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Game Reviewers Face Odd Bribery From Publishers 148

eldavojohn writes "You might be used to the idea that game reviewers receive games free and ahead of time, but Ars opens up a darker side to the mystery box. Like a $200 check from Dante's Inferno, reading, 'by cashing this check you succumb to avarice by hoarding filthy lucre, but by not cashing it, you waste it, and thereby surrender to prodigality.' Or how about a huge-ass sword from Darksiders. Or brass knuckles (illegal in some states) from the makers of Mafia II. Or rancid, rotting meat mixed with spent shell casings, teeth, broken glasses and dog tags from Bulletstorm. NCSoft gave out flight suits and trips to weightlessness. Nintendo apparently likes to send all manner of food, including elaborate cakes shaped as their consoles and games. Squeeballs sent a crate of stuffed animals. iPods from Activision and Zunes from Microsoft seem to be pretty tame bait for reviewers ... but there's one reason why this continues to happen: more news-starved review sites and blogs report on the extras and the publisher's game gets spread around just a wee bit more. Even if it is as freakish as bracelets from an insane asylum spattered with blood." I think we must be doing it wrong around here... we usually can't even get games before the release date, much less get free rotting meat.
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Game Reviewers Face Odd Bribery From Publishers

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  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @11:02AM (#33734592) Homepage

    It's not (always) bribery, but just a PR stunt. They don't do these things for better review scores, but for media attention.
    Serious, what good is "rancid, rotting meat mixed with spent shell casings, teeth, broken glasses and dog tags" or "brass knuckles"?
    If it's not cash, or some other thing they can cash in then it's not really bribery.

  • by angiasaa ( 758006 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @11:22AM (#33734806) Homepage

    Well, your gaming blog needs to seriously ROCK! If you don't influence enough of the worlds population of gamers into making decisions about game purchases, you're likely never to get a bribe, or even a goody for that matter.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @11:43AM (#33735110) Homepage Journal
    No, because slashdot has slow news days where one story pops up every 3 hours and it has hell-ass-balls-on-fire days where there's a new story every 10 minutes. There isn't a quota.
  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @11:51AM (#33735250)

    His system was simple. Send me your stuff and I get to keep it all.
    If he didn't like your stuff he would say so or just not write about it.
    If he did like your stuff it was fantastic for you.


    Now that would be considered not legit

    Why? Game companies give review copies to reviewers all the time.

  • Agreed (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @11:54AM (#33735276)
    But what is the rest of the coverage besides recycled PR anyway? Personally I just try and get a sense of a game I'm interested in and then stop looking at coverage on it. I just want to see the basic idea of the game and what mechanics it uses, as soon as I'm interested then I cut off coverage because I don't want anything spoiled, not even the introduction. In other media I also avoid trailers because of how much they will spoil the actual movie for example. The way a game starts is meant to draw you in and intrigue you, and if you hear a lot about it beforehand, it doesn't have the same impact when you actually play the game.

    There have been situations with games such as Super Smash Bros Brawl where they drip feed you with information, every day you see a new character, or a new move, or a new item you will be using in the game. By the time the game comes out I'm sick of it already and I don't even want to see it anymore. Or sometimes development time will drag on and paying attention to a game's coverage is like torturing yourself, such as with Dragon Quest IX or Duke Nukem Forever. In that case, coverage will often turn me off of a game, and if I already know I want to play it, what's the point? I've got better things to do.

    Nowadays I just listen to a few podcasts where people don't talk so formally about their experiences and they often talk game theory which is much more interesting to me compared to regurgitated PR. I would recommend A Life Well Wasted [alifewellwasted.com], The Brainy Gamer [feedburner.com], Gamasutra Podcast [libsyn.com], In-Game Chat [ingamechat.net], Irrational Behavior [feedburner.com], Mobcast [feedburner.com], and Retronauts [1up.com]. If you also like those, you might like Geekbox [libsyn.com], RebelFM [libsyn.com], 1up Oddcast [1up.com], Weekend Confirmed [shacknews.com], Player One Podcast, [libsyn.com]Joystiq Podcast [joystiq.com], Gamers with Jobs [gamerswithjobs.com], Drunken Gamers Radio [robotpanic.com], IGN GameScoop [ign.com] and CAGCast [cheapassgamer.com]. Hey, it makes work and commutes go by fast.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!