Jimquisition: Integrity, Journalism, and Free PS4s

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I would have thought letting us know they were given the systems would show they weren't hiding anything... Even though they got PS4 systems from Sony, that they were keeping people in the know, but some people just don't get it I guess.

Silentpony:
I think it was that line that made me realize how unnecessary video game journalism is. I mean, are we seriously going to dozens and dozens of websites to get other peoples opinions on things that are subjective to taste?

If it stops me buying utter shit like Ride to Hell Retribution, Mindjack, Sonic Free Riders, Aliens Colonial Marines (except I bought that one anyway because I stupidly trusted Gearbox not to be a shit company and that bit me in the ass), and more, then yes. I am seriously gong to dozens and dozens of websites to get other people's opinions on things that aren't always subjective to taste. Yeah, sometimes reviews aren't subject to taste. If you try to tell me that Ride to Hell being terrible in almost every way is subjective to taste, I'm going to think you're a nutter. Me not liking inFamous is subjective to taste. Aliens Colonial Marines being a pile of lies by Gearbox is fact and not subjective at all.

And as for the ones that are subjective to taste, that's why I go to multiple reviews in the first place: so I can get lots of different viewpoints on the game and, based on what each reviewer talks about in terms of what the game does and if they liked it or not, figure out if it's something that I'll likely enjoy. It doesn't always work (to this day I can't figure out why people praise Okami so much), but most of the time it does.

So to me, video game journalism is pretty necessary. Or rather, video game reviews are necessary. There's a bigger problem with your initial statement that video game journalism is unnecessary, and it's that journalism is more than just reviews. It's also previews, news, interviews, and other such things. And if you really think that stuff is unnecessary too, well you just have fun buying whatever games get advertised to you by the publishers without knowing a damn thing about them because you didn't read any of the unnecessary news, reviews, previews, interviews, and other journalistic pieces about the game.

Omnicide:

The tricky part is what power do we, as the consumer, have to hold jornalists - and their organizations - accountable when we suspect or even have evidence that they did violate an ethical policy that they do (or should) have? Individuals can only throw around so much weight nowadays.

You have the power to not frequent their sites and tell others why they shouldn't either. If you feel they've actually violated a stated policy, write to the editor-in-chief with your complaint (and encourage others to do the same).

But remember: these sites are for consumer reviews, not investigative journalism. They don't exist to did up dirt or expose; meaning that you've little to worry about in the form of slander or the other sins of yellow journalism. Really, it all comes down to what their opinion is on a particular product.

If you trust that they'll give you a fair assessment of the product's assets and flaws to the point where you feel you'll be ready to make a purchase based on that information alone: then there's no problem. If you don't trust them enough: go elsewhere, or get multiple opinions and see if the mean result is one you agree with.

How does the PS4 taste, Jim?

I'll just leave this here and move along:
image

And you know... players also actually have to pay for their games to see if they are worth it, it is pretty much a value proposition you can't really judge if you get everything for free since you can't assign it a monetary worth.

Let The Escapist as a publication pay for it since they are the ones making money off of it or at least send them back/deactivate them after you "did your work".
All sorts of hardware and product reviewers don't get to keep the stuff after reviewing it either.

I guess my attitude of using anything I bought and received as gifts to further my profession is also enough to warrant death threats from sophists who think I should do things THEIR way and not in my own definition of professional efficiency. Although I have to say, I never got the appeal of using social media to show off what is practically something a lot of other people have. Instead of, you know, owning something wherein there's only one of its kind.

Pragmatism, folks! It's a cardinal sin, apparently, one that warrants a witch hunt.

wait what? people are complaing that someones job give them the tools to do their job? are they ass hat stupid?

hell my job lets me see the films as they comeout... sure its nice with things like the avangers but i also had to watch twilight.

some jobs have good extras some dont, to complain about a reviers geting things to review is just plain stupid.

i do agree the reviewrs shouldnt be flaunting that they have them off to twiter but this is more a thing for the reviewers to take home and learn and not to say "i have you dont£ Than they should pay to review..

sigh stupid people complaning about stupid things.

- MPZ

Losanme:
I'll just leave this here and move along:
image

And you know... players also actually have to pay for their games to see if they are worth it, it is pretty much a value proposition you can't really judge if you get everything for free since you can't assign it a monetary worth.

Let The Escapist as a publication pay for it since they are the ones making money off of it or at least send them back/deactivate them after you "did your work".
All sorts of hardware and product reviewers don't get to keep the stuff after reviewing it either.

This. If video game journalists want to be considered in the same ballpark as actual journalists then the need to start behaving like them. Pretending that it's a choice between penury or accepting gifts from developers and publishers isn't the right way to start this.

MPZero:
wait what? people are complaing that someones job give them the tools to do their job? are they ass hat stupid?

hell my job lets me see the films as they comeout... sure its nice with things like the avangers but i also had to watch twilight.

some jobs have good extras some dont, to complain about a reviers geting things to review is just plain stupid.

i do agree the reviewrs shouldnt be flaunting that they have them off to twiter but this is more a thing for the reviewers to take home and learn and not to say "i have you dont£ Than they should pay to review..

sigh stupid people complaning about stupid things.

- MPZ

It's more a matter of who they're getting their tools from. Most people get them from their actual employers, not from outside companies whose products they review.

medv4380:

Lightknight:

Though I do agree that the studio did some serious shenanigans, they are the worst example by far. They made an embargo and then released early. They essentially tricked reviewers on purpose. That is NOT typical. Can you name three other games that have done that in the past? You're essentially using a needle in a haystack to say that the haystack is made of needles.

Games that have abused the system

The War Z - The actual worst offender. Take your pick on the level of abuse.
SimCity - Gave reviewers a controlled to review the game.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men - Getting a reviewer fired, and this is the main issue. Most of these firing are secret. The reviewers don't know why they're being let go just that they are. When they do know they get slapped with legal non-disparagement paperwork. The only reason we know about Jeff Gerstmann is that it was very public, and CNET desperately wanted to buy Giant Bomb, but since they owned GameStop too they were forced to drop the non-disparagement agreement.

There isn't a single solitary way for the corrupt system Jim is defending to be abused. It is multi-pronged, and is only possible because reviewers are dependent upon bribes to do business.

It is far better to have no review. The few reviewers who refused to give a review of SimCity because they knew they were in a controlled environment that wouldn't reflect the users experience are honest reviewers. Reviewers like TotalBiscuit refused to actually give a recommendation because he knew his experience wouldn't reflect the users experience. Not all reviewers did, and it took the fiasco with Diablo 3 to teach the few reviewers that giving games in that stat any review is a bad idea.

The root cause needs to be removed in order to make reviews trustworthy. The direct dependence on the publishers and developers is the cause, and that needs to be mitigated.

Got any of examples of reviewers having a review copy being bad? Your examples seem to be problems with the review process as a whole rather than anything to do with the discussion as a whole.

According to Jim he *needs* the provisions given by developers and publisher-manufacturers.

but reviewers aren't influenced by the providing of their needs. Even though attendance and ball playing are necessary for financial solvency.

Definitely no contradiction there. All game reviewers who say so are a above influence by those who are critical to their professional livelihood more so than the consumers for who they ostensibly report.

Losanme:
I'll just leave this here and move along:
image

And you know... players also actually have to pay for their games to see if they are worth it, it is pretty much a value proposition you can't really judge if you get everything for free since you can't assign it a monetary worth.

Let The Escapist as a publication pay for it since they are the ones making money off of it or at least send them back/deactivate them after you "did your work".
All sorts of hardware and product reviewers don't get to keep the stuff after reviewing it either.

I don't know about you, but I don't run to Forbes when I want to hear about if the latest Assassin's Creed is good or not :).

Some outlets don't keep review copies, that's true. However, there are plenty who do. Often, it will depend on the outlet's financial capacity to absorb the cost of disposing of all complementary materials. Some can afford this, some can't. It'd be nice to live in a world where every outlet was so financially solvent that they could afford every piece of review material offered; but that's not the case.

A complementary PS4 frees up enough funds to buy -roughly- 7 games. If we demand that the outlet purchases that console; then it means that we, the consumers, might miss out on 7 reviews from our favorite outlet (assuming they're operating on a tight budget -which they likely are). That's a net loss to us, the consumer.

With regard to judging something without ascribing it monetary worth: isn't that the definition of an objective analysis? Since they're not reviewing it through the lens of 'Oh God, I spent money on this', one might be less inclined to gloss over the more redeemable parts of a product of questionable quality. They can review it based on pure entertainment value alone, leaving it up to you as to whether you're inclined to spend money on such a thing.

All that said: I just realized it's a moot point, because it's ALL FREE anyway. In this profession, every product you buy can get written off on your taxes so you get your money back come tax time. So really, it all comes down to whether you have the cash in the budget right then to afford the review materials.

M920CAIN:
Hmm, free games, free consoles, biased reviews, ok, I want to be a reviewer too. I want to get free stuff, comment about the free stuff and get paid for it too... damn you guys have it good, you rich f--ks.

Buy a cheap microphone and a webcam, make a YouTube account and start posting review videos. Do it well enough and you, too, can ascend to the ranks of Garme Jurnalizm godhood!

Lightknight:
Your examples seem to be problems with the review process as a whole rather than anything to do with the discussion as a whole.

Given that, the discussion is about how the Review Process is corrupted due to bribes resulting in a serious conflict on interest for the entire review industry my examples are germane. You can crawl on back to my original post, and see. However, your tunnel vision has clearly gotten the best of you.

Losanme:
I'll just leave this here and move along:
image

And you know... players also actually have to pay for their games to see if they are worth it, it is pretty much a value proposition you can't really judge if you get everything for free since you can't assign it a monetary worth.

Let The Escapist as a publication pay for it since they are the ones making money off of it or at least send them back/deactivate them after you "did your work".
All sorts of hardware and product reviewers don't get to keep the stuff after reviewing it either.

In most companies it's the employer who has to provide their employees with tools they need to do their job and the employee has to return these tools when they're done. So game developers should be sending consoles and games to the company that reviews games (such as the Escapist), rather than the reviewer (such as Jim). The Escapist should also demand the games and consoles back after they've been reviewed, or if the reviewers want to keep these games they should be charged market rates. This would ensure that video game journalists aren't seen as having a job where they get free games and consoles.

Yan007:
Dear Jim (and everyone else),

I'm not going to go out of my way and tell Jim is a corrupt guy. I think he is one of the few who I can consider above this. Nevertheless, when Sony or any company gives you any material, it is considered an investment on their part and many people will feel like they owe the company a form of kickback.

Let's look at my situation: I'm an ESL teacher. I used to teach in 3 different schools, 5 different grades in every school. Each school had a different mandatory set of material that had been selected by some guy before me, which is fine most times. On the other hand, to work more efficiently with the material I would need the teacher's guide for every single grade. A guide goes for anywhere between $200 (if lucky) to $600 and I'd need 15 to cover everything. Can I afford them all? Of course not. Will the school pay for them? In your dreams! I'd be lucky to even get a single one.

What often happens though is that a publisher will try to sell a new textbook into schools and will give away the guides to the main ESL teacher at a school (or set of schools) in order to push out another publisher and get their part of the market. Most schools will force the teacher to pick the textbooks if the guides come for free, regardless of quality.

So as a teacher, what am I to do? Would it be okay for me to pick the lesser material just so I can get free guides? What if I pick the material to get the free guides, but the quality is actually pretty good: would parents be justified to think I may have selected the material simply because it came with free stuff?

Wait why do you need a guide? I though teachers were meant to be experts in the area they taught, such as having a university degree in this area.

In the USA do they just hire anyone as a teacher, no matter how little they know about the subject, and give them a guide explaining what they have to teach? That sounds like a pretty poor way to educate children.

Jennacide:
The really infuriating thing about this whole ordeal is NeoGAF's thread basically aimed to counter my entire belief on games reviewers and journalists, and I could never fathom why. Do movie reviewers pay to see movies? 99% of the time no. Are art and food critics paid to go see/eat the content? Yes. Why the hell should game journalists be treated different? It's why a lot of gaming press don't see like press. If you want to be mad about something, be mad about being in bed with companies that aren't game devs, like Doritos and Mountain Dew. I'm looking at you Dorito Pope.

Let's examine the various types of critics:

Movie critics have to go to a cinema to watch a movie and they usually only watch it once, they aren't given a DVD copy and allowed to watch it wherever they want.

Art critics have to go to an art gallery to see a painting and they usually only see it once, they aren't given a copy which they can view whenever they want.

Food critics have to go to a restaurant to eat and they only eat this food once, they aren't given a lifetime supply of food.

Now let's compare them to video game critics.

Video game critics are given free games and consoles so they can play these games in their own homes and as often as they want.

So video game critics are treated very differently from other critics. If they had to go to a branch of the company that made this game in order to play it and could only play it for a few hours, then the public wouldn't be so critical of them.

wait what? people are complaing that someones job give them the tools to do their job? are they ass hat stupid?

1) The tools happen to be desirable consumer electronics, so obviously there is greater concern about bias.
2) If you are a freelance photographer you have to pay for you equipment, if you are a freelance web designer then you have to buy a computer, if you want to be a freelance game reviewer... you need handouts from Sony?

Alternatively, if you work at a supermarket checkout then your employer has to provide you with the till, if you work at a garage then the employer has to provide you with the tools needed, but if you work as a writer for IGN/etc then you need handouts from Sony? If you need a PS3 to do your work then why can't The Escapist pay for it?

Why are you special?

3) Reviewers don't need to own the PS3 to review the platform - it would be perfectly sufficient to send them a console for review to be returned when the review is published or the platform is launched.

Similarly, you could just as well review games with a time-restricted review copy that expires when the game is launched.

Dude, you should read something about bacteria and stuff...

This creates a puzzling environment for reviews. Everything Jim said seems sensible, but I think it totally, and probably purposefully, ignores something important; sponsorship. These shills, these braggarts, these gloating reviewers that get free stuff, including schwag, such as the package from Rockstar sent to Jim who gave a favorable review for Grand Theft Auto V raise questions, though I get the reasoning behind free review copies.

What I'm talking about though are just plain straight up advertising dollars. Let's say Capcom goes on an advertising rampage and pays through the nose for advertising space on a large number of websites like The Escapist, all for a new Resident Evil game. So you've got background and banner ads and all manner of obnoxious adverts all over the place, while attempting to come off as "objective".

User reviews are pointless because people are fans, and I've literally seen people review games they haven't even played yet on sites like Amazon and Metacritic (LOL 10/10. Love this series, can't wait to play this one!).

One site offered an interesting solution; give that shit away. Crate a contest page and give away your shiny game or schwag to a lucky reader chosen at random.

Outside of solutions that absolutely demonstrates the full unbiased and objective integrity of your "journalistic credentials" a line like "this doesn't feel like getting a gift" is as equally bullshit as saying "No, the fact that our web page is up due to sponsorship from Capcom has nothing to do with the New Resident Evil Game getting a perfect score, we swear!".

Watch any event like E3, goddamn thunderous applause when a developer takes the stage, because that's "integrity in journalism". You want more integrity, see journalists talk about what they're excited about, or their cheers and damn near orgasmic cries during a trailer for a game that won't be seen for another 4 years, and by then won't even be representative of what was "previewed", like Killzone's repeated CG manufactured trailers of "in-game footage".

And then there's Jeff motherfucking Gerstmann.

Final thought; I was a fan of "At The Movies" with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. While I often found myself disagreeing with their reviews... very often, they at least had what no other reviewer had; their integrity. There was always talk about how a lot of movie reviewers went on all expense paid trips, luxury hotels, limo service, dinners, gifts, many many prizes just to review a movie. Their experience was not typical, it was a goddamn all expense paid vacation compliments of the movie studio, and some gifts. Siskel and Ebert never went for that. No trips, no gifts, just authentic objective, "we're in this like you're in this" reviewing. The game industry has a lot of maturing to do, and it won't get to it as long as people like Jim continue to accept their positions without a modicum of reasonable and honest self-examination.

Just because they don't feel like gifts doesn't mean that's not what they are. Rationalizations aside.

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...

Considering their given away before the official release date I suspect it's to prevent someone selling one early for a massive payout, not hard to track down who did it when their name is literally on the machine.

OT: Great job as always Jim and damn you for teasing us with your PS4 :-P

I had to make a ranch based salad and just the smell makes my stomach queasy.

I had to handle lye as part of my industry job

I had to be called in for a mere 10/hr temporary job or risk getting no more further placement. I'm paying my dues. so its totally okay if I get perks.

On one level. Yeah review copies and so on are very much a thing. but you're too much in bed wit hthe industry for anyone NOT to be put out.

uanime5:

Let's examine the various types of critics:

Movie critics have to go to a cinema to watch a movie and they usually only watch it once, they aren't given a DVD copy and allowed to watch it wherever they want.

Art critics have to go to an art gallery to see a painting and they usually only see it once, they aren't given a copy which they can view whenever they want.

Food critics have to go to a restaurant to eat and they only eat this food once, they aren't given a lifetime supply of food.

Now let's compare them to video game critics.

Video game critics are given free games and consoles so they can play these games in their own homes and as often as they want.

So video game critics are treated very differently from other critics. If they had to go to a branch of the company that made this game in order to play it and could only play it for a few hours, then the public wouldn't be so critical of them.

Two problems here I see.
1) Most game critics don't do any work from home. They work for a journalistic group, like Giant Bomb, GameTrailers, Destructoid, etc. And most of these places have a central office they work out of, where the review copies are actually given to. Also I'm aware the The Escapist itself is a decentralized group as I understand it.
2) Imagine if critics had to go to a Square-Enix office to review the next Final Fantasy. That is going to be at least a 20+ hour game. It's unfeasible, and in the backwards game community it actually would likely have people assuming you're beaing bought out.

If companies don't want you keeping the material (as the DVD analogy), then just release as a review copy that needs to be returned later, or with the advent of digital distrobution, have a system for unlocking the game for review for X period on a platform.

As for my comparison to other art critics, maybe I should have been more direct, as game critcs have to play middle ground between art critic and consumer goods critic. Consumer goods critics do get the stuff sent to them, often without the request to return it. For instance you'd get 10-20 coffee makers or some such a month to rate for a consumer report, and over half you'd have to figure out what to do with since they weren't wanted as returned.

as a counterpoint to the ad plastering you're referring to, the escapist both has a dedicated front page spot for the xbonezone (yes i am calling it that), and yet their matchup for the consoles says that the ps4 is superior (although that kind of discussion in general is stupid, it's really just being stated for gamernews and it doesn't even give that statement any thought a few sentences after making it), so clearly somebody was not being bribed enough here amirite

plus i'm pretty sure you could fill a tanker with all the cracks they've made about the xbone (even adopting the word "xbone" almost immediately and then only not using it when they need to be "professional") since the announcement

i've also seen them rip on the same games they have full page ads for, which i find amusing to no end because it's like a big sign that says "hey, check out this really shitty game" and the execs are probably sort of mad at the marketing department for that

Very good episode and i do agree with your position, but i will be playing devils advocate a bit later on in the post.

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...

The idea here was nothing more than security. If you recieve a PS4 way ahead of launch you coudl sell it on Ebay for thousands. Marking it in easily trackable way discourages that.

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. :)

I agree with your point ov view here but i think you misunderstand their position a bit. The view those critics implore are that if you are creating soemthing that entertains a lot of people, then the reward for such entertainment that such peopel give should cover the costs. you know, like in every other industry except games and movies. And if yur entertainment cannot cover the costs they assume its bad entertainment to begin with. Now i do not agree with this standpoint but it does have some reason behind it and isnt just whining.

Jimothy Sterling:

Thank you! I've been taking steps to do so. Watching episodes from months ago is a shocker to me!

And now i have finally beaten you in weight!

Dammit internet You were right to get mad but you got mad over the wrong reasons. Oh noes they got a system or a game before we did. Cry that while reading their reviews a week before launch day. I mean come on we all should know by now they aren't paying for the games/systems they review. This should not come as a surprise

Now with that said hell yes we should have gotten pissed about this. We should question the integrity of every last one of those "professional reviewers" who tweeted that kind of crap. Rubbing their customer's noses in it like that saying "I got ice cream and youuuuuuu don't cuz you're poor and you mother's on welfare" (paraphrasing here) is not professional. You want to be professional? You want us to treat you like professionals? Then act like professionals. You came into work that day you logged onto your twitter. You want to be excited and share with your friends your big score? Make another private account. One that is separate from your game reviewer persona. Then you can act like a douchebag all you want and won't be hurting the rest of the journalists.

As much as I think Jim has a few points I also think he's quite wrong.

If a console is a tool and a game is a tool then the tool should be provided by the employer. In his case, this very website. It shouldn't be provided by Sony.

Then there are the pictures on Twitter. Those journos are fools and the willingly becomes tools of Sony, working as marketing puppets all the while looking highly suspect. It's dumb, plain and simple.

I'd advise reading this peace by Rab Florence (which incidentally got him fired from EG). He makes the point that the journos probably aren't corrupt but it's now much easier to wonder.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-24-lost-humanity-18-a-table-of-doritos

Zachary Amaranth:
[quote="hydrolythe" post="6.834363.20417039"]
First of all, a critic who feels the weight of the pay will give a much lower score to the game in question than a critic who doesn't.

So prove it. This should be easy to demonstrate since you're asserting it with such certainty.

Amiga Powers Review of Akira was considerably of a lower score than that what other review magazines wrote: Just see the link http://amr.abime.net/review_991

You wonder why amiga power gave the lowest score, I'd say that was because they were the only video game magazine that had to pay 40£ on the copy before they could finally review it.

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