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

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Antiwhippy

the holder of the trombone
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).
Well they, like most sites, probably just hosts whatever video trailer they were given, because that is just what their audience want. It's not a bad thing.

Also they do host trailers for smaller games. They probably host most of the things given to them. They also give exposure to quite a number smaller games too, like say, cook serve delicious. Hell, patrick alone probably raised the indie game quick look count by quite a bit.
 
There's nothing wrong with being Keighly, but it should revoke your license to review games.
If they did that (quit writing reviews) they'd lose their credibility.

see GB for example

Do just enough reviews to maintain your "cred" (with both publishers and the gaming public) but not enough to be held to standard critical practices and ethics.

BTW

I love GB and the Bombcast is the ONLY gaming podcast I still listen to but they are a perfect example of the "grey area" which has developed within the game press the last few years.
 
If they did that (quit writing reviews) they'd lose their credibility.

see GB for example

Do just enough reviews to maintain your "cred" (with both publishers and the gaming public) but not enough to be held to standard critical practices and ethics.
What does this even mean? Is there a specific number of reviews per month a site has to punch in to "be held to standard critical practices and ethics." ? I don't see how are they getting a pass either way.
 
Maybe include more sites than GAF. Maybe GameFAQs?

SPOILER:
that was a joke

I don't know if completely leaving it up to GAF to decide what sites put the gamer first is a good idea. People on this board can be very fickle.
(Late reply due to hurricane Sandy knocking out my power)

As long as it doesn't turn into a popularity contest, maybe.

The main idea is to expose the sites that are as devoid of shill as possible. It doesn't even have to be a contest. It could be a database of sites and we each give our review scores for the various elements which make up a site or publication. I dunno, it suddenly seems like a lot of work to me, but maybe there's some php wizard out there who'd want to give it a go.
 
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).
They are missed greatly for the work that they did. It's too bad there are too many obstacles in the way for an Idle Thumbs podcast arrangement for the Brodeo. Gamers still need the Brodeo.
 
What does this even mean?
It's referring to the practice of people jumping between the assertions (either said or implied):

"I'm a game reviewer with years of experience therefore my opinion is worth considering."

and

"I'm just a internet personality not bound by the long-standing ethical practices agreed upon and used by professional, respectable critics."
 
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.
The piece was quite literally about your lack of access to information from game companies.

What you wrote above is basically "the piece wasn't about access - it was about lack of access."

Edit:

I don't want to get bogged down in that piece too much, as there was a dedicated thread about it, but it's not a stretch to say that the fact that access is important is the central point of it.
 
An interesting tweet from Jeff Gerstmann, which I can only assume means he was contacted by Kotaku for their upcoming article on this:

Jeff Gerstmann said:
@stephentotilo I, uh, accidentally wrote you a book in response to your questions. You'll have it in a few.
 

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
An interesting tweet from Jeff Gerstmann, which I can only assume means he was contacted by Kotaku for their upcoming article on this:
Hopefully it's more than "I don't give a shit, don't bother me again."

Because frankly, I really want to know what Jeff thinks even if he doesn't see it as "huge news" like Kotaku didn't at the time. Maybe him stewing on it a little will make him change his mind and give a little transparency about GiantBomb's reviews and the like.
 
Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 1:46 AM
Something we all need to get better about: pointing out to publishers when they set an embargo that hits after their PC version goes on sale

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 1:53 AM
@jeffgerstmann What's the point of a 9AM embargo when Machinima was giving their partners copies to put up clips of on Friday?

Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 2:00 AM
@travislopes For all we know, that's a content deal that EA fully approves of. No idea. Those guys run an... interesting business.

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 2:01 AM
@jeffgerstmann Machinima gave out 1K copies and the partners all had to state they got a free copy and a monetary bonus for posting it.

Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 2:08 AM
@travislopes Gross. Good on those guys 'n' gals for finding a way to get free games, I guess, but... man, that sounds shady as heck.

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 2:11 AM
@jeffgerstmann When people want game reviews, they don't want it from a trusted source (@giantbomb), but from YouTubers with no credibility.

PR raising the bar.
 
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.

How many more scores do we need? The uniformness of the scores makes them mostly worthless- along with the text from the reviews on those sites that uniformly reviewed said game. Going forward, a new gaming criticism site might do well to experiment with scoreless reviews as a point of differentiation from established outlets.

I would love if there was a site that focused on scoreless reviews where they really took their time writing (not worrying about being timely if it will be impossible to do so). When I’m finished playing game, I love to read about someone else's point of view about the game- in fact, I’d say I’m more interested in consuming criticism for games I’ve already played. I have little interest in using reviews for entertainment purchasing decisions (especially these days with the widespread availability of information on the internet- screenshots, trailers, demos, etc.).

If such a site existed, publishers probably wouldn’t care about them too much one way or another, since they wouldn’t be on metacritic, so on one hand, they would be less likely to be blacklisted for doing honest reviews, but perhaps publishers wouldn’t send them anything in the first place since they don’t matter to them, so who knows- it might be a wash. If their reviews took more time to write in order to be more well-thought-out and in-depth, publishers might not even care at all since the window for mostly front-loaded game sales would’ve already passed at that point.

When there was the GAF review thread, with various members reviewing games at their leisure, I think people could see the potential there for later but more interesting and diverse criticism. Who knows if there is enough of an audience to make a website devoted to such a thing a financially viable venture though.
 
Sneak preview of the Kotaku piece:

"Entitled gamers are impossible to please and have wildly unrealistic and hilariously misinformed conspiracy theories about the nature of games press and PR."

Happy to eat my words if wrong.
 
Sneak preview of the Kotaku piece:

"Entitled gamers are impossible to please and have wildly unrealistic and hilariously misinformed conspiracy theories about the nature of games press and PR."

Happy to eat my words if wrong.
I think everyone is justifiably skeptical that kotaku will do the issue justice, but we'll just have to wait and see. They are going to have an especially hard time when being judged relative to the very excellent (and timely) penny arcade pieces.
 
jschreier, here are some snippets from your piece which is not about access:

Game makers are afraid to get our hopes up about projects that might be cancelled. They won't talk about games they've spent months or years creating. They won't show us prototypes or tell us about problems or even answer the most rudimentary questions, like "will this game be multiplatform?" or "can we use guns in this one?"
...
No other industry treats its customers like this. Hollywood filmmakers aren't afraid to tell us what they're working on. They're not worried we might find out who is cast in their movies or what their film sets are like. They're not afraid to give us an inside look at their creative processes, nor do they refuse to answer questions about what they have to offer.
...
We want to hear why publishers make the decisions they make. We want to see cool concept art. We want developers to tell us about how much they've worked, how much blood and sweat was required to make each game what it is. We want to know why a game studio can shut down even when its game hit #1 on sales charts for the month it came out.

And, yeah, we want to hear about games that might be axed. We're not unreasonable; we understand that things change, that games sometimes have to be cancelled. Why not let us in on the process? You don't have to completely unveil the shroud; just let us get a few more peeks inside. And maybe stop ignoring our questions.
If it looks like I am quoting half the piece yeah, I am - because the piece is fundamentally about access.

Access to prototypes, access to the creative process, access to concept art, access to answers to specific questions, access to the decision process behind cancellation of a title, access to knowledge of in-development issues, access to "development hell" style stories.

You can disagree but I think most people who read your piece will find it hard to avoid the conclusion that questions of access are at the very heart of it.
 
Yeah I'm not sure how much people are paying attention, but there is an entire Youtube/Twitch.tv streaming thing going on that gaming companies have (finally) become aware of over the last year or two.

It really exploded in popularity around MW2 time, and just went up from there with games like SC2 and so on, but a lot of people who became Machinima partners are now becoming part of the PR engine by receiving free copies of games from Machinima via various publishers. More cogs for the machine.

Black Ops 2 had early demos for various youtubers, NFS was given out to a ton of Machima partners, there's probably others I'm not aware of it, but it's fairly widespread, and only getting moreso.

You can be damn sure that PR wants youtubers with thousands of subs and twitch streamers with thousands of viewers playing their game, especially if its authorized early.

Twitch is involved in this directly, they now have banner ads right on their site that warn about streaming X game early because permission was not given by <publisher> to stream it early.

And if you think gaming press are dubious ethically, go ahead and cast your ballot on the ethical standards of teenage CoD youtube/twitch streamers when it comes to getting free games for the price of playing them and posting videos.

edit: This can backfire :D Witness the horror show that was the Capcom/SFxT stream and the community debacle surrounding that. Youtube is comparatively safer because they can vet the videos ahead of time, and easily DMCA them down if they want (though it's not any harder for them to get twitch streams shut down either).
 
We are gonna need a diagram to keep track of all the shady business going on.
One of these co-host on Weekend Confirmed is now revealed to work for game media outlet involved in directly giving people money from publishers to post video content. Money. Not just free games. There is nothing "shady" about this shit. It is straight up disgusting. Machinima was given both free games and monetary compensation by EA for posting early videos of Need For Speed Most Wanted.

As pointed out by by GAF user "Quote" from Twitter:

Quote said:
Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 1:46 AM
Something we all need to get better about: pointing out to publishers when they set an embargo that hits after their PC version goes on sale

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 1:53 AM
@jeffgerstmann What's the point of a 9AM embargo when Machinima was giving their partners copies to put up clips of on Friday?

Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 2:00 AM
@travislopes For all we know, that's a content deal that EA fully approves of. No idea. Those guys run an... interesting business.

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 2:01 AM
@jeffgerstmann Machinima gave out 1K copies and the partners all had to state they got a free copy and a monetary bonus for posting it.

Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann)
10/30/12, 2:08 AM
@travislopes Gross. Good on those guys 'n' gals for finding a way to get free games, I guess, but... man, that sounds shady as heck.

Travis Lopes (@travislopes)
10/30/12, 2:11 AM
@jeffgerstmann When people want game reviews, they don't want it from a trusted source (@giantbomb), but from YouTubers with no credibility.
Here is Andrea Rene, who works for Machinima and co-hosts Weekend Confirmed, tweeting that everyone should check out those awesome Need for Speed videos:

https://twitter.com/nanea/status/261936098522042368

And here she is promoting her own video of Need for Speed:

https://twitter.com/andrearene/status/261869514629738498

Just as a reminder, though, here is what Andrea said on Weekend Confirmed this past week:

Andrea Renee said:
"We get these products for free to talk about them because in order for us to you know, be competitive in the industry, we need to get the games beforehand. Reviewers want to know before the game's out and I just, like, think this whole idea, you know, that we shouldn't get stuff for free or this like payola system, like believing that exists, is such bull-cocky I tell you."
She said this the day after she posted her Need for Speed video.
 
Yeah I'm not sure how much people are paying attention, but there is an entire Youtube/Twitch.tv streaming thing going on that gaming companies have (finally) become aware of over the last year or two.

It really exploded in popularity around MW2 time, and just went up from there with games like SC2 and so on, but a lot of people who became Machinima partners are now becoming part of the PR engine by receiving free copies of games from Machinima via various publishers. More cogs for the machine.

Black Ops 2 had early demos for various youtubers, NFS was given out to a ton of Machima partners, there's probably others I'm not aware of it, but it's fairly widespread, and only getting moreso.

You can be damn sure that PR wants youtubers with thousands of subs and twitch streamers with thousands of viewers playing their game, especially if its authorized early.

Twitch is involved in this directly, they now have banner ads right on their site that warn about streaming X game early because permission was not given by <publisher> to stream it early.

And if you think gaming press are dubious ethically, go ahead and cast your ballot on the ethical standards of teenage CoD youtube/twitch streamers when it comes to getting free games for the price of playing them and posting videos.
Good post detailing an important recent development in the many ways PR seeks to influence gamers.
 
I didn't think that was a new development to be honest (the fact that they pay popular streamers and give them advance access to promote the game). That has been happening for a while and the truth is we shouldn't care. Most of these guys can't be held to any standards or are opinions that should matter if we are looking beyond purchasing advice (I mean, actual and insightful criticism) and sometimes not even then.

The funny part I think is that they are sidestepping review outlets with early coverage, who of course can't be outright paid to promote the game. That is funny and should make media outlets a bit more aware of what their fucking role is. Of course, there is always the next unboxing video to premiere before anyone else.
 

boutrosinit

Street Fighter IV World Champion
This makes me goddamn angry. It is actually the first thing in this entire thing that has. Not because I ever really trusted Andrea. I always thought she was incredibly vapid, reactionary and non-reflective. It makes me angry because I actually DID trust Garnet Lee. As a long time fan of EGM and then 1up, I followed him to Weekend Confirmed on shacknews specifically because I thought he was credible. And I trusted him to surround himself with co-hosts that were too.

One of these co-host is now revealed to work for game media outlet involved in directly giving people money from publishers to post video content. Money. Not just free games. There is nothing "shady" about that shit. It is straight up disgusting.

Oh look. Here is Andrea tweeting that everyone should check out those awesome Need for Speed videos:

https://twitter.com/nanea/status/261936098522042368

I am not going to type what I want to say in response to this tweet. It would probably get me banned.

Garnett's credible. Co-hosts I do not know.
 
This makes me goddamn angry. It is actually the first thing in this entire thing that has. Not because I ever really trusted Andrea. I always thought she was incredibly vapid, reactionary and non-reflective. It makes me angry because I actually DID trust Garnet Lee. As a long time fan of EGM and then 1up, I followed him to Weekend Confirmed on shacknews specifically because I thought he was credible. And I trusted him to surround himself with co-hosts that were too.

One of these co-host is now revealed to work for game media outlet involved in directly giving people money from publishers to post video content. Money. Not just free games. There is nothing "shady" about that shit. It is straight up disgusting.

Oh look. Here is Andrea tweeting that everyone should check out those awesome Need for Speed videos:

https://twitter.com/nanea/status/261936098522042368

And here she is promoting her own video of Need for Speed:

https://twitter.com/andrearene/status/261869514629738498

I am not going to type what I want to say in response to this tweet. It would probably get me banned.
And that about wraps that one up.
 
Hmm yeah this looks pretty bad. She was on WC saying that the game is awesome when the company she works for is paying people to promote the game...(If I understand this correctly - I also totally fail at reading Twitter)
 
It's impossible to say somebody is 100% ethical but it would be worthwile to compile a list of 'journalists' who have completely blown their credibility along with proof so we can at least keep track of cases of proven bullshit.
 
This makes me goddamn angry. It is actually the first thing in this entire thing that has. Not because I ever really trusted Andrea. I always thought she was incredibly vapid, reactionary and non-reflective. It makes me angry because I actually DID trust Garnet Lee. As a long time fan of EGM and then 1up, I followed him to Weekend Confirmed on shacknews specifically because I thought he was credible. And I trusted him to surround himself with co-hosts that were too.

One of these co-host on Weekend Confirmed is now revealed to work for game media outlet involved in directly giving people money from publishers to post video content. Money. Not just free games. There is nothing "shady" about this shit. It is straight up disgusting.

Here is Andrea Rene tweeting that everyone should check out those awesome Need for Speed videos:

https://twitter.com/nanea/status/261936098522042368

And here she is promoting her own video of Need for Speed:

https://twitter.com/andrearene/status/261869514629738498

Just as a reminder, though, here is what Andrea said on Weekend Confirmed this past week:



She said this the day after she posted her Need for Speed video.
The unboxing of Andrea.
 
Popular YouTube channels can easily generate $10k-$30k/month.

EA likely offered payment along with the free games (if what is reported is true) because top channels simply won't highlight a product unless they are paid do.

You have to remember, on YouTube, personal channels are just that, personal. These are usually teenagers to early 20s. They're not news outlets or anything of the sort. They know they have an audience though. They know they already make bank from YouTube.

They're not going to give a product attention unless they're paid. For them, they see it as selling advertising space.

YouTube is all about SHOW ME DA MONEY for the large viewership channels.

I had thought this was well known.
 

MonsterDunk

Giant Bomb eSports Editor
Hopefully it's more than "I don't give a shit, don't bother me again."

Because frankly, I really want to know what Jeff thinks even if he doesn't see it as "huge news" like Kotaku didn't at the time. Maybe him stewing on it a little will make him change his mind and give a little transparency about GiantBomb's reviews and the like.
I'm not really sure what additional level of transparency you're looking for. We're already quite candid about our policies and have discussed editorial issues like this to death on the podcast over the years. Are you just interested in seeing people in this line of work talking shit about each other? Between this and people Tweeting me nonsense like "HEY MAN POLYGON STOLE YOUR TAGLINE WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT??" I sometimes think some folks just want more Twitter drama in your lives.

I also think a lot of people in this thread are painting everyone who gets paid to write about video games with the same brush, when in reality there are tons of different jobs at tons of different levels. For example, I understand why a freelancer might want to get into the financially lucrative mock review market. I'm not going to begrudge someone doing something that puts food on their family's table, especially these days. But I wouldn't let anyone who writes for me do that, and if they had been doing it recently it'd probably prevent me from even assigning freelance work in their direction because it creates a conflict of interest that I'm not comfortable with.

It's the same reason I once threatened to fire someone because he had vocal dreams about someday working in development. Those two things aren't compatible. I actually used to take it really personally when someone made the jump into development. Nowadays, it's happened enough to people I respect that I've come to understand why some people do it and the ways that it can happen without it causing people to compromise themselves as critics. Sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes people fall into jobs. If my firing hadn't generated a lot of public outcry and I was forced to hit the actual job market, I might have ended up as... I don't know, a publisher-side producer or something insane like that. That shit happens. Sometimes people just grow up and don't want to work the weird hours that people like me end up working. Oftentimes the pay is significantly better. Sometimes there's an asshole like me in the EIC position and it's clear that I'm never going to leave, which in turn prevents other people from getting promoted. There are a billion reasons, it turns out. It took me over a decade of doing this to finally realize that people who went into development weren't betraying their now-former lives.

We'll go over some of the recent happenings on the podcast this week, I'm sure, but I also don't think it'll ever be enough for some of you because it's starting to feel like some of you have smelled blood and have convinced yourselves that this entire line of work is morally bankrupt. That's fine, you're certainly welcome to your opinion, and I'm not really interested in swaying you one way or the other. I spent years wringing my hands about that sort of stuff and sweating it to death and we still got nothing but shit from people who were CONVINCED that everyone was on the take. If you don't feel like you can trust me, go find an outlet that you do trust and support that instead. I'm comfortable enough with our policies and the more I sit and defend it, the more some of you will come up with weird theories about how that just makes me look less trustworthy.

The reason why I think some people in my position are blowing this off is because we've spent the last five years being all navel gazey about our line of work. Getting fired ended up generating a lot of conversation like that. I think the general feeling is that most readers and listeners have already heard us cover this ground and there isn't much more to add beyond "well, some of those people overseas are certainly behaving in a completely inappropriate way, aren't they?" But you all already know that. And I'd like to think that you'd know that I'm not out there behaving like that.

In short, please stop treating every single Tweet you see as a smoking gun of some kind (though HOLY SHIT some of that stuff looks bad).

*****
Boy, all this posting sure makes me hungry. I don't know about you, but when I get Big Hunger I think small! Kentucky Fried Chicken's Chicken Littles are available now at your local KFC!
*****

Fun Fact: This recent uproar over non-endemic product placement might put a bullet in some of the bigger, travel-heavy ideas I've pitched. Maybe that's for the best, maybe the tax on our credibility would be too high. But with the amount of money I wanted to spend shipping the team around the continent and putting on shows it'd be the sort of thing that would need a sponsor, like some sort of "and after the show let's meet up in the Fast Food Restaurant #3 or Big But Failing Tech Retailer #7 Parking Lot" sort of public appearance thing. It's, admittedly, not a great option, but at least it's cleaner than going around and doing verbal mentions of actual games. On top of that, I think going out and filming a world tour kind of thing would be fun.

Either way, the ad market is still really weird. Regular banners are increasingly useless, but video ads are, I'm told, holding their value. This was the basic idea that Whiskey Media's ad plan was founded on, but the process moves incredibly slowly, so most ad buyers wanted to buy raw pageviews (which we didn't have enough of) for their banners instead of this nebulous "engagement" thing that we're quite good at. We're the guys putting up hour-long videos in an era when everyone still thinks anything over three minutes is worthless. I'm convinced that, in the long run, we'll be right and everyone else will be wrong. The completion percentages on our video views already bears that out, to some extent.

Figuring out how to make all of that work as a business without it being completely sleazy is, as it turns out, kind of difficult and requires a series of checks and balances to be in place. So expect everyone in the business of putting content on the Internet to keep trying different things on the ad side. Some of it will work, some of it will come off as completely filthy. I feel like I already have a pretty good idea of where the line is, but the good news is that by letting us know when the line gets crossed anywhere on the Internet, you're potentially helping to define the future of advertising... in some weird way. At any rate, I sent this thread to our sales/marketing team so they can hopefully understand what it's really like out here.
 
How many more scores do we need? The uniformness of the scores makes them mostly worthless- along with the text from the reviews on those sites that uniformly reviewed said game. Going forward, a new gaming criticism site might do well to experiment with scoreless reviews as a point of differentiation from established outlets.

I would love if there was a site that focused on scoreless reviews where they really took their time writing (not worrying about being timely if it will be impossible to do so). When I’m finished playing game, I love to read about someone else's point of view about the game- in fact, I’d say I’m more interested in consuming criticism for games I’ve already played. I have little interest in using reviews for entertainment purchasing decisions (especially these days with the widespread availability of information on the internet- screenshots, trailers, demos, etc.).

If such a site existed, publishers probably wouldn’t care about them too much one way or another, since they wouldn’t be on metacritic, so on one hand, they would be less likely to be blacklisted for doing honest reviews, but perhaps publishers wouldn’t send them anything in the first place since they don’t matter to them, so who knows- it might be a wash. If their reviews took more time to write in order to be more well-thought-out and in-depth, publishers might not even care at all since the window for mostly front-loaded game sales would’ve already passed at that point.

When there was the GAF review thread, with various members reviewing games at their leisure, I think people could see the potential there for later but more interesting and diverse criticism. Who knows if there is enough of an audience to make a website devoted to such a thing a financially viable venture though.
There are quite a few mid-tier sites that do scoreless reviews. But most folks don't know about them or read those sites because, well, they do scoreless reviews. See the bind?

Kotaku is in a privileged place in being the only site of its size that hasn't switched to scored reviews. They got in on the gaming blog thing at the right moment, and they stuck to their guns by not adding scores once they eventually added reviews.

I agree that it would be a great thing to do to emphasize text over numbers, but those numbers mean readers. And, honestly, if you're not going to do other gross stuff like host cheat guides and FAQs (which are huge magnets for reader numbers), then the most "honest" way to get regular readers is to do scored reviews. News keeps the regulars coming daily/hourly, and solid features are the "prestige" pieces that give you some cultural capital (but generally not a lot of readers). I'd guess that un-scored reviews get about as many readers as regular feature pieces, which is to say, not many.

Which is why most scoreless reviews are confined to blogs and podcasts.

The problem isn't the numbers at the bottom of the review. The problem is that with numbers comes greater responsibility. The pressure ramps up, and the company folks take a much greater interest in what you say, and how you score.
 
I don't think being sponsored by a company is a bad thing. People don't discredit ESPN analysts because they are brought to us by All-State. It is shady when you are doing an interview about the quality of a product, surrounded by tons of merchandise with that product stamped on it.
 
I'm not really sure what additional level of transparency you're looking for. We're already quite candid about our policies and have discussed editorial issues like this to death on the podcast over the years. Are you just interested in seeing people in this line of work talking shit about each other? Between this and people Tweeting me nonsense like "HEY MAN POLYGON STOLE YOUR TAGLINE WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT??" I sometimes think some folks just want more Twitter drama in your lives.

I also think a lot of people in this thread are painting everyone who gets paid to write about video games with the same brush, when in reality there are tons of different jobs at tons of different levels. For example, I understand why a freelancer might want to get into the financially lucrative mock review market. I'm not going to begrudge someone doing something that puts food on their family's table, especially these days. But I wouldn't let anyone who writes for me do that, and if they had been doing it recently it'd probably prevent me from even assigning freelance work in their direction because it creates a conflict of interest that I'm not comfortable with.

It's the same reason I once threatened to fire someone because he had vocal dreams about someday working in development. Those two things aren't compatible. I actually used to take it really personally when someone made the jump into development. Nowadays, it's happened enough to people I respect that I've come to understand why some people do it and the ways that it can happen without it causing people to compromise themselves as critics. Sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes people fall into jobs. If my firing hadn't generated a lot of public outcry and I was forced to hit the actual job market, I might have ended up as... I don't know, a publisher-side producer or something insane like that. That shit happens. Sometimes people just grow up and don't want to work the weird hours that people like me end up working. Oftentimes the pay is significantly better. Sometimes there's an asshole like me in the EIC position and it's clear that I'm never going to leave, which in turn prevents other people from getting promoted. There are a billion reasons, it turns out. It took me over a decade of doing this to finally realize that people who went into development weren't betraying their now-former lives.

We'll go over some of the recent happenings on the podcast this week, I'm sure, but I also don't think it'll ever be enough for some of you because it's starting to feel like some of you have smelled blood and have convinced yourselves that this entire line of work is morally bankrupt. That's fine, you're certainly welcome to your opinion, and I'm not really interested in swaying you one way or the other. I spent years wringing my hands about that sort of stuff and sweating it to death and we still got nothing but shit from people who were CONVINCED that everyone was on the take. If you don't feel like you can trust me, go find an outlet that you do trust and support that instead. I'm comfortable enough with our policies and the more I sit and defend it, the more some of you will come up with weird theories about how that just makes me look less trustworthy.

The reason why I think some people in my position are blowing this off is because we've spent the last five years being all navel gazey about our line of work. Getting fired ended up generating a lot of conversation like that. I think the general feeling is that most readers and listeners have already heard us cover this ground and there isn't much more to add beyond "well, some of those people overseas are certainly behaving in a completely inappropriate way, aren't they?" But you all already know that. And I'd like to think that you'd know that I'm not out there behaving like that.

In short, please stop treating every single Tweet you see as a smoking gun of some kind (though HOLY SHIT some of that stuff looks bad).

*****
Boy, all this posting sure makes me hungry. I don't know about you, but when I get Big Hunger I think small! Kentucky Fried Chicken's Chicken Littles are available now at your local KFC!
*****

Fun Fact: This recent uproar over non-endemic product placement might put a bullet in some of the bigger, travel-heavy ideas I've pitched. Maybe that's for the best, maybe the tax on our credibility would be too high. But with the amount of money I wanted to spend shipping the team around the continent and putting on shows it'd be the sort of thing that would need a sponsor, like some sort of "and after the show let's meet up in the Fast Food Restaurant #3 or Big But Failing Tech Retailer #7 Parking Lot" sort of public appearance thing. It's, admittedly, not a great option, but at least it's cleaner than going around and doing verbal mentions of actual games. On top of that, I think going out and filming a world tour kind of thing would be fun.

Either way, the ad market is still really weird. Regular banners are increasingly useless, but video ads are, I'm told, holding their value. This was the basic idea that Whiskey Media's ad plan was founded on, but the process moves incredibly slowly, so most ad buyers wanted to buy raw pageviews (which we didn't have enough of) for their banners instead of this nebulous "engagement" thing that we're quite good at. We're the guys putting up hour-long videos in an era when everyone still thinks anything over three minutes is worthless. I'm convinced that, in the long run, we'll be right and everyone else will be wrong. The completion percentages on our video views already bears that out, to some extent.

Figuring out how to make all of that work as a business without it being completely sleazy is, as it turns out, kind of difficult and requires a series of checks and balances to be in place. So expect everyone in the business of putting content on the Internet to keep trying different things on the ad side. Some of it will work, some of it will come off as completely filthy. I feel like I already have a pretty good idea of where the line is, but the good news is that by letting us know when the line gets crossed anywhere on the Internet, you're potentially helping to define the future of advertising... in some weird way. At any rate, I sent this thread to our sales/marketing team so they can hopefully understand what it's really like out here.
Thanks for coming here and posting, Jeff. To the bolded specifically, I think advertising is OK, and the sorts of ads you're discussing (fast food restaurants, etc.) are in the realm of advertising that I think most of the critical people in this thread would be OK with. They're specifically not the companies that you spend your time being critical of, and I don't think they'd create any sort of conflict-of-interest -- unless of course these ads are concurrent with a massive promotion by KFC (or whoever) tie-in with a video game.

I know from your perspective it seems like a lot of people on GAF and the internet in general are out looking for a boogeyman (and to be fair, some of them probably are) but I encourage you to look at some of the less reactionary posts in this thread and other places as well. From what I know of you (gleaned from following Giantbomb since its inception), I do think you have a pretty good handle on where the PR/Games media lines are, and are cognizant of many of the potential pitfalls, but it's never bad to take a moment and consider some of the salient points people are bringing up.
 
Hey Jeff, I just wanted to say thanks for that post and while I have been pretty horrified by some of the stuff that has come to light and while I now even question what counts as PR, I do deeply respect what you said in your post.

Obviously, there will always be some people that are never happy, but the policies you just outlined, including not hiring people who do mock reviews or who have development aspirations sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

That doesn't mean I think you guys get an automatic free pass on everything, but ultimately I know you and the GB crew in general are among the good guys.
 
I'm not really sure what additional level of transparency you're looking for. We're already quite candid about our policies and have discussed editorial issues like this to death on the podcast over the years. Are you just interested in seeing people in this line of work talking shit about each other? Between this and people Tweeting me nonsense like "HEY MAN POLYGON STOLE YOUR TAGLINE WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT??" I sometimes think some folks just want more Twitter drama in your lives.

I also think a lot of people in this thread are painting everyone who gets paid to write about video games with the same brush, when in reality there are tons of different jobs at tons of different levels. For example, I understand why a freelancer might want to get into the financially lucrative mock review market. I'm not going to begrudge someone doing something that puts food on their family's table, especially these days. But I wouldn't let anyone who writes for me do that, and if they had been doing it recently it'd probably prevent me from even assigning freelance work in their direction because it creates a conflict of interest that I'm not comfortable with.

It's the same reason I once threatened to fire someone because he had vocal dreams about someday working in development. Those two things aren't compatible. I actually used to take it really personally when someone made the jump into development. Nowadays, it's happened enough to people I respect that I've come to understand why some people do it and the ways that it can happen without it causing people to compromise themselves as critics. Sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes people fall into jobs. If my firing hadn't generated a lot of public outcry and I was forced to hit the actual job market, I might have ended up as... I don't know, a publisher-side producer or something insane like that. That shit happens. Sometimes people just grow up and don't want to work the weird hours that people like me end up working. Oftentimes the pay is significantly better. Sometimes there's an asshole like me in the EIC position and it's clear that I'm never going to leave, which in turn prevents other people from getting promoted. There are a billion reasons, it turns out. It took me over a decade of doing this to finally realize that people who went into development weren't betraying their now-former lives.

We'll go over some of the recent happenings on the podcast this week, I'm sure, but I also don't think it'll ever be enough for some of you because it's starting to feel like some of you have smelled blood and have convinced yourselves that this entire line of work is morally bankrupt. That's fine, you're certainly welcome to your opinion, and I'm not really interested in swaying you one way or the other. I spent years wringing my hands about that sort of stuff and sweating it to death and we still got nothing but shit from people who were CONVINCED that everyone was on the take. If you don't feel like you can trust me, go find an outlet that you do trust and support that instead. I'm comfortable enough with our policies and the more I sit and defend it, the more some of you will come up with weird theories about how that just makes me look less trustworthy.

The reason why I think some people in my position are blowing this off is because we've spent the last five years being all navel gazey about our line of work. Getting fired ended up generating a lot of conversation like that. I think the general feeling is that most readers and listeners have already heard us cover this ground and there isn't much more to add beyond "well, some of those people overseas are certainly behaving in a completely inappropriate way, aren't they?" But you all already know that. And I'd like to think that you'd know that I'm not out there behaving like that.

In short, please stop treating every single Tweet you see as a smoking gun of some kind (though HOLY SHIT some of that stuff looks bad).

*****
Boy, all this posting sure makes me hungry. I don't know about you, but when I get Big Hunger I think small! Kentucky Fried Chicken's Chicken Littles are available now at your local KFC!
*****

Fun Fact: This recent uproar over non-endemic product placement might put a bullet in some of the bigger, travel-heavy ideas I've pitched. Maybe that's for the best, maybe the tax on our credibility would be too high. But with the amount of money I wanted to spend shipping the team around the continent and putting on shows it'd be the sort of thing that would need a sponsor, like some sort of "and after the show let's meet up in the Fast Food Restaurant #3 or Big But Failing Tech Retailer #7 Parking Lot" sort of public appearance thing. It's, admittedly, not a great option, but at least it's cleaner than going around and doing verbal mentions of actual games. On top of that, I think going out and filming a world tour kind of thing would be fun.

Either way, the ad market is still really weird. Regular banners are increasingly useless, but video ads are, I'm told, holding their value. This was the basic idea that Whiskey Media's ad plan was founded on, but the process moves incredibly slowly, so most ad buyers wanted to buy raw pageviews (which we didn't have enough of) for their banners instead of this nebulous "engagement" thing that we're quite good at. We're the guys putting up hour-long videos in an era when everyone still thinks anything over three minutes is worthless. I'm convinced that, in the long run, we'll be right and everyone else will be wrong. The completion percentages on our video views already bears that out, to some extent.

Figuring out how to make all of that work as a business without it being completely sleazy is, as it turns out, kind of difficult and requires a series of checks and balances to be in place. So expect everyone in the business of putting content on the Internet to keep trying different things on the ad side. Some of it will work, some of it will come off as completely filthy. I feel like I already have a pretty good idea of where the line is, but the good news is that by letting us know when the line gets crossed anywhere on the Internet, you're potentially helping to define the future of advertising... in some weird way. At any rate, I sent this thread to our sales/marketing team so they can hopefully understand what it's really like out here.
oh no, Gertsmann poked his head here, now we can't shit talk him D:

I still feel like there is a disconnect over what everyone is talking about here. The readers are confused with how all the pieces are moving atm and are asking questions (and poking fun at kotaku lightheartedly), while the game press take it like every question is just an attack on their integrity and go all defensive about it. Must we all band together and find a common ground so we aren't just chasing around in circles leaving no one satisfied?

I definitely feel like there is some 'translation error' going on.


Also, I'm surprised that GB hasn't resorted to a Hulu style 'commercial break' with the QL's. Seems like an obvious move (for non premium of course :p).

Are there ads for videos for nonpremium atm?
 
Honestly I think Previews and Reviews are a huge part of the problem.

Prerelease access is inherently controlled by the PR department of the publishers. If you want prerelease access to large titles, you dance to their tune, period.

A gaming news site that does not have previews or reviews cuts out a huge part of the conflict of interest, by eliminating the necessity of kowtowing to the wishes of PR for early access.

Not only that, the entire tie between metacritic averages and publisher/developer relationships (and god knows what else - executive bonuses? marketing bonuses? who knows) is just plain awful.

Of course, such sites exist (in various forms), and I can't think of many that are super popular.

Not the media we asked for, but the one we deserve :V

There is one other area - small developers, and indie developers. In a grand and sad irony, they are the ones dying for exposure on mainstream sites, and they are the ones who can happily give insider interviews and exposure about their game directly with no PR interference, and they can give early access without any clout behind it.

Some sites do such features about them, but there are plenty of tiny games that get little or no regular features, while <insert holiday blockbuster #5> gets monthly articles, then weekly articles, then daily articles leading up to its release, and sometimes more coverage post release.
 
I worked in a gaming related company and our PR manager would often speak to the press for coverage, as was his job. After some time the writers just told him they would include our company's product as long as we wrote the text (1 page, 1/2 page etc) in the style of the magazine. So the writers were not even cutting and pasting a press release at all just dropping in an article written by the company's PR manager.
 
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