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

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Jintor

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Oct 22, 2009
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That's just a straw man, which obviously they do a really great and classy job of attacking. Because it's a straw man. Are many people really saying that Giant Bomb are all on the take because they get free t-shirts?

Other people didn't make fun of that flag when they got it, they tried to sell it for a fair amount of money. Or at least they tried to sell it after making fun of it.
You're claiming that the statement they made there neatly encompasses all internet criticism rather than being, say, an example of one form of internet criticism that they encounter (they're on the take because of free swag).
 

Brashnir

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Dec 31, 2005
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I think review copies are fine. They're a product sample, as far as I'm concerned.

Can they affect reviewers? Certainly, but I really think it works from the bottom up. The smaller the site, the more they are affected by their relationship/dependency on PR.
I think in most cases, even if the reviewer wasn't getting a review copy directly from the publisher, they'd be getting one provided by their employer anyway.
 
Feb 22, 2009
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You're claiming that the statement they made there neatly encompasses all internet criticism rather than being, say, an example of one form of internet criticism that they encounter (they're on the take because of free swag).
That was their lead up to describing how the flag came to be an issue at all. If you were fresh to the topic you would think that the only reason the flag came up was because some angry monosyllabic person was jealous of journalists for receiving some piece of promotional tat.
 

Antiwhippy

the holder of the trombone
Mar 28, 2010
51,067
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That was their lead up to describing how the flag came to be an issue at all. If you were fresh to the topic you would think that the only reason the flag came up was because some angry monosyllabic person was jealous of journalists for receiving some piece of promotional tat.
I feel that they've already explained that they are aware some sites are doing shady business. They were explaining their stance on swag, not generalising the entire game press according to themselves.
 

Jintor

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Oct 22, 2009
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But they're not trying to frame the argument to some hypothetical uninformed newcomer. They're discussing amongst themselves their views of the matter in a wider context than that. Further to that, some people were seriously suggesting things like "Oh, they hang out a lot with Harmonix guys, the lack of Dance Central 3 review on Giant Bomb is an attempt to keep the metacritic rating high!" so bullshit like that was levied at them and to pretend otherwise is nonsense.
 
Jan 12, 2007
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P.S. I just realized that the guy who was selling Assassin's Creed 3 press kit may not work for the press. In fact, what he is doing is purchasing press-related products on eBay for cheap and selling it at high price. So pretty much he is buying items from people who are selling these press kits and reselling it for profit.
 
Feb 22, 2009
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Their relationship with Harmonix is a different issue and not one that I've taken any interest in.

What's your relationship with Firaxis anyway Jintor? lol
 

Jintor

Member
Oct 22, 2009
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Professional shill

I'm actually Jake Solomon in disguise

I am neither of these things

The 'relationship with developers' issue is more or less the same as the swag issue in my opinion, in that it revolves around some perceived inability to separate personal and professional lives.
 

Stuart444

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P.S. I just realized that the guy who was selling Assassin's Creed 3 press kit may not work for the press. In fact, what he is doing is purchasing press-related products on eBay for cheap and selling it at high price. So pretty much he is buying items from people who are selling these press kits and reselling it for profit.
To be fair, if that is true then he is rather smart >_> could make a decent profit off that for quite some time. Some side cash on top of his day job.
 

conman

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Aug 12, 2007
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http://www.vg247.com/2012/10/31/doritosgate-after-the-storm-lets-clean-ourselves-up/

A very good response, and the kind of tack I want to see more sites take. Well done VG247!
Incredible. And this particular policy seems like a great model for other sites, as well.:

Patrick Garratt said:
Writers will never report on companies or products in which they have financial interest, or on companies which employ family members or close friends. Most games journalists have friendly relationships with some publisher PR. As of now, those friendships will prevent staff members from writing about any related company’s products. Similarly, our staff will now not write about products and companies in which they have a vested interest: this includes any crowd-sourced projects they may have backed.
Awesome stand. Even sites with fairly clear and rigid ethical guidelines don't go this far. Well done.
 

SteelAttack

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Dec 6, 2008
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Major props to VG247. Let's hope this will lead to other sites to adopt a similar stance in the near future, and in the case of the sites that already follow similar practices, to let them be known to their following in a similar way.
 
Sep 16, 2007
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It would be nice if after this settles...we had a list of three groups of websites/enthusiast press


1 - Those that have addressed the issue and show what steps they have taken regarding why we can trust them.

2 - Those that haven't addressed the issue or not shown what steps they have taken regarding why we can trust them.

3 - Sites we know we can't trust.
 

PsychoRaven

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Feb 24, 2005
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the psych ward
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pargonta

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Sep 16, 2009
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Much respect for that Totilo. It almost seems odd to have so much transparency lol, but I think it is only a positive thing.

heck letters from the EIC could be a standard thing.

anyway look forward to Kotaku's story about the issue, things have calmed down on the specific issues last week, so it has moved more towards rhetoric which can be very interesting.
 

grimshawish

Banned
Dec 30, 2011
9,164
0
0
Good to see people realising theres an important issue at hand here.
It seems with theres an underlying importance just for sites to hold their trust with their readers; it good to see Totilo identify that (polygon on the other hand entirely failed to do this).

Trust is what is key here. Its connected to branding, there has to be an appearance of believability and integrity, otherwise theres no real point in reading content from that site. I think this is a really important discussion for journalists to have; and am glad their having it.
 

Jackpot

Banned
Nov 8, 2011
11,466
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Why is the Hardcore Gamer thing still going on? That was confirmed to be a neogafer posting the link as a joke, not the site.
So it definitely wasn't linked in the HG review of AC3? That was an edit by a gaffer?
 

PaulLFC

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Jun 30, 2010
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This is blocked for me, would anyone mind reposting it here? (In this case I wouldn't think that Kotaku would mind)
A Note To Readers About a Story We Have Not Yet Covered

For the past week, there has been intensifying interest in the ethics of games journalism. This was prompted by a screencap that made the rounds featuring GTTV host Geoff Keighley giving interviews while flanked by Pepsi and Mountain Dew as well as by a column on Eurogamer by comedian and critic Robert Florence that critiqued both that image and an incident that appeared to involve games reporters vying for free PlayStation 3s through a Twitter contest.
Florence’s criticism, about what he perceives as the too-close relationship between the video game publicity machine and a gaming press that should be operating independent of it and its temptations, was briskly displaced by Eurogamer’s surprising editing of Florence’s column, removing public Tweets and some commentary apparently at the behest of a gaming reporter who Florence mentioned and out of concern of a possible libel suit. Florence quit his column, Eurogamer apologized and the reporter who Eurogamer says raised the complaint, Lauren Wainwright, was attacked on Twitter, all the while striking a reference to consulting work she had done on Twitter from her resume.

All of this could have been reported on Kotaku last Wednesday, but under my direction we did not. On Saturday, when a reader asked why and as other readers began suggesting it was because we were afraid coverage would implicate us and expose our own supposed ethical compromises I dismissed the entire affair as “not important” and the same old “tired nonsense.” The story would interest me more, I noted, if, through the process of reporting, we could ascertain if there really was a legal threat by one reporter to another outlet that chilled speech (the details there remain unclear because, while Florence and his Eurogamer editor have told their side of the story, Wainwright has not).

My words were careless. I’m proud of the ethical standards we maintain at Kotaku and enjoy the luxury we’ve earned through our size and the backing of our parent company to cover games in ways that may upset game publishers without worrying that it will prevent us from serving our readers well or causing us relevant financial troubles (our publisher quite enjoys when his reporters rock the boats helmed by the captains of the industries they cover and puts editorial ahead of advertising). This is why I rolled my eyes at what seemed to be another ethical breach. Oh, that again? Do we get to have another endless discussion about how all gaming reporters must be corrupt in some way? My kneejerk reaction was to not care enough, because I’ve traditionally viewed many a game journalist’s seemingly incessant desire to discuss games journalism as an impediment to actually just doing games journalism. I err on the side of under-doing media reporting—and this is from someone who did plenty of it for a now-shuttered magazine that was dedicated to doing just that. But if this was a conversation that I considered to be old, I failed to appreciate that there were readers who felt that the topic was not just relevant but crucial. They—perhaps, you—either want to believe their game journalists or see them exposed. And, fairly, they don’t want to see that desire dismissed as a trifle, as something “not important.”

In the days that followed my “not important” line was snarkily contrasted with other stories we’ve run that, it was inferred, had been deemed more important than the exploring the values of good journalism. I failed to appreciate how that one comment would be used to demean our other work and how willingly some critics would ignore the strong and often skeptical reporting efforts put forth by the Kotaku team on myriad gaming topics. When I wasn’t playing Assassin’s Creed III this weekend, I was discussing and arguing with the users of the NeoGAF forum. Some simply chastised me for my dismissal of the story. Some decided it was evidence of Kotaku’s own complicity. As the discussion unfolded, I encountered those who were so wary of the influence of gaming publisher public relations that they could not accept the news value in showing readers the contents of a $100 version of Halo 4 or the finish on a special Halo version of the Xbox 360 through an unboxing video—to help readers know whether it was worth springing money on these things—if those very things being shown were mailed, unsolicited by the Halo PR team and if the showing of them would dovetail with PR’s agenda to help market the game. A reasonable difference of opinion there. I also encountered the flat-Earth theories that Kotaku is toothless and only picks on those who are not rich or powerful enough to hit us back. Any reader of our site who has seen the full sweep of our coverage of major game publishers and platform holders might very well dismiss those views as the tired nonsense that they are. I suspect our legal team, superb defenders of all of Gawker Media’s sites from the rich and offended, would concur.

My discussion on NeoGAF as well as on Twitter and in Kotaku’s own comments convinced me that there was something to be written and reported, not just belatedly about the Florence-Wainwright flap, but about the larger issues of distrust and skepticism that some readers have of the gaming press. The most shrill critics can never be satisfied, but there are enough honest concerns and earnest questions that some reporting and some insight by and from Kotaku—by and from me—is in order. I said as much on Sunday in the comments in Kotaku.

This lengthy note here is not the coverage I promised. This is just a post to signal to readers that a story is still forthcoming. It was, like many things this week, affected by natural disaster, one that has knocked down Kotaku’s (and my) home city and that has knocked our website out for an unprecedented number of days (hence the Kotumblr you’re on now). While we are trying to publish here with a business-as-usual level of authority and passion, a reported story about the breadth of games journalism issues that have been discussed this past week merits being posted on our own website, where reader feedback is possible in the comments and where visibility of the story will be maximized. And, on a more human level, stranded at home, working with intermittent Internet for a couple of days, I simply haven’t had the time to collect and consider all the results of my reporting, round up all the links I want to point to and, bottom line, do this story right.

So, again, this is not what was promised. But I thought all readers deserved an explanation about why Kotaku, traditionally a leader in games reporting, has been mum on this topic for nearly a week. Blame Sandy. Blame me. It doesn’t matter. I look forward to covering this important story in the days to come.

- Stephen Totilo, Editor-in-Chief
 

Metroidvania

People called Romanes they go the house?
Feb 1, 2008
8,788
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In the cold.
Perhaps its just my inner cynic, but why is important italicized at the end? Just seems...odd.

Also, on the following:

As the discussion unfolded, I encountered those who were so wary of the influence of gaming publisher public relations that they could not accept the news value in showing readers the contents of a $100 version of Halo 4 or the finish on a special Halo version of the Xbox 360 through an unboxing video—to help readers know whether it was worth springing money on these things—if those very things being shown were mailed, unsolicited by the Halo PR team and if the showing of them would dovetail with PR’s agenda to help market the game. A reasonable difference of opinion there.
Maybe it's just me, but informing people on what's actually in a Halo 4 upgrade that's presumably been known what's actually in it for a while and in something being news are completely different. The hardcore fans have gotten it, the on the fencers are still probably on the fence, and the nope's aren't gonna change.

I may be rehashing, but how does video this actually say anything that is new or news? How much effectiveness will having the physical property shown through a video as opposed to a photograph change or influence someone's purchasing decisions, especially when the game is so close to coming out, a good majority will have probably pre-ordered, especially if the higher costing editions are limited in supply, and not like the Halo 3 cat helmet.

I think that's more why people railed against the Halo thing, not just that it was a PR-style unboxing. Personally, I think it's pretty inoffensive as a video (not on the notion of being newsworthy), but it was definitely a matter of wrong place at the wrong time at the least.
 

Zaph

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Jun 19, 2010
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Good read, I can understand (but not necessarily agree with) Stephen's reasoning for his original dismissive tone.

Also, regarding the first paragraph...
For the past week, there has been intensifying interest in the ethics of games journalism. This was prompted by a screencap that made the rounds featuring GTTV host Geoff Keighley giving interviews while flanked by Pepsi and Mountain Dew as well as by a column on Eurogamer by comedian and critic Robert Florence that critiqued both that image and an incident that appeared to involve games reporters vying for free PlayStation 3s through a Twitter contest.
...while the Mountain Dew/Doritos thing was a catalyst, I don't think anyone really cares too much about the over-abundance of non-endemic advertising - you guys have got to get paid somehow. Jeff Gerstmann's post seemed to make this mistake too.

Yeah, being surrounded by junk food isn't exactly a good look, but it's much, much preferred over advertising the products you're supposed to be critiquing (Halo).
 

Safe Bet

Banned
Sep 5, 2006
6,824
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..them call it a witch hunt right off the bat
An uproar from the gaming public for more professional accountability and separation from publisher influence in game coverage is labeled a "witch hunt"?

WOW

Dear Game Press

This "witch hunt" is your own creation, given birth through a stubborn refusal to police yourself.

FFS

GAF was the one to get to the bottom of Dorito-Gate.

Not you...

GAF



PS

Sorry for the generalization and use of second-person.

I'm an emotional guy.
 

RobotRocker

Member
Nov 19, 2010
704
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That's been known to happen? That's pretty funny.
Go to CEX in Grosvenor Place or Tottenham Court Road in London and you will find literally hundreds of promo copies in there. They just dump them in there and get money for them after they are done, especially as CEX don't ask questions and will even take in copies of games that haven't even been released yet (I found a second hand promo copy of Just Cause 2 on sale a whole two weeks before it was out).

It's hilarious, to be honest.
 

PsychoRaven

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Feb 24, 2005
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Perhaps its just my inner cynic, but why is important italicized at the end? Just seems...odd.

Also, on the following:



Maybe it's just me, but informing people on what's actually in a Halo 4 upgrade that's presumably been known what's actually in it for a while and in something being news are completely different. The hardcore fans have gotten it, the on the fencers are still probably on the fence, and the nope's aren't gonna change.

I may be rehashing, but how does video this actually say anything that is new or news? How much effectiveness will having the physical property shown through a video as opposed to a photograph change or influence someone's purchasing decisions, especially when the game is so close to coming out, a good majority will have probably pre-ordered, especially if the higher costing editions are limited in supply, and not like the Halo 3 cat helmet.

I think that's more why people railed against the Halo thing, not just that it was a PR-style unboxing. Personally, I think it's pretty inoffensive as a video (not on the notion of being newsworthy), but it was definitely a matter of wrong place at the wrong time at the least.
Now on the unboxing I'll defend them on that. I myself was one of many on the fence about buying the Halo 4 Limited Edition. Course I was on the fence about buying the game at all for a long time. However that unboxing helped me decide and ultimately save myself 40 bucks. Thanks to it I decided to buy the regular edition through NewEgg with the 12 bucks off coupon. So there is a place for things like unboxing videos as long as they are informational. However it shouldn't be labeled as news though because it's not news. But I do enjoy unboxing videos myself when I'm unsure if I should buy a CE or regular edition.
 

PaulLFC

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Jun 30, 2010
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Rob Florence will be starting a new video game show next year. No ads/sponsors and all featured games bought and paid for by Rob/the team:

Robert Florence ‏@robertflorence
To clarify, our new video game show in 2013 will be online, free, with no ads or sponsors and we'll buy any games that are featured.

It's not a review show. And we're delighted that @1030, who made this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmfHHLfbjNQ … and this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxywOFwIpbc … is on board

We can probably run one series without money being an issue.
 

PsychoRaven

Member
Feb 24, 2005
21,529
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39
the psych ward
www.twitch.tv
Rob Florence will be starting a new video game show next year. No ads/sponsors and all featured games bought and paid for by Rob/the team:

Robert Florence ‏@robertflorence
To clarify, our new video game show in 2013 will be online, free, with no ads or sponsors and we'll buy any games that are featured.

It's not a review show. And we're delighted that @1030, who made this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmfHHLfbjNQ … and this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxywOFwIpbc … is on board

We can probably run one series without money being an issue.
Oh sweet. I can't wait to check that out.
 

Dennis

Banned
Jul 7, 2009
46,557
1
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Rob Florence will be starting a new video game show next year. No ads/sponsors and all featured games bought and paid for by Rob/the team:

Robert Florence ‏@robertflorence
To clarify, our new video game show in 2013 will be online, free, with no ads or sponsors and we'll buy any games that are featured.

It's not a review show. And we're delighted that @1030, who made this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmfHHLfbjNQ … and this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxywOFwIpbc … is on board

We can probably run one series without money being an issue.
Will be sure to check it out.
 

Brashnir

Member
Dec 31, 2005
17,646
0
0
An uproar from the gaming public for more professional accountability and separation from publisher influence in game coverage is labeled a "witch hunt"?

WOW

Dear Game Press

This "witch hunt" is your own creation, given birth through a stubborn refusal to police yourself.

FFS

GAF was the one to get to the bottom of Dorito-Gate.

Not you...

GAF



PS

Sorry for the generalization and use of second-person.

I'm an emotional guy.
This post is very reactionary based on a very out-of-context comment. The words "witch hunt" were used, but it wasn't used as a dismissal of the issue. It was specifically referring to one aspect of the discussion on the internet about this.

I encourage you to to listen to the full discussion, but here's a direct quote of the usage of the phrase, so you can at least have minimal context.

Patrick - [Florence] has this larger critique of, "How can you trust these people who are ostensibly games writers, games jornalists, that are participating in these hashtags, sitting in front of Doritos and Mountain Dew, and consulting on Tomb Raider while also reviewing those products.

Jeff - Yeah. It is a 100% valid criticism, though at the same time I feel that the way it was presented in that article was (pause) bitter and overly kind of stand-offish. I mean, there's no nice way to bring some of this stuff up, I guess, but at the same time (pause) I don't know. They are legitimate issues that, yes, yes - he is 100% right, but I feel that the article end of it could have been handled a whole lot better.

Brad - Yeah, I mean, the premise is completely sound, but the cable news tactic of, "I'm not saying this, but maybe this," kinda thing. Yeah.

Jeff - Right. And there are people in different lines of work. There are people out there getting dragged into this who I bet wouldn't self-identify as a game journalist. They'd identify as a Host or a Personality or something along those lines first and foremost. It's a lot of people who you wouldn't necessarily look to for advice about reviews, or people who you wouldn't necessarily say, "that's the person I trust when it comes to information about games." [and these people are] becoming much bigger players in this story than they probably should be as this thing kind of starts to resemble a witch hunt. It's unfortunate that it has kind of blown up into this, but at the same time, yeah. The initial kernel of it is totally fucked up. And people are finding things that are just as fucked up.
 

AkuMifune

Banned
Dec 23, 2007
11,687
0
0
Austin
It would be nice if after this settles...we had a list of three groups of websites/enthusiast press


1 - Those that have addressed the issue and show what steps they have taken regarding why we can trust them.

2 - Those that haven't addressed the issue or not shown what steps they have taken regarding why we can trust them.

3 - Sites we know we can't trust.
The good, the bad and the ugly. It's a great idea and a way for us to draw a line in the sand to ensure something positive comes out of this whole debacle.
 

NihonTiger90

Member
Jan 22, 2007
11,931
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Much respect for that Totilo. It almost seems odd to have so much transparency lol, but I think it is only a positive thing.

heck letters from the EIC could be a standard thing.

anyway look forward to Kotaku's story about the issue, things have calmed down on the specific issues last week, so it has moved more towards rhetoric which can be very interesting.
They should be, and good on Totilo for writing that. I do letters from the EIC for my non-gaming site as a way to get direct feedback on ideas, let readers know what is coming and encourage discussion.
 

Haunted

Member
Nov 16, 2006
78,207
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0
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So will that Dave Cook guy continue to write for vg247 now that he can't enter any more "competitions"? :p

Not that I read that site anyway, but it's good to see them take a stand and honestly revise their position. Here's hoping that's the start of something right there.
 

grimshawish

Banned
Dec 30, 2011
9,164
0
0
Rob Florence will be starting a new video game show next year. No ads/sponsors and all featured games bought and paid for by Rob/the team:

Robert Florence ‏@robertflorence
To clarify, our new video game show in 2013 will be online, free, with no ads or sponsors and we'll buy any games that are featured.

It's not a review show. And we're delighted that @1030, who made this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmfHHLfbjNQ … and this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxywOFwIpbc … is on board

We can probably run one series without money being an issue.
Great news. Personally don't see anything wrong with ads (just gaming centric ones agreed through mates/PR and with conditions); but I understand his reasons for making it non-ad based.

Will be interesting to see.

Jeff - Yeah. It is a 100% valid criticism, though at the same time I feel that the way it was presented in that article was (pause) bitter and overly kind of stand-offish. I mean, there's no nice way to bring some of this stuff up, I guess, but at the same time (pause) I don't know. They are legitimate issues that, yes, yes - he is 100% right, but I feel that the article end of it could have been handled a whole lot better.
Bullshit Jeff. In what way exactly can it be described as 'bitter'
 

Victrix

*beard*
Sep 1, 2005
7,657
0
0
Yeah, I don't think it needs to be free. If his material has value, give it a price. There's no shame in that. It can still be 'free'.

Voluntary subscriptions, youtube channel, twitch stream, google adsense, ads from companies _not_ in the gaming industry, etcetc. Any or all of that is a-ok in my book. Even sweet sweet merch, if he ever hits the right level of popularity. A way to give something to people who support you.

If he wants to sit on a throne of junkfood and dispense gaming wisdom, cool, just don't sit on ubisofts american flag.
 
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