William Usher: "Game Journalists Are Anti-Consumer, Not Bethesda"

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starbear:

In the absence of 3rd parties, what do consumers have to rely on in order to make a decision to buy at launch?

Their past experiences from the developer. Besides that, nothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertising

Yes, I'm aware that those are two different words that exist, and your wikipedia links have done nothing to dissuade me from my position.

How about this: What, to you, is the difference between advertising and marketing, and why does this matter?

Video games sell best during the first week of launch. Not getting a game until the day before means there will be less information about games during that first week, and any reviews are going to be rushed.

How, exactly, is this good for gamers?

altnameJag:
Video games sell best during the first week of launch. Not getting a game until the day before means there will be less information about games during that first week, and any reviews are going to be rushed.

How, exactly, is this good for gamers?

This is the wrong question to ask, because what is or isn't good doesn't necessarily translate to "anti-consumer" or "pro-consumer".

Houseman:

altnameJag:
Video games sell best during the first week of launch. Not getting a game until the day before means there will be less information about games during that first week, and any reviews are going to be rushed.

How, exactly, is this good for gamers?

This is the wrong question to ask, because what is or isn't good doesn't necessarily translate to "anti-consumer" or "pro-consumer".

...then what the fuck does?

If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?

altnameJag:
...then what the fuck does?

If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?

Imagine this scenario:

A game company makes new maps and skins and content for their game, and gives them away for free. This is good for consumers, right?
Let's say a game company stops doing this, and instead, starts to charge for extra content. Is this anti-consumer?

"how is it not" is a logical fallacy called assuming the initial point, or begging the question. You're assuming the truth of your argument and asking me to disprove it, instead of proving your own argument.

Houseman:

altnameJag:
...then what the fuck does?

If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?

Imagine this scenario:

A game company makes new maps and skins and content for their game, and gives them away for free. This is good for consumers, right?
Let's say a game company stops doing this, and instead, starts to charge for extra content. Is this anti-consumer?

A lot of people were crying about paid DLC when it first started being a thing, I don't think it's inherently anti-consumer, but is so when it involves chopping a game to pieces or denying the actual ending of a game by placing story elements and such behind a paywall in an already paid for game.

"how is it not" is a logical fallacy called assuming the initial point, or begging the question. You're assuming the truth of your argument and asking me to disprove it, instead of proving your own argument.

...Yes, I'm assuming that consumers having less information about a product they're being asked to buy is bad for consumers. Is this somehow not an accurate statement? (Barring story spoilers)

Having less information about a potential purchase, having to rely on marketing or coverage from super-fans only, agreements with YouTubers to not mention glitches or other negative aspects of a game...

I posit that these things are bad for consumers, based on the fact I can't see any benefit for consumers while thinking having less information is a bad thing.

Do you, Houseman, see a plus for gamers by Bethesda doing this? What advantages to gamers get for having less information about a game at launch? What is the benefit to the consumer?

altnameJag:
A lot of people were crying about paid DLC when it first started being a thing, I don't think it's inherently anti-consumer,

Great, so then you have an example of something being "bad" for the consumer, but yet, not "anti-consumer". You now have an answer to your question of "If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?"

If Bethesda does this, it's entirely within their right. Much as Nintendo taking down/claiming on Youtube videos. Sure it's anti-consumer, but I see it in a different way, probably because I don't see why anyone wants pre-order buy something at launch anyway. I mean, if you're ready to part with your cash without seeing a game or reading a review on it beforehand, then you were gonna hand that money over regardless. If anything, it puts the onus on the consumer even more so. Totally different ball-park to other, REAL anti-consumer shit like day one DLC, DRM, microtransactions and all that other miserable shit that goes on nowadays and has be come ubiquitous in every big franchise.

I don't agree with it either, but because I agree with Usher on many other things, I can say yes, journalists are responsible for a lot of it. And people don't want to see it, even when publishers come right out and say it. Some dumb game like Dead or Alive isn't released because of the reception in the West to objectifying women...honestly, the amount of crap I see in the media it doesn't even surprise me in the slightest - I wouldn't either! Though I couldn't give 2 shits about DoA, it's a pain in the ass that this has to happen, and could be affecting games content in ways that we'll never really know.

Why aren't movies subject to the same shit? Journalists will say (while mocking angry consumers) "aw, look what you bastards did! SJW's are going to take my games awaaay!" but when something like DoA happens, they won't even accept any kind of responsibility and say you're just an immature twat for wanting to see tits on your stupid game.

OT: to answer your questions, I agree with him for the most part, except the lying about GG stuff, but that's because every time I tried to make sense of it, the more I realized there was so much BS mixed in with the facts and people just pushing agendas and slandering each other, the truth got buried far too deep for me to bother finding it.

I agree that gamers are attacked by feeling 'entitled' with misleading trailers and false advertising, because you are just straight up being lied to. People say "waaah, gamers having a cry" because they're just games - they won't affect your life, and are still perceived as 'toys' by many. But if you lied about ingredients in a critical drug to boost your sales, you'd go to jail (or you should). So that's just relative.

Fat Hippo:

Alright, so based on this, his basic model of how the games industry (including publishers and media) should work:

Publishers have no obligations towards the consumer. The responsibility is instead put on the shoulders of the media. Companies are purely rational and profit-maximizing, but this is constrained by the media, which informs the consumers about their purchasing decisions. This incentivizes the publishers not to engage in certain (consumer-damaging) practices, and the consumer wants to read this media to help him make these decisions. It's a pretty narrow view of how a creative industry works, but it is functional. Continuing on...

According to him, the problem is that the media has done a poor job of fulfilling their role, i.e. they have not done a good job of informing consumers. So, things I asked myself:

Why does the media have a moral burden while the developers of video games do not? Sites like Polygon are businesses in the exact same way that Bethesda are. And according to him, it is fine for businesses to seek to maximize profits to any extent they can. And yet he is outraged by the behavior of sites such as Polygon and VICE. To me that's a pretty clear contradiction.

He never present an argument for WHY journalists are doing a poor job of informing them through early copy reviews. He states that these reviews have been misleading, but he puts the blame for this purely on the ones doing the reviewing. It is their fault that they didn't pierce the veil of misinformation presented by the publishers. Meanwhile, the publishers shouldn't be expected to present the media with true information, since they are merely trying to make money, as is their right. However, he never explains why having no early review copies is better for anyone (except the companies) than having good early review copies.

Who does he want to help here? It is clearly not the rest of the media, which he describes as incompetent if not intentionally malicious. Yet how can it be the consumer, when he completely denies the ability of early review copies to help inform anyone, ignoring the possibility of publishers to deliver copies which reflect the actual game?

If he actually wanted to help consumers, he would demand truthful early review copies for everyone, including himself, leading to the best possible state of information of consumers. Instead, he would rather nobody receive them, since the video games media has apparently not deserved it because of their past behavior. No, he would rather these are no longer given to anyone! This clearly benefits only the publisher, and yet he claims it is everyone else who is not truly pro-consumer, implying that he himself is, despite his position clearly contradicting it.

After that the article declines into an angry rant about GamerGate which we can easily ignore since it has little to do with the issue.

I think the issue is not that journalists have a moral requirement they are failing to meet that the publishers do not have, but rather an ethical requirement they are failing to meet that exists as a core of their job and the responsibility of that job. The nature of the profession is one based around it being the acting agent of the audience's desire to be informed by seeking out information relative to the audience's interest. It is also one where an ethical standard of practice exists and has for a long while in order to give validity to the profession. To this end, there is a responsibility to the audience and an ethical standard to adhere to in journalism that is different than publishing. Because journalism is a service job where the journalists are gathering, examining, and presenting information that is reliable, accurate and relevant to the interests of the audience, it is very important to the profession they remain ethical in their fulfillment of that service, least they devalue their work in that service by being unreliable, untrustworthy, or openly biased. When they start to act as a PR arm of companies at the expense of fulfilling their duty and responsibility to the audience, it can be shown to be anti-consumer.

Both publishers and gaming media are companies trying to maximize profits, and both can do good or bad in pursuit of that. For publishers, actions such as DRM handling, Always online issues, DLC practices and even youtube copywrite strike abusing is called out in the companies as anti-consumer. For journalists, misrepresentations, misinformation, fabrication, political stumping or biases affecting reviews and coverage, or failure to abide by the ethical standards expected of journalists would all be cause to consider them anti-consumer as well. Worth pointing out that there is a difference in responsibility here though. Publishers need to make a product as their primary purpose, while journalists need to provide a dependable and trustworthy service. Companies tacking on DLC and other things are anti-consumer, but they aren't often as actively sabotaging the intended purpose of their profession in the same way that a job who's duty is to inform the public is by misinforming them and abusing the audience's trust.

On the topic of early reviews, I think they are a privledge granted to reviewers as a sign of goodwill and trust in their product. When done so honestly, they work as early screenings for movies and help give people advanced warning to make an informed decision. And when denied or held back til release, it is often shown as a sign of lack of trust in the product and, like movies, should be reported on as a privledge revoked, with the obvious implications of such a decisions being that it is probably shit.

Review copies are not required, and nor should they be. This includes early review copies. Given away as a sign of trust in the product, or held back as indicative of lack of trust in the product works well for movie reviews. Perhaps, because of how expected such reviews are, publications could do a review without a score talking about how the game wasn't given an early release and leave it at that or even outright mentioning the fact as a sign of lack of faith in the product if they wanted to be prickly about it.

On my own thoughts about early reviews, one even touched on briefly in the article I believe, early review copies do not always experience what the consumer does. This is especially true of online components, be it multiplayer servers, or always online components. SimCity, Diablo 3 and others show how such review copies can be very different from launch, and actually represent a very potent pitfall for reviews from early copies.

...oh hey, this thread has had some (and I mean some) actual discussion in it, fascinating. Well, I'm free now, so time to stick my dick in this dumpsterfire once more!

Netscape:

* What are your thoughts on Mr. Usher's editorial?

Obviously I'm in the heartily disagree camp given my first post in the thread, but for more indepth response - it's a shit article. There's certainly a point he's trying to make, but he spends a little too much time working over an obvious hate-boner rather than actually exploring the issue.

Plus, he's got a habit of refering to Games Journalists as some weird conglomerate, when the examples he pulls are relatively minor and often have other games journalists disagreeing with those points. Kinda fucked up on that front, really.

* Are you surprised to see Mr. Usher, a games journalist himself, arguing against early review copies?

No, because alluded to above, Games Journalists are not some conglomerate hive-mind, all marching lock-step with one another and mercilessly executing those who dare toe a different line.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that many games journalists "inject politics" into gaming when it isn't necessary?

...the irony of this is not lost on me, given how hard he rails about Gamergate and how games journalists 'lied' in the later part of the article. If you're going to complain about 'injecting politics' maybe avoid injecting politics into an article where it's completely off-point?

* Do you believe that retailer-specific content, on-disk DLC, DRM, cut-endings and season passes are "anti-consumer," as Mr. Usher suggests?

Yes and no, since those all tend to be very different things that have very different reasonings. On-disk DLC depends a lot on development times and when/where things are placed during production. DRM is anti-consumer since it doesn't actually stop pirates but makes it harder to access games for the average joe. Cut-endings, again, depends on the reasons as to 'why' it was cut. Season Passes are anti-consumer, since they're a pre-order for DLC without any guarantee as to either the quality or content of the actual packs (see Fallout 4 and the price hike because 'it's just got so much in it!' for an example of how anti-consumer these things can get).

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that games journalists haven't done their job in criticizing (above listed) "anti-consumer" practices?

...which journalists? Again, not a conglomerate. I've found numerous articles by games journos and critics decrying the industries continued use of pre-order culture and season passes, and I've also found numerous articles by game journos and critics defending the use of these things.

* Do you agree that many games journalists took an anti-consumer position on the Mass Effect 3 ending, Diablo 3 DRM, Aliens: Colonial Marines "false advertising" and the No Man's Sky controveries, by attacking gamers as "entitled"?

Let's face it, Gamers got pretty fucking entitled over the Mass Effect 3 ending, given the sheer bloody-minded outrage that took the internet by storm during that whole period. It was partially justified outrage given it wasn't what was promised, but when gamers en-masse demand something be changed instead of going 'well that was a shit ending', an element of entitlement certainly plays into it (especially given the number of gamers who STILL rode Biowares case after they did cave in to demands).

Meanwhile, again, which games journalists? I saw lots defending all that shit, and I also saw lots that railed against D3's always online, the shitshow that was Colonial Marines and damn near everything the Journos have been saying about No Man's Sky has been negative since launch, so... yeah, not as simple as an 'agree' or 'disagree'. Shit, not even a disagree with the claims of entitlement, since again, gamers CAN totally be entitled - we aren't these perfect little consumers, we can whine and bitch like no tomorrow if our ending isn't perfect or if our guns aren't OP enough.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that many sites were anti-consumer in their decision to "lie" about the GamerGate movement?

I'll be blunt, Gamergate has nothing to do with Consumer practices at this point, so Usher banging on about it really misdirects the article entirely. And 'lie' is a hard thing to determine here anyway, given EVERYONE involved with GG at this point is riding their agendas so hard they wouldn't accept the truth of what happened (if the truth even exists) if it bit their nose off.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that games journalists have been anti-consumer and/or dishonest in pushing the claim that video games and/or gamers are sexist?

...man, that question sucks. Like, which games? Which gamers? Which journalists? How sexist? Because, and this'll really blow your mind, games and gamers can be sexist. It's true. Hell, games journalists can be sexist. And this'll shock you even more - Sexism is a pretty broad thing, ranging from minor issues to major problems, and games journalists - as people - can notice and discuss if a game is indeed sexist, and can mention that in their review, a critic or a follow-up article. This does not mean they are saying 'All games are sexist' or 'All gamers are sexist', it can simply mean they're going 'hey, this game here? It's actually kinda sexist'. Pretty Standard Stuff, really, but then again, people like to lose their minds over Pretty Standard Stuff.

* Do you believe game journalists are "entitled" to early review copies from publishers?

...see, now this is a complicated question, since the nature of the games industry means that, while Games Journalists shouldn't be entitled to early review copies, they should still be receiving them, DUE to the prevalence of pre-order culture. The game industry, as it stands now, DEMANDS people pre-order the biggest, most flashy version of their game months in advance of the actual launch date, with no guarantee it will actually be a Good Game when it is available. As such, it is helpful to consumers to actually be able to see review content before the release date - which is not what the game industry wants. What the game industry wants is to shake as much money out of people and piss off before anyone catches onto the fact the game was programmed with a wet piece of bread and some twine, and pre-release reviews means that people could be potentially warned about the fact the game is a piece of garbage and not pre-order it like the good little lapdogs they are. Hence why the AAA companies are now either refusing to send early copies, or only sending them to journalists who have given 'agreeable' reviews - because that way it's a lot easier to control the marketplace and prevent people from realizing something is shit until after they've already dumped 150 bucks on it.

In a perfect world, game journalists wouldn't need early review copies - but in this world, where the game industry is a toxic wasteland full of anti-consumer practices as fucking standard, they are a necessity to help consumers stay as informed as possible. If there's anyone to blame for it, blame AAA publishers pushing the pre-order bullshit so hard I'm seeing pre-orders for games slated to release two years from now. Fucking Christ.

* Do you agree that a significant portion, if not outright majority, of games journalists are unethical or "pro-corporate," instead of advocating for consumers?

No. There certainly are game journalists who are 'pro-corporate', since again, not a conglomerate (also because Games Publishers can make it very hard for people to eat if they don't say the right things, which despite some idiots claims is the Publishers being in the wrong, not the journalists), but to say a significant portion of them are 'Teh Badz' is just Incredibly Fucking Stupid. Anyone who genuinely believes that has a very obvious bias riding their arse like the Lone Ranger, and should probably fuck off to KotakuInAction to circlejerk with the rest of the numpties who get their feelings hurt whenever someone says the word 'feminism'.

Houseman:

starbear:

In the absence of 3rd parties, what do consumers have to rely on in order to make a decision to buy at launch?

Their past experiences from the developer.

How many video game consumers even know who develops the game?

Besides that, nothing.

So games companies invest thousands of dollars in marketing for no reason at all?

Yes, I'm aware that those are two different words that exist, and your wikipedia links have done nothing to dissuade me from my position.

Well if you want to hold a fundamentally incorrect position you are welcome to do so. "Marketing" and "advertisements" are two very different things. If you want to hold the position that they are not, then you are wrong.

How about this: What, to you, is the difference between advertising and marketing, and why does this matter?

Why does it matter? Because we are having a conversation. And I am very precise in what words I choose to use. And if I choose to use the word marketing, its because I meant to use the word marketing, and I didn't intend to use the word advertising. If you substitute the word "advertising" for "marketing" then you are both changing the meaning of what I said, and you don't understand what I actually said.

As for explaining the difference to you: as I've said plenty of times here I'm not your monkey. Mistaking marketing for advertising is a very common mistake. You aren't the only one to have made that mistake. It is so common there are several articles on the internet that explain the difference better than I.

https://goo.gl/y55hEo

Feel free to read them. If you don't want to do that, and if you continue to conflate "marketing" and "advertising" then there really isn't any hope for a conversation.

Netscape:

Discussion Questions
* What are your thoughts on Mr. Usher's editorial?

It sucks. This guy tries so hard to pain all of games journalism as this overly politicized, overly corrupt entity that wouldn't give reliable reviews even with early review copies. So hard I almost dislodged an eyeball from rolling my eyes so hard at the article.

* Are you surprised to see Mr. Usher, a games journalist himself, arguing against early review copies?

Yes I am. And not only that but he did it in the most half-assed "corporations can do what they want" argument, which is automatically grounds for me not giving a sh!t about his opinion.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that many games journalists "inject politics" into gaming when it isn't necessary?

Sometimes, yes. But not to the level he insists it is. Also you have a minute to give me an objective guideline for when I can and can't "inject politics" into my hypothetical game reviews. Because I don't think anyone can make that assessment.

* Do you believe that retailer-specific content, on-disk DLC, DRM, cut-endings and season passes are "anti-consumer," as Mr. Usher suggests?

No sh!t it is.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that games journalists haven't done their job in criticizing (above listed) "anti-consumer" practices?

Sadly, yes. Which is why, regardless of your opinion on the guy, Jim Sterling is one of the best game journalists working today, because he doesn't let this bullsh!t pass by.

* Do you agree that many games journalists took an anti-consumer position on the Mass Effect 3 ending, Diablo 3 DRM, Aliens: Colonial Marines "false advertising" and the No Man's Sky controveries, by attacking gamers as "entitled"?

Yes and no. Yes they should've been more angry at Gearbox for the misleading Aliens:CM demo and definitely at Blizzard for the Diablo 3 DRM and EA for the SimCity online bullsh!t. But at the same time it's one thing to point out legitimate boneheaded business decisions that hamper someone's ability to enjoy a video game (as the above three incidents) and siding with a consensus that the game's quality is lacking (as in the ME3 ending controversy and No Man's Sky lack of content). Journalists are not supposed to be automatically on the consumer's side of the fence all the time. You can say that ME3's ending sucked but you shouldn't be entitled to journalistic support in trying to change that ending because your opinion on the ending might not be the same as the journalists in question.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that many sites were anti-consumer in their decision to "lie" about the GamerGate movement?

I've always had the opinion that it is impossible to lie about a movement as nebulous and poorly defined as GamerGate (LOL I nearly typed in "GamerHate" by mistake and given how much it's screwing up in my opinion it was almost appropriate, I won't lie).

Yes journalists should've tried harder to be better informed about the movement but GG really should've tried meeting them halfway by, you know, having an actual clearly defined goal, leadership and "DOs and DON'Ts" for beign a part of the movement. Also on a semi-related note, anybody who complains about GG being slandered as sexist while at the same time vilifying Black Lives Matter as racist is a huge hypocrite based on the fact that both GG and BLM are poorly defined movements with unclear goals and leaderships that can be easily hijacked by assholes and extremists into being made to look into something that they're not. BLM sucks just as much as GG in my opinion and precisely for the same reasons.

* Do you agree with Mr. Usher that games journalists have been anti-consumer and/or dishonest in pushing the claim that video games and/or gamers are sexist?

I don't care. Because who gives a fried f@ck about being called sexist? I don't. It's just a f@cking opinion that doesn't matter.

* Do you believe game journalists are "entitled" to early review copies from publishers?

YES!!! You wanna know why? Because for the first time in forever they're actually trying to do something pro-consumer. By getting earlier copies of the game, they have more time to actually play it which means they can experience it better and give it a more informed review. Even if all the other problems that Usher listed were as bad as he said they are (and I don't think that they are), this is still a step forward for us because at least they can now take their time with it and really decide on how much they thing it's good or not.

* Do you agree that a significant portion, if not outright majority, of games journalists are unethical or "pro-corporate," instead of advocating for consumers?

I don't know I'm not a telepath so I don't know the exact number. Although I'm fairly certain that Usher is exaggerating about this, like he does about everything else in his stupid editorial.

Nielas:

Revnak:

Waiting an additional week for no goddamn reason is kinda more than a slight inconvenience.

Frankly, I do not see any reasonable scenario where this ever becomes more than a slight inconvenience. I just play something else while I wait for a review that convinces me to buy the game. A year later is still just a slight inconvenience.

The statistics say you're in the stark minority of gamers then. It's astroturfing game reviews, plain and simple, so that we can have more No Man's Skys. More Colonial Marineses. Whether or not you or I personally preorder, is irrelevant to the question. So that their pet reviewers can put out good reviews (With the tacit threat now hanging over them that if they don't like it, there will be no more review copies, so they'll be left behind on the scoop), or even fucking bribed reviewers can. This is actually what you would call collusion and corruption, and a conflict of interest.

It's a massive inconvenience designed to take advantage of the fact that most sales occur in the first week. Not for me, not for you, but for gamers as a whole, most of whom are now much more vulnerable to being scammed, and your answer is that every single one of them should wait, as if that's a realistic scenario, and as if Bethesda, EA, whoever you care to name, aren't going to profit by it, and disappoint consumers, and have all their worst practices rewarded. It directly hurts the information available to the player, increasing the chances of them being misinformed and disappointed, of being lied to and ripped off. This way, they get to control the critical, supposedly independant and free, conversation around the game, directly. It's fucking Jeff Gertsmann bullshit almost, and it's not just the likes of him that have pointed that out, it's Totalbiscuit too, about Kotaku of all places. Whatever you think of these outlets (And he thought very little of them), this is not something to celebrate. And there already was an accepted paradigm of review copies and embargoes that ensured that outlets weren't trying to scoop each other and that they had the chance to play something through, something you should really hope your reviewers are doing their best to achieve.

People shouldn't be rewarded for selling broken or shitty products. This is a mechanism to support that. I don't give a fuck about the critics, it's a game, they can afford it or their site can. Woot someone gets a free game, don't give a shit. I care about getting the reviews so that consumers can know what they're getting into, and so that lying to your audience about your game, so that making shit, isn't rewarded. It's not a matter of the reviewer being "entitled" to it. Games journalists don't even approach games in the same way. If you honestly think a game reviewer is thinking of his review copy like most of us would getting a sneak look in at a game we're looking forward to, you don't even know enough about the topic to start engaging with it. It's about the information available to consumers at the end of the day. Hell, if the reviewer had to pay for the review copy, whatever. It'll hurt the bottom line of the games press which is already collapsing, and encourage more shitty behaviour to recoup it, but whatever. Let's take the cost of the game out of the equation, it's not what people are defending, I for one couldn't give a flying fuck about giving free games to game reviewers, most of them are dicks, them getting free games is something I put up with on tolerance because it's the information that matters.

Would anybody justify this shit if we were hearing about Totalbiscuit being blacklisted by shitty console devs because Port Report shows PC Gamers whether a port is actually worth getting, or is just a shitty, half-assed, broken, or downright unplayable mess?

If you don't care about that, that's fine. But you don't get to call yourself anything other than anti-consumer, because you support a paradigm that is objectively worse for the consumer, which is replacing a paradigm which was better for them, and it's not because of games. For all the talk of "Y can't we just play vidya", this is directly placing politics above gameplay, above the game as a whole. It's letting your personal politics interfere with your judgement. And it's claiming to speak for a majority of people, while actively disdaining the way they consume these games. It's almost like y'all are Leigh Alexander. And don't dare call yourself a consumer advocate or the voice of gamers, because that's just a lie. You're not sticking up for gamers. You're sticking up for your pet political causes and shoving games and gamers into the dirt.

runic knight:
I think the issue is not that journalists have a moral requirement they are failing to meet that the publishers do not have, but rather an ethical requirement they are failing to meet that exists as a core of their job and the responsibility of that job. The nature of the profession is one based around it being the acting agent of the audience's desire to be informed by seeking out information relative to the audience's interest. It is also one where an ethical standard of practice exists and has for a long while in order to give validity to the profession. To this end, there is a responsibility to the audience and an ethical standard to adhere to in journalism that is different than publishing. Because journalism is a service job where the journalists are gathering, examining, and presenting information that is reliable, accurate and relevant to the interests of the audience, it is very important to the profession they remain ethical in their fulfillment of that service, least they devalue their work in that service by being unreliable, untrustworthy, or openly biased. When they start to act as a PR arm of companies at the expense of fulfilling their duty and responsibility to the audience, it can be shown to be anti-consumer.

Both publishers and gaming media are companies trying to maximize profits, and both can do good or bad in pursuit of that. For publishers, actions such as DRM handling, Always online issues, DLC practices and even youtube copywrite strike abusing is called out in the companies as anti-consumer. For journalists, misrepresentations, misinformation, fabrication, political stumping or biases affecting reviews and coverage, or failure to abide by the ethical standards expected of journalists would all be cause to consider them anti-consumer as well. Worth pointing out that there is a difference in responsibility here though. Publishers need to make a product as their primary purpose, while journalists need to provide a dependable and trustworthy service. Companies tacking on DLC and other things are anti-consumer, but they aren't often as actively sabotaging the intended purpose of their profession in the same way that a job who's duty is to inform the public is by misinforming them and abusing the audience's trust.

On the topic of early reviews, I think they are a privledge granted to reviewers as a sign of goodwill and trust in their product. When done so honestly, they work as early screenings for movies and help give people advanced warning to make an informed decision. And when denied or held back til release, it is often shown as a sign of lack of trust in the product and, like movies, should be reported on as a privledge revoked, with the obvious implications of such a decisions being that it is probably shit.

Review copies are not required, and nor should they be. This includes early review copies. Given away as a sign of trust in the product, or held back as indicative of lack of trust in the product works well for movie reviews. Perhaps, because of how expected such reviews are, publications could do a review without a score talking about how the game wasn't given an early release and leave it at that or even outright mentioning the fact as a sign of lack of faith in the product if they wanted to be prickly about it.

On my own thoughts about early reviews, one even touched on briefly in the article I believe, early review copies do not always experience what the consumer does. This is especially true of online components, be it multiplayer servers, or always online components. SimCity, Diablo 3 and others show how such review copies can be very different from launch, and actually represent a very potent pitfall for reviews from early copies.

I don't see much of a difference between ethics and morals in this case. In any case, I think we're referring to the same thing, so let's not get caught up in a discussion about semantics. I think we agree that the games media has a moral/ethical requirement in terms of the way the go about their profession. As you say, if they're simply working as PR, they're not doing fulfilling their purpose. But personally, I think a company creating a product, so the publishers, have a similar requirement. Where I think the article strays into hypocrisy is when it denies (or at least heavily de-emphasizes) this requirement for the publishers: "They're going to go to whatever lengths they need to (within plausible means and the law) to make said money. It doesn't mean it's right, but that's what they do." He does back-pedal on this a little bit, saying they can go too far, but generally, he implies the publishers don't play the largest role in defining pro/anti-consumer practices.

You've stated: "Companies tacking on DLC and other things are anti-consumer, but they aren't often as actively sabotaging the intended purpose of their profession in the same way that a job who's duty is to inform the public is by misinforming them and abusing the audience's trust." But have the companies making the games not abused the audience's trust just as much? How many altered or even fabricated screenshots and trailers do they have to show? Sure, making the games is their primary purpose, but every publisher is going to communicate as well, both to the media and directly to the audience. Surely they have a requirement to communicate truthfully just as much as the media does? Why should they be given a free pass? You've correctly said that misinformation by the games media isn't acceptable, but let's not forget that pre-release, the games media can only present what they are being TOLD by the publishers. Naturally, they should remain critical, but without truthfulness by the publishers, they are incapable of doing a proper job in terms of informing their audience. So if the objective here is to have informed consumers (Which I believe we can agree it is?) then the onus falls on both publishers AND the media, not just one of them.

On the topic of why early review copies are important, Wrex Brogan already made a good point on the purpose they serve in the modern games market, so I'll quote him.

Wrex Brogan:
...see, now this is a complicated question, since the nature of the games industry means that, while Games Journalists shouldn't be entitled to early review copies, they should still be receiving them, DUE to the prevalence of pre-order culture. The game industry, as it stands now, DEMANDS people pre-order the biggest, most flashy version of their game months in advance of the actual launch date, with no guarantee it will actually be a Good Game when it is available. As such, it is helpful to consumers to actually be able to see review content before the release date - which is not what the game industry wants. What the game industry wants is to shake as much money out of people and piss off before anyone catches onto the fact the game was programmed with a wet piece of bread and some twine, and pre-release reviews means that people could be potentially warned about the fact the game is a piece of garbage and not pre-order it like the good little lapdogs they are. Hence why the AAA companies are now either refusing to send early copies, or only sending them to journalists who have given 'agreeable' reviews - because that way it's a lot easier to control the marketplace and prevent people from realizing something is shit until after they've already dumped 150 bucks on it.

I think this is a great explanation of why early review copies are important. Of course you can argue (and many do) that you shouldn't be pre-ordering in the first place. But I think arguing over who's "fault" it is for buying a bad game is a moot point. If our objective as I stated above is to have informed consumers, then a company pushing pre-orders should present the possibility of informing those consumers before the game is released, not after. After all, people don't generally make their purchasing decisions on a purely rational basis, and the publishers know this. Hence, their method of manipulating people into buying a game they never would have wanted if they knew what it actually was. I don't really see why anyone would think this is a good situation for video games as a medium to be in.

starbear:

How many video game consumers even know who develops the game?

I don't know, and it's not my problem if consumers fail to educate themselves. Education has always been the consumer's responsibility.

So games companies invest thousands of dollars in marketing for no reason at all?

The question was whether or not this move helps game companies control the narrative, not whether or not advertising works. If you want to claim that advertisements contribute to the narrative, go ahead and make that argument, but recall that I never agreed that advertisements were part of what made up "the narrative", as per my definition that the narrative must be created from 3rd parties.

As for explaining the difference to you: as I've said plenty of times here I'm not your monkey

Okay then. If you refuse to explain how you're defining the words that you use, then I guess we can't have a discussion about them.

Fat Hippo:

I don't see much of a difference between ethics and morals in this case. In any case, I think we're referring to the same thing, so let's not get caught up in a discussion about semantics. I think we agree that the games media has a moral/ethical requirement in terms of the way the go about their profession. As you say, if they're simply working as PR, they're not doing fulfilling their purpose. But personally, I think a company creating a product, so the publishers, have a similar requirement. Where I think the article strays into hypocrisy is when it denies (or at least heavily de-emphasizes) this requirement for the publishers: "They're going to go to whatever lengths they need to (within plausible means and the law) to make said money. It doesn't mean it's right, but that's what they do." He does back-pedal on this a little bit, saying they can go too far, but generally, he implies the publishers don't play the largest role in defining pro/anti-consumer practices.

You've stated: "Companies tacking on DLC and other things are anti-consumer, but they aren't often as actively sabotaging the intended purpose of their profession in the same way that a job who's duty is to inform the public is by misinforming them and abusing the audience's trust." But have the companies making the games not abused the audience's trust just as much? How many altered or even fabricated screenshots and trailers do they have to show? Sure, making the games is their primary purpose, but every publisher is going to communicate as well, both to the media and directly to the audience. Surely they have a requirement to communicate truthfully just as much as the media does? Why should they be given a free pass? You've correctly said that misinformation by the games media isn't acceptable, but let's not forget that pre-release, the games media can only present what they are being TOLD by the publishers. Naturally, they should remain critical, but without truthfulness by the publishers, they are incapable of doing a proper job in terms of informing their audience. So if the objective here is to have informed consumers (Which I believe we can agree it is?) then the onus falls on both publishers AND the media, not just one of them.

On the topic of why early review copies are important, Wrex Brogan already made a good point on the purpose they serve in the modern games market, so I'll quote him.

I think this is a great explanation of why early review copies are important. Of course you can argue (and many do) that you shouldn't be pre-ordering in the first place. But I think arguing over who's "fault" it is for buying a bad game is a moot point. If our objective as I stated above is to have informed consumers, then a company pushing pre-orders should present the possibility of informing those consumers before the game is released, not after. After all, people don't generally make their purchasing decisions on a purely rational basis, and the publishers know this. Hence, their method of manipulating people into buying a game they never would have wanted if they knew what it actually was. I don't really see why anyone would think this is a good situation for video games as a medium to be in.

It is an important distinction though, as it is the difference between a professional standard of expected and acceptable behavior being compared to a personal standard of right and wrong. Journalists have an ethical expectation to do their job accurately and honestly. Hell, they have official standards about their ethicality. A lot of the time, problems occur when they try to appease their own personal morals by using their position for their own causes instead of doing their responsibility. They are trying to act based on their own personal morals at the expense of being ethical. Publishers, don't have the same sort of standards nor the history of expectation to maintain those standards in their job. Nor, for that matter, are they violating the purpose of their job as blatantly as journalists when violating ethics.

You are right that game companies have willingly violated trust of their audiences, and I do not disagree that they are anti-consumer in many practices such as that. The point I was raising though was that while they are still assholes for doing so, the use of DLC or misleading screenshots or whatever else are not in themselves outright discarding their intended purpose as publishers to make a product the gamers want(though can sure be a sign they did) nearly as much as the intended purpose of journalists is violated when they discard the duty and responsibility to the public. A game that has fake screenshots can still end up an enjoyable and well crafted experience that fans like, fulfilling its purpose even if the publishers are anti-consumer in how they marketed it. An article that misinforms and misrepresents though defeats its purpose regardless.

You raise the point that the publishers should be truthful, and it is one I fully support as well. The issue is that all companies will try to market their product under the best light, be it by openly misrepresenting the product, or more subtly just presenting it under the best light. Compare fast food pictures with what you actually are given. Marketing spins information even when not lying. Because there is not a lot of ethical standard in how marketing sells products, people have instead relied upon third party investigation and research. It is a founding principle of journalism itself and the desire of accurate information is a major underlying reason for the profession itself. Investigatory watchdogs of an industry that is designed to convince people to buy products, since holding people who's job it is to convince people to buy accountable is hard to do baring cases of open dishonesty, such as the push for No Man's Sky false advertising case.

Part of the issues we have at the moment is that publishers are developing relationships with journalists in the first place. This closeness between professions has created the privileged situation where they can be misinformed and mislead about what the audience will get compared to what they experience. That privileged situation between them has also helped foster the "but it at launch" mentality as gamers are used to having on-launch reviews they can trust. Journalists who have such close ties to publishers are less likely to challenge them or call them out (i.e. less likely to do their duty to their audience) for both fear of harming the relationships they probably shouldn't have in the first place and for fear of having early reviews cut off.

Wrex points to the existence of the culture of early prepurchase and thus requiring early reviews but fails to go into the evolution of that itself, and how that ties into early reviews and the journalists themselves becoming a PR arm of publishers in the first place. They, above all other players, are there to inform accurately and the failure to do that, the blind repetition of marketing spin and promotional hype, is what created the environment that encouraged and then took advantage of the preorder. They failed to hold companies accountable or to call it out. They failed to side with consumers who were calling it out. Hell, this is a big part of the reason that youtube reviewers and other non-journalist reviews jumped in popularity in the first place, as more realized how their audience demand for accurate and relevant information was not being meet by the people who were suppose to meet it. Not surprisingly, gaming journalists often disparaged and downplayed their rising competition in order to keep the people who still trusted them as a reliable source still following them.

Ultimately, I do get what you are saying that it takes two to tango and that publishers are not blameless, and in all that I agree. What I disagree with is not that publishers are more immoral, but that they are more wrong because of it. While they are more personally immoral, they are not beholden to an ethical standard, and nor are their marketing departments, to be completely honest to their audiences. Neither's purpose is to appease the audience's demand and need for accurate and reliable information, and while immoral that they do not, it is no violating the purposes they exist to fulfill when they lie. Journalists are responsible for giving accurate, honest and relevant information. That is the purpose of their job, and unlike a marketing department or a publisher who can mislead and yet still do what their job is suppose to do, journalists are trusted to be accurate and honest and the failure to be ethical and do that is a far greater betrayal of trust. Someone selling a product is always considered bias for their product, even if honest about it. That is to be expected. A third party hired to investigate and report on it instead selling it too is a greater betrayal. Furthermore, as the ones who need to be the watchdogs of the gaming industry anyways, the betrayal of that trust is what allows publish behavior to grow more bolder for not only a lack of backlash by them for it, but often journalists coming up to bat to defend their practices.

In the end, it remind me of a dog put in charge of watching chickens and protecting them from a fox. Yeah, the fox is in the wrong when it goes to kill the chickens, but you expect the fox to do that. That is why the dog is there defending it in the first place. You know you can't change the nature of the fox, and you know even the chickens already know the fox is bad news. But when the dog starts joining in killing chickens with the fox, then you have a problem. And no amount of trying to call out the fox for being a fox is going to fix the problem. Got to fix the dog.

Houseman:

altnameJag:
A lot of people were crying about paid DLC when it first started being a thing, I don't think it's inherently anti-consumer,

Great, so then you have an example of something being "bad" for the consumer, but yet, not "anti-consumer". You now have an answer to your question of "If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?"

Couldn't even quote the whole sentence, could you?

Paid expansion packs had been a thing for a while before paid DLC came out. Small expansion packs with smaller price tags simply follow the old pattern. Unless you're telling me Starcraft: Brood War was anti-consumer because it wasn't free?

And going back on topic (because you aren't dragging me off-topic with a semantic argument):

altnameJag:
...Yes, I'm assuming that consumers having less information about a product they're being asked to buy is bad for consumers. Is this somehow not an accurate statement? (Barring story spoilers)

Having less information about a potential purchase, having to rely on marketing or coverage from super-fans only, agreements with YouTubers to not mention glitches or other negative aspects of a game...

I posit that these things are bad for consumers, based on the fact I can't see any benefit for consumers while thinking having less information is a bad thing.

Do you, Houseman, see a plus for gamers by Bethesda doing this? What advantages to gamers get for having less information about a game at launch? What is the benefit to the consumer?

altnameJag:

Couldn't even quote the whole sentence, could you?

Paid expansion packs had been a thing for a while before paid DLC came out. Small expansion packs with smaller price tags simply follow the old pattern. Unless you're telling me Starcraft: Brood War was anti-consumer because it wasn't free?

That would be your argument, not mine. You're the one who thinks "bad = anti-consumer", not me. I showed you how something could be "bad" but not "anti-consumer", did I not? So then, where is the disagreement here?

And going back on topic (because you aren't dragging me off-topic with a semantic argument): ...Yes, I'm assuming that consumers having less information about a product they're being asked to buy is bad for consumers. Is this somehow not an accurate statement? (Barring story spoilers)

Having less information about a potential purchase, having to rely on marketing or coverage from super-fans only, agreements with YouTubers to not mention glitches or other negative aspects of a game...

I posit that these things are bad for consumers, based on the fact I can't see any benefit for consumers while thinking having less information is a bad thing.

Do you, Houseman, see a plus for gamers by Bethesda doing this? What advantages to gamers get for having less information about a game at launch? What is the benefit to the consumer?

You're still saying "bad for consumers". I don't care about stuff being "bad" for consumers, I care about stuff being "anti-consumer". I already showed you above how they aren't necessarily the same thing. Do you have a point?

Houseman:

You're still saying "bad for consumers". I don't care about stuff being "bad" for consumers, I care about stuff being "anti-consumer". Like I said, I'm only here to defend myself from the claim that I'm somehow being anti-consumer (or otherwise "not being pro-consumer")

Except I don't think expansion packs are "bad" for consumers. Even the ones you pay for. Brood War was great. However, if an expansion pack is somehow exploitive of gamers, or clearly ripped wholesale out of an otherwise finished product, yeah, that's probably anti-consumer...and something a review might let you look out for. And if it's Day One DLC, the person doing the review would have enough time to add an edit telling you where it would go if it was ripped out. Not necessarily the case if they're still making their way through the game.

And yes, claiming it's okay that corporations should limit information about their product at the time when that product is being sold the most is anti-consumer. Whether it's via not having review copies available, only giving review copies out to people who're shilling for you, or having a post-launch review embargo, it's all shady as fuck, and directly antithetical to being pro consumer.

So, in your estimation, was the whole Shados of Mordor thing anti-consumer? How about EA cutting off reviewers who are "wild cards", giving review copies only to journalists they can count on? Is that anti-consumer? How is a rushed review, returning to the days of companies barreling through a game as fast as possible, cutting every corner to try and have the first review of the game out on the Internet, in any way good for consumers?

Houseman:

altnameJag:
A lot of people were crying about paid DLC when it first started being a thing, I don't think it's inherently anti-consumer,

Great, so then you have an example of something being "bad" for the consumer, but yet, not "anti-consumer". You now have an answer to your question of "If something is bad for the consumers of a product (gamers in this case) how is it not anti-consumer?"

Just because people were crying about something does not automatically make it "bad".

When you get down to it EVERYTHING could be considered "bad" for the consumer if you assume a completely entitled and unreasonable consumer. eg. I bought lunch today and the restaurant did not throw in a free Porsche as a reward so their actions were bad and anti-consumer.

To a reasonable consumer DLC might appear as perfectly fine and thus not anti-consumer. Forms of DLC that are deceptive might cross the line to reasonably "bad" and thus be anti-consumer.

altnameJag:
Except I don't think expansion packs are "bad" for consumers.

I never said you did. Why are we talking about this?

And yes, claiming it's okay that corporations should limit information about their product at the time when that product is being sold the most is anti-consumer.

No longer providing something that you were never entitled to, that it was privilege to receive in the first place, isn't "limiting", "taking away", or "anti-consumer".

It's not 'anti-consumer' to stop giving away free DLC, as you agreed, so this isn't either.

Houseman:

altnameJag:
Except I don't think expansion packs are "bad" for consumers.

I never said you did. Why are we talking about this?

And yes, claiming it's okay that corporations should limit information about their product at the time when that product is being sold the most is anti-consumer.

No longer providing something that you were never entitled to, that it was privilege to receive in the first place, isn't "limiting", "taking away", or "anti-consumer".

It's not 'anti-consumer' to stop giving away free DLC, as you agreed, so this isn't either.

If you have something and then someone dose something that means you no longer have it. Then they took it away.

Houseman:

starbear:

How many video game consumers even know who develops the game?

I don't know, and it's not my problem if consumers fail to educate themselves. Education has always been the consumer's responsibility.

So games companies invest thousands of dollars in marketing for no reason at all?

The question was whether or not this move helps game companies control the narrative, not whether or not advertising works. If you want to claim that advertisements contribute to the narrative, go ahead and make that argument, but recall that I never agreed that advertisements were part of what made up "the narrative", as per my definition that the narrative must be created from 3rd parties.

As for explaining the difference to you: as I've said plenty of times here I'm not your monkey

Okay then. If you refuse to explain how you're defining the words that you use, then I guess we can't have a discussion about them.

You know something funny. The old saying buyer beware? It's not a thing. It hasn't been a thing since the time of knights and castles. It's not the responsibly for the consumer to educate themselves. It's the responsibility of the seller to be honest and not lie their ass off.

Houseman:

altnameJag:
Except I don't think expansion packs are "bad" for consumers.

I never said you did. Why are we talking about this?

I dunno, because you're trying to make some stupid "point" about DLC, and expansion packs are DLC that came before Internet speeds reliably allowed for downloads of any magnitude?

And yes, claiming it's okay that corporations should limit information about their product at the time when that product is being sold the most is anti-consumer.

No longer providing something that you were never entitled to, that it was privilege to receive in the first place, isn't "limiting", "taking away", or "anti-consumer".

It's not 'anti-consumer' to stop giving away free DLC, as you agreed, so this isn't either.

So, despite the fact that this up-ends the industry standard and leaves customers with less information to make purchasing decisions, it is neither anti-consumer, not merely "bad".

You somehow think it wouldn't have been "anti-consumer" for Aliens: Colonial Marines to not have reviews up for launch, suckering more people in with it's sweet demo and nobody warning people buying the thing that it was actually shit.

Because that's what decisions like Bethesda's, EA's, and Warner Brothers' are setting us up for more of.

nomotog:

Houseman:

altnameJag:
Except I don't think expansion packs are "bad" for consumers.

I never said you did. Why are we talking about this?

And yes, claiming it's okay that corporations should limit information about their product at the time when that product is being sold the most is anti-consumer.

No longer providing something that you were never entitled to, that it was privilege to receive in the first place, isn't "limiting", "taking away", or "anti-consumer".

It's not 'anti-consumer' to stop giving away free DLC, as you agreed, so this isn't either.

If you have something and then someone dose something that means you no longer have it. Then they took it away.

The semantics on stuff like this get extremely fuzzy when you are talking about free stuff. If stuff is given for free there are no real obligations or entitlements so it is kinda pointless to argue whether something is "taken away" or whether a different term is more applicable.

In this case the publishers are not taking away anything physical that was already given. They are instead withholding any future free favors for the reviewers.

Nielas:
In this case the publishers are not taking away anything physical that was already given. They are instead withholding any future free favors for the reviewers.

...at the consumers expense, which is the part most people are objecting to.

altnameJag:
So, despite the fact that this up-ends the industry standard

The standard was based on privileges handed out by the publishers. People got used to having free stuff. That was their mistake.
This "privilege" being a "standard" is irrelevant.

and leaves customers with less information to make purchasing decisions, it is neither anti-consumer, not merely "bad".

If you want to claim that removing privileges that nobody is entitled to is anti-consumer, then make a case for it.

Houseman:

and leaves customers with less information to make purchasing decisions, it is neither anti-consumer, not merely "bad".

If you want to claim that removing privileges that nobody is entitled to is anti-consumer, then make a case for it.

Read the first part of what you quoted.

Read everything else I've posted that you didn't quote.

I've been doing nothing but making a case for it.

Just what the hell is your definition of "anti-consumer"?

altnameJag:
Read the first part of what you quoted.

Read everything else I've posted that you didn't quote.

I read everything, and I still don't see any convincing arguments that aren't already refuted by pointing out that "it's a privilege".

Do you have anything that overcomes this refutation?

There are only two "possible" upsides to this practice. And the following are just for the publishers.

1) It puts everyone at the same 'level'. No longer will a jouralist or site get advanced copiers and then we have to wonder what is going on when a handle of them get review out before others. Even if hat isn't the case this means if I want to do a review myself, mine will come out around the same time as Polygon, Jim's, Angry Jor, Yahtzee, or Kotaku.

Counter point: every one will rush to try and be first anyway and do lesser reviews due to the extra work.

2) And this only works if companies don't decide to do it enmass. If a game has review copies the same day, just don't buy it. I thought that was kinda the practice before with games and movies? No reviews means they are hiding something(see Assassins Creed). Or do we have to relearn that? But this to me is just a bigger flag to not give them money without getting info. That and it's something to keep in mind if for some odd reason a handful of copies get leaked to certain people(not Wildcards)

Those are the only up sides I see and those ar e debatable. But what can you do? Silent majority is probably gonna mass preorder with or without this.

Oh right the article. I'm GG, and I think he's a right nutter. Has a point or message but gets drowned out.

runic knight:
SNIP

Well, your post is better thought out and more persuasive than the article we are discussing, so that's something! My compliments.

I do agree with your point that, particularly from the consumer's perspective, the truthfulness of the media is more important than that of a publisher, since lying completely destroys the media's value, while only tarnishing that of a publisher.

However, one part I would perhaps criticize, though I don't know your exact position on it, is the implication that the games media was ever able to their job to the level you would hold them to:

They, above all other players, are there to inform accurately and the failure to do that, the blind repetition of marketing spin and promotional hype, is what created the environment that encouraged and then took advantage of the preorder. They failed to hold companies accountable or to call it out. They failed to side with consumers who were calling it out. Hell, this is a big part of the reason that youtube reviewers and other non-journalist reviews jumped in popularity in the first place, as more realized how their audience demand for accurate and relevant information was not being meet by the people who were suppose to meet it.

By the very nature of their relationship, what we call "games journalism" has always been enthusiast press rather than the kind of journalism that would involve actual investigations. Prior to release, the only thing they could do was take what a publisher handed them and then decide how to present it. As you point out, this rarely lead to the kind of criticism or skepticism that would have been warranted, but given the uneven power dynamic that was hardly to be expected. And from my point of view, this underlying cause hasn't changed in the slightest.

You may disagree, but from my perspective, the new "youtube" style of reviewer is in no way more trustworthy than the traditional games press ever was. Why? They are still subject to the same power structures that have existed ever since people started writing about video games. The publishers simply have far more leverage, and that isn't going to change. Reviewers still have the same incentives to present the games shown to them in a positive light. Nothing has really changed, even if people fool themselves into thinking that an individual talking into a camera is more truthful than the anonymous collections of writers we knew previously. The consumer's ability to inform himself before his purchase (assuming he pre-orders) is just as bad as it has ever been.

And this is the cause of my insistence that if we hold a developer to some kind of high standard, then if he tries to get customers to pre-order, he should distribute early review copies to help prevent the kind of deception that has happened in the past. It is pointless to discuss whether he MUST do this, since no can force him: I just think it's a shitty thing to do, and it will color my judgment.

Of course, you could say the root of this problem still stems from the individuals that buy into the marketing hype time and time again (e.g. the people who pre-ordered No Man's Sky) somehow forgetting all of the times they've been lied to in the past. But I've given up on trying to improve people as a whole. I'd rather we institute good practices that protect them from their own bad decision-making.

Houseman:

altnameJag:
Read the first part of what you quoted.

Read everything else I've posted that you didn't quote.

I read everything, and I still don't see any convincing arguments that aren't already refuted by pointing out that "it's a privilege".

Do you have anything that overcomes this refutation?

That is not a refutation to the charge.

Houseman:

starbear:

How many video game consumers even know who develops the game?

I don't know, and it's not my problem if consumers fail to educate themselves. Education has always been the consumer's responsibility.

Who is claiming it is "your problem?"

Of course it isn't your problem. It isn't my problem either. How is "who's problem it is" related to my question?

So games companies invest thousands of dollars in marketing for no reason at all?

The question was whether or not this move helps game companies control the narrative, not whether or not advertising works.

Incorrect. The question was actually "In the absence of 3rd parties, what do consumers have to rely on in order to make a decision to buy at launch?" The word "narrative" was not used in that question. You are making the claim that consumers rely on absolutely nothing (except for their past experiences from the developer) to make a decision to buy at launch: which is an extraordinary claim that doesn't match the empirical evidence.

If you want to claim that advertisements contribute to the narrative, go ahead and make that argument, but recall that I never agreed that advertisements were part of what made up "the narrative", as per my definition that the narrative must be created from 3rd parties.

It should be pretty obvious that in the context of the assertions I made when I first used the term "narrative" what I was refering too. And it should be pretty obvious to you that when consumers make their decisions to purchase something they make those decisions based on the information that is available to them. And if the only information that is available to them is information from the primary source, then that information will be used by the consumer to help them decide whether or not they should buy.

But that is beside the point. Whatever you might think "narrative" meant in the context of our conversation, it is utterly irrelevant to the question I asked. Because I didn't use the word "narrative" in the question I asked at all.

As for explaining the difference to you: as I've said plenty of times here I'm not your monkey

Okay then. If you refuse to explain how you're defining the words that you use, then I guess we can't have a discussion about them.

Untrue.

For the record: I have defined the words that I used. I posted wikipedia definitions of those words, I posted a link to a google search that linked to several articles that explained the difference between the two words. I have indeed defined how I'm using the word "marketing", and I've done that pretty comprehensively.

On the other hand: you have chosen not to define the words. You have stated "Also, I don't see a difference between "marketing" and "advertisements" and when presented with those differences you have stated " your wikipedia links have done nothing to dissuade me from my position." You haven't explained why there is no difference between "marketing" and "advertising." I've demonstrated a pretty strong world-wide consensus the words mean different things. In the face of overwhelming evidence: if you want to continue to assert that the words are synonymous then it is your obligation, not mine, to prove it.

It is obvious you are attempting to control the narrative of our conversation. And you are doing that by being selective with what you quote, redefining commonly used english language words, and literally stating things that are not true. And the reality is that most people will fall for it: because people don't have long attention spans and don't pay attention to nuance. Its one of the many reasons why many of the marketing strategies that games companies implement work as well as they do.

starbear:

Who is claiming it is "your problem?"

Of course it isn't your problem. It isn't my problem either. How is "who's problem it is" related to my question?

I was implying that your question was irrelevant to the point.

Incorrect. The question was actually "In the absence of 3rd parties, what do consumers have to rely on in order to make a decision to buy at launch?" The word "narrative" was not used in that question.

If you're not talking about the narrative, then I guess you concede that point?

It should be pretty obvious that in the context of the assertions I made when I first used the term "narrative" what I was refering too.

And I disagree with lumping together "advertisements" and "what 3rd parties say" as being part of "the narrative"

And it should be pretty obvious to you that when consumers make their decisions to purchase something they make those decisions based on the information that is available to them. And if the only information that is available to them is information from the primary source, then that information will be used by the consumer to help them decide whether or not they should buy.

And this would be a bad choice on the part of the consumer, to trust in such biased information.
Also, consumers have the option not to trust in, or even expose themselves to, this information at all. You're saying that they "will" use this information, which is not necessarily true.

For the record: I have defined the words that I used. I posted wikipedia definitions of those words

You defining a word =/= Wikipedia defining a word.

You haven't explained why there is no difference between "marketing" and "advertising."

Did you ask me to?

To clarify my position in case anyone forgets: This move doesn't help Bethesda "control the narrative", because no narrative can be created in the absence of speech.

This is in contrast to EA selectively choosing people who will only review their games in a positive light, directly controlling the narrative to be a positive one.

Advertisements are not a part of "the narrative", since they come from a 1st party, and are expected to be biased and positive.

runic knight:

Wrex points to the existence of the culture of early prepurchase and thus requiring early reviews but fails to go into the evolution of that itself, and how that ties into early reviews and the journalists themselves becoming a PR arm of publishers in the first place. They, above all other players, are there to inform accurately and the failure to do that, the blind repetition of marketing spin and promotional hype, is what created the environment that encouraged and then took advantage of the preorder. They failed to hold companies accountable or to call it out. They failed to side with consumers who were calling it out. Hell, this is a big part of the reason that youtube reviewers and other non-journalist reviews jumped in popularity in the first place, as more realized how their audience demand for accurate and relevant information was not being meet by the people who were suppose to meet it. Not surprisingly, gaming journalists often disparaged and downplayed their rising competition in order to keep the people who still trusted them as a reliable source still following them.

...well, I did, but in a part he didn't quote, which was the whole 'Publishers can decide who gets to eat' thing. Hell, there's a reason I'm not the biggest fan of places like Kotaku and Polygon, since they've often given the soft-play when it comes to reviewing things and will only go harsh on something if the general opinion is 'this is garbage' - though, I will say, people often underestimate the pressure publishers are able to put on places like those anyway, and as idealistic as it is to believe that journalists are some Noble Souls who Will Resist All Corruption, being able to a) keep your job and b) being able to eat are very important things that can stop you questioning why your boss slapped a bag of money on your desk with an EA label on it. Add in things like Reviewer Events, Reviewer Workshops, Publisher PR events focusing on manipulating Reviewers, Press Events where reviewers get goodie bags or get to shake hands with the developers... even the much beloved Jim (motherfucking) Sterling has commented on how influential those events can be even on reviewers conscious of the shit going down. It's hard to give a game an accurate review when you're playing it in some cramped arena with 50 other people, all the while the Devs and PR people are crowing over your shoulders about how awesome things are.

Now, this isn't to say that Games Journalists can't be held accountable for drinking too deeply from the Publishers Goblet - I think we all remember the whole 'Halo 4 Mountain Dew and Doritos' thing quite... 'fondly' - but personally, damn near all the blame lies with publishers trying their hardest to fuck over consumers as hard as they possibly can. Hell, even the fresh and new Youtube Reviewers and non-journalist sources are just as susceptible to the Publishers Goblet, 'specially considering how much of a Youtubers income is tied into advertising revenue to begin with. I can safely say if I was some Youtube Reviewer and a publisher said 'hey, here's 5 grand, say nice things about my game' I'd take 'em up on it, since they could just as easily turn around and claim all advertisement revenue off my show anyway. Honesty's good and all, but motherfucker I need to eat.

To use your Fox/Dog analogy - yes, it's all well and good to expect more from the dog and to try and train the dog to be better, but fuck is it hard to do when some bastard keeps pelting the dog with chicken giblets or throwing foxes into the coop while our back is turned. Some of us might think to focus on training the dog, some of us might think to go after the guy with a shovel - what can be said, though, is that bringing in a new dog just means he's got more shit to throw chicken at. The bastard.

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