Games Journalism! Wainwright/Florence/Tomb Raider/Eurogamer/Libel Threats/Doritos

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Guys, everything after her remarks on the subject at hand are completely irrelevant.
Not necessarily. That blog provides an interesting example on how someone not only gets into, but advances through the profession of "Games Journalist." I'm sure you could do this with any writer, really, but that blog actually provides a decent view as to what about her writing improved, where her focus was, and what about her writing got rewarded as she steadily moved along in her career to the point she became an example for Florence to use in a story.

I mean, Florence's initial article already used her as a negative example regarding why there are serious trust issues when it comes to games writers. That blog, along with some other articles, can provide a reader with a decent insight into why writers make the decisions they make, and why so many of them appear to be avoiding discussion on this topic.

I didn't post that link for people to go "Oh my God what a terrible person" but for people to see where she's been coming from, especially in absence of her speaking out on it since.
 
Jul 9, 2007
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I like the idea of a PR transparency note. Especially when it's on the web, and you really have all the space on the page you need. Just let us know if you got a free game and are playing it on a PR-funded yacht in Bermuda.

Also, the SK story was great. But I have a feeling that we only got it because Silicon Knights is dead. They have no way to retaliate. They have no publisher arm or PR reps to harass Kotaku. As a result, we likely won't be getting one of those on Bungie or Infinity Ward or a first-party studio.
 
Jan 6, 2011
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I like the idea of a PR transparency note. Especially when it's on the web, and you really have all the space on the page you need. Just let us know if you got a free game and are playing it on a PR-funded yacht in Bermuda.

Also, the SK story was great. But I have a feeling that we only got it because Silicon Knights is dead. They have no way to retaliate. They have no publisher arm or PR reps to harass Kotaku. As a result, we likely won't be getting one of those on Bungie or Infinity Ward or a first-party studio.
You might be right that we only got it because SK isn't quite what it used to be, but you're right for the wrong reasons. It's easier for people to talk when they don't have to be concerned with their jobs, or the ramifications for their co-workers and colleagues who are currently working at that studio. These sort of stories tend to come out after the fact, not just in gaming but in all industries.

As Stephen has mentioned a few times, Kotaku is big enough that we really don't have to worry about what publishers or PR people think of our stories. We don't really care if we make them happy. If someone came to me and said "Hey, I work at [STUDIO] and we're all beaten with whips every day," and I responded by saying "Oh, sorry, can't do this story because I don't want to piss off [STUDIO'S PUBLISHER]," I probably wouldn't be working at Kotaku for much longer.
 
Jan 2, 2012
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I like the idea of a PR transparency note. Especially when it's on the web, and you really have all the space on the page you need. Just let us know if you got a free game and are playing it on a PR-funded yacht in Bermuda.
Shawn Elliott covered this:

I can't offer a crash course on the topic at the moment as I'm at work, so instead imagine it from the "appearance of impropriety" angle.

You're publishing a review. Pretend you're willing to include a sidebar with the subhead "Things that can have no influence at all on my perspective." In this sidebar are photos of you sharing single malt Scotch and haute cuisine with PR people. There are photos of the array of tchotchkes you received at the assorted press events for the title that you attended. There are also photos taken from your night out with your hosts. Despite your confidence in you being the rare exception to rules about human behavior, how likely is your audience to come to the same conclusion?

Apparently, judges' glucose levels affect their rulings: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/n...how-food-breaks-sway-the-decisions-of-judges/
And yet you expect your audience to regard you as a Randian ubermensch rational above your biology.
 
Aug 7, 2008
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To "defend" both the Weekend Confirmed and CAGCast crews a little it's pretty clear neither of them really had much of a clue and didn't really get what this whole thing is even about.

Which is not much of a defense, but hey.

Both podcasts are very prone to "hey guys, want to talk about this article? Did anyone here read the article? No? Well I didn't either! But from what I understand..."
 
Nov 6, 2006
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To "defend" both the Weekend Confirmed and CAGCast crews a little it's pretty clear neither of them really had much of a clue and didn't really get what this whole thing is even about.

Which is not much of a defense, but hey.

Both podcasts are very prone to "hey guys, want to talk about this article? Did anyone here read the article? No? Well I didn't either! But from what I understand..."
Well you are right but.. Uh.. That is very shitty and irresponsible in and of itself. Especially if you literally are going to call Rab a "dick" and title your fucking podcast "Don't be a Dick."

Also, I actually tried to reason with Wombat in the CAG thread and linked to her legal threat and the new Ben Kuchera article. He still denied she did anything wrong and asked for "proof" of her corruption. I gave up after that. I was pretty incredulous.
 
Dec 4, 2010
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Well you are right but.. Uh.. That is very shitty and irresponsible in and of itself. Especially if you literally are going to call Rab a "dick" and title your fucking podcast "Don't be a Dick."

Also, I actually tried to reason with Wombat in the CAG thread and linked to her legal threat and the new Ben Kuchera article. He still denied she did anything wrong and asked for "proof" of her corruption. I gave up after that. I was pretty incredulous.
He took some jschreier lessons on how to respond to message forums.
I kid :)
 
Aug 7, 2008
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As Stephen has mentioned a few times, Kotaku is big enough that we really don't have to worry about what publishers or PR people think of our stories.
Considering Kotaku recently ran a piece bemoaning their lack of access under the thinly transparent guise of "Kotaku's lack of access hurts gamers!" this is very hard to believe.
 
Jan 8, 2009
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No one takes issue with the "lightheartedness" of the unboxing video. It's that there's no content to it other than crass commercialism. It's an advertisement dressed as editorial.
To be fair to Jason, I think it's nice to see that they are considering evaluating their stance on unboxings or at least are talking about it.

Stephen also seemed to be honest about what led to the unboxing. He made a news value judgement after being sent a LE Halo 4 console. The truth is journalists make mistakes sometimes. Sometimes you make mistakes about news value or you just make flat out dumb mistakes. I've never actually met a journalist that hasn't made at least one dumb mistake during their career. So, while, a lot on GAF see the unboxing, myself included, as poor judgement, there was at least a few people in here saying they like unboxings. I don't personally get it. It was either Jason or Stephen that brought up the question of model revisions and, for example, if it is news worthy to do a hands on thing with, say, the new PS3 slim that was released. IMO, hands-on impressions with any new console revision can be interesting to some extent if it's in the realm of a product review. The thing with LE 360's or any LE console is that they are usually always just the same system with a gimmicky paint job or design. I also have big issues with the advertorial nature of it, especially if the console is provided free of charge.

But again, news value judgements can be wrong. I used to have an editor that would send me out to cover child beauty pageants, the really sleazy Honey Boo-Boo kinds in Holiday Inn conference rooms. I would argue constantly with her that these things weren't newsworthy, but I still got sent to them. I hated covering them, but there were actually people that wanted to read about them as disgusting as it sounds.

I'm glad that Stephen and Kotaku have decided to do a story on this, Sandy permitting. I can see, though, where it can be annoying to them that they partially owned up to their mistake, yet that unboxing screen cap is probably still going to be posted for years to come. I'm not defending them per se, but I see how they can become jaded when they've taken a step, or at least have promised to, in addressing some of our concerns.
 

truly101

I got grudge sucked!
Feb 20, 2007
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This thread kind of exploded and I'm a bit muddy on some things. I get the criticism of Lauren Wainwright and how her relationship with SE could influence her work.

I don't get the significance of the Geoff Keighley photo. Whats the context? I really don't follow him other than the terrible rumor teases he posts every now and then. Lots of games, especially one like Halo 4 has other product tie ins. Pepsi and Frito Lay may have contracts with MS where they are featured in the game's promotion
 
Jan 6, 2011
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Considering Kotaku recently ran a piece bemoaning their lack of access under the thinly transparent guise of "Kotaku's lack of access hurts gamers!" this is very hard to believe.
That was my piece, and it had nothing to do with Kotaku's lack of access. It was more about the fact that some game companies refuse to answer simple questions, and help cultivate a culture of secrecy in which it feels like gamers are the enemy.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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This thread kind of exploded and I'm a bit muddy on some things. I get the criticism of Lauren Wainwright and how her relationship with SE could influence her work.

I don't get the significance of the Geoff Keighley photo. Whats the context? I really don't follow him other than the terrible rumor teases he posts every now and then. Lots of games, especially one like Halo 4 has other product tie ins. Pepsi and Frito Lay may have contracts with MS where they are featured in the game's promotion
From Keighley's "interview":
Part of what I'm talking about today is the double xp program that Mountain Dew and Doritos are bringing back which actually allow gamers to rank up inside of Wargames in Halo 4 by purchasing Mountain Dew or Doritos. So this is a great example of a brand saying 'Hey we wanna actually give benefit and value to gamers' so if you buy Mountain Dew, you buy Doritos you get a code... and your gonna get some experience in the game. It's a good partnership. - Geoff Keighley
Also read the OP. Lots of great great links from throughout the thread.
 
May 23, 2010
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This thread kind of exploded and I'm a bit muddy on some things. I get the criticism of Lauren Wainwright and how her relationship with SE could influence her work.

I don't get the significance of the Geoff Keighley photo. Whats the context? I really don't follow him other than the terrible rumor teases he posts every now and then. Lots of games, especially one like Halo 4 has other product tie ins. Pepsi and Frito Lay may have contracts with MS where they are featured in the game's promotion
A bunch of sites were offered the chance to do a video interview with Geoff. He was promoting some kind of Mountain Dew, Doritos, Halo 4 advertising campaign that let's you get more EXP in Halo if you buy the other two or something. People were posting the picture because it was funny, then a piece on Eurogamer was written using that picture as a jumping off point to criticize the relationship between PR and game press.

It wasn't really a big deal until the Eurogamer bit.
Funny to think about how much free advertisement Doritos and Mountain Dew have gotten out of this whole thing.
God, that is the most depressing thing that's been mentioned in this thread.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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Well you are right but.. Uh.. That is very shitty and irresponsible in and of itself. Especially if you literally are going to call Rab a "dick" and title your fucking podcast "Don't be a Dick."

Also, I actually tried to reason with Wombat in the CAG thread and linked to her legal threat and the new Ben Kuchera article. He still denied she did anything wrong and asked for "proof" of her corruption. I gave up after that. I was pretty incredulous.
It also seems that people in media were caught by surprise by the amount of interest this got, and didn't understand that Geoff Keighley now infamous doritos/dew photo was only the starting point to all this discussion, and the whole Robert Florence/Lauren Wainwright debacle though with horrible consequences to Robert is incidental to what we're arguing. Though what was found afterwards about Lauren professional conduct was almost comical illustrative of what Rab denounced and this thread is all about. Like a cosmic joke.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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Funny to think about how much free advertisement Doritos and Mountain Dew have gotten out of this whole thing.
I don't think it is really great advertising for them in this context.

Because the context and conversation that followed after that ridiculous "interview," allowed us to really think about what horseshit this whole "buy junk food and get exp" thing is. Let alone the way it is being promoted by Keighley as a "benefit" to gamers in a way that is blatantly transparent shillmanship that pretends to be "news" delivered by a self professed "journalist."

The whole thing is embarrassing and insulting to our intelligence, which is never great for your product.
 

truly101

I got grudge sucked!
Feb 20, 2007
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A bunch of sites were offered the chance to do a video interview with Geoff. He was promoting some kind of Mountain Dew, Doritos, Halo 4 advertising campaign that let's you get more EXP in Halo if you buy the other two or something. People were posting the picture because it was funny, then a piece on Eurogamer was written using that picture as a jumping off point to criticize the relationship between PR and game press.

It wasn't really a big deal until the Eurogamer bit.
Okay thanks to you and EternalGamer for clearing that up. I went pg 10 and found more stuff about Wainwright, but not a lot about the photo. I could have missed it.

I'm still not sure about the fuss though. Is Keighly being compensated by Pepsi or MS as a sort of "spokesperson" of the promotion?
 
Apr 27, 2012
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I don't think it is really great advertising for them in this context.

Because the context and conversation that followed after that ridiculous "interview," allowed us to really think about what horseshit this whole "buy junk food and get exp" thing is. Let alone the way it is being promoted by Keighley as a "benefit" to gamers in a way that is blatantly transparent shillmanship that pretends to be "news" delivered by a self professed "journalist."

The whole thing is embarrassing and insulting to our intelligence, which is never great for your product.
I don't think Pepsi Co. cares. They aren't going to see a single drop in their sales because of this.
 
Jun 21, 2010
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It's actually incredibly rare for me to see blatant marketing stuff like this - I could probably count the amount of iffy things I've been sent on one hand.
Even if you've only received one 'iffy thing', that is one more than the overwhelming majority of people who play video games receive for purchasing and or playing a game. If sending 'iffy things' to the enthusiast press didn't get the desired results, publishers wouldn't bother spending the money to do it. Maybe it doesn't work on you, and it may not work in every case for every game, but overall its pretty obvious that it does work.
 

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
Feb 14, 2009
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Dunno if this was posted but this was linked in the RPG Codex article and it's interesting enough retrospection from the writer about how PR influences the journalists.

It really does beg the question of how to fund a gaming website/employ "honest" writers and make cash without that sweet sweet PR/publisher moolah keeping your site afloat for more than a week. :/
 
Jun 20, 2007
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Seems to me since the internet got going 1000mph the gatekeepers are 90% irrelevant.

There isn't only a few magazines to get the word out and build a brand.
There are now numerous websites who need content all the time. They are given bits that are highly processed up to getting the retail game to review. Maybe the opinions mixed in aren't liked or obviously the score. Later on that person is not given as much access.
The sequelization of the industry makes the lead up release less and less relevant anyhow. The gamers know what it is and just want that 9/10 review to feel validated.
 
May 29, 2010
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Dunno if this was posted but this was linked in the RPG Codex article and it's interesting enough retrospection from the writer about how PR influences the journalists.

It really does beg the question of how to fund a gaming website/employ "honest" writers and make cash without that sweet sweet PR/publisher moolah keeping your site afloat for more than a week. :/
It's been in the OP since a long time now.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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Dunno if this was posted but this was linked in the RPG Codex article and it's interesting enough retrospection from the writer about how PR influences the journalists.

It really does beg the question of how to fund a gaming website/employ "honest" writers and make cash without that sweet sweet PR/publisher moolah keeping your site afloat for more than a week. :/
It was. And the author is a gaffer if I remember correctly.
 

SPE

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Mar 30, 2007
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Means a cigarette in the UK.
Faggot certainly doesn't mean cigarette in the UK, or anywhere else. The word can refer to a disgusting meatball made from hooves and arseholes; or a bundle of firewood, but she wasn't using those meaning.

She was using the de-facto modern definition - a bigoted, homophobic slur.
 
Jan 8, 2009
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I don't think it is really great advertising for them in this context.

Because the context and conversation that followed after that ridiculous "interview," allowed us to really think about what horseshit this whole "buy junk food and get exp" thing is. Let alone the way it is being promoted by Keighley as a "benefit" to gamers in a way that is blatantly transparent shillmanship that pretends to be "news" delivered by a self professed "journalist."

The whole thing is embarrassing and insulting to our intelligence, which is never great for your product.
Real advertising reps probably don't care tbqh about the context. Speaking of which, are those signed Dorito press kits real? If they are it's genius in an evil genius kind of way. The whole Tested Oktobercast there was a running joke about having Mountain Dew and Doritos sitting in front of the gaming personalities. Obviously we get this joke, but I bet the Doritos and Mountain Dew PR teams were doing backflips and jumping jacks in their offices. They are probably squealing that pictures of these unsolicited signed Doritos press kits are being posted on the web. It's kind of funny in a sad way. This seems like one of those there's no such thing as bad press things for them. Any mention of this controversey usually highlights the promotion. They are probably jumping for joy even if the sentiment is negative.
 
Sep 21, 2009
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Real advertising reps probably don't care tbqh about the context. Speaking of which, are those signed Dorito press kits real? If they are it's genius in an evil genius kind of way. The whole Tested Oktobercast there was a running joke about having Mountain Dew and Doritos sitting in front of the gaming personalities. Obviously we get this joke, but I bet the Doritos and Mountain Dew PR teams were doing backflips and jumping jacks in their offices. They are probably squealing that pictures of these unsolicited signed Doritos press kits are being posted on the web. It's kind of funny in a sad way. This seems like one of those there's no such thing as bad press things for them. Any mention of this controversey usually highlights the promotion. They are probably jumping for joy even if the sentiment is negative.
You are correct in that respect.

None of the press around the Dew/Doritos has been negative.

From a PR perspective the past week has been a huge WIN for Pepsi PR in terms of reaching the gaming audience and raising awareness.
 
Nov 10, 2010
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Gotta play devil's advocate here for a bit, but I really don't think a large site like kotaku or ign can realistically live off just interesting journalism articles and what not. Heck I'm surprised that Kotaku is still doing ok without having scores attached to their reviews!

And if you don't enjoy all the bullshit "PR wankery", luckily most sites offer ways to 'filter' out the stuff you'd like in their 'news' or 'features' pages.

The biggest issues I have is when you just can't find those damn articles. I've always seem to have the hardest time finding old 1up featured articles after they leave the front page.
 
Mar 21, 2011
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Even if you've only received one 'iffy thing', that is one more than the overwhelming majority of people who play video games receive for purchasing and or playing a game. If sending 'iffy things' to the enthusiast press didn't get the desired results, publishers wouldn't bother spending the money to do it. Maybe it doesn't work on you, and it may not work in every case for every game, but overall its pretty obvious that it does work.
I don't disagree. That was kinda my point!

It's actually incredibly rare for me to see blatant marketing stuff like this - I could probably count the amount of iffy things I've been sent on one hand. That's not the point though; it shouldn't happen at all.
 
Jul 12, 2008
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That Pixel Perfect thing was fine. Geoff's angle is interviewing people, giving developers/publishers a podium and it isn't like he hides it.

Greg Miller's WWE reviews, on the other hand, should come with a sponsored by THQ disclaimer.
 
Jun 4, 2007
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Oh, I don't mind criticism! Especially when I fuck up. What I mind is people treating us unfairly, which is one of the reasons I'm in here chatting. I don't think it's fair, for example, to judge Kotaku of today based on opinions you formed four years ago. Or based on a Halo 4 unboxing video.
I disagree with you here. it's perfectly fair to judge Kotaku on its past history, even if it may be unfair to you personally (then again you chose to work there).

For example I used to religiously read every Gamespot review until Gerstmangate. After that I never visited the site again. Probably none of the people responsible even remain, but the site completely lost my trust, so if the want to keep using the name and cashing in on its popularity and recognition among gamers, they also have to take care of the shitty stuff they've done. Frankly when you lose trust in a site it's very, very difficult to regain it.

So yeah, it's great that Kotaku may have improved, but wasn't it even banned on GAF a while ago? You can't really blame us if we haven't been back and thus criticizing what the site stood up for in the past is perfectly valid IMO.
 
Feb 1, 2007
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Gotta play devil's advocate here for a bit, but I really don't think a large site like kotaku or ign can realistically live off just interesting journalism articles and what not. Heck I'm surprised that Kotaku is still doing ok without having scores attached to their reviews!

And if you don't enjoy all the bullshit "PR wankery", luckily most sites offer ways to 'filter' out the stuff you'd like in their 'news' or 'features' pages.

The biggest issues I have is when you just can't find those damn articles. I've always seem to have the hardest time finding old 1up featured articles after they leave the front page.

Early on, kotaku didn't do reviews at all. They would aggregate some choice quotes from other sites' reviews for their readers, but they didn't start doing them themselves until later. They didn't start out with reviews, so they were never dependent on their hits for revenue.

They made them scoreless without a big fuss because they were like that from the very beginning AFAIK. The reason that there was outcry from some readers when CGW removed their scores was because the readers were used to having them. In kotaku's case, you can't miss what you never had. It's easier to get things right from the start rather than fix them later. Incidentally, this is the same reason I have much greater hope that new ethical sites will be made and supplant the existing unethical ones, rather than the unethical ones reforming.
 
Nov 10, 2010
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Early on, kotaku didn't do reviews at all. They would aggregate some choice quotes from other sites' reviews for their readers, but they didn't start doing them themselves until later. They didn't start out with reviews, so they were never dependent on their hits for revenue.

They made them scoreless without a big fuss because they were like that from the very beginning AFAIK. The reason that there was outcry from some readers when CGW removed their scores was because the readers were used to having them. In kotaku's case, you can't miss what you never had. It's easier to get things right from the start rather than fix them later. Incidentally, this is the same reason I have much greater hope that new ethical sites will be made and supplant the existing unethical ones, rather than the unethical ones reforming.
Makes sense. But in the ideal world where writers can write for free and sites can survive off that, clicks wouldn't matter :(

Everything seems to go back to GFW radio lol. I remember the eps when the magazine closed and they were talking about online

"What's gonna get the clicks?"


indeed.

GB isn't oblivious to that. They still seem to host every single new AC3 trailer that comes out like daily, but don't bother with smaller games (gotta hold up their end of the deal with the flag :p).
 
Jul 12, 2008
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On that note hearing how much of Kotaku is devoted to random ass Japan and other fluff makes me start to view them in higher esteem. The less reliant they are publisher's ads and early access to the games, the less they have to lose for not playing ball right?
 
Nov 15, 2011
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Just catching up on today's updates. I see a pretty hefty article on PAReport...nice to see that he decided to go beyond his previous article which basically just summarized the situation without really offering a lot of personal viewpoints on it, beyond it being a PR screwup on Eurogamer's part.

iirc, he used to be the one of the contributors to the games section at Ars Technica, which caters to a bit of a different audience than say, Kotaku. At the same time, one of the Kotaku staffers, I don't remember who, left to take his place at Ars.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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Early on, kotaku didn't do reviews at all. They would aggregate some choice quotes from other sites' reviews for their readers, but they didn't start doing them themselves until later. They didn't start out with reviews, so they were never dependent on their hits for revenue.

They made them scoreless without a big fuss because they were like that from the very beginning AFAIK. The reason that there was outcry from some readers when CGW removed their scores was because the readers were used to having them. In kotaku's case, you can't miss what you never had. It's easier to get things right from the start rather than fix them later. Incidentally, this is the same reason I have much greater hope that new ethical sites will be made and supplant the existing unethical ones, rather than the unethical ones reforming.
Back when Joystiq and Kotaku were the two big gaming blog sites, neither site did reviews. Then both started doing reviews, but without scores. Then Joystiq decided to add scores in order to get on Metacritic and expand their audience. It must have worked for them since they still do reviews and scores, and Chris Grant's new site (Polygon) was built from the ground up with scoring firmly in place.

Going scoreless is a really tough thing to do, since it means you're willing to cut a sizable chunk of your potential readership. Some of the smaller sites do it (many that have been named here already), but almost none of the big sites is willing to go scoreless. Kotaku's basically it. There was a brief period of time when Kill Screen experimented with scoring. They ultimately scrapped it and returned to just a text review.

Scores don't just mean getting real estate on Metacritic. They also give you a very different relationship with publishers and PR. Suddenly they have a firm "metric" with which to judge you (for good or ill). It's a tricky business. Most readers want a score. Most publishers want a score. And both groups will judge you mercilessly if those scores depart from their expectations.

I don't think there's anything inherently consumerist or dirty about scoring. But it does mean developers/publishers/PR will put more pressure on you. But I don't necessarily think the answer is to go scoreless. I have my own personal preferences about scores (I prefer to see them upfront so that I don't just scroll through the text), but I don't see them as inherently a problem.
 
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