BlackListed

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BlackListed

On Kotaku and Blacklists

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*raises hand enthusiastically, is met with silence and dejectedly lowers hand again.*

What has Kotaku to do with Games Journalism?

I thought they were bloggers not journalists.

You had a perfect opportunity to use a tumblrweed and you missed it. Shameful display.

The excuses and rationalisation will be interesting, though.

I was expecting this image

Erin v Raymond Reddington now that's story

Bethesda and Ubisoft are totally justified to blacklist Kotaku for publishing leaked documents. It doesn't matter if they were legally obtained and they didn't sign an NDA. They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published. If these documents exposed evil business practices or terrible work conditions then it would be a different story. But in both cases it was information about an upcoming title before it was ready for reveal. Heck, with Fallout 4 it was a script who's content was used in the final game.

Kotaku showed they have no respect for the developer/publisher, and published the leaked documents for a quick buck. Why should Bethesda or Ubisoft respect them?

I get the general idea behind "being blacklisted = bad" (BTW, blacklist are not cool, just come out and publicly say what you want), but it's not like they were blacklisted for great reporting, they got blacklisted for telling the world something everyone knew, Fallout 4 is in development (Noooooo?!) and there's a new assassin creed coming out (again, Noooooo?!).

I dunno, if they were for something big like "activision blizzard use child slave to program there game" or something, they yeah awesome, but this...

Beside weren't they already blacklisted by ubisoft for not showering assassin creed 1 with praise?

Daelin Dwin:
Bethesda and Ubisoft are totally justified to blacklist Kotaku for publishing leaked documents. It doesn't matter if they were legally obtained and they didn't sign an NDA. They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published. If these documents exposed evil business practices or terrible work conditions then it would be a different story. But in both cases it was information about an upcoming title before it was ready for reveal. Heck, with Fallout 4 it was a script who's content was used in the final game.

Kotaku showed they have no respect for the developer/publisher, and published the leaked documents for a quick buck. Why should Bethesda or Ubisoft respect them?

This. I don't get how that is so difficult to grasp.

Dornedas:
What has Kotaku to do with Games Journalism?

I thought they were bloggers not journalists.

Half and half. They're not really bloggers, since it's not really a personal thing. They're a gaming site in the vein of most Gawker stuff. That is, heavy on the personal voice, often very informal, though, they've yet to follow the rest of Gawker in engaging in the uttermost of scumbaggery and unethical practice (Whatever you think of Kotaku, Gawker made their name to fame by declaring they didn't give a fuck about standards, including a couple of things mentioned in this comic over the years. Whatever Kotaku's failings, they haven't done that).

It's a gaming site that's formatted like a twitter feed, with a contant stream of news, updates, reviews etc from a variety of contributors. It's kind of great for minute to minute news and trivia, but that's also it's biggest failing, because it's not really structured, particularly professional, and the signal to noise ratio is pretty low.

Like most of "games journalism", their jobs mostly compose of reposting other outlets news, rewording and announcing press releases, linking to trailers, talking sales and hype, and writing reviews.

It's just that a couple of their stories they've gotten through their contacts have apparently gotten them on the outer with some publishers. Not sure that I'd jump on Kotaku's side though. Talking about games before they're announced is hardly hard-hitting investigative journalism.

Meiam:
I get the general idea behind "being blacklisted = bad" (BTW, blacklist are not cool, just come out and publicly say what you want), but it's not like they were blacklisted for great reporting, they got blacklisted for telling the world something everyone knew, Fallout 4 is in development (Noooooo?!) and there's a new assassin creed coming out (again, Noooooo?!).

I dunno, if they were for something big like "activision blizzard use child slave to program there game" or something, they yeah awesome, but this...

Beside weren't they already blacklisted by ubisoft for not showering assassin creed 1 with praise?

It's not exactly Watergate, true, but that just raises the question: If the stories were so inconsequential, why did Bethesda/Ubisoft even bother to bring the hammer down? It just makes them look like dicks for no good reason.

Blacklisting an outlet over a leak seems like misplaced blame. You should be taking a hard look at yourself, your staff and your information security rather than getting salty that someone shared what slipped through the cracks. By shunning an outlet as large as Kotaku they are limiting their audience, which doesn't really seem worth it at all. It's just bad business.

Sure, you could consider what Kotaku did as dickish, but they were well within their rights to publish the info. The simple fact is, they shared info they knew their audience would want. When it comes to enthusiast press, that's one of the few metrics you can use to judge an outlet's merit.

Ok, what i don't get is why WOULD there be any discussion about ethics in game journalism here?
That discussion is generally about whether or not game journalists are acting ethically, not whether or not someone else is doing something ethical towards game journalists.
Sure there can be a discussion whether or not game publishers are acting ethical, but that question has been clearly answered with "No and they never did" a long, long, long, looooooong time ago.

As far as I understand, Ubi and Bethesda blacklisted Kotaku for releasing things they didn't want released. This blacklisting appears to involve not giving Kotaku access to things that the publishers are under no obligation to give access to. So my question is; what does any of this have to do with ethics in journalism?

The blurb below the comic suggests that the two companies not responding to Kotaku's requests for comments on news that surfaces is shady as fuck. How, exactly? If Kotaku wants to do serious investigative journalism, it should position itself that way. Hiding behind a wall of, "We're just bloggers!" when it suits them is totally at odds with the idea that they are serious investigative journalists. Kotaku doesn't get to switch hats like this whenever it suits them. It's every bit as stupid as Fox News trying to claim that half their talking heads aren't journalists, just entertainers with opinions and on the other half are serious fair and balanced news people.

There seems to be no ethical breach on Kotaku's part; they released information that harmed no innocent person and which the public had an interest in. There seems to be no breach on Ubi or Bethesda's part; they are entitled to share or not share information with anyone they wish. So again, what does this have to do in ethics in journalism?

NinjaDeathSlap:

Meiam:
I get the general idea behind "being blacklisted = bad" (BTW, blacklist are not cool, just come out and publicly say what you want), but it's not like they were blacklisted for great reporting, they got blacklisted for telling the world something everyone knew, Fallout 4 is in development (Noooooo?!) and there's a new assassin creed coming out (again, Noooooo?!).

I dunno, if they were for something big like "activision blizzard use child slave to program there game" or something, they yeah awesome, but this...

Beside weren't they already blacklisted by ubisoft for not showering assassin creed 1 with praise?

It's not exactly Watergate, true, but that just raises the question: If the stories were so inconsequential, why did Bethesda/Ubisoft even bother to bring the hammer down? It just makes them look like dicks for no good reason.

Because they spent a lot of money on big launch that was spoiled by a bunch of bloggers going for their own ad revenue. Bethesda/Ubisoft are business that exist to make money, not a branch of government. Fundamentally they are entitled to send or not send review copies to who the hell they want. Turns out if you spoil the big reveal at the show you piss them off and they screw you back.

This issue has me rather torn. On one hand, I fucking hate Kotaku. On the other hand, what they have done was actual journalism and reporting, rather than doing the usual for press outlets and regurgitating press releases and whatever info the industry willingly feeds. Bethesda and Ubisoft's decision to blacklist them is very shady and shows how far the big publishers will go to control information flow.

Here's the thing though: the only reason that the companies have the power to blacklist Kotaku so easily is because of how Kotaku and other press outlets have so gleefully acting as the PR-branch of the AAA industry. They've all been so complicit in the bullshit the AAA industry tries to peddle, never willing to criticize unless they think it will earn them more controversy clicks (like leaking some game documents). It's a business relationship the industry and the "press" has - say nice things about our games, we'll give you free stuff and info on our stuff so you can make articles for more clicks. This isn't really a matter of journalistic ethics, it's got to do with this business relationship. They acted badly in this relationship and are now facing the consequences for biting the hand that feeds, so I can't say I feel to sorry for them. Their recent article on the matter seemed like nothing more than whining that they were punished for acting bad on that relationship, rather than standing by their journalistic integrity (HAH).

Now, if more outlets continued the trend, broke their ties to the industry, and acted like actual reporters, then I'd be all for it. My guess is though this issue will die down soon and it'll "business" as usual for the gaming press and the gaming industry.

albino boo:

NinjaDeathSlap:

Meiam:
I get the general idea behind "being blacklisted = bad" (BTW, blacklist are not cool, just come out and publicly say what you want), but it's not like they were blacklisted for great reporting, they got blacklisted for telling the world something everyone knew, Fallout 4 is in development (Noooooo?!) and there's a new assassin creed coming out (again, Noooooo?!).

I dunno, if they were for something big like "activision blizzard use child slave to program there game" or something, they yeah awesome, but this...

Beside weren't they already blacklisted by ubisoft for not showering assassin creed 1 with praise?

It's not exactly Watergate, true, but that just raises the question: If the stories were so inconsequential, why did Bethesda/Ubisoft even bother to bring the hammer down? It just makes them look like dicks for no good reason.

Because they spent a lot of money on big launch that was spoiled by a bunch of bloggers going for their own ad revenue. Bethesda/Ubisoft are business that exist to make money, not a branch of government. Fundamentally they are entitled to send or not send review copies to who the hell they want. Turns out if you spoil the big reveal at the show you piss them off and they screw you back.

Then blame the people inside your own house who leaked it to them. Or better yet, realise in the modern age leaks to the press are just gonna happen, and pretty much the only way to mismanage them is to take it out on the press in question who do absolutely nothing wrong by reporting on stories that are given to them.

No, they're not obliged to work with the press, but they sure as hell don't look like adults either when they decide to take their ball and go home because the press does what it's supposed to do. Who do these guys hire for their PR that they think this is a good idea?

I dont see where ethics are involved here.

Kotaku released leaks.

Bethesda and Ubi where pissed that kotaku spoiled their big reveals and thus decided not to interact with them anymore.

None of these are unethical behavior...

This is what happens in professional journalism... its shocking i know but when you piss off a private corporation or individual said corporation or individual is not required by any form of law or ethical standards to further cooperate with you.

Heck developers send out review copies for the PR, not because they NEED to or somehow are OBLIGATED to do so.

Sorry but this comic strip misses the mark by miles. Kotaku is in the "right" to publish leaks and Bethesda and Ubi are in the right to simply not communicate or support Kotaku anymore.

What kotaku on the other hand has no right to is to whine and whail like a little kid about the big boys not letting it play in their sandbox anymore.. because in the past it turns out that kotaku shat in said sandbox repeatedly.

There was no journalistic gain behind releasing these leaks, they where leaked for profit. Perhaps kotaku should have thought about consequences before releasing these leaks that did nothing but to spoil the big reveals for these games?

Anyways, kotaku made their bed, now they have to lay in it. If they had a better reputation then shitflinging tabloid bloggers then perhaps people would support them more on this... but im afraid that train has left a long time ago.

Daelin Dwin:
They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published.

You and I clearly have very different ideas about journalism.

NinjaDeathSlap:

Then blame the people inside your own house who leaked it to them. Or better yet, realise in the modern age leaks to the press are just gonna happen, and pretty much the only way to mismanage them is to take it out on the press in question who do absolutely nothing wrong by reporting on stories that are given to them.

No, they're not obliged to work with the press, but they sure as hell don't look like adults either when they decide to take their ball and go home because the press does what it's supposed to do. Who do these guys hire for their PR that they think this is a good idea?

Kotaku made money at the expense of Bethesda/Ubisoft, what else did you think was going to happen.

The Wooster:

Daelin Dwin:
They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published.

You and I clearly have very different ideas about journalism.

Yeah, your opinion is wrong. All journalism should be modified press releases that just in case should be read through by a PR team from the company in question to make sure they haven't put a comma where they should have used a semicolon. Because that's how churnalism WORKS.

Oh, my bad, you said journalism. I tend to mix these up as they are getting increasingly difficult to separate from each other.

albino boo:

NinjaDeathSlap:

Then blame the people inside your own house who leaked it to them. Or better yet, realise in the modern age leaks to the press are just gonna happen, and pretty much the only way to mismanage them is to take it out on the press in question who do absolutely nothing wrong by reporting on stories that are given to them.

No, they're not obliged to work with the press, but they sure as hell don't look like adults either when they decide to take their ball and go home because the press does what it's supposed to do. Who do these guys hire for their PR that they think this is a good idea?

Kotaku made money at the expense of Bethesda/Ubisoft, what else did you think was going to happen.

Did they? "At the expense" I mean. I'd like to see either Bethesda or Ubisoft try and convincingly argue that press leaks before their (already needlessly expensive) launch parties actually cost them money in the sales of these games. This isn't a business issue, and even if it was they'd still be shooting themselves in the foot over nothing. They're mad, why? Because Kotaku spoiled the surprise? How does that cost them anything, especially when, as was stated right at the beginning, neither of these pieces of news was a surprise?

Kotaku made money, yes, by telling people something they all already knew. That speaks volumes for how little respect we have for decent coverage of the medium, but I don't blame them for capitalising on it when they can, and I'd love to see anyone try and draw a line between those leeks and anyone choosing not to buy these games when they otherwise would have, so the publishers are just being infantile.

Fappy:
Blacklisting an outlet over a leak seems like misplaced blame. You should be taking a hard look at yourself, your staff and your information security rather than getting salty that someone shared what slipped through the cracks. By shunning an outlet as large as Kotaku they are limiting their audience, which doesn't really seem worth it at all. It's just bad business.

Sure, you could consider what Kotaku did as dickish, but they were well within their rights to publish the info. The simple fact is, they shared info they knew their audience would want. When it comes to enthusiast press, that's one of the few metrics you can use to judge an outlet's merit.

My best guess would be that they did it to ensure that this didn't happen again, in case there was something they really did want to keep secret, like the development of a game no one has covered yet.

warmachine:
Fuck Bethesda and Fuck Ubisoft. As well as Konami.

New title: Kotaku gets Blacklisted, Bethesda and Ubisoft get Fucklisted.

NinjaDeathSlap:

Did they? "At the expense" I mean. I'd like to see either Bethesda or Ubisoft try and convincingly argue that press leaks before their (already needlessly expensive) launch parties actually cost them money in the sales of these games. This isn't a business issue, and even if it was they'd still be shooting themselves in the foot over nothing. They're mad, why? Because Kotaku spoiled the surprise? How does that cost them anything, especially when, as was stated right at the beginning, neither of these pieces of news was a surprise?

Kotaku made money, yes, by telling people something they all already knew. That speaks volumes for how little respect we have for decent coverage of the medium, but I don't blame them for capitalising on it when they can, and I'd love to see anyone try and draw a line between those lyrics and anyone choosing not to buy these games when they otherwise would have, so the publishers are just being infantile.

Ok you have just spent 100k on your big launch at the show and some bloggers come along and leak the item early so they get more ad revenue. So it's no longer the lead item and you no longer get the huge amount free coverage that the launch party setup to generate. There is a reason why there are launch parties and its not for the sake of it. Its there to be the top item across multiple media around the world when it comes to games at the moment of choosing of the business doing the launch . Kokutaku fucked that up for their own economic benefit so they will get put out in the cold lose the economic benefit of review copies and have to wait until they can buy it retail. Cause/effect.

Technically, Bethesda and Ubisoft haven't done anything 'wrong', in context of their business handlings, right?

I mean, definitely kind of a dick move, but they haven't done anything "wrong" by deciding to not work with a news outlet that leaked their documents - as in, they're not obligated to continue working with an outlet they disagree with, correct?

I'd say Kotaku also didn't really do anything wrong by putting information they discovered out there either, so it's kind of a weird gray area.

If Kotaku didn't make anything up, then they did valid reporting, and publishers aren't obligated to directly work with ANY news outlets, it's entirely at their discretion. So both parties are operating completely within their acceptable spaces, as far as I know.

That said, definitely a dick move on Bethesda and Ubisoft's part to blacklist them for something so inconsequential. If it was them publishing fabrications, or irrelevant personal stuff about employees, I could see a pretty valid reason to not work with them anymore, but leaking info about certain games being in production?

That's weaksauce. Not necessarily unethical, but pretty weak.

Ha ha, it's funny because it's tragically true!

I really don't see the big deal about this. Kotaku reported useless crap that no one really needed to know because we were going to get the information only a little bit later. Bethesda and Ubisoft decided to say "Okay, you gonna play like that? Release as many leaks as you want, just don't expect us to help you out at all." And for those thinking this will somehow hurt their profit margin. This is Bethesda and Ubisoft we're talking about here. Who loves Kotaku so much that they'd never play another Fallout or Elder Scrolls just because of this, who weren't already apathetic towards the franchises in their current state anyway? I could imagine maybe the count is maybe in the hundreds, possibly in the lower thousands. That's barely anything on games that these guys push out.

Everyone did what they thought was best for their company. There was hardly anything unethical going on in this specific situation. All I can say is if the information had actually been necessary for us to get sooner, maybe I could applaud Kotaku. The fact remains that nothing about either of the articles was necessary to have been leaked earlier other than Kotaku simply wanting more clicks on an article. They still have their sources and if something shady is going down, they still have their ways of getting them. This only means they can't talk to the big heads or anything, which wouldn't matter in the first place because interviews with them is simply the big guys dodging all questions and painting everyone else as the idiot, which is fun for a laugh but doesn't really grant any new information. It also means waiting about another week to get a review from them, but we have so many sources for reviews that this doesn't stop any information from getting through to the consumers anyway.

So ultimately, why should anyone give a fuck as nothing of value has been shifted or lost?

On the one side I now know they aren't restricted by trying not to anger Bethesda, on the other hand I do worry if a bias against Bethesda will grow coloring their articles to cover Bethesda in a negative light. I think Kotaku might be especially at risk for this since it seems they use a more personal voice in heir writing, as such the stories would be more impacted by outside bias whereas a more dry just the facts are less likely to be. It does highlight my main issue in gaming journalism, outlets have to cozy up to heir subjects or else you don't get the latest scoops directly impacting your ad revenue, maybe if more news sites stopped getting so close then publishers would have less of a strangle hold on the news.

The Wooster:

Daelin Dwin:
They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published.

You and I clearly have very different ideas about journalism.

Daelin Dwin:
They should have respected the developer/publisher in not publishing documents they clearly didn't want published. If these documents exposed evil business practices or terrible work conditions then it would be a different story. But in both cases it was information about an upcoming title before it was ready for reveal. Heck, with Fallout 4 it was a script who's content was used in the final game.

Context is key.

Ok, chuckled at this one. As in, for real, not typing "lol" at something moderately amusing, audibly chuckled.

albino boo:

NinjaDeathSlap:

Did they? "At the expense" I mean. I'd like to see either Bethesda or Ubisoft try and convincingly argue that press leaks before their (already needlessly expensive) launch parties actually cost them money in the sales of these games. This isn't a business issue, and even if it was they'd still be shooting themselves in the foot over nothing. They're mad, why? Because Kotaku spoiled the surprise? How does that cost them anything, especially when, as was stated right at the beginning, neither of these pieces of news was a surprise?

Kotaku made money, yes, by telling people something they all already knew. That speaks volumes for how little respect we have for decent coverage of the medium, but I don't blame them for capitalising on it when they can, and I'd love to see anyone try and draw a line between those lyrics and anyone choosing not to buy these games when they otherwise would have, so the publishers are just being infantile.

Ok you have just spent 100k on your big launch at the show and some bloggers come along and leak the item early so they get more ad revenue. So it's no longer the lead item and you no longer get the huge amount free coverage that the launch party setup to generate. There is a reason why there are launch parties and its not for the sake of it. Its there to be the top item across multiple media around the world when it comes to games at the moment of choosing of the business doing the launch . Kokutaku fucked that up for their own economic benefit so they will get put out in the cold lose the economic benefit of review copies and have to wait until they can buy it retail. Cause/effect.

Except you (and the publishers) are missing the bigger picture: Their games still were the lead news item (or, Fallout 4 was in any case, and people just being plain burned out on Assassin's Creed is another thing that's definitely not Kotaku's fault). Hell, that why they were leaked in the first place. They still got all the attention. If anything, the leaks probably got the word out to the three people left in the world who weren't already anticipating it and netted even more attention. They could literally just not have spent 100k in the first place, leaked the story themselves and achieved exactly the same result. That, I think, is the real bee in their bonnet. They're not mad because Kotaku lost them money, because they didn't. The only money that was lost was money that they willingly spent themselves on something pointless, and even then they were still free to capitalise on it. They're not even mad because Kotaku made money of their backs, because why should that matter to them when at the end of the day their games are still dominating the press cycle?

They're mad because Kotaku made them look like idiots, and when their reaction to that is to do the one thing any PR manager worth their salt will tell you never to do as a company reliant on media, it only proves that they are idiots.

McMarbles:
Ha ha, it's funny because it's tragically true!

It would be if there was a breach of ethics to be discussed that no one was discussing. The most I've seen is people claiming that Ubi and Bethesda refusing to share information with Kotaku is "shady." No explanation as to why it's shady other than because it may in some way impact Kotaku's ability to do hard hitting investigative journalism, despite neither publisher having any onus to help Kotaku with that or Kotaku being the kind of outlet that does much, if any, of that. So maybe the reason the "ethics in journalism" people aren't all over this is because there appears to be no ethical breach on the part of any party involved? In which case, how is the comic "tragically true"?

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