QUOTED FOR TRUTH: Jeroen Amin, Piki Geek: Editorial: On Crytek, Opinions, and Official Statements [April 30th, 2012]
More to the point, is this how we want it to work? Is this what we’re content with? Because it seems very much that we are, and that’s perhaps even more depressing.
Read this article. It’s heartbreaking to anybody who actually gives a shit about games as opposed to, y’know, pageviews.
MCV says they have informants from both Sony and Microsoft stating that both companies are going to reveal their next consoles during E3 2012.
Just stop for a second; think before you write. Even if you do have exclusive information on consoles that are due to be announced, companies can pull back their announcements at any time if they see it isn’t feasible for the corporation, making you–as a source–look illegitimate for now-untrue rumors.—
QUOTED FOR TRUTH - WouldYouKindly.com, Drew Bergmark: Rumors: Don’t Believe the Hype [January 10th, 2012]
This man knows what he’s talking about.
QUOTED FOR TRUTH - We Hate Games: The Spike VGAs really are shit, aren’t they?
QUOTED FOR TRUTH: Lvl of Detail, Jad: Stepping Down? [Dec 8th 211]
THis more or less sums up the high levels of mental retardation that occurred across the field when Miyamoto told Wired he wasn’t going to retire, which everybody saw as an announcement that he’s going to retire.
Jesus. What a bunch of fucking rocket surgeons.
There is an article on Kothulu about how miserly Electronic Arts is with review copies of games it has spent millions of fucking dollars creating and ceaselessly promoting. The example they give is so rudimentary as to fade into the background of the PR continuum. This is not Evil, capital E; this is the pattern on Evil’s shower curtain.
The purpose of a review copy is, as we have suggested before, to sell the game>. It is a promotional expense. They are rolling the dice when they offer one up, but it’s not excatly Vegas odds: the result is a function of their influence in toto, via advertising, carefully groomed media, and “perks” like trips or free games. There are some outlets - like Kotaku - who have sufficient reach that the risk is worth it, because not granting access would be a greater harm. You can see that in the last line of the article, which exposes the spine of the entire structure.
One can leave this arrangement anytime they like by purchasing their own games, and writing to nobody on Tumblr. You stay because you like the arrangement. These little strains on the leash are performance art, and you may be sure that they tantalize your master; they are like the dance of a fish on the hook. They do like a bit of fight in ‘em; softens the meat.—
QUOTED FOR TRUTH(-ish) - Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins: Twofer [October 19th, 2011]
I mostly agree with what Jerry has written here, but I disagree on one point. I think you know what it is. And yet I shall keep typing anyway! What am I like, eh readers?
A lot of fuss has been made of EA’s attempts to massage reviews of Battlefield 3. I don’t particularly care. Some of the stuff PR reps get up to bother me (case in point: Hello and Welcome to the Last Three Days of the Blog™), but they are ultimately doing their jobs. Their jobs, as Jerry correctly points out, is to sell their game, to make their game look as appealing as possible to the masses so that these masses might exchange their hard-earned dollarpounds for a studio’s latest blend of 1s and 0s.
The problem arises when press outlets - ostensibly people whose goal is to help readers avoid the minefield of videogame releases by highlighting the good games and warning us of the bad ones - decide that, actually, the support they get from the PR people is actually more important than the people they’re supposed to be writing for.
Every now and then the occasional journalist (and, if we’re lucky, press outlet) will remember that it’s their readers whom they should be serving, not the publishers or their PR folks, and we end up with fantastic, honest and, if need be, brutal critique of games. Amiga Power understood this way back in the 90s, and if they were blackballed by a publisher they’d buy the damned game at an actual shop and then review it anyway. They’d be honest about it, too - despite their ongoing feud with Team17 Software, the average score given to a Team17 game was 73%.
Jim Sterling is a key example of a reviewer who puts the readers first and who knows how to use the 0-10 scale properly, but he’s maligned for it because readers have grown accustomed to press outlets using 9s instead of 8s, and 7s instead of 4s and 5s (unless it’s an indie game, of course, at which point the outlet in question suddenly remembers that there are numbers lower than 7, and decides to use the first one of the bunch they can remember how to draw in crayon). If there were more game journalists like Jim, we’d probably have more reliable and trustworthy review scores. Of course the corollary of that is we’d have absolutely abominable news coverage, so, y’know. Swings and roundabouts.
Their job is to express their honest opinion of a game. When they start expressing someone else’s opinion, however, perhaps in exchange for a continued supply of shiny discs or advertising revenue, we have a serious issue.
Ultimately, of course, whether or not you enjoy a game is determined not by the words of some stranger with an opinion a platform to disseminate it, but by your own experiences with the game itself. But reviews - well-written reviews free of the muddying influence of the folks at PR - serve as a decent barometer.
Traditionally we have participated in this arrangement because how else are we to learn when a new game that might interest us is coming out? This is becoming less and less the case as advertising for videogames creeps more and more into the mainstream - it’s becoming more and more common to see videogames advertised on network television, on billboards, on the side of buses and in theaters.
I like Jerry, and I respect his opinion. I even understand where he’s coming from - I’ll be the first person to tell you that game journalism in general is little more than thinly-veiled PR. I’ll also be the first person to tell you that this shouldn’t be the case. If you ignore the cracks in the wall they’ll only get bigger. Keep pointing them out, and maybe someone will call in a plasterer.
Thus goes the cycle of gaming press.
1) Announcement of announcement (Countdown clocks are always appropriate!)
2) Announcement of game (Teaser trailer cannot contain more than 1% actual gameplay)
3) 12 months of previews from every mouthbreather with a keyboard and delusion of Thompson-esque grandeur. (Don’t say anything negative! You may not get a free press copy, or ridiculous swag available to the press only! But don’t let that influence your review…you’re a journalist, after all!)
4) Previews to be dissected by millions of people. (Best ever! Worst than a million Holocausts!)
5) Game is delayed. Announcement of DLC cushions the blow. (Be sure to use the words “quality” and “experience” here!)
6) It’s a month before the new release date! Make sure your site is decked out with plenty of ads to inform your loyal readers of that fact!
7a) Game is released! If it’s a passable game, it’s at least an 8.5. Be sure to use visceral, transcendent and Oscar-worthy in your review. Be sure to point out negatives. For instance, was the game too good?
7b)If the game is not what you expected, or just not very good, make sure to mock it with the same verbiage one might find on a junior high school playground. Use of funny costumes and poorly acted skits are highly appropriate if producing video content
8) Remember the golden rule of games journalism. Hyperbole is the best literary device, ever. Without it, your readers will become bored and resume picking their nose. And if they’re doing that, they can’t read your excerpt about how you have super-secret information about a game they’re dying to see - but you can’t tell them because of those damn embargoes! Stay tuned!— The incredibly accurate, and borderline hilariously sad state of “announcement-to-review” for games these days, as acknowledged by a NeoGAF member. (via semprafi)
NeoGAF isn’t exactly my favourite place in the world, but occasionally someone will post something brilliant like this.
Why I can’t trust critics who don’t finish story-based games.
I’ve got a lot of pet peeves when it comes to critics. Though that’s obvious to anyone who has been reading this little blog of mine, something has just been bugging me lately. A couple people on my twitter feed consistently recommend or praise certain critics who I’m not a big fan of. Let me tell you why.
If I can’t trust a critic, it ruins the ability for me to read anything they write and take it seriously. There’s quite a few critics I can’t trust, but there are some that have committed the one sin of video game reviewing that I cannot forgive: not finishing a story-based game.
The reason that this is a problem for me (and many others) is that storyline has become a huge part of the video game experience these days. Whether people realize it or not, most games out there are driven by the storyline in all directions. Without storyline, gameplay mechanics aren’t justified, the levels have no purpose, etc. If you can’t finish the game, how can you tell me about the entire experience and how it all weaves together?
Simply put, you can’t. At all. At any point. Ever.
Some folks have been outright caught not finishing the game, and there are others that you can tell didn’t finish the title when you, the audience, plays it. It sickens me to see things like this, and sickens me even more when people call these folks “good at their jobs.” No, they aren’t. If the guys at fucking IGN and Kotaku finish the games they review, there really isn’t an excuse for anyone else. If the bottom of the barrel is required to do it, then we all are.
I don’t like a lot of critics, but I can respect the ones who take the time and energy to put what they have to the side to finish a long story-based video game to review it for their audience. Even if they aren’t the best writer, you can tell they at least want to make an effort at doing what their community (who ultimately pays their bills with the site hits they deliver) asks of them.
Simply put, I can’t trust someone to tell me how good a game is if they don’t finish it. Would anyone trust Roger Ebert if he walked out of movies? Would you trust a music critic if he stopped listening to an album halfway through and called it crap? No.
Don’t celebrate people who half-ass their work.
Wise words there from Blistered Thumbs’ Micah C.
QUOTED FOR TRUTH - Ars Technica / Opposable Thumbs, Ben Kuchera: Developer calls accurate Borderlands 2 report “shoddy journalism” [August 3rd, 2011]
When Kuchera writes stuff like this it makes me want to be a better man. It really does.
So it’s been several years now where there haven’t been any productive new wells for Activision. Oh, and look what’s happened: a huge well has suddenly run dry.
In the interview, [Bobby] Kotick claims that Guitar Hero died because it was neglected in favor of D.J. Hero—spit take—but it actually died because it was being pumped 24x7x365. It was overproduced. It’s dry.
No problem. Just take some of the other new wells that have been discovered—oh, shit. There are no new wells.
See? Of course he’s going back to the Guitar Hero well, so to speak. Of course he’s going to try to pump more oil out of that location. There are no wells to replace it.— QUOTED FOR TRUTH - Dubious Quality, Bill Harris: The Self-Evaluated Genius Of Bobby Kotick [July 25th, 2011]