EGM names companies who banned them of future coverage because of poor reviews

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#1 Posted by ASK_Story (11455 posts) -

http://vgmwatch.com/?p=1137

Electronic Gaming Monthly's Editor-in-Chief Dan "Shoe" Hsu has an interesting editorial in the latest edition of his magazine. The bulk of Hsu's column deals with topics familiar to VGMWatch.com readers: publishers bullying game publications; overly positive previews; and editorial integrity. In fact, Hsu himself has covered these issues in past columns before. However, what makes his latest editorial unique is what he's always shied away from doing in the past: it names names.

"For the time being, you'll get little, late, or no coverage of the following products: anything Mortal Kombat (they didn't like our reviews), anything from Sony's sports department (ditto), and now, anything from Ubisoft (it seems our coverage of Assassin's Creed was the last straw)."

According to Hsu, Midway's Mortal Kombat development team, Sony's sports game division, and Ubisoft have all allegedly banned EGM from further coverage of their products. The reason: Apparently, they didn't take too kindly to EGM's review coverage of their games. Still, Hsu maintains that EGM "won't treat these products or companies any differently." We have yet to confirm these allegations with the publishers mentioned. However, if the editorial's claims are accurate, VGMWatch.com is certainly disappointed with these publishers' behavior. As corporations, publishers have every right to ban any publication they want for poor coverage. But that doesn't make it right. Gamers should feel disrespected as well.

VGMWatch.com staff will be contacting the companies involved with this story for further comment. In the mean time, readers may want to pick up the current issue of EGM to view Hsu's editorial for themselves.

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#2 Posted by duxup (43443 posts) -
It's a sad sad industry...
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#3 Posted by donny666 (422 posts) -
I didn't see their Assassin's Creed coverage but if it was negative then it was probably overly harsh.
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#4 Posted by MAILER_DAEMON (45906 posts) -
Funny, I was looking to see if there were any new PR statements from Josh Larson about advertising tools on GS lately...
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#5 Posted by Archangel3371 (27553 posts) -
That's just not right at all. Doesn't Mortal Kombat generally get mediocre reviews everywhere else anyway? I've played a scant few Sony sports titles, didn't really care for them don't really know how they fare these days. I loved Assassin's Creed so I'd probably disagree with their review on that one. Even though they can do something like this I think it's really a mistake on their part to actually do it.
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#6 Posted by erawsd (6930 posts) -
I remember a very long time ago when Acclaim(?) yanked support from EGM after they trashed Total Recall on the NES. This type of bullying is certainly nothing new.
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#7 Posted by Evz0rz (4624 posts) -
*sigh* at least EGM has the nerve to stand up to them
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#8 Posted by CarnageHeart (18316 posts) -

MK and Sony's sport's division have sucked for years. Its a shame that they are getting indignant about someone telling them the truth.

At least in the case of Sony's sports division, I don't see what they are basing their delusions of quality on (at least MK has sales). Given the tendency of PS3 versions of sports games to be lackluster, there is an opening, but since Sony's sports division sucks so badly, they haven't seized upon it.

Its a shame Sony has permitted their sports division to fall to this point. The division either needs to be closed down or the game design and PR teams replaced.

All that being said, EGM is an inconstant reviewer who is capable of ignoring sewage one minute (Driver 3 and the first edition of Madden PSP were both broken games EGM gave glowing reviews to) but capable of nitpicking a quality game to death the next minute. Of course, they are far from the only unreliable reviewers out there, so I still give weight to them sometimes depending on how reasonable their argument is (are they beating up a game because the controls are broken or because the cop in an action game doesn't follow proper police procedure?).

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#9 Posted by JustPlainLucas (79278 posts) -

Damn, and I just bought Assassin's Creed a couple of weeks ago. Seriously, if there is to be an ounce of integrity left, all VG journalists need to fight back and do more of this naming names stuff. Sure, it looks bad when your game gets reviewed poorly, but it looks even worse when you're exposed as trying to pressure reviews to pad their scores. Developers just need to swallow their pride and make their games better.

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#10 Posted by Darth_Homer (5779 posts) -

That's just not right at all. Doesn't Mortal Kombat generally get mediocre reviews everywhere else anyway? I've played a scant few Sony sports titles, didn't really care for them don't really know how they fare these days. I loved Assassin's Creed so I'd probably disagree with their review on that one. Even though they can do something like this I think it's really a mistake on their part to actually do it.Archangel3371

A quick Metacritic search shows around the 70-82 mark. Not really medicore...

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#11 Posted by Shame-usBlackley (18266 posts) -

I don't know what to think of things anymore. I will say that I'm glad to see EGM fighting the good fight instead of pandering to the publishers. I don't care much for EGM's reviews (both format and opinion-wise), but I'm all for journalistic integrity being a constantgoal in this industry.

I've said a lot of nasty things about EGM reviews over the years, butI can live withdiffering opinions. Integrity is much more difficult to replace.

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#12 Posted by Shame-usBlackley (18266 posts) -

That's just not right at all. Doesn't Mortal Kombat generally get mediocre reviews everywhere else anyway? I've played a scant few Sony sports titles, didn't really care for them don't really know how they fare these days. I loved Assassin's Creed so I'd probably disagree with their review on that one. Even though they can do something like this I think it's really a mistake on their part to actually do it.Archangel3371

Mortal Kombat's been a review fringe-dweller for a while now, usually bordering more on the poor side than the good. Sony Sports is just abysmal when compared to the days of NFL Gameday on the PS1 (which actually gave Madden a run for its money one year), but Ubisoft is the one I find surprising. Assassin's Creed is one of the most polarizing games released last year, and the reviews reflect that to some degree. For Ubisoft to fly off the handle at EGM is pretty stupid, in myopinion as there were plenty of people (both press and consumer) who flat didn't like the game.

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#13 Posted by LordAndrew (7355 posts) -

Wow. I just got my copy of EGM and read that last night. Ridiculous.

Publishers should stop this bullying. It makes them look a lot worse than a single bad review does.

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#14 Posted by nopalversion (4757 posts) -
Hey, looks like game companies are adopting Hollywood practices. Banning a well-known publication sounds rather fascist-ic to me.
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#15 Posted by King9999 (11837 posts) -
This kind of bullying is not new. It's just that ever since Gerstmann-gate, the bullying got a lot more attention.
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#16 Posted by Robio_basic (7050 posts) -
If these companies were smart they just would have banned them from future coverage due to poor quality of reviews rather than harsh reviews. EGM has been unreadable for ages in my opinion. But I will givegood ole Shoecredit for naming names on this. That takes some serious stones, particularly with the Sony Sports situation because that could lead to bigger problems from Sony.
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#17 Posted by Sim_genius (9562 posts) -
It is about time game journalists stand up against those maliciuos game companies that think they deserve credit for making "good" games. now, I want to add something too: Mortal isnt what it once was. Second: Sony makes sports games? Who knew :roll: and third: Well, Ubisoft, it is just a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad company.
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#18 Posted by YourChaosIsntMe (1228 posts) -

Yeah, this isn't anything new. In the case of Sony's sports division and MK, anyone with a sense of taste despises any iteration of either development division/franchise.No, my friend, Metacritic is not a reputable source. When you give everymoron the ability to review videogames/films/music, very few items are going to geta poor score.To be honest, I do sympathize with Ubisoft to a certain degree. I was baffled by their review for A.C. Itwas pedantic to say the least. Yes, it had it's quirks. It was a little repetitive, though it wasn't unbearable. There were some problems with collision, and yes, the ending was a "Ha ha! Gonna have to pony up another 60 bucks in 12-18 months if ya wanna know!" moment. But, it caught me hook, line, and sinker. Maybe my love for history (and its reinvention) renders my opinion entirely subjective. In my opinion, a stellar and innovative storyline can save a game from drowning. Their reviewseemed like smarmy self-importance on the part of romanticists. You know, because publishers/developers haven't been setting up sequels in this manner...since the introduction of something resembling a plot in video games. Regardless, reviewers are inherently subjective, and it is inevitable. For Ubisoft to react this way partially alienates all of us, and it doesn't seem like they utilized common sense in their choice to blacklist EGM. As if I and many, many, many other people didn't love A.C. and forgive it for its mistakes.

Furthermore, I don't trust any reviewers other than myself, and neither should (any of) you. They can offer insight and a little information. Trust 'em when it comes to unquestioningly stellar videogames (ya know, MGS, Halo, Mario, et cetera), and trust them when it comes to schlock crap (E.T., Bomberman Act Zero, or whatever the hell that turd is called). Everything in the middle is subject to great variation in opinion from person to person. No reviewer can tell you if you're going to like A.C., Shenmue, or Xenosaga. Only you can decide (or in the case of the Xeno series, your deity..kinda zing!)

But this is all academic nonsense, the reality is that Ubisoft is interested in profit, and thus expect appeasement from every publication where their "blockbuster" titles are concerned. They are certainly aware of the fact that they failed to sell thousands of units simply because of the EGM review, regardless of how inaccurate it might have been. It has proven hard for ALL corporations/companies to come to terms with informed consumer choices, and Ubisoft are not an exception. Ubisoft should have anticipated such a reaction and held back the release date for Q1 08. Problem is, publishers don't want a sleeper hit, they want a blockbuster hit during the holiday season.

As a counterpoint, EGM (and all other publications) have an ethical obligation concerning publishers as well. Their review must remain as impartial and objective as possible, which wasn't the case with A.C.To make a point, I am usually amused by EGM's scathing reviews - when they are warranted. The last reviewer for EGM gave A.C. a 4.5 out of 10. I could understand the first two reviews which were lukewarm - I certainly understand where they are coming from, because A.C. Did NOT live up to it's potential. But 4.5? If I worked with Ubisoft, I would be enraged by such a score. Someone has to truly be out of touch to give such a game a 4.5. Or maybe they spend their days playing Halo, music games, and Madden, in which case I can't hold their lack of intelligence and taste against them. Another zing! Likewise, a reviewer should remain aware of the current climate of their respective industry, something the final EGM reviewer did not do. Sequels are a major source of revenue in this industry, and reviewers should keep that in mind when considering the score for a video game. A.C. was always going to have a sequel. Yes, they could have ended part one more eloquently, but it happens. Everyone is not Hideo Kojima, my friends.

Anyway, I digressed. So be it.

Never forget, EGM gave A.C. lackluster scores, while throwing a straight 10 at Halo 3, and even hyped Lair beyond belief. So their opinions aren't particularly reputable anyway. Likewise, printed publications in our industry are quickly becoming dinosaurs, all the more reason why Ubisoft's reaction is absurd. Concerning Sony sports and MK? EGM readers are better off now because of the ban. Bwahahaha!

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#19 Posted by OneWingedAngeI (9448 posts) -

As much as I dislike and disagree with EGM's reviews in general, this just goes to show that regardless of what was claimed in regard to firing Jeff at gamespot, this was probably a big factor. i refuse to believe otherwise just considering the circumstances and the fact that this is a general practice in the industry.

to me claiming that the reviews did not influence these things is like barry bonds lying about steroids when everyone knows its true.

the question is, what can the gaming community do about it?

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#20 Posted by CarnageHeart (18316 posts) -

Never forget, EGM gave A.C. lackluster scores, while throwing a straight 10 at Halo 3, and even hyped Lair beyond belief. So their opinions aren't particularly reputable anyway. Likewise, printed publications in our industry are quickly becoming dinosaurs, all the more reason why Ubisoft's reaction is absurd. Concerning Sony sports and MK? EGM readers are better off now because of the ban. Bwahahaha!

YourChaosIsntMe

In fairness, EGM gave Lair the garbage scores it deserved and did a good job of cataloging its many flaws.

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#21 Posted by YourChaosIsntMe (1228 posts) -
Oh they did - AFTER they gushed over it for 10 months. Though yes, I do give them credit for eating their words and owning up to it (not only in the score they gave it, but also in one of Dan's letters I believe, or possibly a response to a reader's letter).
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#22 Posted by LordAndrew (7355 posts) -

I found the 4.5 Assassin's Creed score odd, and felt the review did not justify the score very well. I can understand why Ubisoft might be upset.

If they want to pull their advertising or not give EGM previews of their upcoming games, they can go ahead and do that. It's their game. They can do whatever the hell they want. It's not going to make them look any better though.

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#23 Posted by dvader654 (44751 posts) -

I still trust and like EGM. Sure they have siome weird reviews like the AC does but its no different than any site, I believe they get it right more times than the site we are on.

As usuall EGM takes no crap from anyone, I am glad they are calling out these companies.

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#24 Posted by digi_matrix (6600 posts) -

Well, all of these cases are common sense.

The Sony sports and MK were the game companies' faults, for making middling-to-crap games.

The AC bad review was EGM's faults.

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#26 Posted by Ravenprose (418 posts) -
Man, I remember reading back in '94 when EGM gave Super Street Fighter II for SNES/Genesis a lower score because it was only a marginal upgrade from SF Turbo/CE, and Capcom threatened to pull their ads back then. I had a lot of respect for EGM for writing that story back then, and it's nice to see that over the last 12 years they still haven't exchanged their journalistic integrety for the almighty dollar. Kudos, EGM!
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#27 Posted by Funkyhamster (17366 posts) -
That's pathetic... :?
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#28 Posted by DiabolicalX (804 posts) -
EGM is aterrible game mag anyway, there not overly harsh, they just give bad reviiews and then don't give good explanations to why they gave such a bad review, they gave Assassins Creed 5.5 out of 10, wtf
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#29 Posted by Gunraidan (4272 posts) -

Though I think they aren't good at reviewing or scoring games, I do respect them for having the balls to give the games what they think.

They are one of the extrememly few review sites that don't treat massive hyped games different then the little guys.

Damn, and I just bought Assassin's Creed a couple of weeks ago. Seriously, if there is to be an ounce of integrity left, all VG journalists need to fight back and do more of this naming names stuff. Sure, it looks bad when your game gets reviewed poorly, but it looks even worse when you're exposed as trying to pressure reviews to pad their scores. Developers just need to swallow their pride and make their games better.

JustPlainLucas

The thing is it isn't just the companies it's the readers also. If a magazine/site gives a really anticipated game a low score they will be looked down upon, especially if other sites give it the apporpriate score. Before the Jeff incident happened I remember people referring to 1up/EGM as nothing but a joke. After the low scores of Assassin's Creed and the likes along with the high scores of Fire Pro Wrestling users started to make wise cracks of the site and took it far less seriously. It wasn't until the Jeff incident that the site was praised for being "rebelous".

If a game that is highly anticpated gets .1 less then a 9.0 people complain and say "the site is a joke", "the reviewer is obviously stupid/biased", etc. before even playing the game. I usually point and laugh at these types of peoples' faces because these are usually the same exact people who complain about games like Halo, Oblivion, and the likes of being over-rated.

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#30 Posted by Oilers99 (28844 posts) -

This is what needs to be done. It's despicable when a company tries to pressure a publication into more favorable reviews by withholding review copies, and the only way to combat it is to let the world know which publishers are unethical enough to try to exert pressure and control the press. Now that I'm aware that UbiSoft is an absolutely ruthless company that is trying to manipulate me through inflated and misleading reviews, I am much less likely to buy any products from the scum until they show signs that they are no longer lower life forms than slugs. If any other companies try this junk, I have the right to know as a consumer, so I can automatically deduct 10% from whatever its gameranking score is, for a more accurate picture of the product.

Will naming names put you on bad terms with the publisher? Yes, but if they've stopped sending you review copies, you're likely not on good terms to begin with. But what this does is put the power back in the hands of the press. The gaming journalism industry needs to start sending messages that if publishers try to interfere, they will be exposedas the lying scumbags they really are to the world.

As for the publishers... Want better reviews? MAKE. BETTER. GAMES.

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#31 Posted by CarnageHeart (18316 posts) -

I don't know what to think of things anymore. I will say that I'm glad to see EGM fighting the good fight instead of pandering to the publishers. I don't care much for EGM's reviews (both format and opinion-wise), but I'm all for journalistic integrity being a constantgoal in this industry.

I've said a lot of nasty things about EGM reviews over the years, butI can live withdiffering opinions. Integrity is much more difficult to replace.

Shame-usBlackley

I agree that journalistic integrity should always be the primary goal, but I don't think corruption is any more harmful than incompetence o ignorance. If reviewers give a game a ridiculously high score because they took money or because they know nothing about its genre(I remember a review in the now defunct Next Generation praising Legend of Dragoon for introducing the revolutionary concept of water magic doing extra damage to fire based monsters) the result is the same.

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#33 Posted by nopalversion (4757 posts) -

Looks to me like games journalism (in the US, at least) is under some form of corporate attack. Still, if I was, say, Ubisoft, I wouldn't like to see a major production like Creed getting unfairly dissed by a freelancer.