names, but if you go to metacritic, you will see that there are at least one or two sites that ALWAYS give great reviews to every game. I think the term "quote whores" comes to mind.

2 in the pink, 1 in the stink (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549725)

my pinky smells like poopy

Shocking (2, Insightful)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549773)

Press outlets struggle with maintaining integrity and advertising dollars. Film at 11.

Seriously, why are people acting like the gaming press is any different from the "real" press? From the New York Times [nypress.com] to my local "free" weekly, this kind of stuff happens all the time. Gaming journalism is no different than regular journalism. It's just that it's more blatant in gaming media because their stock in trade is reviews.

Re:Shocking (1)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549805)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but I have to say, "D'oh!" FTFA:

... [I]f you look outside of the world of gaming, you will see this is not an isolated event; it happens in more mainstream forms of journalism, and I might add that this could be even seen as a sign of growth for our industry. I remember a story from an old college professor of mine who works for Time Inc.: Time magazine published an article that slightly badmouthed one of IBM's computers, which resulted in the computer giant in pulling its advertising for the following three years. Whether or not the writer was fired, I don't know. I don't believe so, but I can't be sure.
So it looks like people are waking up to the fact that gaming news isn't alone in battling this problem. The trouble is that even the established entities have yet to find a good solution, so it's going to be hard for relatively young outlets like CNET to do so. This is exacerbated by the fact that gaming outlets' main (only?) advertisers are the producers of the products reviewed. This is in contrast to traditional news organizations, whose content is often unrelated to the advertisers' products. (Though see the link in parent.)

Re:Shocking (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549811)

It's just that it's more blatant in gaming media because their stock in trade is reviews.

The problem is that this isn't the case. Their stock in trade is game advertisement space. Reviews are what bring in the eyeballs that allow them to justify the going rate for said space. That's the problem that has existed all along, but people are just starting to notice. The organizations serve the gaming industry, not the gamers themselves. The two are very different bodies. And one has very deep pockets.

Re:Shocking (2, Insightful)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549893)

The problem is that this isn't the case. Their stock in trade is game advertisement space.
I see your point, but by the same reasoning we can say that the traditional press traffics in advertisement space (not necessarily for games) and that such outlets serve the advertisers and not the news-consuming demographic.

I know this criticism has been leveled against the MSM for a long time, and perhaps it gets at the truth. But the crucial point, hinted at by both the fine article and my reply, is that there is a symbiotic relationship. Without the news-consuming demographic, the advertisers won't come. Without the advertisers, the news-consuming demographic doesn't get its fix.

All that said, there are some entities that seem to get it more right than others. Many established newspapers, for example, have managed to retain a lot of their journalistic integrity. They're still trying to get the advertising-dollars part right, of course, but at least they've got the moral high ground, more or less. Most of the 24-hour cable news outlets, on the other hand...

Re:Shocking (2, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550055)

I feel that way about all advertising supported media. But gaming magazines and online media are so bad that I wouldn't even think of going to them for an honest review. I go to them to find user posted information about a game, like a walkthrough for some particularly difficult area or something along those lines.

Computer gaming related media is, IMHO, a laughingstock. I don't know why they even bother to have reviews. About the only site I might trust is Penny Arcade.

I've stopped watching TV and rarely read newspapers, listen to the radio because I know most of it's there to serve the advertisers, and any value I might derive from it is purely to entice me to buy into the fantasy that the medium has some vague sort of integrity.

I will watch TV shows I buy on DVD if many people I know think very highly of them.

I actually suggest a similar course of action for most people. Most information out there nowadays is memetically infectious trash. People should practice some sort of general hygiene and careful selection of sources.

It disappoints me that so much media on the web is advertiser supported. I buy a Slashdot subscription in part in an attempt to encourage the site to keep a relatively high level of journalistic integrity.

Re:Shocking (2, Interesting)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21555131)

Gaming journalism isn't journalism. It's copying press releases and being shown things. Any old joe bloe can be a gaming "journalist", all you need is a bit of webspace and the right access. I'm honestly surprised companies don't just cut out the fucking middleman and post the shit we rely on "journalists" for.

Here's an example of a story that was pretty important, but reported on precisely 2 sites, and not accurately at either. IGN's direct2drive offered and advertised pre-orders for the game BioShock, including preloading to compete with Steam. This was advertised. They had a leak/accidental activation of their activation servers several days before release, thus breaking street and pissing off Take 2. News of this hit a number of forum communities after people who had used this service found they could activate the game early. A number of people then proceeded to order from Direct2Drive, only to find the preload link(preloading was *advertised* remember) had been delinked off the finished order page. A quick google(or alternatively you could use fileplanet's own search tool) revealed a link to the file, so it wasn't exactly hidden, just delinked off the order page. This was posted on those forum communities or found by those who had ordered. At this point the general consensus is that jig is up, but at least everyone can preload so they get it on release, hey, we weren't supposed to have it yet anyway, oh noes. People downloaded the preload. Some got it, but most didn't as they realized it was still there, and they pulled the preload(which they had ADVERTISED HAVING) off fileplanet.

Everyone(regardless of being motivated by a broken street date) who downloaded(or attempted to) the preload after it was delinked got a nasty legal letter from IGN courtesy Fox's legal dept(involving hacking, you dirty hackers, how dare you use google or our own search tool), and spent days not knowing if they'd even get their money back(IGN did refund everyone after a few days). Now that strikes me as a pretty nasty thing to do to paying customers, and something that would be of interest to anyone considering using a service like that. So yea, "journalists", pull the other one, it's got bells on.

Gaming also has basically no critical culture. Imagine if movie reviews were: 1/5 (Special effects), 1/5(Sound), 1/5(Rewatchability), 1/5(Story), 1/5(Acting). That's how game reviews are done. The whole thing is one big fucking joke.

That's the real issue (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21555351)

You've hit it right there. All over this story I see people applying terms like "corruption" to a branch of journalism that's essentially all about buying products or services. They are only there to answer the question "where should I spend my money today?" Are we meant to be shocked when it turns out that the movement of money influences what they say? The shame of it is that this form of journalism is so prevalent in the current media environment that it's easy to forget that there is way more stuff to talk about than that.

Not long ago I interviewed for a position at the business desk of a major daily newspaper, where I would be writing about technology. "Sounds right up my alley," I thought. But when I went in and spoke to the people there, it became clear that management at the newspaper wasn't really interested in business, or technology, or ... god forbid ... news. Technology stories for the business section did not mean covering the strategies of Silicon Valley tech companies, or the SCO lawsuit, or data leak scandals, or what-have-you. What they were looking for, pretty much, was stories about the iPhone, reviews of Halo 3, stories about "technology art" at Burning Man, and holiday gift guides.

Do you see the difference? What was once ostensibly the business section of a major newspaper is now devoted to pretty much two types of stories: 1. "What should I do this weekend?" and 2. "What should I spend my disposable income on?"

This is actually pretty scary to me. OK, so the trade press allows their advertisers to color the review content that they publish -- deplorable, sure, but it's not like anybody's shocked. What IS shocking, and reprehensible, is that the major media outlets, the ones that SHOULD be publishing serious stories about all the thousands of topics that aren't about 20-30 year olds flinging their cash around on pointless consumer products, are instead allowing themselves to be turned into trade rags.

When the real news can be bought just as easily as a videogame review can, we're all in trouble.

I am disgusted (5, Informative)

datachild (1190381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549787)

I'm a bit tired so pardon my rambling. I tried to make this post as coherent as possible.

I wonder if all these sites are bringing this issue to light to rake in more revenue through advertising a "hot topic"(TM). But let's game something straight:

Corruption in game journalism (if you can even call it that) is nothing new. I am disgusted because I cannot believe it's being brought up now, at this very moment, AFTER someone has been fired. That is to say, after something has happened which, *gasp*, shatters a gamers wild imagination that in a world controlled by money, game reviews are as well.

I've had a run-in with GameSpot a few years ago as well. I should have posted as AC but fuck it; bottom line is: GameSpot threatened to lower reviews because of an incident regarding a game who's demo was launched before their official premier. Yeah, it's a rather sad state of affairs. I've hated GameSpot ever since, but it seems like people were locked in to GS because it seemed like the only good place to get reviews -- that is to say, they didn't give a shit about my little story.

Well, I hope they realize it now, because it seems - a lot - of people dislike companies doing what companies do: try to stay alive.

It's rather obvious, but I do find it laughable. Honestly, GameSpot's website was covered in ads for a few years now -- and you are only bringing it's "corruption" to light NOW? What kind of a sick joke is this? Of course they are going to be paid off by game companies, they have ads all over their websites for christs sake. It's their source of income and they will do anything to defend it.

Including firing an employee, which I'm sure you're all familiar to companies doing, all the time. I wonder why this is any different.

Anyway, I didn't even bother reading the article (who would?) because it's clear it doesn't tell us anything new. It's the same old mindless rambling meant to rake in the dollars.

Speaking of which, today IGN posted their 100 Top Games List (or so I am led to believe it was today). I love their strategy: 1 game per page, 100 pages, and each one is full of ads. Have fun clicking the "next page" link guys!

Re:I am disgusted (1)

thegamebiz (925741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549837)

How about you read the article because it is enlightening. It's also an extension of feature the writer had been working on. Oh and the site has no advertisements.

Re:I am disgusted (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550027)

Re: IGN Top 100 -- what ads?

Oh yeah, Adblock [mozilla.org] ....

Carry on....

Re:I am disgusted (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550043)

I've noticed everyone has started doing top ten or top one hundred lists for exactly this reason you get a guaranteed ten to a hundred clicks per person per list. Most of them are BS and obviously written by people that don't know that much about the subject even. I read through some for a while but stopped when I realized the scam. Some of the entries on the lists were even off topic which threw me. Why scams work is at least a portion of the people won't realize it's a scam and easily 90% would never figure out a click through scams like these are. The advertizers eventually get pissed because they aren't true eyeballs but people who are just clicking through. In spite of how pervassive advertizing is everything I've read quotes it being the least effective in history. People are shutting off on it. The ads are white noise anymore. In response they increased the volume which in turn cut the effectiveness. I just cancelled my IMDB Pro account because I happened to be logged into standard IMDB when I got nailed by one of the pop ups that have phoney cancels on it. They tried to deny it was their ad on their site but it was the type that expands when you mouse over it but won't reduce back afterward. More people need to cancel services over this kind of abusive advertizing. People falling for this crap is what keeps spam and these ads and click through scams going.

Re:I am disgusted (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21550711)

I'm a bit tired so pardon my rambling. I tried to make this post as coherent as possible.
It's a shame I'm wasting time to blow logic holes in your tired/drunk opinions, but cockups like you being modded insightful gets tedious. Especially when this is your first post ever to /. with this username. Might as well have stayed AC, with zero cred like that. At least then you actually have to MAKE a point to get noticed.

I wonder if all these sites are bringing this issue to light to rake in more revenue through advertising a "hot topic"(TM).
Rather like mainstream media reporting on plagiarism? Do you have any idea how difficult and damaging it is to discuss flawed ethics to your audience? Thanks to page impressions you don't think web journalists should discuss the cracks in their armour?

That is to say, after something has happened which, *gasp*, shatters a gamers wild imagination that in a world controlled by money, game reviews are as well.
I believe the phrase you're looking for is "corporate sell-out". In which case how do you reconcile Siskel/Ebert/Roper, and Consumer Reports? Freelancers, staff writers, and businesses are known for costing corporations millions in "lost" revenue. It's a service for consumers. Only the pipsqueaks will say anything to get their quote published... "a thrill-ride!" ad nausea.

I've had a run-in with GameSpot a few years ago as well. I should have posted as AC but fuck it; bottom line is:
Bottom line is you're biased. Thanks for the full disclosure. Me, I'm not even a GameSpot subscriber. But I do leech the hell out of their bandwidth with Adblock turned on. Imagine the guilt I'm weighed down with right now.

GameSpot threatened to lower reviews because of an incident regarding a game who's demo was launched before their official premier.
Bad grammar aside, "official" doesn't mean jack. If they had an *exclusive* premiere (with your company's game??), there would:
A) Be a contract saying what the repercussions were for breaking it.
B) Be no need to threaten anything that wasn't already agreed to by both parties.
C) Be no reason the editorial staff would give two shits about exclusivity deals when they're busy trying to review a game. The only status a reviewer cares about is embargo.

So I'm just left wondering what game, how the demo slipped through, and who (didn't) write the exclusivity contract. Can you enlighten us? We're dying to care.

Yeah, it's a rather sad state of affairs. I've hated GameSpot ever since,
You cite one incident without any hints as to WHY you know about it, and you take it personally and assume it's the norm? Slashdot is no substitute for professional counseling, trust me.

but it seems like people were locked in to GS because it seemed like the only good place to get reviews -- that is to say, they didn't give a shit about my little story.
Your what now? And you're saying, as someone that hates GS, that they were the only good place a few years ago? Haven't you noticed that roughly 40% of comments on these stories are people that think Gamespot is garbage? So you really do feel personally burned. That just makes me feel so much more confident about your logic.

Well, I hope they realize it now, because it seems - a lot - of people dislike companies doing what companies do: try to stay alive.
More cries of "corporate sell-outs." As if nobody should be allowed to earn a living at some bitter burger flipping twenty-something's hobby. Be careful, you might stumble into a good argument why sites can't afford to be biased against an entire console. ;-)

It's rather obvious, but I do find it laughable. Honestly, GameSpot's website was covered in ads for a few years now -- and you are only bringing it's "corruption" to light NOW?
Not for paying users. Which is what any online business targets their content to. Subscribers don't get "RAW AND UNCUT" reviews. But that would be awesome!

What kind of a sick joke is this? Of course they are going to be paid off by game companies, they have ads all over their websites for christs sake. It's their source of income and they will do anything to defend it.
Here is where you need to distinguish the marketing from the editorial staff. The CRUX of this story is that *RECENTLY* marketing has taken over the power at C|NET. Conflict of Interest ethics would state that the two departments should be independent. Also, editorial staffers have admitted that they, with staff accounts, also don't see the ads. Unless there's a company memo every week titled "who signs your cheques", how the hell would they know who the sponsors are?

Including firing an employee, which I'm sure you're all familiar to companies doing, all the time. I wonder why this is any different.
And there is such a thing as wrongful dismissal, and being legally returned to work.

Anyway, I didn't even bother reading the article (who would?) because it's clear it doesn't tell us anything new. It's the same old mindless rambling meant to rake in the dollars.
And without seeing your face I can clearly tell you need to consider tweezing. Aren't assumptions fun??

Speaking of which, today IGN posted their 100 Top Games List (or so I am led to believe it was today). I love their strategy: 1 game per page, 100 pages, and each one is full of ads. Have fun clicking the "next page" link guys!
I'm not an IGN subscriber either, but I do know quite a bit about web design, and putting more than 10 pages of content into a single load is a terrible idea. I just looked, and with Adblock it's a typical IGN style, which is to say a nice flow for a page of paper. Two thirds is comments anyway, so as a regular /. poster you should feel right at home!

Get some rest,
-Long time Coward

Re:I am disgusted (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551373)

"In which case how do you reconcile Siskel/Ebert/Roper, and Consumer Reports?"

I don't watch the movie review guys anymore (haven't for 20 years), but Consumer Reports doesn't accept advertising nor does it accept donations except from individuals. As a subscriber, I get to vote for who is on the board of directors.

That's a unique situation to be sure.

Re:I am disgusted (0, Redundant)

WNight (23683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560899)

GameSpot threatened to lower reviews because of an incident regarding a game who's demo was launched before their official premier.

Bad grammar aside, "official" doesn't mean jack. If they had an *exclusive* premiere (with your company's game??), there would:
A) ...
B) Be no need to threaten anything that wasn't already agreed to by both parties.
C) ...


Oh yes, they might drop a review score because of some procedural crap, but that's okay because they have a contract which says they'll lie in those conditions and they blame this on the publisher.

Wow, that's not totally corrupted or anything. We were worried, but the fact that they sign a contract with the game publisher beforehand totally makes it wonderful!

How about magazine publishers, who may be trying to just make a living, try to do it the way that 95% of everyone else does it. You know, honestly. If they can't make an honest living in that field, maybe they shouldn't do it.

What is it with retards like you justifying anything with "they're just making money"? No shit. We all like money. That's supposed to excuse anything? Get in a fucking food-bank line asshole. It's for people who can't make a living honestly.

All such "SITES" are shams and scams - DUH !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549791)

All such "SITES" are shams and scams - DUH !! WHo do you think pays the bills ?? It sure isn't you !! It's the "ADVERTISERS" that have "games" for "review". So many stupid people on the internet today. That is you !!

Don't like what I write? Can't take the truth? Fire me !! See if I care. It only goes to show what a sham and scam this place is.

fuck a 7a3o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549825)

Water is wet and so on... (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549869)

Yeah this is no big surprise. Nor are the pieces with no new information surfing the outrage. However, there are good review sites out there and there is an easy test for them. Read the latest 10 reviews. If at least 2 aren't trashing the object of the review as junk, there just might be a bias somewhere. This is for games, tech, TVs, cars, food or whatever. If everything you see is fantastic, I don't want your opinion.

Another problem with being a game reviewer (4, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549877)

After a while of playing clone after clone after clone, you somehow get sick of games in general unless they're groundbreaking. Clones sell though because there will always be people new to playing video game, while you... the game reviewer become sick of the same ol same ol. Yes, payola is bad. But if you were an honest game reviewer, you could easily lapse into,"Man, this game is just like Un Squadron, which is just a better version of Gradius, which is just a better version of River Raid." And if I was a serious game reviewer, I'd probably write a tree of games, just so I could place any new game down on a new node, but inheriting the properties of the parent games. At least that's just my first thought. What does it take to be a real game reviewer if your goal isn't to get paid?

Re:Another problem with being a game reviewer (1)

bob8766 (1075053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549927)

There has to be at least some real differences between the games that make them different. I was watching a review of "Guitar Hero III" on G4 and it gets a 4 star (of 5) rating. The game offers almost nothing different from Guitar Hero II.

G4 says, "Where else can you find a game offering the songs Barracuda and Paint it Black"?
Easy. GHII had Crazy on You and Can't you Hear Me Knocking.
Woo Hoo! Big change there!

It didn't surprise me in the least to see a 15 second GH3 commercial a few minutes later.

Re:Another problem with being a game reviewer (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550219)

I do review games sometimes and I think your idea is pretty brilliant, can I use it?

Article is lame apologism. (4, Interesting)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549945)

I actually read TFA, and it's basically the guy saying, "This happens all the time!" over and over. I'm not even being reductionist here:

"And let me be the first to come out and say that what happened to Jeff Gerstmann happens all the time." (Hmm, let's see. You're not "the first" by a long shot; Penny Arcade said the same thing days ago, and even then it was just reiterating a point they'd been making for YEARS, which was in fact so self-evident that ANYBODY paying attention to the industry was aware of it.)

"And if you look outside of the world of gaming, you will see this is not an isolated event; it happens in more mainstream forms of journalism, and I might add that this could be even seen as a sign of growth for our industry."

"As the industry grows, more money is circulated, and money begets corruption. It's a fact of life and it's a fact of capitalism; this is America after all."

Such ridiculous BS. Your "industry" is "burgeoning" at the exact time when it's becoming redundant and useless. If I want fluff-laden previews, game trailers, interviews with developers, and press releases, I have the friggin' Internet at my fingertips here; I don't need Gamespot to aggregate that stuff for me. In fact, the ONLY thing sites like Gamespot have to offer that I can't get somewhere else with far fewer annoying ads (and at least one less layer of crappy-journalistic obfuscation) is their professional reviews. That's the ONLY content worth having, and Gamespot just screwed it up.

I like the complaints about how things getting "big business" is inevitable. Why? A review is a few pages of plain text with a couple JPEG screenshots; hardly a bandwidth hog. To create that review, you need ONE guy who can string together legible prose and is willing to play a wide range of video games for hours on end. Is that really a hard niche to fill on the goddamned INTERNET? All this could easily be paid for with AdSense ads, which (by their very randomness) would pretty much prevent any kind of coercion, unless Google started making games.

I'm just waiting for the Penny Arcade guys or someone else with enough "e-credibility" among gamers to start pimping a site like that. A huge influx of gamers would at least check it out, along with plenty of linking from reputable sites, which would lead to a high Google rating, and before you know it, LegitGameReviews.com is the top hit every time you type "$gamename review" into Google. Hell, there are probably a dozen sites like that around already that I just don't know about - anyone wanna help me out here?

Re:Article is lame apologism. (2, Interesting)

rpillala (583965) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551227)

I recommend Quarter To Three, and I would recommend Old Man Murray and fatbabies.com but those two no longer post new material. It's worth reading Old Man Murray anyway, especially their interview with Croteam [oldmanmurray.com] , developers of Serious Sam.

These days I tend to pirate everything to decide who deserves my money. Then I try and skip as many layers of retailing as I can to buy it. Somehow I think the developers get a bigger cut that way. I'm probably wrong.

Re:Article is lame apologism. (1)

thomanil (549619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21554455)

Check out the "Gamers with jobs" site (and podcast), they are doing something like what you are describing.

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/ [gamerswithjobs.com]

Is this good for the Company? (1)

Aluvus (691449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549951)

Since most of the other comments appear to be complaints about the overall state of journalism, I thought I would pause to point out that one of the Ziff Davis folks in the picture that Kotaku has is holding a sign that reads:

"Is This Good for the COMPANY?"

Just in case anyone missed the rather good Office Space reference.

Re:Is this good for the Company? (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550281)

Oooh, good eye!

john filo would beat your faggot asses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549957)

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Re:john filo would beat your faggot asses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21549969)

You mean GNU/Linux?

this is the only real web site on the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21550189)

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Editorial Independence vs Happy Advertisers (1)

angeles13 (443205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21549975)

As a former Creative Director, this is not unusual within the publishing industry at all. Editorial integrity vs keeping the Advertisers happy has been a long standing détente since the first ad page was purchased.

I have seen this happen many times. Sometimes it is the editor that is let go.. and sometimes it is the advertiser that pulls all their accounts. LA Times, Time magazine... and many other of the larger news media have dealt with this.

wtf (1)

zof888 (1149007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550045)

What the hell, I think the real news story here is people actually read the reviews. Lets face it reading a game review is like reading a movie review, you sit there reading the review wishing you had that guys job but actually pay no attention to the review itself, as common how many times have your read bad movie reviews only to goto the movie and find its kick ass or just the opposite. All reviews are flawed by the same fundamental, they are nothing more then opinion and in some cases a very biased opinion.

Whats that term? Oh yea take it with a grain of salt.

Infotainverts (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550051)

This message is a paid promotion for "infotainverts", which are what the story is talking about.

I knew the jig was up (4, Interesting)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550273)

Actually a long time prior to this--I wasn't really all that clued in; I just had a vague suspicion that magazine reviews were skewed somewhat. And then a few months ago I received my copy of PC Gamer that had Valve's "The Orange Box" plastered on the front cover with an exclusive review inside. I'd been anticipating this title for a while and I pretty much knew it was going to be pretty good based on Valve's track record. I got around to reading the review a few days later and figured that if it was already in a printed magazine then the game surely must be out on the store shelves. I decided I would go out later that day and buy the box. This was October 8th.

Guess what! When I went into the store looking for the game, I learned it wasn't due out yet for another couple of days! With a slow sinking feeling I realized that there was no way a magazine that is planned months in advance would be able to review a retail copy of a game when the game's ship date is later than the magazine's. Had I known the ship date I probably would have spotted the disparity right away, but alas-- I knew it was some time in October and that was all. Hmmph. Anyway, in my mind, review = available for purchase while preview = early build not available to public. Since the game shipped on the 10th of October and I got my magazine on the 6th, the mag was probably finalized at least ten days earlier, say September 26. That "review" was written at least two whole weeks before the game was available for purchase, and I'm a damned sight sure that Best Buy hadn't been sitting on it since the end of September.

Sure, maybe PCG did get a pre-shipped retail copy reserved exclusively for the print media, and maybe it was all above-board in that respect, and thirdly yes I understand that "the big scoop" is what makes or breaks any periodical, especially those trying stupidly enough to compete with electronic media. But. This was just blatant, and I'm sure it wasn't the first time and won't be the last time something like this goes down...

Luckily for everyone involved, the game (or games I guess) turned out to be a smash success (and I have really grown attached to my weighted companion cube), otherwise we probably would have heard some negative press about this a while ago. Valve was lucky in that they knew that they were sitting on solid gold, and PC Gamer was lucky that they also knew this when they accepted Valve's big pile of cash for the review and magazine cover. This may all be obvious in retrospect, but I guess my cynicism towards "the man" is still in the growing stages (dangit. I've cultivated it for a number of years now, how didn't I spot this?) I'm walking away from this whole experience feeling kind of duped and disheartened and I don't think I'll be renewing my PC Gamer subscription again. Or GFW. Or MaxPC. Or, now, buying anything produced by Ziff Davis.

Growing up sucks. Disillusionment sucks. Rampant and obvious greed sucks. I guess I'm starting to fall in the demographic that has learned that all advertizing is crap so maybe, hopefully I'll be able to spot it more easily in the future when it masquerades as legitimate journalism. Time to tune my filters I guess; all the while it will be interesting to watch how this unfolds--I'm just sad to finally realize that I've been not only blind to it but also a part of it for so long.

Cheers~

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551567)

PCG is in fact finalized a couple months or so before the ship date.

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

h3i (1196807) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551629)

Recently PCG received 99% of the 'exclusive xyz' content and a large amount of advertising $ from Flagship/EA in the run up to the release of Hellgate:London.

In an unlikely turn of events PCG gave HG:L the highest score of all major review sites, 20% higher than the average and fully 35% higher than it deserved on release day.

Odd how that kinda shit happens huh?

http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages4/927136.asp [gamerankings.com]

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552221)

That "review" was written at least two whole weeks before the game was available for purchase, and I'm a damned sight sure that Best Buy hadn't been sitting on it since the end of September.

A whopping two whole weeks? I hate to burst your bubble son, but there is something called "logistics" [wikipedia.org] that takes a just a tad longer than a few days, Santa doesn't deliver this stuff on his magical sleigh. As surprising and unbelievable as it may sound, BestBuy/Walmart/CirtcuitCity/etc.. don't download and burn all these retails copies for us, while PCG would have had the means and access to do so - and it would have been irresponsible to not have a professional reviewer have access to the title WHILE the developer is busy twiddling their thumbs waiting on logistics to get over with. The logistics alone, going from one location out to thousands of retail chains nation wide - will take ***at least*** 2 weeks just by itself, and yes - some stores are going to sit on the product for a few days while everyone else in the nation gets their copies to sell (again logistics).

Review sites are nothing but one spot for paid advertisements, and you get some solitary yahoo praising the reviewed product - to solely base your purchasing decisions on someone who is getting paid to write the review is completely pointless, it's as useful as solely using any of the other advertising for the product. The only real reviews that are worth anything is from the consumers themselves - and even then you get competitors chiming in to sway the "advertising" their direction (IE: away from the competition) and then you have the morons who simply don't know what they are talking about or have some grudge - the best you can do is go off the average of what the consumers are saying, those that forked out the money for the game themselves - not those that are given a lot more money to say something nice, just by default they are a little biased.

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21553613)

I was being extremely generous given that while the layout and general planning take place months in advance, magazines can and do slip a hot story in right before the magazine prints. Also, I'm not your son.

Cheers~

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21552249)

That "review" was written at least two whole weeks before the game was available for purchase
That's not that outrageous by itself, as games generally "go gold" - release version gets sent to production to be turned into the nifty boxes you buy on shelves - about two to four weeks prior to the day they start getting sold. So, it's entirely possible to send out the final version two weeks in advance of when everyone else gets it.

That said, I doubt the gaming mags write their reviews only two weeks in advance of the day they show up on the magazine racks.

Re:I knew the jig was up (1)

Clovert Agent (87154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558039)

Guess what! When I went into the store looking for the game, I learned it wasn't due out yet for another couple of days! With a slow sinking feeling I realized that there was no way a magazine that is planned months in advance would be able to review a retail copy of a game when the game's ship date is later than the magazine's.

The media gets promo copies of games long before retail. With about six weeks of editorial planning, that's plenty of time to get a game, play it, review it and print the review before the game's on shelves. Mileage varies - some publishers ship you the game when they ship to distributors, so the lead time is too tight for that. Others are much better. It also depends on how much they're hoping to hype any particular game, of course, and there are many factors at work.

But to answer your point: yes, it's certainly possible for a magazine to review a game before it has shipped to retail. And I'm talking final version, not beta or pre-release.

And yes, I do run a consumer magazine that includes game reviews.

Streisand effect? (1)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21550849)

Well done. Just in case anyone on t'internet had missed that rather scathing review of a lackluster 3PS, now everyone and their dog are emailing each other the link and determining never to buy the game, even when it shows up in the 4 for £20 bucket at Gamestation.

We need a few more review sites like Zero Punctuation - no game ad revenue means no pressure from advertisers and the freedom to be honest. Metacritic is pretty good for spotting the paid shills too - if most reviews are around 7 but there's a couple of 10s, then guess who took out full page ads with their magazine...?

Unfortunately, Kane & Lynch would probably have been a perfectly acceptable game a couple of years ago. Now it just looks drab and repetetetetive. Although it's a hackneyed phrase, in the last year or so the bar has been significantly raised as to what constitutes a AAA-title. With so much top-quality software competing for the same chunk of gamer's cash, games have to be different, quirky, and good to stand out. Kane & Lynch isn't, so it doesn't, and it's not alone. There's dozens of games on the shelves for every system under the sun that only qualify as 'also-ran'. You might pick them up if you see them cheap enough, but there's no way anybody sentient is going to pay full-price for them.

So many games come out and it looks like they're not quite finished. With the sheer expense of developing anything these days, you'd think the dev studios would be tempted to actually finish a game, test it properly, and make sure they've got a quality saleable product.

mod 80p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21551205)

du8Ing which I

Just a common symptom of the end of the West (1, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551233)

Greed is a disease. The west has embraced greed. The west will die.

It's that simple, and it's exactly what is going on right now; every world event, large and small points to it. Most of us will get to see the whole system fall big-time in this life. Cool, huh?

The Romans had to wait around for a thousand years before their greed-rotted system fell apart. I guess it was that their empire just ran slower. Goods and information moved at the speed of boots and horses instead of cars and trucks. The speed of greed.

How are you manage when the money stops flowing? Have you built your support networks yet? Have you learned how to share your toys? Figure it out, because flashy game reviews aren't going to keep you warm at night. Neither is your 'Whee', for that matter.


-FL

Re:Just a common symptom of the end of the West (1)

Impotent_Emperor (681409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21580121)

Well, the Byzantine Empire lasted an additional 1000 years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. And by the time the Western half fell, they were fairly spartan Christians.

The game industry needs to clean house (1)

ueltradiscount (1195109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21551457)

Time to lay off the MBA's and producer types and marketing droids and hand game development back to people who can save it. That, ladies and gentlemen of the game industry, would be actual game developers. You know, the guys who sit there and actually write some code. Gamers are tired of your self-aggrandizing interviews, your stupid "nextgen" marketing tripe, your "HD gameplay" trailers, your turning gameplay to shit to promote games that play like GFX demos, your being in bed with M$/Nvidia/ATI to force DX10 on people, your multiple 200Mb patches to get a relatively simple game working. Your everything I guess. You've taken the most fun, creative area of computing and turned it into a shallow, infantile, one dimensional "who cares as long as we're earning money" money-shoot. You've lied to people. You've earned money you don't deserve. And quite frankly, if your main target audience weren't impressionable teens, you'd be royally screwed as industry now. You would have been sued many times over for the lacking quality of your games.

Don't forget your ancient history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21553325)

There was a time (pre-internet) when computer magazines were very important. So no magazines would publish articles critical of Microsoft because if they did so then they would be cut off from the favors of the company, not just advertising but also advance copies of software.

More info on the firing of Jeff (1)

while(true) (626738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21555239)

This was posted in a thread [gamespot.com] at the gamespot forums. Supposedly quoting an insider from the gamespot review staff.
It certainly is an interesting read:

For all those calling us naysayers idiots, check this out. can't say where it's from other than "a trusted source." You decide if it's legit.

this is the latest info depicting the bigger picture around this incident:

The main problem here is that no one in the entire editorial team was aware that this was about to occur, least of all Gerstmann. We're very clear in our review policies that all reviews are vetted by the entire team before they go live - everything that goes up is the product of an entire team's output. Our freelancers are especially guilty of making snide comments, but those are always yanked before the review goes live, because everyone in the office reads these reviews and makes sure they're up to our standards before they get put up.

If there was a problem with his reviews, then it would've been a problem with the entire team. Firing him without telling anyone implies that anyone else on this team can be fired at the drop of a hat as well, because none of us are writing any differently or meaner or less professionally than we were two years ago before the management changed. I'm sure management wants to spin this as the G-Man being unprofessional to take away from the egg on their face that results after a ten-year employee gets locked out of his office and told to leave the premises and then no one communicates anything to us about it until the next day.

Also, despite the fact that this occured two weeks ago, there was no way they were going to fire him then; the last big games didn't come out until just before Thanksgiving, and there was no doubt that management knew that the rest of the reviewers would refuse to write any reviews after his termination, which is indeed what is happening. After thanksgiving nothing major comes out in games; everything is either before thanksgiving or comes out in January. They waited to fire him until they knew that any strike or walkout by the rest of the staff wouldn't have much of an effect.

Also, keep in mind that these salespeople do have axes to grind with editorial. I know a lot of people busted their asses to get not only this large deal with Eidos done, but also other huge ad deals. The salespeople and the marketers are the ones who have to deal with the publishers when a heavily-advertised game gets a bad review, so obviously they like it if every game that comes out is peachy keen and gets a 9.0 or above. If a salesperson knows anything about unprofessional review practices, then that says a lot about the management team that we have in place because not a single other member of the editorial team had heard word one about this until Jeff was fired. Surely site management would want to let us know about their concerns before firing the most senior staff member and one of the most respected game critics in the industry? If they're sharing their concerns with the salespeople and not with us then that says a lot about their priorities.

No one wants to be named because no one wants to get **** fired! This management team has shown what they're willing to do. Jeff had ten years in and was **** locked out of his office and told to leave the building.

What you might not be aware of is that GS is well known for appealing mostly to hardcore gamers. The mucky-mucks have been doing a lot of "brand research" over the last year or so and indicating that they want to reach out to more casual gamers. Our last executive editor, Greg Kasavin, left to go to EA, and he was replaced by a suit, Josh Larson, who had no editorial experience and was only involved on the business side of things.

Over the last year there has been an increasing amount of pressure to allow the advertising teams to have more of a say in the editorial process; we've started having to give our sales team heads-ups when a game is getting a low score, for instance, so that they can let the advertisers know that before a review goes up. Other publishers have started giving us notes involving when our reviews can go up; if a game's getting a 9 or above, it can go up early; if not, it'll have to wait until after the game is on the shelves.

I was in the meeting where Josh Larson was trying to explain this firing and the guy had absolutely no response to any of the criticisms we were sending his way. He kept dodging the question, saying that there were "multiple instances of tone" in the reviews that he hadn't been happy about, but that wasn't Jeff's problem since we all vet every review. He also implied that "AAA" titles deserved more attention when they were being reviewed, which sounded to all of us that he was implying that they should get higher scores, especially since those titles are usually more highly advertised on our site.

I know that it's all about the money, and hey, I like money. I like advertising because it pays my salary. Unfortunately after Kasavin left the church-and-state separation between the sales teams and the editorial team has cracked, and with Jeff's firing I think it's clear that the management now has no interest at all in integrity and are instead looking for an editorial team that will be nicer to the advertisors.

When companies make games as downright contemptible as Kane and Lynch, they deserve to be called on it. I guess you'll have to go to Onion or a smaller site for objective reviews now, because everyone at GS now thinks that if they give a low score to a high-profile game, they'll be **** Everyone's **** scared and we're all hoping to get Josh Larson removed from his position because no one trusts him anymore. If that doesn't happen then look for every game to be Game of the Year material at GameSpot.

stupid gamers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21556317)

Its we, stupid gamers, used to fair play. We are used to have ways to detect and kick, ban, timeban.. forums.. etc, ways to "counter" and discriminate the cheaters.

The thing is, IRL, you cant. RL winners (as we are forced to see them), are cheaters!!! bigger of them all.

Its a professional deformation (professional gamers' deformation), to want fair and just rules (reviews and the reactions to them in this case).

Its more easy if you think it this way:

The Gamespot guy who got the axe, was given a mission (to please the industry big guys with his reviews) and he failed. Period, he got demoted because of that.

Also, the hole "ban" thing, is not very democratic, and cannot be applied to real life scenario, you just cant "ban" people that thinks in a different way than you.

Hm.. im foreseeing a whole therapy industry for "ex-gamers".
idiots that believe in rules, and that think that democracy works...

Sigh. where are my pills?...

Luckily, there exits socialism, and Nazism!
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