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Catching up with Koretzky
Michael Koretzky, Society of Professional Journalists region 3 director, had a busy summer. For months, he received abuse on both side of the #Gamergate argument when planning his event, Airplay, and to have the event end early due to a bomb threat. Michael also talks about ... [read more]
Get lucky in the wasteland with Fallout 4
The next episode of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. by Bethesda shows the power of Lady Luck. Being the seventh letter in the acronym, Luck plays a huge role in Fallout 4.... [read more]
Spartan Companies keeps Halo players in good company
Halo Spartan Companies allows for like-minded players to meet up on the battlefield in Halo 5: Guardians. ... [read more]

Latest Articles

Smite Preview: Hey look at me, I'm playing a MOBA on my console
There's no doubt that the top two MOBA games are DotA 2 and League of Legends, and with the control layout for those games, it's unlikely we'll see those games make the jump to the consoles. However, Smite, the third-person perspective MOBA game and arguably the third most p... [read more]
It doesn't matter how you get your Gjallarhorn
Destiny has seen its share of ups and downs. From the amazingly unbalanced Vex Mythoclast Fusion Rifle to its poor story, players have had plenty of reasons to trash the game. And now, the ultimate storm of garbage has landed. The Destiny community lost its mind when the Gja... [read more]
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Beta shows that the series still has some fight
The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition beta has ended and it has been an experience. With only multiplayer available to play, I was in game after game of Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill. With a shiny new presentation and new features, is this attempt enough to re-ignite th... [read more]

Latest Reviews

Batman: Arkham Knight Review: A fitting end for the Dark Knight
Rocksteady Studios did the unthinkable in 2009 by making a game based on a comic an actual GOTY contender. The follow-up, Arkham City, continued the pattern of quality and faithfulness to the comic making for another great game. To finish off the series, Rocksteady is back w... [read more]
Heroes of the Storm Review: The WoW of MOBAs is here
MOBAs are becoming more and more common as the competitive arena of choice. League of Legends and DotA changed the face of eSports by putting the new genre in the spotlight. Blizzard has entered the fray with their answer in the form of Heroes of the Storm.... [read more]
Dying Light Review: What happens when you do Dead Island correctly
Zombie massacre simulator is the description that comes to mind when I think of Techland's Dying Light. With so many implements of undead doom at your disposal, you can easily lose yourself in trying every weapon and item you come across. The real question, though, is does t... [read more]

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8-Bit Eric Review: Yoshi's Woolly World
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Let's Play - Her Story Pt. 1-3
Her Story is a different take on the adventure genre formula. There's a mystery to be solved, but instead of solving puzzles or talking to people, all you have to do is search for the right video. ... [read more]
Exclusive Reviews: Crowding One Voice and Shunning Others
Posted on March 21, 2013 by Drew Bergmark

Yesterday, I was going through social media wondering what people were questioning about with exclusive reviews. I hadn’t heard anything about any exclusive reviews for months despite liking multiple regions of IGN on Facebook. IGN’s Xbox head Ryan McCaffrey skipped St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday because he was working on reviewing possibly one of the year’s most anticipated titles: BioShock Infinite.

To preface what I’m going to say through this editorial, I’m sure there have been no basic journalistic ethics broken with the exclusive IGN review of 2K and Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite but as I don’t have any personal or private business relationships between any employee of either company I can’t be a hundred percent certain in that statement either.

With days before a game’s release and no official reviews are out for the public to read, usually this means that there should be some kind of caution about a game but when an exclusive review is in play, all cards are thrown into the air just like a childish game of ‘52 Card Pickup’: tell everyone to pick up the cards as one person gets the delight of watching others squirm. Surely, this isn’t the intent of either partner intentionally but that’s what comes of the situation.

When dozens of popular gaming outlets are told to sit on their hands and not get to release a review all at the same time, all those who follow the games media are crowded to the one voice, creating a dictatorial opinion on the subject. Along with the outlet’s opinion, several other options pop-up: how will the review change with a specific advertising layout, what does the publisher want in order to complete the contracted obligation and the most important how will the judgment be judged by the consumers?

Millions of dollars lay upon the fingertips of one San Franciscan that could change a global company’s stocks from fifteen dollars a share to ten or twenty. If the game gives a bad impression to the reviewer, this could mean hundreds of people’s jobs potentially as the publisher has invested five years and millions of dollars into the project. If the game gives a good impression to the reviewer, the outlet could receive criticism for the next decade on how they were supposedly paid-off by one of the largest publishers in the industry. Every reviewer has to think of this but when you remove the other 100 reviews from Metacritic with the single review speaking for potentially all of the company’s audience, you are forcing this reviewer to feel obligated to not only to feel safe in his words but to compromise, in this case, his positive or negative criticism.

In other media mediums like music or movies, exclusive reviews aren’t used anymore as they appear to be naive with major outlets being shunned, which goes for all those independent bloggers too. Apparently though, this doesn’t affect the decision making made over at Take-Two Interactive. In fact, looking at the layout of the ‘review-in-progress’ that has been posted as of the publication of this editorial, there are several locations that IGN and Take-Two use with different retail partners to take advantage by posting advertisements in strategic places where readers can’t ignore an Amazon link telling where gamers can purchase the game.

Literally, in the middle of a fucking sentence, an advertisement links to a private IGN server which is then redirected to the online Microsoft store for a pre-order of BioShock Infinite. The dependent phrase should read ‘In BioShock Infinite’s opening moments, ...’ but instead boxed with red dots, the ‘$59.99 @ Microsoft Store’ advertisement immediately steals away attention from reading as it has been placed directly where most consumers would direct their eyes: to the middle of the screen. Call this what you want but putting an advertisement right in the middle of a sentence, as far as I know, has never been done before other than normal page breaks with a newspaper.

This wasn’t the only obvious advertisement that was featured in the ‘review-in-progress’ either. As it was called a review-in-progress, most gamers will scroll down to see if a score has been given but instead for those searching for the arbitrary number would be treated to looking at three different box arts for different platforms from different retail companies linking to their respective webpage where you can pre-order the game now.

I don’t know if it’s just me but the exclusive reviews just seem to be a great way to advertise, by choking other outlets from reporting on a game instead of offering your audience an accurate outlook on a title by subjectively inspecting what other reviewers have said about the game. If I were ever given this chance for an exclusive review, I wouldn’t be able to accept it morally because the personal implications that such an illustrious event would be such a massive impact on my writing career but also because I write to help gamers to get the best product out of what money they have. Only allowing one person to review a game publicly before its release is an atrocity to those who follow game reviewers and shouldn’t be allowed because it collapses discussion for how exciting a certain product maybe.

BioShock Infinite comes out on March 26th, next Tuesday, internationally on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Mac. Yesterday, I reported that Greenman Gaming is offering the best offer for the PC version of the game as you’ll get an extra three games for free with the purchase of a downloadable copy of the game.

Drew Bergmark - Staff Writer viggo (@) | all author's articles

What's your most anticipated game for November?

Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
Fallout 4
Star Wars Battlefront
The Crew: Wild Run
Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash
Need for Speed
Rise of the Tomb Raider
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