Jimquisition: Integrity, Journalism, and Free PS4s

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Rabidkitten:
Whats the game with the white cyber ninja? Is that killzone?

It's warframe, it's a f2p online game for ps4 and pc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRuNPRDUN9s

I am wondering how many of the people whining about the game jornos getting free system also subvert the ads on the game sites.

As a journalist myself, I certainly understand people's concerns and it is a bit of a touchy subject. But Jim's also got a good, legitimate point; this is about providing necessary resources for him to do his job. Now when a person's job is evaluating and critiquing entertainment, it does add an all new layer of nuance to the whole issue. One can rightly argue "sure it's a tool to do your job, but you're getting PAID to play video games, it's awesome enough as it is, do the companies really need to be pampering reviewers even MORE by making their games and systems free?" But on the flip side, one can also rightly argue "Gaming for fun and gaming for work are not the same thing, because one is done at your leisure with things you like and done in a relaxed mindset, while the other is done because you have to with games you may not necessarily want to play and done while concentrating on all aspects of the game to scrutinize, analyze, take notes, compare to other games of the same type, and later on likely do some research on the development to determine how certain things came to be."

There's no doubt critiquing games as an occupation is going to have some very big upsides to it. You get access to the latest games, often without having to pay for them, and your occupation coincides with your hobby so there's no question for many it sounds like a dream job (and for some no doubt it would be). BUT it is still work, your reviews have to reflect thorough analysis of the game in question, do so within a deadline, you're not likely going to be at liberty to cherry-pick your assignments and will have to play what you're required to instead of what you want to. Like movie critics, book critics and restaurant critics, there's little doubt game critics love the subject matter of their job, but they are expected to have informed opinions on it, and that often doesn't come without research on parts of the subject that you don't pick up on just by watching them. You've also got to play through/sit through/read through/swallow the lousy drek to be able to know by comparison what's better. And the hell of it is, as with any sort of publicized articles or broadcasts, there will be criticism of your reviews; from the people with differing opinions that want to debate you on it, to the people who think you left things out or missed something or ignored something about a game to the ill-tempered jerks that want to tell you - in ugly tones of voice - how to do your job and think you're incompetent.

So in a nutshell, yeah, I have to imagine being a game critic is an incredibly fun job at its high points. But I can't imagine it's all wine and roses.

Just as my laughter had subsided from you showing off your lovely PS4, You game journalismed. You game journalismed everywhere and I could not control myself.

I wonder if Jim does that to everything he brings up to that podium.

Gross
Erotic
Gross
Erotic
Can't really decide which now.

Even if it is "GIFTING" it doesn't guarantee a good rating!
If I was given a PS$ to review and the thing broke down on me; guess what my review would be?

Sometimes I do wonder if "gamer" is another word for "screeching fuck-wit."

Thanatos2k:
The main problem here is that most gamers don't believe that professional game reviewers have any credibility. Most people don't think "Hey, I use a smart phone. Therefore, I am just as qualified as a reviewer of phones and phone technology as the professionals." Or hell, look at movies. Most people aren't going to think themselves an equal film critic to the professionals.

But games....we ALL think we're just as good at reviewing games as the so-called professionals - we just didn't write down our review and slap some screenshots next to it. "He just pointed out all the same things I noticed by playing the game - I could do that job easily!" So when we hear about Sony giving free PS4s to reviewers some people cry "Sony's giving some gamers free PS4s why? Why not give them to me!?" rather than "Sony is providing professionals with the equipment they need to do their jobs." Would you complain about game programmers getting "free laptops" that they use to code with?

News flash - you're not as good a reviewer, and likely not as good a writer (which is ironically the most important skill for a reviewer to have).

On the other side, game reviewers have done little or nothing to challenge this perception. Reviews driven purely by opinion (or "fun") rather than objective criteria or deep analysis of the game is the norm. Poorly written reviews and reviews clearly driven by clickbaiting abound.

So, once again (in the spirit of this episode) everyone is wrong.

I agree that there's too few reviewers producing insightful reviews of games. As long as professional reviewers keep producing subjective reviews based on their feelings about a game, rather than an objective review that critically examines what's good and bad about the game, most people will considers the reviews from "professional" reviewer as being little better than reviews from people who actually bought the game themselves. Anyone can make a subjective review based on feelings but only experts can analyse a game objectively.

Imagine if car reviewers would have to buy the car first.

Thanatos2k:

1337mokro:
So... Jim is going to be in Mass Effect 4 now... After all he licked a game console, that got Chobbit into the game so I expect the same for Jimmy. That will be an interesting role to see him play. Wonder how many people will "romance" his character.

Will we get to punch him in the face?

No only the donkey punch is allowed.

misterprickly:
Even if it is "GIFTING" it doesn't guarantee a good rating!
If I was given a PS$ to review and the thing broke down on me; guess what my review would be?

I actually think this post perfectly exemplifies the reason why average gamers make poor "critics".

If you had a faulty system you are implying that you would rate it rather harshly much like many users on amazon bombing with 1 star reviews as opposed to many critics who would notify their audience about the possible faulty hardware issue and wait until they get a working system to fairly review the system and launch lineup (such as TB who did get a faulty system.Of course TB isn't a reviewer but his approach is the most sensible).

I was actually expecting a different line at the end for some reason, something along the lines of "There IGN, now give me a job".

Lightknight:
Excellent video.

Judging from how you review games I think it's hardly possible to cry bribery. Unless they also slipped you a note along with a game to say that their game sucks balls.

Jim, do you feel like you'd review a game even lower if it sucked AND you had to pay for it? Like it's an extra blow because it sucked?

An anime reviewer was begged by the head of the UK arm of a distributor to give a title a bad review, otherwise 'Japan will make us release it' - IE, the guy knew it wouldn't sell in the UK, but it would take an actual bad review to convince the people above him what he was telling them.

Did that last bit void the warranty? :)

All jokes aside, I have to respectfully disagree here. A lot of the critics of the gaming media, myself included, view it as being institutionally corrupt, with the exceptions standing out from the crowd, rather than being the rule. It *IS* a valid point that a games reviewer who puts out a regular feature is likely to not be able to afford all the latest games and hardware out of what they are paid. However that in of itself is a part of why it's become institutionally corrupt, games reviewers, and arguably the people who hire them, are not independent of the industry they are supposed to critique. The publishers tend to rely on advertising from the companies they are supposed to be watchdogging in order to stay afloat, leading to things like the Gerstman "Kane and Lynch" scandal, and the reviewers themselves are dependent on the industry to do their thing. Something which arguably means that the industry can control the narrative by deciding who does and does not get the materials to be a reviewer, as well as effectively bankrolling the people who are paying them.

At the end of the day being a games reviewer is a relatively cushy job. Games reviewers will go off about schedules, and not simply sitting around paying games for fun. It's true that once your given a time limit and requirements it can suck a lot of the fun out of everything, but at the same time a professional game reviewer gets to work outside of their own home, generally does not have to commute, and while there is stress it is nothing compared to what an ordinary person deals with on the job, not to mention the complete lack of physical risk. To put it comparatively having worked 10 years as Casino security which was an okay job (especially in the beginning) and having worked as an EVS attendant before that (basically a Janitor) and then done jobs working fast food, panning doughnuts for a bake shop, as a clerk at Toys R Us, and similar things, a game reviewer has it bloody good, that is how life is for most normal people. What's more professional games reviewers on the level we're talking about get trotted out once or twice a year, and pretty much get to be part of a global celebration, as gaming companies come out and try and wow them at things like E3 and the like, which is something us plebes aren't likely to even attend. Do you think I ever got anything like that working Casino security? Nope, instead I got to sit around and basically help run/secure that kind of event for people (albeit not gaming related, but various kind of shows for various industries), critics and the like might say attending such show is not "fun" and is still "working" but as someone who actually worked and got to see the whole thing, all I can do is laugh.

Now do NOT misunderstand this, the point isn't bitterness over someone having it better than I did (where I am now is pretty pathetic, so I won't go into that), it's a matter of putting this into perspective, and where a lot of the hatred is coming from. The entire gaming media system is effectively broken in being able to do what it does. The game reviewers and publishers are both basically beholden to the industry in their own way. Whether it's a tool or not, the bottom line is your looking at a cushy perk viewed with envy by people who can't drop $400 right now, and even if they could might not even be able to find console to buy, combined with some over the top grandstanding.

Now, I would be remiss in writing a post this size without pointing out the problems with the gaming media without pointing to the solution as I see it. I believe publishers should ultimately only accept advertising from products outside the sphere of what they are providing reviews of. A site related to internet gaming should not be advertising or accepting money from companies producing video games. Related products are of course okay, hardware manufacturers, snack food producers, and similar things are the kinds of advertising that should be accepted and would be okay. What's more the producers should be the ones to provide the review materials, which might very well mean having say a company PS-4 or two and then having the reviewers come in and punch a clock like a normal person and play a game in a cubicle. Media events and the attendance thereof pretty much shouldn't happen. Rather a company should release their games to the public and then the reviewers go to work. This would of course mean gaming companies would not see their profits a few days after release, or even beforehand, they would also become more dependent on the quality of the actual release, not a demo or "press copy" released ahead of time so reviews could drum up hype for a product.

Speaking for myself there are only a scant handful of fairly well known reviewers and game critics I trust and take seriously. I still frequent The Escapist so you can make a guess where some of them are. For the most part when I look to reviews I increasingly look at not-for-profit micro reviewers that give their take on a game after it's release. Either that or user criticisms, which frankly are becoming harder to take seriously due to the number of message board shills being used nowadays (some of which have admitted having been in that "profession")

Such are my thoughts, and I think they are similar to a lot of the people that are so upset about this. The thing is that your seeing a situation where game reviewers are becoming less watchdogs, and more very minor celebrities, seeing someone who is already E-famous being handed swag bags full of gaming stuff, whether they need it "professionally" or not, and going to these events, makes people VERY, VERY, wary when their comfort, and success is directly tied to the good graces of the people they are supposed to be critical of.

I've reviewed a few games for a professional outlet and my fee was always increased to include the price of the title (essentially getting it for free).

Not once, however, was I ever instructed or felt obligated to give a game a particular score. What must be understood is that 'reviewing' games and 'playing' games are actually very different. You have a deadline to meet; which means you have to do a quick assessment on whether you found certain features in the game fun or not and then very quickly move on.

Now you may have fun doing it, but reviewing games is very much a 'job'; it is very much work. Does the game you're reviewing suck? Is it so much of a pain to play that you would rather do literally anything else? TOO BAD! You have to finish it, you have to talk about what was good about it, and you have to give it an honest score. That you got it for free is immaterial and does not dull the sting of a crappy game.

You know what is likely to influence a reviewer more than a company giving him free shit? YOU! The consumer. If people aren't trafficking his site, then his site gets no money and then he's out of the job. I've had fellow reviewers sweat a few scores -not because they feared that the game's company would get pissed- but because there'd be an outcry among the readers.

GAunderrated:

misterprickly:
Even if it is "GIFTING" it doesn't guarantee a good rating!
If I was given a PS$ to review and the thing broke down on me; guess what my review would be?

I actually think this post perfectly exemplifies the reason why average gamers make poor "critics".

If you had a faulty system you are implying that you would rate it rather harshly much like many users on amazon bombing with 1 star reviews as opposed to many critics who would notify their audience about the possible faulty hardware issue and wait until they get a working system to fairly review the system and launch lineup (such as TB who did get a faulty system.Of course TB isn't a reviewer but his approach is the most sensible).

Well, if Sony gave every consumer a free PS4 instead of charging them $400 + tax then I'm sure they'd all be more lenient when it didn't work as well.

Sweet Raptor Jesus, it must get cumbersome having to defend yourself all the time. I guess that's the high price you pay for your career. Enjoy what little perks you can, imo. I enjoyed plenty of free food and drink at the restaurants I worked at in my 20's.

On the subject of PS4 or Xbone;all I have to say is: LOL,console gaming! My PC maybe not be top of the line now, but it's going to last me a hell of a lot longer then either of the new consoles will. I don't dog anyone for buying or playing consoles (ok, maybe a little) I just can't, in good conscience, pay for a new system every 3 years. I'm going to stick with Steam and such until consoles learn how to be better then a desktop.

Jimothy Sterling:

Silentpony:

Jimothy Sterling:

Welcome to the Internet? None of it is necessary. However, people are putting their time into creating something that entertains a lot of people. If they're providing something their audience wants, do they really have to be expected to commit financial suicide to do it?

Reviewers *aren't* normal customers. Look, I can buy all my own games, but don't expect me to spend my days copy editing Escapist articles or even producing Jimquisition videos, because I'd be clocking in at a 9 to 5 office somewhere. :)

Look, not mad per se but you do have to see it from the 'average' gamers view. If reviewers/critics get a free game and everyone gives it a 10/10 or some such, the 'average' games DOES smell some shit. Am I saying that critics are like millionaires? No, of course not. But I do think there is a level of quid pro quo to this. I mean did every single critic think GTAV was a 10/10(you being the exception I know), or was that just an implied deal they made? Somehow I feel like the latter is more likely...

Did you see the PS4 reviews from a lot of outlets that got "free" games? Knack and Killzone both got pretty average scores, which was doubly funny as a lot of gamers predicted they'd both get 10/10s due to all these "gifts."

I do not believe getting a game "free" makes you kinder to a game. If you believe that of me, you are welcome to, though.

I have to ask though, why did so many reviewers (unless they were the minority) talk about how "if the game developer doesn't give them the game free early, it is most likely a crappy game." I believe some on the Escapist were equating this to Movie reviews as well. If the movie didn't get an early screening for critics, it is most likely bad.

I think this happened a few months ago, but my memory is really foggy. College and all that.

chibby:
Sweet Raptor Jesus, it must get cumbersome having to defend yourself all the time. I guess that's the high price you pay for your career. Enjoy what little perks you can, imo. I enjoyed plenty of free food and drink at the restaurants I worked at in my 20's.

On the subject of PS4 or Xbone;all I have to say is: LOL,console gaming! My PC maybe not be top of the line now, but it's going to last me a hell of a lot longer then either of the new consoles will. I don't dog anyone for buying or playing consoles (ok, maybe a little) I just can't, in good conscience, pay for a new system every 3 years. I'm going to stick with Steam and such until consoles learn how to be better then a desktop.

Really? My NES is still lasting me quite a while. Hell, my Atari 2600 still works perfectly. Now lets look at my old gaming PCs... Wait, they don't work anymore. Huh.

As for the "every 3 years argument", it falls flat. This last console generation lasted seven years. The one before that? Six years. This one will more than likely be even longer. I don't know where you live that new consoles come out every three years, but damn. That would be a collector's nightmare.

Don't be an elitist.

Ponyholder:
Really? My NES is still lasting me quite a while. Hell, my Atari 2600 still works perfectly. Now lets look at my old gaming PCs... Wait, they don't work anymore. Huh.

I can anecdote too: I have an Apple II, circa 1984, all original parts, that still works. Huh.

On-topic: I expect Jim to be the exact same ruthless bastard when ripping apart a shitty game whether that money came out of his own pocket, The Escapist's operating budget, or the marketing dollars of the publisher. He's built that trust up over his time as a reviewer. Other outlets ... not so much.

I don't see why this would be such an issue to anyone who is a gamer. A lot of people on here have already said a lot of great examples as to why this shouldn't be an issue, using other industries as reference. But still, this is ridiculous.

I'm not a game reviewer of any sort, nor do I want to be, because I don't like to push my opinion, subjective or objective, onto a product as not everyone feels the same way I do. I may like something, other may not. I may have thought something in the game wasn't done as well as it could have been, others may feel it was done well. And the idea of sitting through games I might not like or are complete crap doesn't appeal to me. Sure, every so often I might get a review copy of the next Elder Scrolls, and I play it, and I like it and write a review, but then the next thing I get is a review copy of something I don't like, such as the next Gears of War, and I would have to sit through that and play it to review it fairly, even though I wouldn't want to.

I'm glad there are people out there who will play as many games as they can so that they can tell us if the game is actually worth the money to buy it. I have made the mistake of buying terrible games, only to look up the reviews afterwards and finding that it scored lowly all around by many reviewers. I use reviews to help me decide on what games I might buy if they are of a new series I have never played or are the newest in a series that I have started to not like, and if the reviewers couldn't get a copy of these games to review because they had to buy every single one of them out of their own pocket, then I'm stuck with the risk of buying a shit game. That's not to say I rely on reviewers to make my decisions for me, I merely use them as a reference if I use them at all, I'm just happy to have them around so that they can help me to avoid wasting my $60 on Aliens: Colonial Marines or something.

Them getting free stuff before launch to do their job is absolutely okay to me, especially when they are trying to review day one titles before they come out, as I'm sure you don't want to go in buying your new PS4 and games only to find that the games you decided to buy weren't as good as you thought, and then maybe a week later the reviews come in saying they aren't really all that good.

Another reason I wouldn't want to be a reviewer is I have a bad habit of writing run-on sentences. Sorry about that to anyone reading this.

Loud Noises!! I thought this might be one of the more provocative episodes, considering you called out your boss and all. Nevertheless, I have to review books for courses I teach, and I get desk copies of all the books I review for free. There is no financially realistic way to review these books otherwise. If I decide to adopt a book for a course I teach, it has nothing to do with the free book. I am pretty sure that reviewers of most products/media get free products/media to review.

image

i get the impression that the ps4 will thank god for jim later

anyway, while jim were right and everything, etc.

was sony out of line when they sent out monogrammed ps4s? it sounds cool when your marketing team comes up with it, but it still looks sleazy, like jim said

i find it doubtful that xbone will actually back off from this because they're too egotistical to pass up that kind of challenge, but even if they do take the classy route, it's hard to see anybody caring still

in any case, thanks for putting some warframe clips in there, i do so enjoy them. do you play the game regularly, jim? it's sort of got a similar feel to dynasty warriors, but it's still getting tweaks for balancing and whatnot.

It's still bribery. Aliens Colonel Marines actually proves that the bribery is working. You, and every reviewer are given free gifts so that you can do your job, and as you put it couldn't do you job without the gifts.

This allows them to set unethical embargo were the release date is set on or after release. The embargo should always be set to 1 week prior to release, and if it isn't then you should refuse to review it. But if you break an unethical embargo what happens? The bribes stop, and so does your job.

The core problem is that Game Journalists should be performing the same job as Film Critics. However, if a movie studio sets the embargo for a movies reviews to on or after the movies release date the Movie Critics have Society's and Union's that fight for them and protect them.

Critics should be getting games to review though a third party to gut the unethical business practices of the Game Industry, and allow game Journalism to be actual Journalism, and not glorified PR. The 3rd party could be GameStop, or a Union. Take your pick, but taking it from the publishers allows for a level of corruption you're aware is rife in the system. The further away the Publishers, and developers are from the game critics the fewer firings for reviews like Jeff Gertmann's Kain and Lynch: Dead Men.

Glad to see that joining the escapist as editor hasn't mellowed Jim any:)
And if that doesn't say something about his integrity I don't know what does... He called out Greg despite being employed by him, if that doesn't prove you can't buy positive reviewers what does?

Have you lost weight?

Jimothy Sterling:
Integrity, Journalism, and Free PS4s

Days before the PlayStation 4 launched, Sony held a "review event" in New York, in which reviewers got to pick up their "free" consoles. Then they tweeted pictures of themselves with their PS4s. Then the Internet did its thing.

Watch Video

Hey Jim, you know who provides the tools of the trade to the employee in most professions? The employer (either that, or the employee puts them under business expenses when they fill out their taxes). Now what does it say about games journalism as a profession that the people providing the tools are the self same people that you're supposed to be criticising?

medv4380:
It's still bribery. Aliens Colonel Marines actually proves that the bribery is working

http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/aliens-colonial-marines

http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/aliens-colonial-marines

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/aliens-colonial-marines

I'm sorry, how do the across the board awful ratings for aliens colonial marines prove that the bribery is working? In fact, it pretty much proves the exact opposite.

Psycho11Edge:
I don't see why this would be such an issue to anyone who is a gamer. A lot of people on here have already said a lot of great examples as to why this shouldn't be an issue, using other industries as reference. But still, this is ridiculous.

Tickets to a game to commentate and provide staff, owner, and player interviews hell even being brought in for a test drive for a car is one thing. having the company GIVE you a model of the car for you to OWN and use at your leisure is ridculous. Taxes don't put up with that shit with home offices expenses requiring STRICT bookkeeping. Hell many jobs don't provide the equipment for personal use or at best offset the cost and its your IMMEDIATE employer who does it not the people you erstwhile are critiquing. This is just too damned in bed on a professional level to not look shitty. GAMES I get. gaming systems to magazines or studios I get. But individualized toys to reviewers? Hell yes that looks shitty. Moreover the whole life's blood of the gaming media being in having the latest and juiciest info by being so depedendent on product from studios and companies has blown up.. like what twice this year alone... and is the basis for some of the if not blacklisting by gaming media certainly the discounting of large elements of the gaming industry for not meeting necessary or expected standards.

The press still comes off more hobbyist and this really clinches it. I am not going to doubt every single review but it colors my value of the reviewer to know they are individually recognized and catered to (literally wasn't their catering) at events like this. This was not swag or promotional garbage material. This was the full product for personal use for free to make you free range marketer and promotion company NOT consumer reports or technical review which will inevitably come from the weirdoes at neogaf you're chiding (if not perform the basis of article writing on).

I assure you if car reviewers were getting a nice shiny automobile or gas card that could add up to them not having to worry about mileage asidein the abstract.. it would be a thing. That said I don't expect my chemotherapist to have cancer. to treat me but you guys.. not that excclusive and don't be acting like the difference between your audience and yourselves isn't a thing. Mass Effect 3, Aliens Colonial Marines, and other products of the hype machine screwing over the customer.

Alandoril:
Well if they didn't want it to look like that, then they really shouldn't have their names emblazoned all over them. That does make them look like gifts, not as resources for the companies they work for...

Seems more like the opposite to me. The engraving of the names means that if somebody just tries to sell it for a quick buck, then everybody will know who did it. I think it's more there to try and ensure that they use it for their job.

medv4380:
It's still bribery. Aliens Colonel Marines actually proves that the bribery is working. You, and every reviewer are given free gifts so that you can do your job, and as you put it couldn't do you job without the gifts.

This allows them to set unethical embargo were the release date is set on or after release. The embargo should always be set to 1 week prior to release, and if it isn't then you should refuse to review it. But if you break an unethical embargo what happens? The bribes stop, and so does your job.

The core problem is that Game Journalists should be performing the same job as Film Critics. However, if a movie studio sets the embargo for a movies reviews to on or after the movies release date the Movie Critics have Society's and Union's that fight for them and protect them.

Critics should be getting games to review though a third party to gut the unethical business practices of the Game Industry, and allow game Journalism to be actual Journalism, and not glorified PR. The 3rd party could be GameStop, or a Union. Take your pick, but taking it from the publishers allows for a level of corruption you're aware is rife in the system. The further away the Publishers, and developers are from the game critics the fewer firings for reviews like Jeff Gertmann's Kain and Lynch: Dead Men.

I don't agree with all of this, word for word, but the sentiment and examples. Yeah.

erttheking:

medv4380:
It's still bribery. Aliens Colonel Marines actually proves that the bribery is working

http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/aliens-colonial-marines

http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/aliens-colonial-marines

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/aliens-colonial-marines

I'm sorry, how do the across the board awful ratings for aliens colonial marines prove that the bribery is working? In fact, it pretty much proves the exact opposite.

Clearly you missed the point the the embargo was set to the release date. No one could see those crappy reviews until after their pre-order went through. That was actually the point to the down to the wire embargo.

Jim I don't think you got the appropriate "rise" ;) out of us with ps4 licking. Maybe Greg Tido should give it a try :D!

Hellfireboy:
Actually a bit surprised that this even needed an explanations.

Likewise, i didn't even know this was "A thing".

Dammit Jim you can't just lick your PS4 like that. Act professional for christ's sake.

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