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Injustice, Hitman, and more coming to PS+ in December
Earlier in the week we reported the PS4 games that would be free for PS Plus member in December. Sony released the full list of games, including PS3 and PS Vita.... [read more]
Start your December with a Game of Thrones adventure
For those Game of Thrones fans who wished for some relief for their lack of deceit and violence until the show returns to HBO, then prepare yourself this December to return to Westeros. ... [read more]
Ubisoft apologizes for AC Unity debacle with free games and DLC
If you're like many players of Assassin's Creed Unity, you probably experience a mess of problems within the game. To make amends, Ubisoft will compensate owners of the game.... [read more]

Latest Articles

An Open Letter to 2K Sports - How 'Bout Them Spurs?
I saw your latest trailer for NBA 2K15, and I had to simply shake my head. As an avid San Antonio Spurs fan, you know that team that won the NBA Championship last year, I was disappointed with their exclusion from the trailer. After re-watching trailer, I realized that they ... [read more]
gamescom 2014: Sony shows off more indie games and hidden Silent Hill game
Lots of games ranging from AAA to Indie along with some shocking surprises were revealed at this year’s Sony Press Conference at gamescom in Cologne, Germany.... [read more]
gamescom 2014: Microsoft comes out fighting
After falling behind Sony again and again, Microsoft finally put on a show for gamers at gamescom 2014 to remind everyone that they are still in the fight.... [read more]

Latest Reviews

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review
If Batman: Arkham Asylum placed Rocksteady Studios in god’s shrine, then I can say with utmost confidence that it’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor that is a shining example for a great future that’s ahead for Monolith Productions. Shadow of Mordor has surprised the h... [read more]
Destiny Review
After creating one of the most iconic sci-fi first-person shooters with the Halo series, Bungie partnered with Activision to create their massive new IP, Destiny. Destiny is a multiplayer action shooter with heavier emphasis on RPG elements like character customization, prog... [read more]
The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5 "No Going Back" Review
When Telltale Games announced the second season of The Walking Dead, fans of the first season were wondering where Telltale was going to take the series. By focusing on Clementine, the second season went in a different direction than the TV series or comics have gone. It was... [read more]

Latest Videos

8-Bit Eric: Retron 5 Unboxing
Hyperkin's Retron 5 is a retro gaming powerhouse that can play NES, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance games. Find out what you get in the box with this video from 8-Bit Eric. ... [read more]
8-Bit Eric: Hyrule Warriors Review
8-Bit Eric reviews Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U, a new hack and slash game based on the Legend of Zelda that is a spinoff of the Dynasty Warriors series. How does this game hold up? ... [read more]
8-Bit Eric: Favorite Video Game Rentals
8-Bit Eric takes you back to his childhood to look at some of the games he loved to rent. ... [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 (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

What's your most anticipated game for December?

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
The Crew
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series
Dungeon Defenders II
The Talos Principle
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