“Cash for Comments” : The Paradox

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(All names have been removed for obvious reasons)

An editor for a certain Australian magazine claims that he was fired for posting an internal email on facebook. He claims it was an attempt to “blow the whistle” on video game companies pressuring publications into giving good reviews.

According to the editor the company emailed him and said:

“This is the biggest game we’ve done since _____, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world, can you please ensure _____’s article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he’s writing about here.”

Now lets get the clear stuff out of the way. If this pressures you into giving a good review then you have some major problems. All I see here is some information that is worth mentioning within the review.

Since that is out of the way, lets look at the topic of being pressured into giving good reviews. According to other reports there have been threats to pull funds but they are rare. “threats from game makers to pull advertisements over unfavorable coverage did occur but not very often” as stated by another editor.

The main reason that threats to pull advertisements are empty threats is because giving into these threats can harm the publicists in the long run. It creates a form of paradox. As you begin to give in to threats or take bribes your credibility wears off and you will lose readers and then there is no one to read the review. If no one is going to read the review there isn’t much point of reviewing it and the site isn’t attractive to the advertisers anymore. This creates a type of paradox that would cause the system to crash in on itself. According to the statement of another editor “I’d like to think games companies understand that and I think most of them do.” he continues to say “But such occasions are infrequent and often the threat is never followed through.” Giving into a threat only shows the weak spines of the editors as well as the desperation of the game makers.

I can’t speak for other publicists, but if we at Capsule Computers were to receive one of these threats we aren’t going to take it very kindly. We aren’t simply another publisher you can push around. We’d give the game a -85 Capsules out of 10 on the spot. -85 for B.S.

  • Enzo3000

    Personally, I wouldn’t say that the email is particularly threatening, just encouraging the person to appreciate the developers hard work a little too forcefully. If there had been other threats or some kind of bribe it would have been a different matter.

    In my opinion, it is important to get good honest reviews. I’d be pretty annoyed if a game was rated highly only to find it was very poor. I’m slightly sceptical of Official magazines because surely if they are working for the company, they’d feel inclined to give their scores a slight boost. I’m not suggesting of any bribery, threats or anything too serious, I just think official magazines would find it hard to give that companies game a hammering, being the officially licensed mag.

  • Andrenekoi

    This happens a lot, but it’s always sad to see in the front of us. Those who accept this kind of thing will never be an respected media or anything like that, they will kill themselfs.

    About the official magazines situation, not all of them do this “good reception” style, there’s some good magazines which don’t take the names in consideration when doing a review, they really judge the game itself.

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