Video Game Media Watch in reporting the recent story about Doug Perry’s trying to get the exclusive review of Prey and possibly trying to influence a reviewer to do this. Video Game Media Watch while doing a descent job reporting the story did kind of go crazy slamming Perry for what seems to be a case of here say and not really founded in proof. All of this is bad but to further slander Doug Perry by saying,
“If his unethical practices continue, he will damage Gametap‘s review process.”
This rather unfair considering the most proof that Video Game Media Watch has is a insider “not to be named” source and a few emails from Doug Perry himself basically downplaying the whole situation.
Certainly if the source is to be believed Doug Perry made some mistakes in dealing with the review situation for Prey. The talking to a reviewer before he even plays the game and trying to get him to give a score range is wrong. Also negotiating with PR about whether a game will be an exclusive or cover story based on score is also wrong. All of this may seem important to show that the video game journalism industry as a whole is corrupt due to these elements and therefore could really keep people from people taking exclusives and cover story reviews seriously. The better questions and issues raised here are,
“Why did this happen and why does it matter?”
I think that in general people don’t take individual reviews seriously. Not those that come from large media outlets. For example, most people listen to reviewers like Roger Ebert or Joshua Rich(Entertainment Weekly). People don’t take individual video game reviews seriously, either. Hence why review meta sites like Metacritic and Gamerankings are so popular with press, developers, and publishers. These sites compile all the reviews from around the big game sites and magazines and put their scores in one place and average them out to get an overall score. But some people are slavishly devoted to some publications reviews and won’t listen to anyone else. Like the people who love Nintendo or Sony to the point that they will defend them to the end.
The worst part of all this is that in the end it doesn’t REALLY MATTER! Most anecdotally, Prey is a very forgettable game and just like with most games no one cares who had the first review or first cover story. More objectively, the public in general just doesn’t care that much about review scores or where those scores come from. Do you know who really cares? Publishers, developers, and of course reviewers themselves. It’s just ironic that these are the very people who are responsible for the situation to begin with.
The market itself seems to be self correcting using sites like Metacritic and Gamerankings. Therefore, one game site or magazine has no real influence in the first in that first 24 hours that is the difference between the exclusive and the non-exclusive review. People in general, will invariably read many sites and look at more than one magazine before making a decision about a game.
Why do people hate the big media outlets to the point that they won’t listen to their reviews? Why does a review from EGM, Gamespot, or IGN holds less public currency than Destructoid or another less commercially run publication like Kotaku or Joystiq(not that I understand this either). Or people may just look at Metacritic or Gamerankings the way that publishers do in order to figure out what the press in general is thinking about a particular game.
In the end, these scores don’t even really matter because when you look at Metacritic’s or Gameranking’s scores and the sales for games like 50 Cent Bulletproof, Spider-man 3, and Wii games in general. The reality of the situation seems to be seeping in around the edges, That reality being that people by and large don’t read video game reviews. Why? That’s a good question.
People in general believe that the media; whether they be the mainstream press or a game reviewer is biased if they work for a company that is, or is owned by a very large company. Which these days is just about every company out there that runs a decently sized magazine or website. This maybe to a lesser degree about Doug Perry and what he did or did not do. But with people in mainstream media making up news stories and plenty of magazines giving god awful games that, in that month were on the cover or recently on the cover getting incredibly inflated scores compared to ALL of their competitors. Perhaps it is preferable to see a magazine that professes to be a multiplatform publication having a brochure packed in written by, “the Staff At ****.” That basically is a PR brochure for a console that turns out to be the best selling hardware in their region that month and turns out to be not quite the machine of perfection everyone thought it would be. No, well then perhaps we should all be looking more closely at what we read and who is writing and who they work for and what motivates them.