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Corruption in the reviewing industry...


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Lonely Planet are operating in a far different market, with one direct competitor.

They'd also be stuffed completely and utterly if their market thought they'd sold their soul.

Videogames magazines, on the other hand, are in a very busy marketplace. And are treated as a joke by everyone.

We expect them to lie.

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On a positive note, when I worked for Lonely Planet we were offered bribes all the time from the travel industry and we never, ever came close to being influenced. I don't work for them anymore so there's nothing in this for me but they have a very strong ethic when it comes to being honest and impartial. Surely they can't be the only ones with morals?

Well I guess they made their name based on their integrity and as such have become the undisputed world leader for travel guides.

For games magazines competing against each other month after month, being denied advance review code could be crippling.

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Well, that spong thread is pretty good proof. Plus, I've heard other stories concerning this particular game that say to me that it isn't a particularly straight score.

if it's that great, IGN and gamespot wouldn't be giving it exactly the same mediocre score, would they?

i haven't read the spong thing but then, it's still the internet therefore it's rife with gossip and rumours and if this bribing is going on, then surely IGN would have given Driver 3 a higher score? which reviews are we talking about here, the one's where reviewers have been bribed?

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Yeah but Andy, nobody will give Galleon a 9

Not true, CVG gave the game 92 percent. In fact the GamesTM review is the toughest review by far. It's also dodgy territory to say the reason Edge gave Galleon a seven was because they were being more "forgiving and lenient". I could just as easy say that GamesTM missed the point of the game, and so were "overly harsh".

Don't get me wrong, I do understand what you're saying, that you buy GamesTM because their reviews reflect your tastes. That is of course common sense, but to take that opinion to it's logical conclusion, you have to accept that other reviews (bribing aside) are equally as truthful, without offering up excuses as to why other reviews were higher or lower than you believed fair.

Personally I read a lot of magazines and websites, and I usually skip from review to review. I haven't really found any one magazine which I consistently agree with. I find places like Metacritic are a good place to visit to get a feel for how good a game is. The odd 90 or 10 could be considered a fluke, but if a game is consistently getting scored around a similar mark, then it's fairly safe to say that this mark is a pretty good reflection of the games over all quality.

I hope that makes sense to someone :)

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At my previous company, which were working on a Midway franchise at the time, we had a Midway producer come in and tell us to "get the game to a 5 or 6 / 10 in Edge and he'd do the rest". He went on to explain how he'd get all the journalists into some flashy pub and "come to an arrangement" to get an additional couple of points added to each review.

The guy was a tosser and is no longer employed by Midway, so whether or not this is standard Midway practise, I can't say for sure. To be honest, not sure the game even made it to a 5/10 score in my book by the time we'd finished developing it anyways. :) It's gone internal to Midway now and comes out early 2005 to avoid clashing with GTA: SA.

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So then shall we assume any mag/website giving Driv3r more than 7 to be a lying sack of shit?

Thinking about it more then yes, the Lonely Planet example was poor as it's a different environment, but then what is the point of games magazines if they don't tell the truth? Surely we're simply just paying for marketing letters and promotional material.

I still think that there are mags out there that don't succumb to this, at least not that much. Many reviews I've read in the magazines I buy sound honest and actualy reflect what I myself think about the game being reviewed. At the same time when I've gone through some other mags then it did read like a promotional press release and it was just blatant.

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Personally I read a lot of magazines and websites, and I usually skip from review to review. I haven't really found any one magazine which I consistently agree with. I find places like Metacritic are a good place to visit to get a feel for how good a game is. The odd 90 or 10 could be considered a fluke, but if a game is consistently getting scored around a similar mark, then it's fairly safe to say that this mark is a pretty good reflection of the games over all quality.

I hope that makes sense to someone :)

makes sense to me, out of interest how are Driver and Galleon scoring on metacritic? (i know i know, i'm lazy!)

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i haven't read the spong thing but then, it's still the internet therefore it's rife with gossip and rumours and if this bribing is going on, then surely IGN would have given Driver 3 a higher score? which reviews are we talking about here, the one's where reviewers have been bribed?

Very large online magazines like IGN and gamespot are probably less likely to give in to publisher influence as the publishers can't hurt them in the same way they can hurt print mags with their relatively small circulation and advertising market.

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Not true, CVG gave the game 92 percent. In fact the GamesTM review is the toughest review by far. It's also dodgy territory to say the reason Edge gave Galleon a seven was because they were being more "forgiving and lenient". I could just as easy say that GamesTM missed the point of the game, and so were "overly harsh".

Don't get me wrong, I do understand what you're saying, that you buy GamesTM because their reviews reflect your tastes. That is of course common sense, but to take that opinion to it's logical conclusion, you have to accept that other reviews (bribing aside) are equally as truthful, without offering up excuses as to why other reviews were higher or lower than you believed fair.

Personally I read a lot of magazines and websites, and I usually skip from review to review. I haven't really found any one magazine which I consistently agree with. I find places like Metacritic are a good place to visit to get a feel for how good a game is. The odd 90 or 10 could be considered a fluke, but if a game is consistently getting scored around a similar mark, then it's fairly safe to say that this mark is a pretty good reflection of the games over all quality.

I hope that makes sense to someone :)

That made perfect sense to me. The 90% score is utter rubbish. I know er've discussed this before and I won't go into it again as we already know how each person feels about it but are you seriously suggesting that a review which says Galleon was just 8% away from being a perfect game is in any way sane? The reviewer has either not played the game or has no standards at all.

As for assuming Edge went easy on it, that was wrong of me but I based it on the review text and the fact it basicaly made the game out to be flawed yet with a god idea behind it. Well, that to me suggests that the only thing that saved it from receiving a score similar to GamesTM was that the Edge reviewer appreciated what was attempted by the Galleon team and as such reflected that with a 7 score. Well, in any case, it's perfectly viable for someone to give it a 7 in the context of a review which points out the game is far from perfect. A 92% score is bullshit.

As an example, I really liked The Suffering but at the same time I think it's quite flawed in many ways. I agreed more with the Edge review than the GamesTM one but I could never, in all honesty, give it more than the 6 it got on Edge, no matter how much I like it, because I'm able to distance myself from my own personal feelings towards it and be able to evaluate all its faults as well as its merits, and just because some of the faults didn't bother me doesn't mean they're not there.

It's when scores and reviews are written to be little more than glorified press releases that I think the people responsible should hang their heads in shame and reflect on the absolute patheticness of their behaviour.

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For games magazines competing against each other month after month, being denied advance review code could be crippling.

But these kinds of magazines are symptomatic of the problem with games as a medium; gross immaturity. It might be that gaming still needs to be in that phase at this stage, but it's still problematic. We deserve honest, critical publications - the only gameing-specific magazine that fits the bill for me at the moment is Edge, which I think is on a par with Wire as a music magazine. Magazines should be able to explain that they don't have a review of game X because the code was withheld by the publisher, and their audience should be mature enough to accept that as a virtue of the magazine, not a failing.

That's very idealistic, but I hope that's where we'll end up eventually. Magazines taking this approach will have an effect on the publishers who pull this kind of nonsense. And it's the readership that will have an effect on the magazines.

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makes sense to me, out of interest how are Driver and Galleon scoring on metacritic? (i know i know, i'm lazy!)

Driv3r is at 66

Bizarrely enough, Galleon is also at 66. This is principally due to GamesTM (ridiculous...err sorry) score of 4.

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Driv3r is at 66

Bizarrely enough, Galleon is also at 66. This is principally due to GamesTM (ridiculous...err sorry) score of 4.

Don't worry, it's cancelled out by the totaly ludicrous score of 92% :)

Actualy, the "0" is very close to the "9"... type-o? :)

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So then shall we assume any mag/website giving Driv3r more than 7 to be a lying sack of shit?

of course, you're being sarcastic but like i said before, if one doesn't agree with a review then accusing someone of being bribed or lying isn't a valid argument.

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Don't worry, it's cancelled out by the totaly ludicrous score of 92% :)

Actualy, the "0" is very close to the "9"... type-o? :)

Just as I was reading back my post, that very thought popped into my head :D

It does indeed take all sorts this video game reviewing lark :P

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Magazines should be able to explain that they don't have a review of game X because the code was withheld by the publisher, and their audience should be mature enough to accept that as a virtue of the magazine, not a failing.

That's very idealistic, but I hope that's where we'll end up eventually. Magazines taking this approach will have an effect on the publishers who pull this kind of nonsense. And it's the readership that will have an effect on the magazines.

Here's hoping.

Perhaps the biggies like IGN and Gamespot need to take the lead in this, since they can't really be crippled by publishers. Seems unlikely that such giants would upset the status quo though.

:)

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of course, you're being sarcastic but like i said before, if one doesn't agree with a review then accusing someone of being bribed or lying isn't a valid argument.

Yeah, it was partly toungue in cheek as it seems to be the concensus around here that Driv3r is a load of toss and so a high score would be quite hard to jusify.

As long as the review text reflects the score then I'm fine, but this really does bring us back to the discussion we were having on another thread about standards. Now, you can love something a great deal but at the same time you need to be able to apply standards. If you're a food critic and don't like pasta then you can't go to every Italian restaurant and give it poor reviews. At the same time if you like a game a lot then you've got to put things in perspective and evaluate the game on its own merrits. Does the game leave you stuck in scenerey most of the time? Does it crash often? Are the controls faulty? Is the sound extremely poor? These are things which need to be taken into account and reflected in the review.

I'm all for zero tollerance on certain game features which I think should be standard by now and any poor performance on these issues should not be tollerated. I remember when it was common to just accept crashes in games, or massive bugs, but it's not like that. Similarly you wouldn't expect an action adventure in which you only have one weapon for the whole game like we used to a couple of years ago, and we don't expect major clipping and slowdown etc. Games need to be marked down hard for things like these, in my opinion.

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I'm all for zero tollerance on certain game features which I think should be standard by now and any poor performance on these issues should not be tollerated. I remember when it was common to just accept crashes in games, or massive bugs, but it's not like that. Similarly you wouldn't expect an action adventure in which you only have one weapon for the whole game like we used to a couple of years ago, and we don't expect major clipping and slowdown etc. Games need to be marked down hard for things like these, in my opinion.

i agree that you have to remain as objective as possible, by pointing out such issues, but would it not be feasible for a game to be perfectly functional yet boring, and vice versa? i wouldn't mind a game with some technical/gameplay niggles scoring highly as long as it was great fun to play. it's in finding that balance where subjectivity has to be applied.

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Mags should have a list with all the publishers/developers who blacklist them and they should print it every month so that readers are aware of this censorship.

"How To Destroy Your Games Magazine By Losing All Your Ad Rvenue" by Monkichi is now available in hardback, priced 13.99 from amazon.com. Order yours today!

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