Game manufacturers hold all the cards pre-launch
Last week, PRWeek reported on how Rockstar Games kept the media on something of a need-to-know basis before its mega-hit Grand Theft Auto IV hit stores.
One tactic that game manufacturers commonly use is to dole out exclusive reviews to a publication of their choosing. The strategy, for obvious reasons, is not popular with titles that don’t get the exclusive report.
Gaming journalists interviewed for the PRWeek story indicated that, while commonplace, exclusive reviews make up an ethically gray area. IGN got the scoop on GTA IV.
Libe Goad, AOL GameDaily editor-in-chief said, without identifying manufacturers, that some companies seem to want a quid-pro-quo relationship in exchange for an exclusive review.
“Something I will tell you, and I won’t name names, but when you ask for an exclusive at times, some people, before they consider, will ask you what you think you’re going to give it,” she said. “Sometimes you may not get an exclusive if you say you’re going to give it an 8.”
Jeff Green, PC gaming editor-in-chief at 1up.com, said that the relationship between magazines and manufacturers can sometimes feel “a little close for comfort.”
“I don’t know what options the press really has, because they don’t really have any cards in this,” he said.