James Stephanie Sterling
Why I Don’t Have A Titanfall 2 Review
[Update: I’ve learned more about the situation, and that 47 Communications does not apparently have a grudge. Read more here.]
Titanfall 2 reviews went up today, but not on The Jimquisition, where I’m still currently working on the Battlefield 1 review.
This is because as far as Electronic Arts and Eastern-developed Square Enix games go, I’ve been unable to reliably obtain review codes for well over a year now. The problem has only worsened in recent months, to the point where I’ve practically given up planning to ever get a review for an EA or Japanese Square Enix game published at embargo date.
Exact reasons for this remain a mystery to me. At first I would have assumed Electronic Arts or Square Enix blacklisted me – given my often unflattering coverage of either company, it wouldn’t be a surprise – but lately I’ve begun to believe that the PR company handling their games, FortySeven Communications, might be the problem.
I can obtain Western Square Enix games without issue since they go through a different PR company altogether. Amusingly, it’s the Western Square Enix I’ve criticized more than its Japanese counterpart, but that didn’t stop me receiving Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with enough time to give it my full attention and publish a timely review.
However, when it comes to Dragon Quest Builders, World of Final Fantasy, or even something you’d think I’d be an obvious pick for, such as Dragon Quest Heroes, I’ve only ever received the same canned response – usually an initial email saying I’m “on a list” but copies are “limited” followed by an apologetic email days later saying there weren’t enough to go around.
Okay, on it’s own, that’s not too big of a deal. Despite my audience being significantly larger now than it was when I worked for any past media publication, I know that PR companies don’t always respect independent critics – especially those who work primarily on YouTube – and often get confused over whether such people are “reviewers” or “influencers” with whatever weird PR restrictions apply to either.
However, after going through the same process several times over, with the same boilerplate responses each time, I had to ask if this would simply be the status quo from now on, and if it would be easier for everybody if I stopped pursuing copies through FortySeven. I flat-out asked the PR firm if there was a problem.
This started to happen with Electronic Arts games, also largely represented by FortySeven Communications. Usually, those individuals I know who handle EA games are more responsive and helpful, but lately the exact same process had begun to occur. After getting another “no copies” response for Battlefield 1, I asked again if something was up, if there was some reason this happens every time, and if I should simply not ask in future.
As of Titanfall 2, I’m not even getting the boilerplate shit anymore. After receiving an email with the usual “on the list, copies are limited” script, I look today and see Titanfall 2 reviews are live without FortySeven having ever followed up with me. It would appear I do not even merit the runaround procedure anymore.
I should make it clear that if I’m blacklisted or greylisted or whatever, I’m perfectly fine with that.
I have money, and while it’d be nice to be able to give these games much more time and attention during the review process, I’ve proven able to make it work. I no longer write for media where it’s particularly important to hit an embargo date – my content will be read and watched by a significant audience regardless – it’s simply a nice bonus if I can get it.
Given my reputation, my critical standards, and my often vicious coverage of certain publishers, I wouldn’t be surprised by any given company wanting nothing to do with me. That much I can understand and even sort-of respect.
But I have absolutely no respect for ignorance.
Say what you will about Konami, but at least their reps had the nerve to actually tell me what the situation was.
The idea of being blacklisted – either by Square Enix or Electronic Arts – wasn’t an issue to me. It was not being told anything when I very politely asked for some clarity on multiple occasions. I would like to believe that, regardless of anybody’s opinion of me, I’ve worked hard in games criticism for ten years now and deserve at least a tiny modicum of courtesy.
I’m not even asking for review copies – I’m asking for a reason, a confirmation that I’m wasting my very valuable time in attempting to communicate with FortySeven “Communications.”
I’ve had certain little communities mock me before over review copies not coming my way. I still remember gloating cries of “How’s that independence working out for you?” when I first mentioned difficulties in receiving Square Enix games. The answer to that question remains what it was back then – it’s working out very flippin’ well, actually.
Whether I buy copies or not, I have the budget to continue my work. A more reliable schedule would be nice, but I’m not beholden to any company and if they wish not to deal with me, I won’t lose a damn thing.
But I’d at least like companies to give me the opposite of what I am – the straight skinny.
Do you get it? Because I’m not straight and I’m also FUCKING FAT.
Obviously, I’m a one-man band over here for the most part, and there are only so many hours in a day. We are at a point where, from a sheer time standpoint, I am going to have to think very seriously about the games and developers that deserve my attention.
For example, as great as World of Final Fantasy looks, and as much as I’d love to look into it, there’s just too much else happening for me to prioritize in it any fashion.
I get a lot of requests for opinions on a lot of games. I try and provide coverage for everything my audience wants covered. This will continue, but there are going to be instances where I have to say “fuck it” and admit that I just don’t have time to buy and play everything at launch.
Much of what I’ve written here has been, out of necessity, based in speculation. When one asks for clear answers but is not given them, speculation is the only thing left. I also completely realize that publishing this will not only look unprofessional, but really effing whiny as well. Being professional and polite, however, has not paid off – and I was incredibly patient up to this point.
So that’s what is up with Titanfall 2 anyway, and any future EA or Square Enix game if the trend of the past 12+ months continues. The more you know!