Jimquisition: Review Embargoes And Why They're Okay Sometimes

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Review Embargoes And Why They're Okay Sometimes

: It's review season, which means I'm thinking a lot about the process of saying words about videogames. This week, why review embargoes aren't terrible ... most of the time.

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The closing bit with the fly was very nicely done.

Did you just imply you've been playing a review copy of Hyrule Warriors? I am totes jelly XD

Somewhat offtopic Jim, but Destiny has been using a quote from The Escapist in their TV commercial- I read your review and I didn't see that quote from your review at least, was there another article or review that came from? I'm sorry if this has already been answered, but I just thought about asking about it now.

When it comes to embargoes, I can totally understand it being part of a marketing strategy, but I do wonder what the ratio of "this is part of a marketing strategy" and "this game is crap."

Whew... he almost saw me that time...
damned cloaking device.

This is a bit off topic but it is something I have wanted to know for a while now. What the hell happened between Jim and Konami?

Best dildo analogy ever!

I wouldn't really mind review embargoes at all, except there's a lot of emphasis on pre-order culture and more big games seem to be pushing the embargoes towards launch day. Publishers need to pick one: big pre-order events, or reviews that come out at or near launch. And regardless of their intents, if they have both, I will probably feel like someone's pulling a fast one.

Embargo's aren't journalism the moment you sign one you become a PR man.

The footage from that Aliens game looks to clean and competently made to be from Colonial Marines; I guess it's from the new one.
At the end there, with Jim looking around for the fly he thought he saw, that may have been an excuse for Jim to show off his good side.

hentropy:
Somewhat offtopic Jim, but Destiny has been using a quote from The Escapist in their TV commercial- I read your review and I didn't see that quote from your review at least, was there another article or review that came from? I'm sorry if this has already been answered, but I just thought about asking about it now.

Can't say if the issue was answered, but the line is:

"Masterful Game-Making - The Escapist"

And no, it isn't in the review at all. It's in a preview by Greg Tito... specifically the title:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/previews/10409-Destiny-Is-Masterful-Game-Making-from-Bungie

Note that the Article was published in JUNE 2013.

For those wondering, here's the Trailer, note that it's a pre-order trailer from 2014:

The guilty quote is literally the first thing that appears.

I would like to ask in what state the review copy tends to be in when you play it and whether or not bugs and patches are taken into consideration when writing the review. How complete is the game when you play it? Are there just a few last minute bugs you have learned to ignore and how do you distinguish a bug from on that will be fixed with a last minute touch-up and what is a bug that will be a real problem at launch?

So do (moderately) crappy games ever try lifting the embargo super early so everyone will forget about the bad reviews by launch? Or is lifting early generally still a sign of confidence?

Would be interesting to look at games history and try to come up with a formula to describe game scores as a function of the time between review copies received, embargo lifted, and game released.

I was wondering why Jim was hired as the Escapist reviews editor (especially since he is blacklisted by a publisher), but now I understand why. I was really skeptical coming into this video about review embargoes (like many I thought it was simply a way to stifle bad reviews), but now I see how they can fit into a bigger picture and work just as well for consumers as they do for publishers when used properly. Still makes me wish more people would break the silence when it's a really bad game like Resident Evil 6, though; otherwise the reviewers end up culpable in pushing false marketing.

Really loved that bit with the fly at the end.

I think that joke was something like this, Jim. Well, one version of it,anyway.

I have to agree with Jim about embargo's on smaller titles, early reviews (even good ones) will be forgotten if players have to wait to long. But absolutely no review embargo should extend past the day before a game is released. If I was a reviewer, I wouldn't even touch the game and would tell my audience why I wasn't reviewing a per-release copy of the game.

Embargo's are one of those things that are just part of a professional contract, very standard in many industries so perfectly normal in the video game industry. It's one thing if publishers are yanking reviewers around by forcing to come to 'launch events' or offering exclusive 'first reviews', but if as the consumer you're getting hurt because of the review embargo you should probably just learn to be a better consumer in my opinion.

The whole system still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. And it bugs me that publishers essentially have reviewers by the balls, as Jim explained with the "can only do it once" bit.

And the advert for this video was the Giver...
BOB!
YOUR GIVING SHIT NO ONE CARES ABOUT COVERAGE AGAIN! AND THIS TIME, ITS NOT FUNNY!
Stop it... Please... Just let stuff like that die...
Also, the Fly is Real...
The Illumanati is coming for Jim

While I do understand the points made in the video I think the title could use a bit of tweaking:

"Review Embargoes: Why The Alternative Is (Probably) Even Worse"

Ragsnstitches:

hentropy:
Somewhat offtopic Jim, but Destiny has been using a quote from The Escapist in their TV commercial- I read your review and I didn't see that quote from your review at least, was there another article or review that came from? I'm sorry if this has already been answered, but I just thought about asking about it now.

Can't say if the issue was answered, but the line is:

"Masterful Game-Making - The Escapist"

And no, it isn't in the review at all. It's in a preview by Greg Tito... specifically the title:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/previews/10409-Destiny-Is-Masterful-Game-Making-from-Bungie

Note that the Article was published in JUNE 2013.

For those wondering, here's the Trailer, note that it's a pre-order trailer from 2014:

The guilty quote is literally the first thing that appears.

Just goes to show you how meaningless those quotes are in these kinds of trailers. I am sure movie TV ads do this shit all the time.

Embargos have always bugged me especially when it's a game that I'm on the fence about. What's even worse prebuying a digital game and learning it's crap before you play it. But jim makes a point about embargos, while a reviewer can break it to warn the public, which we would all be grateful for, he/she would be blacklisted by the industry and basically be commiting suicide.

Not to bring #GamerGate into this, because Jim doesn't want to comment on that anymore, but doesn't the idea you're offering Jim kinda' reinforce what the protesters mean? The gist of embargoes, as I understood it, was 'trust us, we're not corrupt' and that's about it. I mean yes you did say no favors for reviews, but again, we're only taking your word for it. Now I do trust YOU specifically not to, but the industry as a whole? Are we supposed to look at the obvious backdoor dealing here, review copies, free games/consoles, private time with producers, etc...and just shrug and say 'doh well, that's how it goes."
Isn't the whole idea of 'self-regulating journalism' one of the problems the #GamerGate crowd is pushing against?

Gizmo1990:
This is a bit off topic but it is something I have wanted to know for a while now. What the hell happened between Jim and Konami?

He made this video http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/5524-Konami and Konami got pissed and blacklisted him.

I never seen the controversy over review embargo, mostly because it's too easy for press to turn it back on the corporations.

Silentpony:
Now I do trust YOU specifically not to, but the industry as a whole? Are we supposed to look at the obvious backdoor dealing here, review copies, free games/consoles, private time with producers, etc...and just shrug and say 'doh well, that's how it goes."
Isn't the whole idea of 'self-regulating journalism' one of the problems the #GamerGate crowd is pushing against?

I'm sorry, but review copies are absolutely necessary, how else are sites like The Escapist supposed to get a decent review out for a game's release date (at the very latest) if the publisher doesn't send them a copy before then? It's no different to film critics like MovieBob going to free press screenings of movies a week or two in advance. It's all part of the process, and it is mutually beneficial for all parties involved (developers, publishers, reviewers and the audience) to keep that process going. And the same really applies to games consoles.

Ragsnstitches:

hentropy:
Somewhat offtopic Jim, but Destiny has been using a quote from The Escapist in their TV commercial- I read your review and I didn't see that quote from your review at least, was there another article or review that came from? I'm sorry if this has already been answered, but I just thought about asking about it now.

Can't say if the issue was answered, but the line is:

"Masterful Game-Making - The Escapist"

And no, it isn't in the review at all. It's in a preview by Greg Tito... specifically the title:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/previews/10409-Destiny-Is-Masterful-Game-Making-from-Bungie

Note that the Article was published in JUNE 2013.

For those wondering, here's the Trailer, note that it's a pre-order trailer from 2014:

The guilty quote is literally the first thing that appears.

Well I'll be, Activision, a little desperate for good things to be said about your game?

I've also seen a The Escapist quote used for a Slender: The Arrival advert on the 360, I wonder where that actually came from.

If i paid attention to review scores i would have missed out on a few good games. Just buy the games that take your interest.

I still find review embargoes a bit disagreeable.

Reviews, as they are on this and many other sites, are still consumer oriented and as such already serve as marketing for the reviewed game. Embargoes, as they're defended here, only seem to be the stifling of that (marketing) information...for further marketing reasons.

With the current flow of game releases these days, I'm also of the mind that if you're not hearing about a game (or forgetting about a game you've read an early or natural review for) , it's probably either not big or it's not to your tastes.

Jman1236:
Embargos have always bugged me especially when it's a game that I'm on the fence about. What's even worse prebuying a digital game and learning it's crap before you play it. But jim makes a point about embargos, while a reviewer can break it to warn the public, which we would all be grateful for, he/she would be blacklisted by the industry and basically be commiting suicide.

The problem is the blacklisting. Not the act of choosing to post a review before a publisher's 'embargo' ends.

So do we just go ahead and take it, or try to change it?

Publishers exerting control over an industry they should have no business manipulating is not something we should just shrug at. But at the same time, I'm not sure what can be done when the problem is already highly widespread.

"Keep the public from realizing potential flaws in our game until they already have it" is not and should not be a legitimate marketing strategy.

01.24 I'm very disappointed Jim, Guo Jia is a much better strategist than Zhuge Liang, his death is pretty much the only thing stopping cao cao from taking over china, and his weapon is a cue stick that shoots magic pool balls at enemies. #I stand with Guo Jia

I don't really have a issue with review embargoes, as long as the embargo is lifted before the game is released, or at least lifted on the actual release day.

Solaire of Astora:

Jman1236:
Embargos have always bugged me especially when it's a game that I'm on the fence about. What's even worse prebuying a digital game and learning it's crap before you play it. But jim makes a point about embargos, while a reviewer can break it to warn the public, which we would all be grateful for, he/she would be blacklisted by the industry and basically be commiting suicide.

The problem is the blacklisting. Not the act of choosing to post a review before a publisher's 'embargo' ends.

So do we just go ahead and take it, or try to change it?

Publishers exerting control over an industry they should have no business manipulating is not something we should just shrug at. But at the same time, I'm not sure what can be done when the problem is already highly widespread.

"Keep the public from realizing potential flaws in our game until they already have it" is not and should not be a legitimate marketing strategy.

...Or you could wait for the review.

Outlets like the Escapist need developers more than developers need the Escapist. Without the Escapist's, developers still have content to peddle. Without developers' support; the Escapist doesn't.

If the attitude is 'don't buy in to the marketing machine'...then...don't. Don't pre-order anything and don't buy anything until you've seen a review. Worst case scenario: you buy the game the day after launch.

Guys, I can't seem to see any videos. All I can see is the Escapist ad running over and over again.

Heh, I had a fly on my screen that Jim was staring at. Then I swatted it and he looked away.

For no reason at all that made my day.

senordesol:

...Or you could wait for the review.

Outlets like the Escapist need developers more than developers need the Escapist. Without the Escapist's, developers still have content to peddle. Without developers' support; the Escapist doesn't.

If the attitude is 'don't buy in to the marketing machine'...then...don't. Don't pre-order anything and don't buy anything until you've seen a review. Worst case scenario: you buy the game the day after launch.

I definitely understand that, but the fact that publishers and developers have so much influence just gets under my skin a little. Maybe too much, I admit.

The idea of an embargo really isn't terrible, but when most big publishers use it, I can't ever believe that it's for a good reason.

I've sort of fallen out of the triple-A hype machine that sometimes pervades gaming these days, so I mostly just purchase niche or RPG titles that I know will be at least good based on their pedigree. And I'm guilty of sometimes preordering these games, but they don't get the same absolutely stupid amount of marketing hype buildup.

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