Oooh. This one hurts. I like to rag on Kotaku as much as the next guy, but credit where it’s due: Being blacklisted by a big publisher generally means you’re doing something right. The news has been met with, well… interesting responses from the two flavours of people who like to talk about ye olde videogame journalism ethics. Let me break down the three main salient points.
1: According to Kotaku, the outlet was blacklisted by Bethesda for reporting that Fallout 4 was in active development, and by Ubisoft for reporting that Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was in development.
From what I understand, both news pieces were the result of developer leaks and Kotaku hadn’t signed an NDA in either case.
2: Blacklisting means Kotaku won’t receive review copies, creator interviews, screen shots and assets, etc.
A blow to Kotaku’s ability to generate clicks and what I’d call a petty and short-sighted move from a publisher, but honestly, not that big of a deal. Bethesda and Ubisoft are under no obligation to share information about their games with a particular outlet. I think since this material often ends up just being repurposed as PR guff anyway, I’m not particularly bothered about one less site giving me an EARLY LOOK at this month’s Assassin’s Creed abortion.
3: Blacklisting ALSO means that Bethesda and Ubisoft won’t respond to any of Kotaku’s inquiries or requests for comment.
This is where things get kind of interesting. Whatever your feelings about Kotaku, its editorial style or its parent company, Gakwer (pro tip: Fuck Gawker), it’s true that Kotaku is also one of the few gaming sites with the connections, sources and clout to produce actual investigative journalism as opposed to traditional enthusiast press-release regurgitation. Yes, yes, I know. They also run some stupid opinion columns that read like missives from some awful parallel dimension where everything is wrong, but they also break genuine news stories. Part of releasing a competent and ethical news story is giving the subject space to comment or respond, Bethesda and Ubisoft deliberately stonewalling requests for comment isn’t illegal, but it is a deliberate attempt to interfere with genuine journalism and it is, to use the technical term, shady as fuck..
I know a lot of people are just going to respond with “Fuck Kotaku,” citing the site’s tendency towards politically charged editorials as some huge breach of ethics. There’s also going to be a ton of people unironically using the term “SJW” (tip: ignore these people, they’re idiots), but the fact of the matter is, Kotaku has been blacklisted for refusing to play ball with two of the biggest publishers in the business and in this industry, we need more of that, not less.
So good job, Kotaku.
You’re still shit though.