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.

Wolfie
Guest
Wolfie

So, here’s what I want now. Whenever Jim talks about these companies who blacklisted him, I don’t want him in his usual suit and tie and gloves.

I want him to dress up like a John Wayne cosplay complete with a spaghetti western theme. Does anyone feel that’d be appropriate, or is it just me?

Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

I want him to dress up as Bruce Wayne.

He is vengeance. He is the Night. He is JIM FUCKING STERLING SON!.

carg0
Guest
carg0
“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.” and, frankly, that’s a good place to be. it says a lot about you & just how far you’ve come. also, you don’t wanna be in bed with the likes of EA or any other top-tier publisher because like Turkish once said about Brick Top: “If you got to deal with him, just gotta make sure you don’t end up owing him. ‘Cause then you’re in his… Read more »
zarathustra2k1
Guest
zarathustra2k1

Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a ‘orrible [♪SKELETON WARRIORS♫], Jim ‘Fucking’ Sterlingson.

Chürz
Guest
Chürz

Inadvertently, they just gave you a lot of reviewer cred by saying that. They may think they’re pushing you against the ropes by not giving you codes so you eventually cave in, but they’re just reinforcing the “take no prisoners” attitude that you made into your brand. This is great news. Kudos and keep it up.

Max
Guest
Max

I doubt the publishers are trying to push jim into line with this. It’s more likely they just don’t care to help get his opinion out as part of the initial talk on their game.

TheSnark
Guest
TheSnark

Jim Fucking Sterling Son, The Wildcard. I feel like you need to make that into a superhero style schtick somehow 😛

Fly Cooper
Guest
Fly Cooper

I think it’s his pro wrestler name, Jim “The Wildcard” Fucking Sterling Son.

Thomas Vincent Szaban
Guest
Thomas Vincent Szaban

Unpredictable?! Anyone who follows you knows pretty well what to expect with certain games. The real issue the publishers have is that if you see something you don’t like, you’ll say it loud and proud and you will rightfully dock a few points. You have a pattern, its just an anti-corporate pattern that EA is scared of, and should be.

JoYKiLL
Guest
JoYKiLL

Here, here.

Weasel Biggs
Guest
Weasel Biggs

In a way, this is sad.

Here we have a reviewer that genuinely liked a game that publishers failed to make available for review – on the grounds that he might NOT have offered the game such a warm reception.

“Oooh, we can’t send review copies to such-and-such, he called out the microtransactions in Dead Space 3! He might say… *dramatic gasp* SOMETHING BAD ABOUT THE GAME!”

C’mon, EA. Halloween’s only in six days. Grow a freaking spine. Jim’s an indie reviewer, not fucking Freddy Krueger.

(I’m also someone who finds that Jimsaw’s shrimp mask is adorable, so yeah)

Moonfrogger
Guest
Moonfrogger

I’m just imagining the people feverishly hitting f5 on this site so they can leave hateful comments on every article. So very very sad

ckmondavi
Guest
ckmondavi

I always have a Jim Sterling in my (insert collectible card game) deck. Never know when hill win you the game!

bimmyz
Guest
bimmyz
Sperium3000
Guest
Sperium3000

That was fucking fast.

Daniel Jensen
Guest
Daniel Jensen

I like how this got in the newest Jimquistion. Dunno if you made it, but grats.

bimmyz
Guest
bimmyz

senpai noticed me (*^_^*)

The Jünger Ludendorf
Guest
The Jünger Ludendorf

Followed by the inevitable sequel:Carte Blanche

“The Man tried to cut him out of the loop and keep him down.
Little did they know, it only made him stronger…”

Matthew Johnson
Guest
Matthew Johnson

So “Fucking” is his middle name now? I could believe that.

Lewis w
Guest
Lewis w

I find it funny how there are people who apparently think that is article is Jim complaining about not getting review codes… Did any of you read the fucking thing? He says that this gives him more credibility. Why are you trying to use this to attack him?

Dr_Juice1
Guest
Dr_Juice1
They’re projecting if they’re calling YOU the wild card. Publishers are the real wild cards. If they consistently practiced good business, this wouldn’t be an issue. You’re not a wild card at all; I’ve found you to be very consistent with the issues you raise. You’ve prefaced quite a few statements with something like “I know I always say this, but…” or “I know I keep bringing this issue up, but…” I think you respect earnestness and honesty: devs who know what they’re attempting and execute it accordingly. There’s no fucking mystery to it LOL. It kind of pisses me… Read more »
Davorbasic
Guest
Davorbasic

Does that mean jim has the ability to summon multiple personas?I mean he’s a wild card and all.

Nobody14200
Guest
Nobody14200

Dammit! I wanted to make that joke.

Davorbasic
Guest
Davorbasic

Too slow lol

Unnoticing Senpai
Guest
Unnoticing Senpai

Does that make him a fool? XD
Also, what’s your Avi from?

Davorbasic
Guest
Davorbasic

A pictute of persona games main characters as girls

Unnoticing Senpai
Guest
Unnoticing Senpai

I knew it was familiar!

Davorbasic
Guest
Davorbasic

Yup 🙂

jet jet
Guest
jet jet

Thats what you get for peddling your shity clickbait reviews friend. You made your bed now lie in it :^.

Tommy Tiddler
Guest
Tommy Tiddler

ha ha i just got the “clickbait” square in ill informed Jim hater Bingo.

Wolfie
Guest
Wolfie

Gonna have to assume this one is meant as a joke.

Jarin
Guest
Jarin

You can assume if you like, but I’ve seen too much stupid to give this sort of post the benefit of the doubt

Savletto Polvere
Guest
Savletto Polvere

Fucking internet, man.

CaitSeith
Guest
CaitSeith

Stay calm and remember Poe’s Law.

Skye Windbinder
Guest
Skye Windbinder

Clickbait? Wha?

But… this site has no ads…

Pocket Nerd
Guest
Pocket Nerd

In this case “clickbait” is an uninformed knee-jerk criticism from people who simply can’t comprehend that somebody else’s opinion might differ from their own. “You don’t like chocolate? But chocolate is DELICIOUS! You’re just saying that to get page views!”

サイラス
Guest
サイラス

“We can’t send out review copies of our game to reviewers that would most likely give it a low score, we can’t have that.”

keironsmith123
Guest
keironsmith123
To be fair Jim you are a wild card (in the best possible way), i have no idea sometimes if you will like or dislike a game. Some reviewers i have a good feeling on what they will think of certain games (Chris Carter on Destructiod i can predict well if he will like or dislike something) but you are really hard to predict. Funny thing is you can give out very high scores to games what the other reviewers have had a meh resporse too, Hyrule Warriors Legends got a 9.5 from you (deserved) and you even gave out… Read more »
Killer_Tapir
Guest
Killer_Tapir

Good old Jim ‘Predictable’ Sterling being a wild card? Never! I won’t believe it.

Fly Cooper
Guest
Fly Cooper

This is what you get for giving Uncharted 4 such a low score, Jim’s not a wild card he’s an unattended rhino with a box of fireworks.

Anton
Guest
Anton

I can’t even tell if this is sarcastic or not.

Fly Cooper
Guest
Fly Cooper

It is but with this industry I wouldn’t be surprised.

Shen
Guest
Shen

By that I assume you mean: he’s got a big horn and enough bangs to last the night?

Jeremy Comans
Guest
Jeremy Comans

I assume the rhino ignores the fireworks, eats a small shrub and sleeps in the shade for a while. I’m not even sure what the fireworks are doing in this story?
Maybe we’re at an explosives manufacturing plant or a warehouse… That could be dangerous if the rhino is spooked by the workers, or by loud machinery.

ENAY
Guest
ENAY

I think it’s because Jim said Uncharted 4 had shit bananas, and that Nathan Drake could take a row of sausages directly into his head.

Lilfut
Guest
Lilfut

My guess on the Square-Enix thing is that Square-Enix Japan probably just has you on a list of “Americans say we shouldn’t give copies to these guys”, while Square-Enix America has a more nuanced view of things due to actually being able to watch your videos in their native language.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

As soon as ‘big anything’ puts someone on the fringe, or casts them aside entirely, that only makes me drawn to that person even more. There is no denying that if people want the information, it’s there to be had in massive amounts.

The thing the publishers are counting on, as much of the mainstream ‘news’ services also do, is that their customers remain blind to the fact that there are alternative avenues to explore when choosing to purchase a product. Not just the general ass licking that IGN provides.

Well done, Jim 🙂

Bind
Guest
Bind

im personally a draw 4 card

Dragongelf
Guest
Dragongelf

And this is why myself and I’m sure many of my fellow jimquisitioneerers (is that a word? it should be) stick around here rather than on IGN.

Praise the Wild Card! Thank god for Jim!

Bind
Guest
Bind

I prefer Jimquisitors

Rakka
Guest
Rakka

What about Wild Bunch? 😀

Max
Guest
Max

I like The Cards then we sound like a Warriors style gang

Samuari Steve
Guest
Samuari Steve

The only people who go onto IGN are the people who go there purely to comment on how shit IGN is.

Savletto Polvere
Guest
Savletto Polvere

Well, don’t forget people who come there to validate their opinions. Like, legions of shrimpgamers.

Steven White
Guest
Steven White

Maybe you and all the other “wild card” reviewers should squeak a little louder. You can’t get a review out for a week or so? Fine, but you all put out Coming Soon articles that loudly stress that you aren’t getting review codes. Make not openly providing review codes have the same stigma as movies not giving press screenings.

Mr. Tastee
Guest
Mr. Tastee
I see this as just another indication of the Triple AAAholes need to control the message. So much of their business is built on hype, pre-orders and high scores. It’s all focused on getting the high sales in the first week or so of release. They want consumers to be sold on a game before they even see a trailer and foaming at the mouth enough to pre-order a game that is very unlikely to ever be hard to get. I’m sure someone like Jim makes them nervous given how high sales need to be just to be profitable these… Read more »
MSPaint
Guest
MSPaint

Why is “being on metracritic” a good thing? Wouldn’t it be good if you weren’t? The general concept of metacritic, and the non-transparent judging process of outlets by MC aside, you neither consider yourself a games journalist nor professional reviewer, isn’t that correct?

CaitSeith
Guest
CaitSeith

Visibility, I guess. Metacritic shows his score and written conclusion for people who doesn’t want to come to the page.

zarathustra2k1
Guest
zarathustra2k1

“people who doesn’t”

CaitSeith
Guest
CaitSeith

#wordcrimes alert

Bind
Guest
Bind

Also for some, that brings a certain level of credibility and name recognition. It means, as an outlet, his name still holds weight.

Aristatide
Guest
Aristatide

It means that ultimately by not giving him a code they can’t silence him from still having an impact.

Mandrake42
Guest
Mandrake42

Agree or disagree with metacritic (I think aggregating reviews and averaging the score doesn’t give a fair picture) it’s still amazing visibility. Heaps of people use that site, no matter what we individually think of it. Being on there means your reviews have influence, even if the Publishers won’t give you review code.

thyri Carver
Guest
thyri Carver
I have to agree that the companies who can be “bought” just by right of being given review code much less the bootcamps and the walled garden review events are being given the code because they’re “expected” to give at least an 8/10 score. Your IGNs your Game Informers, I’d dare say even Kotaku is a part of this. And as newer sites keep cropping up, your fledgling critics will be hesitant to review a game as anything but positive for fear of not receiving review code in the future. I know someone who does freelance work (and not paid… Read more »
Chris
Guest
Chris

I used to do reviews for a small small site. I used to get ALOT of Koei Tecmo games (samurai warriors 4, warriors orochi 3 ultimate and more) and generally gave quite positive reviews. However I got Blade Storm Nightmare and Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires and gave both games mediocre scores and suddenly review copies dried up. It’s fine because I work full time and actually find it very difficult to squeeze in time to play and review games but still…

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