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Author Topic: Are Game Reviews Bought?  (Read 2478 times)
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Destructor
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« on: June 22, 2004, 06:07:20 PM »

Now, here's what sure to be a controversial topic - are some game reviews bought by the companies themselves?

It makes you wonder why some (usually shoddy) games have such drastic review scores. Driv3r comes to mind, with both IGN and Gamespot agreeing with each other in the 5.5 range, yet some sites and magazines are giving a 9 out of 10 for the final score.

What are your thoughts?
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stiffler
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2004, 06:34:37 PM »

This kind of thing rears its ugly head every once and awhile.  It will be interesting to see if/how the industry responds.  I always figured it was kind of a wink-wink understanding between the publication and the readers.  If it's not outright buying there are always those huge luxury press tours, all-expenses-paid "hands-on" previews, and the sweet, sweet swag.  Of course I feel I am a bit wiser, since I read a lot of different sites, but the buyer of a newsstand issue might be more naive.

It often falls on the shoulders of a few poor individuals that were following orders (not that it is excusable), but the practice goes on.  Perhaps it will become a little more secretive, but over time it becomes plainly obvious.  Most people on CG have little trust of IGN reviews, for example.

My only surprise is that people sound genuinely surprised.  I don't think it is going to change anytime soon.  Or ever, for that matter.  There's just too much money at stake.  Sometimes a game just needs a little more of a marketing push to make it sound more appealing. :twisted:

Clearly Console Gold is not immune, judging by the generous 56% awarded to Spawn: Armageddon.  Is that what it took to secure funding for the site redesign? :wink:

In all honesty, that's why sites such as these are so important.  The forums, inparticular, are an invaluable resource for the informed gamer.
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aledromo
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2004, 06:45:22 PM »

That's exactly why I signed on with this group.  I really enjoy how even though we get a smaller number of things to review than most of the major game sites, people with interest can always find an honest, well reasoned opinion on just about any game through ConsoleGold.  Much of that has to do with these great forums that in no way resemble the onslaught of prepubescent mudslinging that some other sites have in their forums.

Back on topic, does this sort of thing happen with movie or album reviews?
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stiffler
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2004, 06:53:20 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
Back on topic, does this sort of thing happen with movie or album reviews?


I guess you could compare it to the payola scandal that rocked the music world years ago.  It might not seem as common, but with companies like Clear Channel and MTV owning a stranglehold on American airwaves it has moved from the backroom to the boardroom.  As I said, it's big business.

As for other mediums, I would be shocked if something similar didn't happen.  There is a fine line between granting an exclusive first-look and paying for a future favors.  Such a fine line I'm not sure it even exists anymore.  Movie and music mags, just like game mags, NEED the exclusive access to survive and there is only one way to secure it.

Studios/labels have moved from simply fueling the hype to crafting it.  That's what PR firms do.
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Destructor
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2004, 07:06:10 PM »

Quote from: "stiffler"
Clearly Console Gold is not immune, judging by the generous 56% awarded to Spawn: Armageddon.  Is that what it took to secure funding for the site redesign? :wink:

*looks up from counting Spawn cash*
Er...  :twisted:

On a more serious note, I'm guessing that this happens to movies as well, but not as often. There are a ton more movie reviewers out there (in every single newspaper across the US for example) than gaming sites/publications, so 'bribing' everyone off for a good review would be that much harder.
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stiffler
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2004, 07:27:32 PM »

Destructor, your post reminded me of something that I think is almost as bad, and that is "mainstream" magazines and their horrible game "reviews."  If you look at mags like Maxim and Playboy they have a half-page or so with game reviews.  It just irks me because the games they "review" are often not even close to release, especially with the lead-time print mags have before they are printed.  It's like they read the press release and reviewed it based on a single screenshot and potential.

It's like the whole mini-scandal we had here with the Xbox version of Doom 3 and the "psychic prediction" review.  People read those and believe it.

Dennis Publishing (Maxim, Stuff) even released a magazine called "Stuff Gamer" that was based on this entire concept.  It appeared to be little more than a chance to sell advertising.  I recall every other add (if not every single one) was for the N-Gage.  Truly terrible.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2004, 07:31:48 PM »

Yea, I always flip to the game section in Maxim, Stuff, and Playboy just to laugh.  They reviewed a 'close to final' version of Half-Life 2 last year, and they always seem to be about the depth that you would get from the back of the box.  Always humourous.....
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Destructor
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2004, 08:05:58 PM »

Quote from: "stiffler"
Destructor, your post reminded me of something that I think is almost as bad, and that is "mainstream" magazines and their horrible game "reviews."  If you look at mags like Maxim and Playboy they have a half-page or so with game reviews.  It just irks me because the games they "review" are often not even close to release, especially with the lead-time print mags have before they are printed.  It's like they read the press release and reviewed it based on a single screenshot and potential

Believe it or not, I actually talked to somebody recently who's a freelance reviewer of sorts. Maxim pays an absolute ton of cash to the people who write their 'reviews', as millions upon millions of people subscribe to the magazine to read the 'articles'. Even though those reviews come out months (if not years thanks to HL2) before the actual game is released.

Scary, eh?
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aledromo
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2004, 08:10:52 PM »

Quote
Maxim pays an absolute ton of cash to the people who write their 'reviews'


Damn.  Looks like I picked the wrong ship after all.
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Knightshade Dragon
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2004, 08:35:54 PM »

Shit, me too!
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2004, 10:15:10 PM »

According to Playboy, Sudeki earns 3 1/2 rabbit heads.  "This role-playing game takes the best elements of the genre and improves them so the experience can be enjoyed by an audience beyond the local Dungeons and Dragons club."

Wrong ship indeed.
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2004, 11:38:09 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
Quote
Maxim pays an absolute ton of cash to the people who write their 'reviews'


Damn.  Looks like I picked the wrong ship after all.


*regrets not getting more Spawn cash for his glowing review*

Nuts. Guess I picked the wrong week to quit whoring myself out.
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« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2004, 01:21:40 AM »

Quote from: "Destructor"
Maxim pays an absolute ton of cash to the people who write their 'reviews', as millions upon millions of people subscribe to the magazine to read the 'articles'. Even though those reviews come out months (if not years thanks to HL2) before the actual game is released.

Excuse me while I deposit my Maxim check into my Swiss Bank Account slywink
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jimmyorr99
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2004, 06:17:14 PM »

i dont think reviews can be bought. a reporter would lose his credibility if he reported a game being much better than it was. however, i do think ratings can be increased with money, although it is a rare case.
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2004, 07:22:48 PM »

http://opa-ages.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=13444

Seems like Atari did a bit more than just supposedly bribed reviews to give good scores to Driv3r.

The short of it is that apparently they hired Babel Media to give a bit of publicity to the title. So, what ended up happening? Naturally, said company(Babel) "infiltrated" more known board (GamesRadar), and posted positive comments about the game, while pretending to be your average joe's.

You'll find a few examples in the above link.

I wish I could be surprised by this, but I'm really not. It's been happening for a while now, but it's nice to see confirmation about the deeds every now and then.
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2004, 06:58:29 AM »

I hate marketing shills.  May they rot in hell.
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