Just finished listening to the newest Bombcast here are some thoughts:
A lot of what these guys say sounds great and they do have the cred to back it up. And it is awesome that they have found a way to get out of the stupid PR as news and "exclusive" grind cycle. And it is also great that they are willing to mock and subvert a lot of the PR they try to get swindled into. In general, they have a very healthy attitude toward this stuff.
However, they are far too quick to dismiss the idea of the more indirect influences of marketing and PR. Not only do they literally paint the world where there are "good guy" journalist and "bums," but they also seem to portray it as either the influence is there or it isn't in a very binary fashion.
Let me take one example from their own content to demonstrate how this is problematic. They mention in this week's podcast that Brad wanted the giant 5 foot tall Skyrim statue from Bethesday. Of course Bethesda was happy to send one over and they videotaped the whole thing. You can find the video here: http://www.giantbomb.com/giant-bomb-...e=6&sort=first
Now, do I think that statue changed Giant Bomb's review of the game? No, probably not. However, as Safe Bet pointed out above, really big fancy PR items subconsciously make you think that a game is a really big deal. Nothing could possibly do that more than having a giant Skyrim statue in your office day in and day out.
So what happened when the Game of the Year discussioned happened on GiantBomb cast? It was a deadlock between Skyrim and Saints Row. And Brad was the hold out against Saints Row. His basic argument seemed to be that he just could not see giving it to Saints Row over Skyrim that it was just unfathomable despite all the arguments that came up about Skyrim's glitches and about it being a iteration on Oblivion. A lot of listeners commented at the time on the seemingly irrationality of Brad's arguments because most of the criticisms he leveled against SR3 were also true of Skyrim. But it seemed that Brad just was dead set on the idea that Skyrim was a "bigger deal" and Saints Row simply wasn't as much of a big deal.
This is the potential effect of fancy swag and expensive trips. It may not change your review scores (at least not overtly and not dramatically) but it sure as hell might plant the idea that a certain game, franchise, or companies products are a huge deal. That you should probably cover them more, talk about them more, and that they should be weighed heavier in your mind than other games that don't have that stuff.
As has been endlessly pointed out, Shawn Elliot's posts (1
) do an excellent job of talking about the sublte impacts of PR and marketing on psychology. You guys are not above it's influences even when you think you are. Consider that, don't just dismiss it.