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Exclusive game reviews ethically troubling?

Exclusive game reviews ethically troubling?

Do you find the idea of exclusive game reviews a little ethically troublesome? Let us know in the forums.

Games journalism has had a tough time as of late, with many alleging that the industry is spotted with corruption after the woefully-titled Gerstman-gate. The onslaught hasn't finished yet either as Variety call the practices of sites like IGN in to question.

Variety's Ben Fritz has pointed the finger at sites like IGN in a recent article on his blog, questioning the integrity of sites that offer 'exclusive reviews'. The very idea of an exclusive review is, Fritz says, ethically troubling.

"How can we trust a videogame review when the outlet running it has been given a major commercial favor — one that's worth money — from the publisher of the game? You never see a paper or TV station getting special access from a movie studio or TV network or book publisher to run an "exclusive review," " says Fritz.

"Imagine the L.A. Times or Roger Ebert touting their "exclusive review of 'Iron Man.'" Absurd, right? So why do we tolerate it for a videogame?"

Fritz references IGN as a clear example, a site which recently ran an exclusive review of Grand Theft Auto IV and gave the game a 10/10 score. He also talks about Game Informer, which gave Mass Effect a near-perfect score despite noting several problems with the game.

How do you decide who to trust when it comes to game reviews and what do you think about the notion of an exclusive review? Let us know in the forums.

24 Comments

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bowman 28th April 2008, 11:56 Quote
Games reviews are usually almost worthless in any case. I only trust independent user assessment and demos.
DXR_13KE 28th April 2008, 12:14 Quote
i usually wait until there are enough reviews on the web so that i can clean the high scores and the low scores and have a mid score.
cjoyce1980 28th April 2008, 12:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowman
Games reviews are usually almost worthless in any case. I only trust independent user assessment and demos.

semi agree, there are some good pubicans out there still, but i do tend to look at about 3 or more reviews about a game.
p3n 28th April 2008, 12:23 Quote
Anyone who buys a game off the back off a review has more money than sense, especially when the scale is out of ten. Most people could argue anything over 7/10 would be 'worth buying'... so bar video reviews where you can see for yourself I dont think they sway me much.
oasked 28th April 2008, 12:26 Quote
I would agree that IGN's review could be a little biased, but then you look at all the other reviews for GTA IV and they all say the same thing - i.e. 95%+, so I think their integrity remains intact. :)
Baz 28th April 2008, 12:55 Quote
Ive seen before where mainstream magazines have given out highly suspect review scores for exclusive reviews (*cough* PC ZONE *cough*). Whie i can appreciate the commercial value of an exclusive review, it does tend to create feelings of suspiscion about the impartiality of the publisher.

Saying that, I recall PCGAMER had the exclusive review of Hellgate London, and gave a very balanced review, and eventually awarded the game a 77%ish grade - about right for the game, so not all exclusive reviews are tainted in the same way.
Mentai 28th April 2008, 13:45 Quote
Back in the days of gaming on the Gamecube, no where in my town had games to rent, so most of my purchases were based entirely off reviews. When you're spending $130NZD on a game once every several months it's kinda important that the reviewers opinion hasn't been bought. But then with nintendo it was always safe to get the zelda, metroid, etc.
From what I've heard about GTA IV, a 10/10 is reasonable, so the exlusivity/ethical thing isn't really relevant.
Bauul 28th April 2008, 14:10 Quote
Simple, obey Bit-Tech on all fronts and ignore everyone else.

Following the God-Joe is the only true way to gaming redemption.
CardJoe 28th April 2008, 14:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Simple, obey Bit-Tech on all fronts and ignore everyone else.

Following the God-Joe is the only true way to gaming redemption.

Example: The Secret of Monkey Island is better than Doom.
Flibblebot 28th April 2008, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Simple, obey Bit-Tech on all fronts and ignore everyone else.

Following the God-Joe is the only true way to gaming redemption.
...and I am his disciple :D

I would make a comment about bowing down on your knees before The Mighty Joe, but I wouldn't want for it to be misconstrued
Xtrafresh 28th April 2008, 15:14 Quote
This might be a hard one to explain to the politicians:

"no sir, the game the game that gives extra points for decapitating police officers with a chainsaw is not the problem. The problem is the exclusive review! it's unethical!"

I do agree with the main point of this though, these reveiw sites are rotten and biased.
Faulk_Wulf 28th April 2008, 16:13 Quote
[EDIT: What, no delete function?]
Jordan Wise 28th April 2008, 17:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Simple, obey Bit-Tech on all fronts and ignore everyone else.

Following the God-Joe is the only true way to gaming redemption.

90% of the time that applies, but he was way off on the witcher. That is the single most dull game i've ever encountered. Yahtzee hit the nail on the head with that one
Vash-HT 28th April 2008, 18:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Wise
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Simple, obey Bit-Tech on all fronts and ignore everyone else.

Following the God-Joe is the only true way to gaming redemption.

90% of the time that applies, but he was way off on the witcher. That is the single most dull game i've ever encountered. Yahtzee hit the nail on the head with that one

Really, I enjoyed the Witcher quite a bit. This is why I find reviews worthless, its the opinion of one person, possibly one person with very different taste than your own, so take it for whats its worth, don't act like they forced you to buy the game by giving their opinion on it.
Jordan Wise 28th April 2008, 19:09 Quote
don't worry, i don't, i only bought it because i had a £20 voucher for GAME and a free afternoon, i wouldn't have gone out of my way to get it
Cavedweller 28th April 2008, 20:45 Quote
There is only _ONE_ review site on the net i trust, and that is gamerevolution.
They don't take crap from anybody, and even take their time to bring the occational insider slant blog.
As a rarety they once in a while bring up a real article, like when they wrote about how violence and games are more and more in the media focus, even though youth violence has never been lower.
CardJoe 28th April 2008, 20:45 Quote
Having gone back and read The Witcher review again, I think it's pretty fair. It's a game for the hardcore, which I don't laud too highly or damn unforgivably. I had a good time with it myself, but recognised the game as average to bad in the eyes of many others unaccustomed to the style.
PhenomRed 28th April 2008, 23:38 Quote
reviews can never be trusted as being an accurate impression of the game, there are games i thought were quite good but they've scored something like a 6 on gamespot.
Mentai 29th April 2008, 06:46 Quote
I'm really enjoying the witcher, but probably wouldn't be bothered with it had it scored lower. I do think it's a good game post prologue, but it's definitely aimed at a specific audience. Would probably give it about an 8/10 with the patch on it.
Over rated for me would be audiosurf, I can not get into games like that, but that doesn't mean I think the score Joe gave it was wrong.
Woodstock 29th April 2008, 07:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Wise
90% of the time that applies, but he was way off on the witcher. That is the single most dull game i've ever encountered. Yahtzee hit the nail on the head with that one

i watch yahtzee's review for comic value, but im easier to please then him. I quite enjoyed the witcher and think that at some point ill probably give it a replay.
sam.g.taylor 29th April 2008, 17:57 Quote
I agree with Fritz all the way on this one, and moreover, I'm surprised I didn't realize this hypocrisy myself.
pendragon 29th April 2008, 18:28 Quote
the idea of reviews being bought is definitely troubling. It's so hard to know, and reviews are so subjective for a lot of reasons, so I generally check out several reviews on multiple sites to see if there's any disparity. Also, I often take the word of my friends who've actually played a game over published reviews.
Garside 30th April 2008, 11:13 Quote
If you don't review the games favorably then on the next big release you'll be left with no game to review.
Bauul 30th April 2008, 11:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Example: The Secret of Monkey Island is better than Doom.

Denial is a sad thing in a grown man. I challenge you to put it to a vote.
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