The Jimquisition: On Publishers Controlling Game Reviews

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As Bethesda proudly announces it will no longer provide review copies until the day before a game launches, The Jimquisition decides to deliver some hefty side-eyeing.

This news came just as your very own Jim Sterling found out EA considers him a “wild card” who isn’t to be trusted with high profile games like Battlefield 1.

Game publishers have been steadily manipulating the review process for years, and when you consider how shitty the “AAA” game world’s become… is it any bloody wonder?

Colin
Guest
Colin

“Pulleys and mirrors”

Thank God for Jim

ATBro
Guest
ATBro

I don’t disagree with any of this, but I think there is more to it. First, this is an example of a corporation seeing something that was successful, and now are trying to recreate that success, when they don’t actually understand why it was successful in the first place. Doom didn’t do well because they held back review copies. Hell, I doubt Doom did better than it would have otherwise. But not every game they make will be as good, or have as much cache as Doom is and does, so when Dishonored comes out and this tactic doesn’t work… Read more »

Max Whiteley
Guest
Max Whiteley

I totally agree that this is bad for the consumer… But….I have to say…. I can’t blame the publishers for every little shitty thing they do. when your audience consistently shows that it wants the publishers to treat them with the disrespect that they have been doing, then why shouldn’t the publishers? I mean, how long has a big part of the community being saying don’t pre order, yet people keep pre ordering. Don’t buy micro transactions because we need to show them there not acceptable when we have already payed for the game, then blizzard show how much overwatch… Read more »

Gaealiege
Guest
Gaealiege

It seems to me that most people simply don’t have impulse control.

“But, I wanna play with the cool kids in Brodudes Duty of Warfield 2016 now!”

OctopussGrift
Guest
OctopussGrift

Jim you should add “Wild Card” to your opening credits.

James Glass
Guest
James Glass

I just don’t understand what they think they have to gain from this? Or they think this keeps them from losing something?

Bashtarle
Guest
Bashtarle

It would be really nice if people would collectively grow a spine and stop pre-ordering AAA tripe. It’s not going to be scarce there is not guarantee it’s going to be decent and the only way this behavior changes is to talk with your wallets. Cause they only speak money.

Makes you wonder how many broken games people will pre-order, lament and declare “this is my last pre-order ever” before they actually stop pre-ordering every AAA game under the sun.

Ana Decker
Guest
Ana Decker

Frankly, there are only a handful of games I’d even consider buying on day 1 these days, not to mention preorder. My backlog is so massive and my free unstructured time so limited that I don’t lack entertainment and I think I’m more the rule than the exception. It seriously baffles me how so many people still fall for preorders in this oversaturated and untrustworthy market when it’s better in every single way to just wait it out. Better prices, reviews, patches, mods, you name it. Not that I mind paying full price on day 1, I just did that… Read more »

zeeby
Guest
zeeby

I absolutely hate it when companies lie to me. It’s a insult. If you don’t want early reviews – fine. But to bullshit me that it’s so ‘everyone can enjoy it the same time’ is a slap in the face and an offense to my (admittedly limited) intelligence. Corporate spin makes my skin crawl.

thegreatpumpkinking
Guest
thegreatpumpkinking

I for one have no issue waiting to hear for reviewers opinions on a game before buying something. i don’t need to get it on day one.

tom
Guest
tom

Of course it’s not corporate “right” to withhold, Jim. Informed decision making is essential to not only democracy, it’s crucial to consumer rights. The idea that corporate greed has some validity over consumer rights is so wrong so hard. There is zero legitimate basis for with holding information from consumers. That’s a violation of consumer rights that can never be counted by the ‘argument’ of greed or secrecy. – NMS case has nothing to do with expectations and everything to do with misleading lies. – Oh, and we are way past not buying games in a preorder. We are way… Read more »

Фролов Денис
Guest
Фролов Денис

Bethesda out of all companies. Publisher that reliably delivers games if not good, then at least decent. Publisher that doesn’t spam its games with preorder bonuses. Publisher that delivers pretty good DLCs. Just… why? Why have they decided it’s a good idea?

Shui Gor
Guest
Shui Gor

“Pulleys and mirrors”…..whelp, there goes my lunch….

Benj
Guest
Benj

Other entertainment media don’t seem to have this problem to anywhere near the degree that games do and I’m willing to blame it mostly on the existence of pre-orders.

Nobody's Fanboy
Guest
Nobody's Fanboy

Really makes me hang my head…I have to disagree that it benefits publishers. Maybe in the short term financial sense, but long-term in any sense it’s going to bite them and hard. Ultimately tightening and intensifying their echo chambers does nobody any favors, adds energy to the mentality that criticism is radicals and outliers and “bad guys” with “an agenda”, since this broad swath really loves it and all the yes men at the company love it and literally nobody has told us these things so far (because we’ve carefully cultivated a collection of sycophants who wouldn’t dare tell us… Read more »

LamontRaymond
Guest
LamontRaymond

Excellent analysis. But instead of just saying that this practice “only helps the publisher” (of course corporations are going to do things which often only help themselves), you should further emphasize that these are anti-consumer practices. It actually hurts buyers to not have the added education going into a purchase. Not a good thing.

FlannelKoSasquatchWald⁴ Ditto
Guest
FlannelKoSasquatchWald⁴ Ditto

Also addressing the opening, the biggest mistake you made for me was saying Fallout 4 was polyamours friendly which it turned out it wasn’t at all.

This was something I learned the hard way when I was dating Cait and Piper and found out Piper was having Vic spying on me for being unloyal.

I wish you would correct that because while it was an accident, it still disappointed a lot of people I know and feels like praising a game that didn’t deserve it.

FlannelKoSasquatchWald⁴ Ditto
Guest
FlannelKoSasquatchWald⁴ Ditto

This may just be correlation on my part but this could explain something that I first noticed when Polygon noted after the release of the Witcher 3. Most of the reviewers who get early review copies than women and POC, something that was notable after releases like the Witcher 3, Fallout 4 and from what I saw, Deus Ex Mankind Divided. That isn’t to say women don’t get early review copies, people like IGN’s Lucy O’Brien do, but overall nowhere as much as men. Given that POC and we women are more likely to talk about more social issues, the… Read more »

Exley97
Guest
Exley97

Fantastic. So not only are the biggest, most successful game publishers in the business holding back review code/copies until the day before a release, the are withholding review code from “wild cards” because they can’t be predicted to be positive and enthusiastic enough about the title. So in other words, unless you’re a YouTuber who has a fansite and a raging hard-on for a game THAT HASN’T EVEN BEEN RELEASED YET then you don’t get review copies. Have a hard-on for Dishonored 2? You get the game. Fail the boner test? No game for you.

TheCreativeWelshman
Guest
TheCreativeWelshman

I’m holding out for a third Jimquistion this week before the Sunday one goes up and only then will I believe in miracles happening. 🎃🐁🐀🐹🐰🐇👺 Sorry no scarecrow emoji.

Arella Jardin
Guest
Arella Jardin

I only preorder from companies that have earned my trust, and make games I enjoy. Bethesda and Bioware are on the short list, and I’m willing to trust individual franchises like Deus Ex or Dishonored. That’s not to say I always preorder those games, either. Out of principle, I tend to wait for reviews and purchase them in the first week. Preorder, for me, is only if the bonuses are too good to pass up, which is rarely the case. Deus Ex Mankind Divided had shitty bonuses, so while I did buy it Day One, I didn’t preorder.

drez
Guest
drez

The only way to stop the train is to stop thrusting money blindly into the hands of the bad guys. How shitty do things have to get in the gaming industry for sense and reason to kick in for people?

Corac42
Guest
Corac42

Unrelated to the topic of the episode, but: does anyone else ever have trouble listening to what Jim is saying because of the video? Doom 2016 gameplay is glorious just to look at, even Jim’s lovely voice can’t hold my attention when he puts that in front of me.

Also, my autocorrect just tried to change “Jim” to “Kim”. Fucking Fleksy.

Jack Trevor
Guest
Jack Trevor

As a man working on his business degree, I can say that this is the single stupidest move that they could’ve done. Like Wells Fargo level of stupid.

The last thing you ever want is a consumer base that is suspicious of your product. And that only opens the door for people to rip it apart, especially if they feel like they’ve been tricked. And you can make the Doom arguement but I can counter it with No Man’s Sky and Batman Arkham Knight (PC).

SnookAus
Guest
SnookAus

Well said, this needed to be addressed. I’ve adjusted my behavior this generation to wait for GOTY’s for big budget games. I took my D2 preorder money and bought Witcher 3 which I knew I’d eventually get to anyhow. If D2’s good, I’m happy to play next year…hell Witcher will take me at least that long to complete at my pace.