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Corruption in the reviewing industry...


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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.

True, but if you read IGN and Gamespot, it's pretty obvious that they (especially IGN) do pander to publisher requests, as loads of crappy games receive glowing praise on those sites.

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It's quite odd to be doing this but.. I have to recommend a thread from GamesRadar on this very topic.

http://forum.gamesradar.com/viewtopic.php?...der=asc&start=0

Includes response from X Box World magazine themselves...

Well then. Our review score for Driv3r seems to have created quite a stir and with half of you baying for blood and demanding a response from XBW, I thought I'd brave the forums. Ulp.

First off I'd like to totally refute the suggestion that magazines, and specifically XBW, take bribes - monetary or otherwise - to inflate review scores. Sure we might get the odd T-shirt sent to us or a pint bought by a PR but never, in 4 years of working at Future, have I ever given a game an inflated score because a/ I've been ordered to or b/ I've been thrown a bung. Sure I've over marked games - 9/10 for MOH: Rising Sun in OPS2 I will freely admit was a grave error of judgement but an honest mistake. But that's another story entirely.

Further to this, the allegation that there is some grand conspiracy between ourselves and Atari - 'you give it a nine, we'll lob a sticker on the box and a page in the manual' - is again wrong. The sticker was agreed on only after the review had been written and sent to press.

So to Driv3r. It's a great game and we stand by the review. Our staffie played it to completion and loved it, as did the man who wrote our tips guide. However, with regard to the technical issues raised on this forum then you may have a point. Because of the long lead times for magazines and the fact that it was an exclusive review, the code we reviewed from was not final. We were made aware of some bugs in the game and were promised that these would be sorted by the time of release. I cannot comment on whether these were fixed or not but I have an unopened boxed copy of the game on my desk and will endeavour to check it out this evening - there's been too much footie on for serious gaming sessions at home! If it transpires that what was supposedly going to be fixed wasn't, then we will speak to Atari. But like I say, can't comment on that yet. That said, the old PS1 games were greeted with rapturous applause and they were pretty ropy technically in places - slowdown and pop-up aplenty - but had the killer gameplay that we believe has carried over to the latest Driver incarnation.

So with this in mind perhaps a 9 was a little too enthusiastic. Perhaps. But for gamescentral to score it a 3 is just plain rubbish. A 3, or even a 6, would suggest that the game is fundamentally broken and the gameplay offers little if anything in the way of enjoyment. This is simply not true, far from it. If we were to review from the boxed copy and found that all the technical issues had not been resolved then I believe we still would have scored it an 8 or 9 but again, this is pure conjecture and I'll comment when I've played it.

At the end of the day, Bob, much of this is surely down to personal opinion and taste. Can I point you in the direction of OXM's Shadow Ops review in their current issue? This is in no way a personal attack on Gavin Ogden (we'll leave the petty bitching to Xbox Gamer) but 8/10 is, in our opinion, a very very high score for the game. We've only just gone to print with our review so I wont give out our score but I only mention this to illustrate that games, like most things in life, are so often down to the reviewer's/gamer's taste. An another example - I'm currently having a heated discussion with the boss about Leilani and whether she's hot to trot or not. She is, he's entirely wrong, I am entirely right.

Right, I'll stop rambling on now. Hope this goes someway to answering your points. I await responses with extreme trepidation...

Please note this post is speaking for XBW and not PSM2.

Nick Ellis

Deputy editor, XBW

And also..

The PS2 code was finished, PSM2 were not lying. Sony and MS have different submission deadlines, the PS2 code is always finished first with multi-platform titles. The code we had was a few weeks off - the game in it's entirety was there - cutscenes, sound, whatever - the remaining dev time was for polishing, we were told. As I said in my original post, I will look at the boxed game tonight and post again tomorrow.
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What does he mean in the last bit about finished code? Microsoft on only certifies finished code, none of this "we'll fix that later" nonsense.

I can't believe he would still give the game a 9 even though he admits there were bugs and flaws. This guy just sounds like a total clown. BAH!

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Now this is a post:

I've finally stopped laughing.

Right. *Cracks Knuckles*

Nick, this isn't aimed directly at you. These decisions were made above you, by people who have sent you here to get a kicking in their place because they are spineless t*ssers afraid to speak for themselves. Why isn’t your editor here? You're not responsible for this mess. Where’s your publisher?

So, I'm sorry.

Oh, and I AM expecting Future types to delete this post, so read it quick.

First off I'd like to totally refute the suggestion that magazines, and specifically XBW, take bribes - monetary or otherwise - to inflate review scores.

:D Good one. You don't take bribes, I agree. Bribes are in brown envelopes. THIS is called business, and it's all agreed and above board, and rife in the games mag industry. I was in games mags when you were crawling so I know how this works. "So we get the first review, exclusive cover art, and several pages of premium Atari advertising, and all we have to do is fool our readers? What a deal!"

Further to this, the allegation that there is some grand conspiracy between ourselves and Atari - 'you give it a nine, we'll lob a sticker on the box and a page in the manual' - is again wrong. The sticker was agreed on only after the review had been written and sent to press.

Yes and Atari agreed to give you the first review regardless of the score you gave the game too I expect?

So to Driv3r. It's a great game and we stand by the review.

That’s a lowdown dirty trick and you know it. It’s the best of two bad options isn’t it mate? Admit that you knowingly lied to your loyal readership while chugging Satan’s fat one, or say “We stick by it” when you know that you don’t stick by it at all (you’re actually crying inside aren’t you?). This excuse is usually followed at some point by the “it’s all subjective” line…

A few years ago Paragon’s “64 Magazine” uttered the classic “Mission: Impossible – better than Goldeneye!”. The response was much the same then. Everyone went “Eh?”. But instead of admitting that they had an arrangement with Infogrames (well now, isn’t that interesting?) they simply “stood by” one of the insanest statements I’ve ever heard until the mag eventually closed up shop!

Even EDGE has apologised on occasion (funnily enough, for not giving GoldenEye a 10), and they lost no credibility in the process. Be a man fer chrissakes.

Because of the long lead times for magazines and the fact that it was an exclusive review, the code we reviewed from was not final.

This sentence makes no sense to me. I don’t understand. Did you judge The Order of the Phoenix by that snippet that appeared in the papers? “Dumbledore sat Harry down…”

It’s a 9!

You cannot review that which is not finished. By definition this is a preview.

YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS BY NOW. Shame on you.

We were made aware of some bugs in the game and were promised that these would be sorted by the time of release.

Oh My God. You are an Dep Editor in a games mag. Are you 12? Have you been doing this job for a week? No. In which case you have come up against this age-old PR trick time and time again over your months or years doing this job have you not? Saying you believed them doesn't justify your stupidity. Of course they said the bugs would be sorted out. THEY ALWAYS DO. And they always lie. Especially Shitari, as well you know. When was the last time they released any game that was any cop? If you discount Transformers and the UT series, there's been nothing in their catalogue, FOR YEARS, that was even worth touching. And they're one of the biggest publishers around? Why? Because of YOU and people like you. Ubisoft (for example) have released more great games in the last six months than Atari / Infogrames have since the company was fomed. And then there's Reflections. Driver was good enough. But Driver 2 was unfinished twaddle! Stuntman was unfinished twaddle! Why did anyone ever believe that Driver 3 would be anything other than unfinished twaddle?

we will speak to Atari.

Aaaaaaahhhh ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa. You going to tell them off are you? Chide them? Sorry I'm laughing again now. You're their bitch, NOT the other way round.

Perhaps.

Just stop being an obstinate git and retract it will you?

3 or a 6 would suggest that the game is fundamentally broken

And you have a problem with truth do you?

And you'd give a fundamentally broken game with little enjoyment value a 6? Oh my.

At the end of the day, Bob, much of this is surely down to personal opinion and taste.

This. Right Here.

This is the problem with games reviewing today. Allows you cheating weasels to slime your way out of anything. This sentence is equivalent to saying "Well, the existence of our mag is pretty f*ck*ng pointless really." Doesn’t it?

On one hand you’re going “buy the mag! It will help you make the right choice! We are the vanguard of taste, we know our stuff!” and on the other you’re going, quietly “But you might have to discount everything we say as it’s all just subjective really ain’t it?”

It is your job to seperate the good games from the bad ones. This isn't music, this isn't film. Opinion matters less than in other forms of media. I like The Mars Volta - they have produced one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. Maybe you hate them (probably) but like Suede instead – whereas I think they are shite. Music is just taste. Whereas, games can JUST BE CRAP. I pride myself on being able to tell good games from bad ones whether I like them or not. A good reviewer should know the damn difference. You’re in the wrong career. Get a job in politics.

Can I point you in the direction of OXM's Shadow Ops review in their current issue? This is in no way a personal attack on Gavin Ogden (we'll leave the petty bitching to Xbox Gamer) but 8/10 is, in our opinion, a very very high score for the game.

Some more nice weaselwork. Good stuff. All you are doing is pointing out that all you mags are as bad as each other. Only EDGE and, perhaps even more so, GamesTM can really be trusted these days. I work for neither by the way.

I'm currently having a heated discussion with the boss about Leilani and whether she's hot to trot or not. She is, he's entirely wrong,  I am entirely right.

It's fundamentally different mate. If her leg fell off while you were screwing her, and you'd just paid £44.99 for the privilege you'd be pretty annoyed.

So stop being a dick. XBM, PSM2, all of you. Your first priority is to your damn readers. If your reviews can be trusted, you will be bought by more people, and get advertising as a result of your reach, rather than your score massaging skills and ability to nosh a certain PR guy off.

People in this industry need to grow a damn backbone and start speaking the truth before it dies from under us. Can you imagine Atari’s boardroom right now? Full of rich old gits that don’t know anything about games, counting their money and cheering about how great they are, while the PR guy stands wafting copies of YOUR mags under their noses. No-one thinks they’ve put a foot out of line. They think they’ve made a great game and are probably planning the next (again, rushed) instalment right now. Everyone’s congratulating each other on a job well done – except it’s not, it’s another step towards the games industry crash of the early 80s happening again.

Ironically enough, that crash was caused by Atari…

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Well, he sure told that XBWanker off ...

It happened so much before. I started a thread back on the Edge forum about Rockstar offering sneak previews, covers and exclusive reviews of Vice City to mags if they'd give the game a guaranteed 9/10 minimum. The editor of the Dutch/Belgian OPM2 magazine protested against this and wrote a whole column about it, telling the readers all about it. Created quite a storm too. While I can understand publishers of shit games like Atari want to pimp up the scores, it's beyond me while games like Vice City get this treatment. They score well just because they're good games. And that's all we want, right?

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While I can understand publishers of shit games like Atari want to pimp up the scores, it's beyond me while games like Vice City get this treatment. They score well just because they're good games. And that's all we want, right?

State of Emergency anyone?

It's sad that these publishers have so little faith in their own product. Still, if nothing else, Driv3r has really gone a long way to expose these practices, and the magazines which embrace such practices are rightly reaping the whirl wind.

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"However, with regard to the technical issues raised on this forum then you may have a point. Because of the long lead times for magazines and the fact that it was an exclusive review, the code we reviewed from was not final."

Fuck you and fuck your dishonest magazine.

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"However, with regard to the technical issues raised on this forum then you may have a point. Because of the long lead times for magazines and the fact that it was an exclusive review, the code we reviewed from was not final."

Fuck you and fuck your dishonest magazine.

Well, quite. There's simply no excuse for reviewing unfinished, broken code - even if the nice PR guy from Atari promises it'll be fixed by the time it ships (96% of the time, of course, it simply won't be). And I'm sure all of their readers who spent £40 on the resultingly exciting and snazzy unfinished, broken game will appreciate that all-important exclusive review.

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I personally feel the real truth will only come out after the plucky lads and ladettes at the Official PS2 Magazine get to grips with the beast that is Driv3r, for some of their trademark in-depth analysis and front cover/demo.

Trebles all round at Atari HQ!

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Whilst it's true there is a lot of "outside influence" in the scoring of some titles I disagree with yout comments on printed magazines.

I subscribe to GamesTM and that's because I seem to share the same tastes as them in games.

When I was refering to print mags and bad reviewing I should have said that GamesTM and Edge were the exceptions. GamesTM isnt my "bag" I'm afraid but I do appreciate the stand they take over their reviewing policy. But I have been buying Edge for years.

I think the comments by the new tea-boy at Xbox World a few posts above validate my point on most game review mags.

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