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

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It´s pretty hard to keep up with this thread, so I have no idea if this has been mentioned before. But do you guys really think you can change how the industry works...? it´s the same old story all the time, some reviewer or PR person fucks up, and releases some "suspect" news that shouldn´t be on the net for people to read.. forums have a discussion for some days/weeks, and think they are entitled to a better treatment from the "games journalists"

do you remember Battlefield 3..? the game that launched last year.. and reviewers (in scandinavia at least) had to fill out a questionnaire if they wanted to review the game before it hit the shops..?


if the reviewers "failed" the questionnaire, they where not allowed an early copy.. That was a questionnaire from the PR company.. crazy but true. We discussed it, but nothing ever changed..

How do you guys intent to change the industry this time around..?
The only way to change how advertising works is to change how the audience responds to it.

If early previews with copy paste PR material generates the most clicks it is what will dominate the gaming sites.

If the audience react more negatively to the stuff and rewards meaningful content - more of it will get made.

Also, as long as the majority of content is free advertising will be important. It's pretty obvious game companies will advertise on game sites... that's their audience. That doesn't need to affect the content. RPS runs advertisements too for example.
 
I often sweat decisions about whether or not to post things like that 3DS delivery, because I know how it can look. But it was just too weird. Sometimes I feel like people need to see the insane lengths that some companies go through to make their product stand out from the crowd of junk that crosses our desks every day. In the case of that 3DS video, I knew it would look flashy, but I also felt like people needed to know how fucking weird this business can be sometimes. In other cases, I might not say much publicly because I don't want to give any extra airtime to a brand. I got an autographed (by game developers) bag of chips with a video game logo on it today. Given the current promotions out there I'm sure it's not hard to figure out what I'm talking about. But if I promote their product directly by mentioning it by name on Twitter, they win. And fuck that.

Anyway, I think a lot of that fancy delivery stuff is more meant for the mainstream press. Obviously people like us would cover the 3DS, we're a game site. But if you're a PR person that needs to catch the attention of a tech editor at a newspaper that maybe writes one game article a month, you need to include some sort of stupid flag in the package. You need to send the chain of girls. You need to hope that you make an impression and get that writer to take one extra look at your product before tossing it aside. Because that guy reaches people who don't already read game sites and see game trailers and memorize game release dates. That guy isn't preaching to the choir. That guy is, like, the PR holy grail or something. If he writes about your product, millions of people who might not have heard about your game otherwise now know it exists.
There were like a dozen girls parading in the 3DS, how many ladies will show up to give you a WiiU?
 
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.



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:



She said this the day after she posted her Need for Speed video.
It's 3AM and I don't know what to make of any of this but there are two thoughts that immediately crossed my mind. The first is that Garnett took Ariel off the podcast because she's working on PS All Stars, which says to me he's taking perception seriously. The second thought is that after reading the above details on NFS shilling I am suddenly reminded of Garnett's somewhat odd statements about disliking Forza Horizon.
 
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.



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:



She said this the day after she posted her Need for Speed video.
Wow if that's true I want to hear a response to this.
 
not surprised about rene, she's always sounded like PR. never expressed any critical thought or insight on WC.
I was just about to write the same thing. It became almost unbearable on the latest WC episode when she advertised that marvel game.

And I guess I'll have to take the upcoming NFS:MW reviews from the sites/persons EA "partnered" with with some grain of salt.
 
To people that didn't read redfalcon transcript of the show or listened to the last Weekend Confirmed episode.

Andrea Rene quotes:

AR: "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."
AR: "The idea that we shouldn't have personal relationship with people in PR is silly."
GL: "But do you have personal relationships where you get free PS3s?"

AR: "No, but that'd be awesome. I have personal relationships with people at specific PR companies but I'm not putting a score on that game. Somebody else at the company is doing that"
To people that want to listen the talk about this whole issue start at 63 minutes mark.

Weekend Confirmed 136
 
The Rene stuff isn't really that shocking. I don't think too many people took her seriously on the podcast to begin with.

I suppose it is illustrative of the assertions that live-streamers and Youtube posters are the new taste-makers that PR is cosying-up to.
 
When I wake up each day for the last few days, I've spent an hour roughly catching up on this thread... and the more this thread goes on, the more that gets uncovered.

I don't think any of us are actively trying to paint all journalists/websites with the same corrupted brush but we have found out that a lot of those who tweeted in support of Lauren have also been in some shady, corrupted looking situations (though a few things like the IGN are only confirmed by that guy from before, Rev Stuart? and no publicly scathing proof from his own social media stuff).

And with not many of the main big sites covering these shady dealings, it's only natural to start questioning exactly who is shady and who isn't.

Thanks Jeff for commenting here btw, good posts I think :)
 
To people that didn't read redfalcon transcript of the show or listened to the last Weekend Confirmed episode.

Andrea Rene quotes:







To people that want to listen the talk about this whole issue start at 63 minutes mark.

Weekend Confirmed 136
Why do people lie like this? Did she really think people wouldn't watch her online presence after those comments?

Or maybe she knew but still had to do that stuff on twitter because she probably wouldn't be paid otherwise.
 
It's not sudden (and my view is not that of the other poster's comment). There's some great insight and discussion going on in this thread and elsewhere, however much of it's drowned out by the gibbering, flawed dissections, and venomous reactions of those (including some "journalists") who seem to have just had their eyes opened for the first time as to how the world works, and are taking it far too personally. Can you tell me truthfully that what I predicted in my previous post hasn't already come to pass?
You are being hyper sensitive about this.

This is a rough and tumble thread, for sure. But it isn't drowned in venom and flawed reasoning. Maybe for some people it is introducing issues that they never suspected as existing in the fist place. For others it's revealing certain things that they accepted were way outside what they were told before was the hard limit of the sort of dirty laundry that exists in games media.

The people who think that this is boring and shouldn't be taken personally have perhaps failed to shed light on the subject that would stop people being surprised. It does not make them look good to look like a bored and aloof insider at this point.
 
Why do people lie like this? Did she really think people wouldn't watch her online presence after those comments?

Or maybe she knew but still had to do that stuff on twitter because she probably wouldn't be paid otherwise.
Best case scenario, she is candid because she internalized that it's indeed ok. It's ok to have personal relationships with PR, it's ok to work as a direct extension of the PR arms of publishers, it's ok to accept compensation for that (i'm a professional, I don't work for free) directly or indirectly through your company, it's ok because you're just a internet personality and you're not hold to journalist/critic standards.
 
Just want to say that this thread has been absolutely riveting. Great work GAFers!

As a budding writer I've been given the itinerary to avoid PR events like the plague. As Florence stated in his follow-up post, the gold-rush for exclusives is an oxymoron to passionate writing about games, and that's ultimately what I look for in this media - I couldn't give a shit about exclusives.
 
Tom Bramwell said:
Apart from anything else, it is no exaggeration to say that in the last few days people from outside Eurogamer have screamed at me about publishing Rab's column. It was very unpopular with a lot of people who I have grown to know and like over the last 13 years. I will have to look them in the eye forever more and some won't forgive me.
Only further reinforces how devastatingly truthful and perceptive the column was.
 
Wait wait, people in here are honestly up in arms about how GB filmed them getting a 3ds and how they mocked it and talked about how dumb/insane/creepy it was on their podcast?

What the fuck?
 
In case Totilo comes in on this page - why hasn't there been an in-depth article about the PS3 Skyrim debacle and how Bethesda (or Sony) allowed that nonsense to go to retail? What about the current PS3 dlc situation? Why aren't those kinds of stories being investigated instead of Silicon Knights?
Howdy. I'm focusing on getting our site back up and running after the devastation of Sandy, but before I lost Internet last night I did see this comment and still had it open in a tab.

One challenge with threads like these is the mix of valid complaint/concern with what feels like a willful intent to tear some outlets down regardless of what the facts are. So, sure, I get some people might dismiss us because they dislike unboxing videos and feel that that is a breach of ethics. I understand that some are seeing absolutes here and don't believe there is a spectrum upon which there can lie some content that may dovetail with PR's agenda and an editor's assumption of what readers would like to be informed about.

But what I don't understand is why a theory like the one above, one I've seen bandied about in this thread... the theory that Kotaku is cowed by PR to the point that we don't write anything that would piss off powerful companies... persists beyond the first mistaken expression of it.

So, the Skyrim PS3 debacle.. we wrote numerous posts about bugs on it and then did this story: http://kotaku.com/5885358/why-skyrim-didnt-play-nice-with-the-ps3

You can call us many things, but calling us afraid to upset powerful publishers is preposterous. So the next time that comes up, I do hope that the same people who are capable of posting mocking images of our unboxing video can summon the Googling strength to link to our posting of Modern Warfare 3 images and the game's entire plot when it leaked six months before the game was release, our posting of negative specs about the Wii U (its tiny amount of internal storage) in the spring of 2011 way before Nintendo would have wanted that known, the codenames of the next Xbox and PlayStation this past winter, months before Microsoft and Sony wanted it public that new consoles were being made. I could go on, but it seems absurd that I would have to.

I have a site to try and help restore. I won't be back in here. I do think some of the more subtle discussion in here of ethical compromises and the risks thereof has been great. I'm glad to have been a part of it. I just ask that some of the more extreme theories are tested against actual facts. Thanks
 
So, he's saying that he took legal advice and was told that she might have a case against them?

One objection to this action that I've read online is that there was no libel. All I can really say is that the advice we received meant that removing the offending text and apologising to Lauren was the right course of action to take.
 
So, he's saying that he took legal advice and was told that she might have a case against them?
I think it's more that as others have said, the system assumes guilty until proven otherwise, that combined with the insane legal costs was enough for their legal team to say it's not worth it.
 
It's good to see Tom Bramwell's stance on this. Eurogamer were clearly backed into a corner by the threat of legal action. I think the actions of MCV/Intent/Lauren Wainwright were despicable.

I also appreciate his honesty on the potential influence of PR on games writing and whether all games journalists are a little bit compromised, even if they don't realise it. That there was such a negative reaction from some of Bramwell's peers shows that Rab Florence's article was hitting close to home and that Eurogamer were right to publish it. I was angry at Eurogamer for making the changes in the first place, but now I understand why they did it.
 
The answer is that Lauren Wainwright threatened us with legal action and made it clear she would not back down, at which point we took legal advice and ultimately made the decision to remove the paragraphs.
Well now there can be no doubt. She's the culprit. She's the one that ultimately cost the guy his job because he took a stand. Now I don't feel sorry for anything she gets.
 
John Walker has written for Rock Paper Shotgun with their position on the matter.

Rock Paper Shotgun said:
RPS’s position on this matter is as follows: We fully support Robert Florence (who is also a freelancer for us), and think his article raises important issues. We understand Eurogamer’s position that when legal threats are made, with the UK’s despicable libel laws, the burden of time and finances to fight any such threats is gruesome. However, we’re also disappointed that Eurogamer didn’t stand up to these threats and call Wainwright’s bluff. It is our opinion that the correct response from Wainwright would have been to request a response column on Eurogamer to make her argument, or at least post a response on any of the public outlets to which she has access. Silencing journalists is a terrible practice.
 
Weirdly intrigued and somehow looking forward to the (probably) overwhelming avalanche of superlatives about to rain down on us in a couple of hours. I have no opinion on whether or not the game deserves it. But recent events bring a slightly different perspective to this whole circus.
 
Well now there can be no doubt. She's the culprit. She's the one that ultimately cost the guy his job because he took a stand. Now I don't feel sorry for anything she gets.
In a way, she's already reaped some of the rewards for her stupid cowardice, as her legal action was itself a catalyst for turning the story into something bigger than it already was, and thus magnifying the focus on her dirty dealings. Good, I say, fuck her and those who would act in the same manner.
 
So, the Skyrim PS3 debacle.. we wrote numerous posts about bugs on it and then did this story: http://kotaku.com/5885358/why-skyrim-didnt-play-nice-with-the-ps3
I think you've missed the plot on this particular objection. (Even though this is not particularly relevant to the discussion as a whole)

The issue with PS3 Skyrim is how was it released in the state it was in and how was that not noticed by reviewers?

The piece you link to is just a technical explanation of the problem.

People are frustrated about PS3 Skyrim because reviewers were giving it high scores and calling it a GOTY candidate while for many players the game was just broken - complete disconnect between the experience players had and the experience reviewers claimed to have.

Edit:

not totilo said:
John Walker has written for Rock Paper Shotgun with their position on the matter.
Unfortunately this explanation is basically BS because they did run a satirical piece that mocked the idea of PR influence. Rather than stay silent RPS's official take was dismissive.
 
You are being hyper sensitive about this.

This is a rough and tumble thread, for sure. But it isn't drowned in venom and flawed reasoning. Maybe for some people it is introducing issues that they never suspected as existing in the fist place. For others it's revealing certain things that they accepted were way outside what they were told before was the hard limit of the sort of dirty laundry that exists in games media.

The people who think that this is boring and shouldn't be taken personally have perhaps failed to shed light on the subject that would stop people being surprised. It does not make them look good to look like a bored and aloof insider at this point.
What surprises me is that people here are surprised by any of this. It takes very little deductive reasoning to piece together a general picture of what goes on. Not much has been uncovered during this discussion, rather people just looked things up or started to take notice of what was right in front of their faces. Perhaps people should take this stuff personally, but it doesn't make it any less comical when they suddenly start doing so in the extreme. It reminds me of the Bill Hicks JFK assassination bit, when the public freak out that the government might not be telling them the truth "... shit they're lying to us fuuuuucck".
 

shintoki

sparkle this bitch
"The idea that we shouldn't have personal relationship with people in PR is silly."
This excuse is such horseshit.

You can have a personal...and guess what, a professional relationship with a person. Like many critics in the movie industry. Unless of course your professional relationship involves a swag bag. Then its not really a relationship at all, but rather dependency.
 
Edge just put up an article on their site which is from their latest mag but strangely relevant right now: http://www.edge-online.com/?p=70548&preview=true

The trials and pitfalls facing the modern game journalist, and what it means to be a critic

Below is Steven Poole’s Trigger Happy column from our latest issue, E247. While print deadlines dictate that this was written some weeks ago, its content feels particularly relevant following recent events.
 
It's good to see Tom Bramwell's stance on this. Eurogamer were clearly backed into a corner by the threat of legal action. I think the actions of MCV/Intent/Lauren Wainwright were despicable.

I also appreciate his honesty on the potential influence of PR on games writing and whether all games journalists are a little bit compromised, even if they don't realise it. That there was such a negative reaction from some of Bramwell's peers shows that Rab Florence's article was hitting close to home and that Eurogamer were right to publish it. I was angry at Eurogamer for making the changes in the first place, but now I understand why they did it.
I wish he could name and shame all those people.
 
The second main reaction seems to have come mostly from people who work in the games industry - it's all over my Twitter feed, anyway - and it's that a lot of people want to forget about the whole thing and move on. It's just video games, they say. It's not as important as all this. Well, I don't want to move on. It is important. And I don't want to move on for the same reasons I published Rab's column in the first place: I believe there is a lot of truth in what he says.
I guess Rab wasn't the only person receiving suggestions to just sweet it under the rug.

The issue with PS3 Skyrim is how was it released in the state it was in and how was that not noticed by reviewers?
It wasn't noticed by reviewers because apparently Bethesda refused to send out PS3 review copies. Of course that didn't stop reviewers from copy and pasting the 360 review as the PS3 review.
 
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