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"Bethesda's anti-consumer review policy comes as no surprise - And reminds us not to pre-order"

Crooked Bee

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Alien vs Predator: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2016/10/26/bethesda-outline-anti-consumer-review-policy/

Bethesda, developers of Elder Scrolls and Fallout and publishers of Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein and more, say that their policy now is to send out “media review copies” one day before their games come out. That’s what they did with DOOM earlier this year and that’s what they intend to do with the approaching releases of both Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2.

We think this is a bad thing for you and for everyone other than Bethesda.

It’s a bad thing for you because it fundamentally means you will be in a worse position from which to make purchasing decisions before and on the day of a game’s release. It will lead to more people wasting more money on games they don’t like or which don’t work and it will embolden other publishers and developers to do the already-common practice of withholding review copies more regularly.

[...]

If you do care, what can you do about it? Stop pre-ordering for starters, since to pre-order is to willfully abandon your ability to make a fully informed purchasing decision. Wait for reviews from genuine sources, even if they arrive a week after a game’s release date. Refuse to be swept along by marketing which aims to create artificial cultural moments in order to make you feel like you’re ‘missing out’ on something by not being able to take part in the immediate day-of-release Twitter conversation about a new game. For our part, we’ll continue to write honest reviews whether we’re able to publish them on the day of the game’s release or long after.

I don't mean to defend Bethesda because I think this is a dick move on their part, but I did lol at how RPS are pulling the "Stop preordering!" card because they've been denied advance review copies.
 

Unkillable Cat

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I've heard this song before. It's only when gaming media itself gets shafted by devs and publishers (mostly the latter though) that they pull out the "Think about the consumer!"-card. Otherwise they're perfectly fine with shitting on the consumer.

Bethesda is all about dick moves, and has been so for almost 20 years. Only mindless sycophants/people whose job is on the line still try to think otherwise.

The only thing RPS is good for is printing felipepepe articles.
 

Jick Magger

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This is also pretty typical of RPS and most of its writers (John Walker in particular). They like to pretend that they're presenting 'hard hitting', pro-consumer journalism, but only as long as they think they can get away with it with little-to-no repercussions, or believe they don't stand much to lose for it (i.e. them 'exposing' Peter Molyneux as a hack fraud about a decade too late). Whenever they're called out for their less-than-moral or consumer-friendly practices themselves, they behave like petulant children and barely conceal their seething contempt for their readership. They're just a bunch of sanctimonious, hypocritical cowards, not worth the time of day.
 
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ultimanecat

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I think most people who care have already made up their mind one way or another on preordering. It seems to be a fundamental part of purchasing the game to some, and an unnecessary interest free loan to others.

In a stunning counterpoint, Polygon also wrote about this:

[...]
This move will make reviews worse, overall. It’s possible some outlets may decide to rush through Bethesda’s games to get their review up first and soak up as much of that sweet, sweet search traffic as they can. There will be a very real business incentive to get your review up as soon as possible. The larger outlets have less to lose by taking their time and providing ongoing coverage, and we can also expect pre-release streams and leaks to become more common.

[...]

Bethesda is saying that it really cares about reviews and it’s going to show that love by wiping out any chance players will have to learn about the quality of a game before it’s released. If you want to give them money before you know if the game is good or bad, or if it even works, what the hell? It’s your money. They can’t stop you.

[...]

Bethesda’s goal is to limit information that it doesn’t control in order to sell more copies. This is its play to do so. To paint this as anything other than being consumer- and press-hostile requires some pretty hefty spin. If you see coverage of a game through official channels before the release of the review or press embargo, keep in mind that Bethesda considers that coverage to be marketing. There are streams of Skyrim Special Edition taking place right now, in fact, though it isn’t available until Friday.

Our advice is the same as it has always been: Don’t pre-order games. Don’t give them any money until you’re comfortable with the reviews, YouTube coverage or message board discussion of the game. Bethesda wants your money more than anything else, and this is the company’s way of minimizing risk. Vote accordingly.

Wait, no, they wrote the same fucking thing as RPS. Interestingly, the idea that an early review might be a shitty rush job is just now entering Polygon's minds as a major publisher tells them to fuck off.

Well, I'm glad at least that Polygon is taking this pro-consumer stance - oh wait another article has appeared:

[...]
But holy shit, how many broken pieces of shovelware have gone out the door without the kind of civil claims facing No Man's Sky? It all feels like people are going to court over a refrigerator's ice-making capacity, and getting a settlement there, when what's really bothering them is the fact the appliance clashes with the countertop.
Ah yes, pro-consumer indeed.
 
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Astral Rag

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Bethesda's anti-consumer review policy comes as no surprise

By Martin Robinson Published 26/10/2016

Last night, Bethesda laid clear its policy on media reviews from Dishonored 2 onwards. In a short statement on its official site from global content lead Gary Steinman - himself a former games journalist - Bethesda announced that you won't see any reviews before the launch of its games because it will continue to send out code to publications a day before release. It's not a particularly surprising statement, even if Bethesda deemed it shocking enough to put behind an age gate.

It is anti-consumer, though, and riddled with inconsistencies. "We want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time," reads the statement, knowing as well as we do that final code for Skyrim Remastered is currently in the hands of many 'influencers' and has been for some time. Bethesda claims it wants you to get the game the same time as everyone else, at the same time as announcing a pre-order bonus that lets people play a day early. Where to find the truth in that message?

It's not unknown for publishers to favour preferred publications when it comes to supplying review code - as recently as last week 2K elected to hand out Civilization 6 code to a handful of sites while the rest of us had to wait until a few short hours before its official release, which meant getting a review up of a game of Civilization's scope and size at launch was impossible for those outside the chosen few.

What publishers do with their code is their prerogative, of course, and the truth is we have no god-given right to early code. Why should a publisher hand over its most prized asset to us well ahead of the rest of the world and risk us kicking its face off? When it comes to the fate of a multi-million dollar project, there's not much to be gained from such a gamble.

Perhaps the best reason could be because they have faith in their product - enough that they're willing to put the final game out there for honest critical analysis so people can make an informed decision when buying the game at launch. It's something many are willing to do, and often with surprising generosity (Nintendo stands out as a shining example, sometimes providing review code months rather than weeks ahead of launch). It's something companies in other trades, whether it's consumer hardware or other forms of entertainment, are willing to do as well, so what makes Bethesda the exception?

At a time when pre-orders have become more loaded than ever, now offering not only exclusive items but early access (at a high price, in the shockingly cynical examples of Battlefield 1 and Gears of War 4 flicking a switch to let people play early in exchange for an eye-watering amount of money), there seems to be an increasing imbalance of power between publishers and players that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

One obvious answer is don't pre-order, advice that is well worth sticking to in this continuing age of precarious launches. Buying blind is a mug's game, which makes the machinations of publishers looking to pry money away from you with pre-order bonuses all the more distasteful. Being there on day one, when servers are being toppled as crowds rush in like Black Friday mobs, isn't all it's cracked up to be, and it's better to stroll in at a more civil hour once the dust has settled. If more people expressed some restraint, it might send the right message to publishers, too.

As for our coverage, Bethesda's move comes as part of an ever-shifting landscape we're endeavouring to adapt to, so it comes as no surprise and I feel we're well equipped to deal with it. Games are more complex, sprawling and temperamental than ever before (and, quite often, as brilliant and fascinating as ever before, too), and reviewing them can be a challenge. A handful of you asked us why reviews are often late on Eurogamer, and in part it's because of that challenge. Early last year we firmed up our review policy, ensuring we only ever review off of final retail code and, in the case of predominantly multiplayer games, live servers in an attempt to make sure we're reviewing the same game you'll be playing rather than one offered in controlled conditions.

We're sticking to that, and we're also working to get more critical pieces up around a game's launch to help support our coverage, whether it's examining the difference 200 turns make in a game of Civ 5 and Civ 6, a look at Gears of War 4's conservative single-player or an appraisal of Titanfall 2's multiplayer ahead of our full and final review. Reviews remain a cornerstone of what we do, and it's where we strive to offer comprehensive critiques provided in the right context, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we were to say they're the final word. Games are now too intricate for that, which is something to celebrate more often than it is to bemoan.

Bethesda's decision to hand out review code a day before release comes with a precedent. Earlier this year id's reboot of Doom was subject to similar treatment, which sent alarm bells ringing for many. The end result was, to my mind, one of the best games of the year, and - with apologies for blowing our own trumpet - I think it resulted in some great coverage on Eurogamer, from Edwin's excellent review through Christian's take on its death meta madness and on to a look at how id struggled with its multiplayer before taking back control. Somewhere amidst that lot, Oli also got to play film critic for a look back at the Doom movie, too.

I hope it was of use, and as we fine-tune the way we cover and review games I hope you let us know what works and what doesn't. And yes, we'll be looking to review more games in the future too - once Oli finds a way past the first level of Steven's Sausage Roll, that is.
 

DragoFireheart

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Last Bethesduh game I bought was Skyrim.

Unlikely to buy anymore of their games.
 
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It sucks for the customers and consumers, but it 100% makes sense for large companies. You can pay for good marketing, you can't always pay to have a good product. And whether or not a review comes out before or after release doesn't impact game sales several weeks, months, or years after the release.

Maybe the market will "correct itself", but gamers as a large customer base is still in its infancy compared to other industries, so pretty easy to deceive, just look at the smart phone industry for similar trends.
 

yes plz

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When it's the publishers fucking the consumers their song is:
Game Journalists: Stop crying about it you entitled shitlords, they don't owe you anything.

When it's the publishers fucking them it becomes:
Game Journalists: We must unite and show them that we won't stand for this!
 

Trodat

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As for our coverage, Bethesda's move comes as part of an ever-shifting landscape we're endeavouring to adapt to, so it comes as no surprise and I feel we're well equipped to deal with it. Games are more complex, sprawling and temperamental than ever before (and, quite often, as brilliant and fascinating as ever before, too), and reviewing them can be a challenge.

week-in-review-channing-tatum-laughing-1.gif
 

Morkar Left

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It would be cool if every publisher would sent out keys only 1 day before (or only allow to get the rviews published on game release) for all media press. This would allow to even the field and make reviews more useful because there would be no exclusive content. On the other hand it would put game media press under uhm pressure to write high quality reviews because they have to compete with user reviews.
 

Zibniyat

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Yeah, I also don't quite understand why would Bethesda withdraw proper support to their crowdsourced marketing department embodied in the shills highly proffessional Game Journalists.

Oh wait, who gives a fuck what game "journalists" even think any more? And why? It's nothing else but madness.
 

octavius

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I learnt 20 years ago not to pay for the privilige of being a Beta tester.
Sadly there's a sucker born every minute who haven't learnt that lesson yet, and who can't wait a week to get the newest game. After all, it's not like the market is already oversaturated with games, so naturally one absolutely must have the newest games, preferably yesterday.
 

Somberlain

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It would be cool if every publisher would sent out keys only 1 day before (or only allow to get the rviews published on game release) for all media press. This would allow to even the field and make reviews more useful because there would be no exclusive content. On the other hand it would put game media press under uhm pressure to write high quality reviews because they have to compete with user reviews.

If game journos don't have enough time, they just rush the reviews out to secure the most clicks instead of taking their time to write a quality review. Game journos don't have integrity.
 

oldmanpaco

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The good thing about being a cheap bastard who almost never buys anything until its 50% or more off on steam is that I don't care about this.
 

Neanderthal

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Well at least Bethesdas bein honest, they know retards who eat their shit up'll keep eatin whatever happens, nowt a journalist says gonna change that. Blizzard might as well do same.
 

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