I’m Too Much Of A Wild Card To Receive Review Copies

Yesterday I explained why I do not yet have a Titanfall 2 review while other outlets (some with considerably smaller audiences) got theirs up no problem.

I talked about my inability to receive review copies of Electronic Arts and select Square Enix games, with the PR firm 47 Communications being the common brick wall. After multiple failed attempts to learn the reason from 47, I decided to be the squeaky wheel and write about it in an article.

The squeaky wheel didn’t get grease, but it did get answers from sources who read the article in question. The good news is, 47 Communications does not apparently have any quarrel with me. The bad news is, some publishers think I’m just too much of a wild card to be trusted.

Wait… that’s not really bad news. That makes me sound awesome!

01

From what I’ve been able to find out, publishers are indeed the ones making the final call. PR firms get requests from reviewers, PR firms forward these requests to the publishers, publishers start crossing names off the list and determining who is allowed to touch the game before launch.

Fairly standard stuff, but things have been changing this generation.

Over the last year or so, it would appear that at least Electronic Arts is not secure and confident enough to believe I’m a “safe” reviewer. From what I’ve learned, “wild cards” such as myself are no longer considered the worthy gamble they used to be, with game releases and critical receptions more tightly controlled by publishers than ever.

Electronic Arts has a documented history of attempting to manipulate the critical reception of its games. It quite famously pressured outlets over Battlefield 3 reviews, doing what it could to mitigate the possibility of any unfavorable criticism.

In a world where pre-orders are only becoming more important and launch-day microtransactions remain controversial, it’s hardly surprising EA is still attempting to dictate public perception of its games. Best to hide all the shitty business practices from customers for as long as possible, right?

This is not just limited to myself. Any critic deemed too “unpredictable” makes certain publishers nervous, and they’ve steadily grown more eager to cut out any variables that could rock the boat too much.

If you are a critic and you have been receiving code for high profile games from publishers such as EA, it may very well be because they think you’re easy to please and will give the positive coverage they expect. Frankly, I’d find that rather insulting.

Quite why I can still get western Square Enix games but not Japanese Square Enix games remains a mystery, though it may have something to do with different companies receiving different amounts of code, or perhaps Square Enix’s Eastern side just being more controlling than its Western counterpart. I’m only going off what I’ve been able to learn about the situation, which hasn’t been a huge deal.

What I do know is that things have changed over the last few years. Review codes used to be more liberally doled out, with PR firms having a ton of codes to give to outlets of every description. These days, companies have gotten stingier with the codes, and PR firms are left with a fraction of what they used to be able to provide – when they say they’ve run out of codes, even digital ones, they’re not lying.

As I stated yesterday, this is an inconvenience to me from a scheduling standpoint, but it’s not going to stop me doing my job. Thanks to my Patreon support, I have the budget to purchase and review high profile games, even if I won’t get such reviews up before a game’s launch. I remain on Metacritic, and I continue to have an audience I’ve no intention of letting down.

It’s an expensive way to do business, but unlike even many established media outlets, it’s a way of doing business I can actually afford.

02

In the past, I’ve praised Electronic Arts for having the guts to continue providing me with code despite my harsh criticism of its business practices. It’s a shame that is no longer the case, but I guess I can understand it even if I think it showcases a severe lack of confidence.

I’m glad I know the deal now, even if nobody at EA actually had the nerve to reach out and tell me. From now on, I shall make sure any EA game I care to review is purchased personally – not really different from how I’ve been doing things of late.

This is the cost of not being predictable, of not being somebody a corporation can expect praise from simply for producing another “Triple-A” game that is “expected” to get the usual 9/10 scores.

Ironic, considering how much I actually loved Battlefield 1. Wild card, bitches!

As irritating as it is to no longer be able to provide certain high profile reviews alongside the “safer” outlets, I at least feel like I must be doing something right if I’m making certain publishers “nervous.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, this wild card has work to do.

And he will for quite some time to come.

LamontRaymond
Guest
LamontRaymond

Jim Sterling, Tom Chick, … can’t think of any other wild cards out there. Though Jim rarely acts like a wild card, if we’re honest with each other. How often does he give a AAA game south of 4/10? Rarely. Chick is the wild card to end all wild cards. It is hilarious that these publishers still try this crap.

FieldMedic
Guest
FieldMedic

So what you’re saying is, Jim Sterling is too honest to be a reliable marketing tool of the big publishers? 😀

Fortyseven
Guest

As a fellow, yet unrelated Fortyseven, I send my apologies during this stressful time. You wildcard son of a bitch.

Jinx 01
Guest
Jinx 01

“launch-day microtransactions remain controversial”
^ which is why they are adding them after launch, and after reviews are out. Utterly despicable.

Anton
Guest
Anton

This result tells me less about Jim, and more about all the mainstream reviewers. It just shows how little respect publishers have for them, as they are just considered to be predictable and “safe”.

Jonoridge
Guest

I’m assuming this is why you received no codes from Digital Homicide? Too much of a wild card?

Jonathan Belina
Guest
Jonathan Belina

You do have a habit to attacking stuff “on principle” regardless of whether or not it actually has a negative impact on the game.

Joao Oliveira
Guest
Joao Oliveira

This also happens with movies. The upcoming Doctor Strange had a screening for the more predictable critics first so they would release the reviews first and get that sweet 100% on Rotten Tomatoes that combined with an European release before an American one will surely help hype up the American and Chinese audiences so they have as much profit as they can out of it..

Scaper
Guest
Scaper

And that is why we love Jim Fucking Sterling Son

Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

Wow.
IMHO this is straight Jimquisition material. Needs expansion obviously, but the event itself is noteworthy.

Gabriel Macys
Guest
Gabriel Macys

“We won’t give review copies because his TRUTH is just TOO REAL, man! He might even, *gasp* GO BELOW A SEVEN!!”
– The Management

Cameron Ward
Guest
Cameron Ward

that sounds rather pathetic that they don’t trust you or a handful of critics due to being “we can’t please them easily”

well, if you make good games and let go of stuff like preorder hype and microtransactions, then maybe we could trust you publishers…

Edward Turvey
Guest
Edward Turvey

So because you don’t toe the line, they deem it the best course of action to withhold review copies until you get the opportunity to buy it yourself at launch and give your opinion anyway?

Victor Luna Coronado
Guest
Victor Luna Coronado

One can only question the shady practices and subpar products a major publisher is willing to push in the name of profit, if it comes down to them fearing individuals for their ability to uncover the truth behind them. In this case, it is noteworthy that a ‘wild card’ has managed to shape the media enough through hard work, fair critique and informed opinions that they can no longer ‘risk’ putting a dent in their profit reviews. It only goes to show how much they actually know about their own game, which isn’t -ironically- making games, but selling them. We’ve… Read more »

Raiden Landon Freeman
Guest
Raiden Landon Freeman

1) Why would they send a product for free, if they are not guaranteed good press? This is not an industry that cares about improving, only cashgrabs (for example the hardware industry sends products, even if they get bashed) 2) You have been a bit unfair with some reviews some times, (TW3 comes to mind), but not consistently enough to be crazy or something; you may just have a weird/rare opinion on some matters. That’s another reason for a publisher not wanting you to review their product, as you may be unrepresentative. (I think that’s BS, since you have an… Read more »

SirRichard
Guest
SirRichard

You know you’ve made it big when the corporations start to fear you. They don’t consider you a thrall, so they shirk and flee.

Mike Wallace
Guest
Mike Wallace

So I was 100% right when I said the publishers are getting wary of your reactions to your shenanigans.

SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony

Well why not go with a deck of cards based rating system? Jack, King, Queen, 2, 5, diamond, heart…

I mean we can all agree Mafia 3 is a 3 of Hearts, and Conkers Bad Fur Day is King of Spades.

Ciaran O'Brien
Guest
Ciaran O'Brien

You’re a loose cannon!

H.E.V.nix
Guest
H.E.V.nix

In essence, you are anti establishment in gaming industry.

Martijn Fiering
Guest
Martijn Fiering

Are any of us surprised?

Largo Coronet
Guest
Largo Coronet

“Wild Card” = Reviews that are more trustworthy and likely to be more accurate.

The more wild cards, the better!

Oskulock
Guest
Oskulock

Electronic Arts

More like Electronic FARTS

HAHA!

irfanf (IrfanF)
Guest
irfanf (IrfanF)

Damn, how many personas do you have for EA to regard you as a wild card, Jim?

goodbyejojo
Guest
goodbyejojo

Jim you should be honored and proud that somebody like EA, fears that you might give it bad review and that might influence possible customers, you made it sir.

1 2 3 5