A former IGN editor is being accused of “journalistic misconduct” over the website’s 2006 review of Prey.
Former IGN editor Doug Perry (currently employed at Gametap), was cited by another former IGN editor as working closely with a publicist at 2K Games on securing a good rating for 2006’s Prey.
In an August 20 post titled “Taint or Mere IGNorance,” Video Game Media Watch contributor David Goronski quoted the anonymous former editor from an email to Goronski explaining the situation:
I hear Doug [Perry] saying to Marci [Ditter, from 2K Games] something along the lines of “No, I’m sure it is a great game. I’m pretty sure it is going to do well. That’s why we want the exclusive. We don’t want the exclusive on crappy games… ” so on… He gets off the phone and heads over to Tom [McNamara, reviewer of Prey] and asks him, “Tom, what were you thinking you were going to give Prey?”
A week later, Perry responded with a categorical denial of Goronski’s allegations:
Here is what happened. I entered into several phone call conversations with the PR director at 2K Games; the content of our discussion was about whether my former company, IGN, should get the exclusive review for Prey, which was the biggest game of the summer 2006 (clearly a dry summer :-)). IGN has always been keen on attaining exclusive reviews. The tricky part of the equation is to get exclusives on games that we A) liked, and B) got traffic. That’s a big, if not the biggest, portion of the driving force behind media sites. They want to drive traffic to sell ads to make money, while performing the journalistic matter of entertaining and informing its readers.
Goronski responded to Perry’s defense in early September, accusing him of “journalistic misconduct,” in a scathing post to VGMW:
Perry argues that discussing scores with PR firms is a perfectly acceptable practice. It’s not about whether an editor doing this practice thinks he can handle the PR firm’s pressure. It’s about principle! A PR firm’s job is to maximize sales of a game product. The game publication’s job is to provide an unbiased, trustworthy critique of the product free of any taint. The publication’s editorial integrity is compromised when PR deals are potential factors in the product reviews it provides. The dialog should simply never happen.
In a comment to the post, Electronic Gaming Monthly’s editor-in-chief, Daniel Hsu, agreed with Goronoski’s condemnation of Perry.
“If an editor gets a pitch like that,” Hsu wrote, “he/she is obligated to keep all of that conversation away from the reviewers of the product in question.”