Bethesda Announces They're Not Giving Out Reivew Copies Anymore...

hermes

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DudeistBelieve said:
hermes said:
DudeistBelieve said:
Gundam GP01 said:
DudeistBelieve said:
I don't like someone getting something for free that I have to work for
They work for it too.

It's literally their job.
No they don't. It something that comes consequence of doing the job.

My ability to get access to my companies' car isn't something I work for, it's part of my job.
Wait... you get a car? WHY WOULD THEY GIVE YOU A CAR? It is not like I didn't have to work hard to buy and maintain a car.

I am sure you should not get access to a car. It is unfair for the people like me, that actually have to work to get a car, and therefore appreciate it. I had to spend hours looking at ads and comments to see if it was right. You didn't, so I am sure you don't deserve the special privilege. I think it should be deduced from your salary.

I don't know who you work for, what is your job, or even what your working conditions are, but since I am pretty sure I never interacted with your company, I think your job doesn't affect me, so I guess its pretty redundant and could be replaced by robots or something.


And that is how you have been sounding like for pretty much all the thread...
When I clock out at the end of the day, who owns the car? When the review is done, who still has access to the game?
Does it matter? If IGN had a huge vault were they store everything they have received after they are done with it, would it make you feel better?

I know GameSpot had a policy of storing all early copies that the reviewers worked on after they completed the review and if they wanted to keep playing the games in their personal time after they were done with them, they had to go to a store and buy a copy with their own money. I don't know how other sites worked, but that changes anything? I guess it should if all your argument boils down to "they are not doing a job if they do it after work hours", but I am sure you will take issue with that too, like they are not even allowed to actually like playing games if it is also their job or taking work to home is somehow wrong if it is something they like...
 

NPC009

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DudeistBelieve said:
Convience/Time was litterally the only good thing I heard towards reviews. Everything else is this very broad "It'll hurt consumers! They're only out for money!" completely ignoring the fact the last Bethesda game released was DOOM, it didn't have any review copies and it turned out to be a GOTY candidate.
For every Doom there's a No Man's Sky. I'm all for giving consumers more tools to gauge if a game is worth their time and money.

Xenoblade Chronicles X was a pretty great game, too, by the way, and that didn't stop Nintendo of Europe from sending out review codes a month in advance, giving critics ample time to get to know the game and inform consumers of the game's pacing, difficulty, interface issues, playstyle options, game length and much more. How is that a bad thing?

I think it should work thusly: AAA Games? They don't need your ink. They don't need you to hype the audience to buying them. They don't give you the free review copies. The indie publishers on the other hand? The ones scrapping and clawing trying to escape the crab bucket? They do.
Yeah, with marketing budgets that huge, reviews don't serve much of a promotional purpose for triple A publishers. In fact, there's often so much demand for reviews, publications will purchase copies of triple A games anyway if they didn't get a review copy. However, what about the consumers? They still benefit from timely reviews. And not being able to play the game until right before/on launch day means exactly what TB said it means: publications will rush to get their reviews out as soon as possible, because most can't afford not to be first.

Demand for reviews of indie games is much lower, which has its pros and cons. On the upside, this means there's less or even no need to rush. On the downside, publications can't dedicate much space/budget to these titles.

Abd while I'm of the opinion that good magazines have principles and strive for a better industry, it's kind of hard to publish anything if you can't even afford to pay your writers. So... yeah. TB was absolutely right when he said he's fortunate enough to have a large audience that's happy to wait. Many others do not have the luxery.

My feelings on Games Criticism stems all the way back to the days of reading magazines like GamePro. Those rags weren't about protecting the consumer, how many preview articles did I read about "X Game looks so good... we noticed some camera issues but if they're resolved by release this will be a good game" and then release comes and look at that, the game is shit. Games Journalism only ever spawned out of this need to help advertise and promote upcoming games, nothing more and nothing less.

I suppose I'm saying the industry needs to adapt to change. AAA publishers don't need the ink, the good indie developers do.
I'm sorry, but that just means you have terrible taste in game magazines. There have always been options and as a consumer you will always need to do atleast some critical thinking. Reviews are a tool to use for your benefit, not a gospel to blindly follow. And no, this is not unique to gaming. Unless you live under a rock, you should know the difference between, for instance, glorified gossip rags like the Daily Mail and proper newspapers like The Guardian (or whatever equivalents exists where you're from).
 

NPC009

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DudeistBelieve said:
When I clock out at the end of the day, who owns the car? When the review is done, who still has access to the game?
That varies. These are the situations I've come across.

1. Review copy is a normal physical release. These can be kept or sold to supplement income. Nowadays, this is very uncommon. Anyway, with trade-in values as they are, a critic can get 5-20 bucks extra on job that most likely paid shit. (In my case, I usually gave the games I didn't want to keep to friends, family, colleagues or readers)

2. Review copy is promo copy and can't be resold. It has no monetary value. You could give it away, I guess. I often do. Some go to colleagues that don't get review copies (like the people that do the layouts or someone with administrative duties) and I've given stuff to readers as well. Whenever one my 'my' magazines does promotional thingie, there's something like a quiz or competition and we give the games we don't want/read to readers. It's great fun.

3. The review copy is digital and will be tied to either the system or account, depending on the platform.

4. The game is on an expensive flash card and needs to be returned to the publisher after use. This was common in the DS days. I used to rebuy the games I liked myself.

5. The game was played over at the publisher's office or similar location. You get nothing. Heck, your boss might not even be able to refund your travel expenses. Fun!

6. Your magazine/website didn't get a review copy and your boss begged you to run out and buy a copy yourself. Sure, he tried to cover atleast part of it, but you're still making less than you normally would.

7. Your the self-sacrifcing idiot editor-in-chief of a down on its luck magazine and buy the game yourself, because you feel it's something that will interest your readers. You get to keep the game, because you paid for it. It's yours.

Number 7 happens to me about once a month, thank you for asking.

Anyway, that was the serious part of the answer. Here's the extra serious part: I goddamn hope you can see the difference between a fuckin' car and a small stack of games. The value of those games is extremely limited. Within a year, these games will be on sale somewhere for a third of their original price. Sometimes even less. Getting review copies is about time, not money. Well, okay, in our current climate it's about money as well, because many publications/freelance critics simply can't afford to purchase every game they cover themselves. However, under normal circumstances, publications do cover these expenses. As in, the critic doesn't pay for their own copy in either case. Do you how it works with food critics? They pay the bill themselves do they don't reveal their identity to the restaurant, but it is a business expense and the magazine/news paper/website/whatever will reimburse them later.
 

Erttheking

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DudeistBelieve said:
No Ert, I'm not going to get over it because no one, including you has given me a decent argument as to why game critics are relevent and not niche what with the advent of the livestream and Lets Play. About the best Ive gotten is that "We need reviews because they're quicker than actually doing the research ourselves"

Technology has changed the NEED of this job being done. Also for fucks sakes, put down your damn pitch fork just because you disagree with me, telling me to get over it IS NOT a counter arguement.
You haven't exactly given a good reason as to how they're irrelevant either. Because if you watch and hour or so of gameplay online, you don't actually get a good experience of the game. Games change a lot over the course of their playtime. If I were to watch the first hour of Gears of War Judgement, I might have been hoodwinked into thinking the game wouldn't be about four people running around, single handily taking down entire armies of a new enemy on their own. Or are you saying people should watch entire walkthroughs of the game? What about people who actually want to experience stories for themselves and not watch it play out because someone else is playing it. Should someone who isn't familiar with a JRPG watch all 40-60 hours of it? "Do the research yourself." Yeah, why should we ever compile information into a nice and easily digestible format. Let's get rid of textbooks in school too, we live in the age of the internet, kids can just google everything.

No, I'm not getting angry because you disagree with me. I'm getting angry because you keep calling game critics arrogant and obsolete, and I happen to be a game critic. I never intended for it to be a counter-argument. I've given you plenty of good counter-arguments, namely the fact that this loss doesn't actually benefit anyone. No one gains anything from a lack of review copies, something you failed to counter. Me telling you to get over it wasn't a counter-argument, but a piece of advice.
 

Xprimentyl

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I tried following this thread, but it became too personal attack-y, so I?ll just say my piece and walk away. I don?t see the big deal on EITHER side of this issue: why Bethesda felt the need to go this route or why consumers are up in arms.

If you follow a reviewer and feel it necessary to wait on bated breath for their ?blessing? before buying a game, then you can still do that, just a little later than launch day. And if it?s a game you?re interested enough in that you?re chomping at the bit for a day-one purchase, then you?re should probably re-think your priorities: either bite the bullet and fly blindly into a game you?ll probably appreciate more without another person?s opinion affecting your judgement, or suck it up and wait for your reviewer of choice to play it and tell you what to do if it?s THAT important.

Personally, I ignore reviewers; I couldn?t care less if they never got early copies of any games ever again. I watch Yahtzee?s, but only for the entertainment factor, his exaggerating of the inevitable flaws, but the more serious ones who dissect the niggling details to showcase every scratch, dent and pimple just to shit out a subjective 1 through 10, I?ve no use for them; I prefer to enjoy my steak without someone telling beforehand how they personally feel about the butchering process and their speculation that the chef might be having marital problems.

At the end of the day, gaming is a luxury. We aren?t ?owed? anything, least of all someone else?s opinion in advance of that luxury. If you fear wasting your money, then don?t; wait for a price drop or wait for consumer reviews and opinions to come out in the days and weeks after launch.
 

BoogieManFL

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Smells more like cowardice and a lack of faith in your own creation to me. It hurts people's jobs, and only provides a disservice to the consumers.

Bethesda gets all the benefits of controlling information and losing any extra incentive to make launches more smooth while dumping on literally everyone else.
 

hermes

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And just like that, Bethesda showed us why it acted that way. As expected, it makes a lot of sense business wise, but it made a lot of people unhappy.

First, the issue of early access. There are a lot of youtubers that got the game (in this case Skyrim Special Edition) a week before the official release of the game, so it is not like making it available earlier was some extra work for Bethesda, or they were concerned about people "judging an incomplete experience":

Those "early access" videos has some things in common:

- They are all declared fans, handpicked by Bethesda.
- They are all incredibly flattered that Bethesda reached out to them and give them a gift so that they can play this game early and show it to the world. And why not? These are clearly fans of the game, so having them been contacted by Bethesda is akin to a kid having Messi call to play a match with him.
- They have nothing but glowing things to say about the game, which is again not surprising since they are all fans. Bethesda is basically reaching them out to advertise for them for the cost of a disc, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was an NDA fans just glanced over for the chance of getting the game.
- Some even admitted that they made some post-processing of the videos (with stuff they were also gifted) to make them look better, or using promotional material interlaced with their own content.

Now the other shoe drops... There are this same forum [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/168722-Skyrim-PC-Saves-that-Use-Mods-Wont-Work-With-the-Special-Edition] saying that the game is pretty much a toss and hope. People are reporting that it doesn't run for them, and those that do are reporting framerate issues and other bugs. Right now, the game stands at 60% on Steam, with given steam policy of not admitting reviews before the game is release, means nothing of this was known before today.

It seems Bethesda had no issues giving away codes for early access, since they are doing it left and right. They do seem to be picky about giving them to fans with a soapbox, though, so no objective content there. And no negative review was seen until the game was already out, that is, until all preorder has been cashed. Preorders that were made by people trusty enough to Bethesda and were only going to cancel them if they discover the game was a technical clusterfuck beforehand (there is a return policy after the game has been downloaded and played (or tried to) in stores like steam, but not for xbox, psn or most stores of physical copies like Amazon or Gamestop). It is the whole Arkham Knight/No Man Sky issue again, except it was made so that there was no one to say anything bad before the game hit the public.

So, please consider this the next time you talk about how this being a no-issue and there being pretty legitimate reasons besides "Bethesda cares more about preorder money that letting word of mouth out there", specially if they risk that word of mouth being negative.
 

CaitSeith

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stroopwafel said:
Re. the topic.

It's their prerogative but it's probably also a change in strategy considering many youtube 'influencers' did receive an early copy of Skyrim remastered(probably also the case for any other future Beth game). I'm not surprised many 'professional' reviewers are butthurt about this. Sign of the times I guess.
Great. Are they reliable Youtubers? Will they show the negative parts and glitches?
 

Weaver

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On one hand I certainly see the benefit of reviewers getting reviews out early. I was happy to see Civ 6 was well recieved before i bought it.

On the other hand, I see so many of them monopolizing on livestreaming games early for their $5 a user twitch subscribers and getting shit tons of views because they're one of the only ones in the world streaming the game. Getting reviews early is very lucrative to the vast majority of reviewers - and it ain't because they can write reviews - it's so they can get in early and try and bank on the video streaming market. Personally, I feel like them telling you that them getting early copies is solely for our benefit and not at all for their own is simply dishonest.

I like TB, and he's right he's in a unique position that he gets views regardless of what he's playing, but that's simply not the case for the majority of streamers and youtubers. He even mentions in his video that being first is hugely advantageous.

Here's the reality: what benefit is it to Bethesda to give these people early copies? They have incredibly powerful brands and IPs that will sell a shit load. They simply do not need critics to review their games. I'm not saying this is good, I'm just stating the reality of it.

The way I see it is Bethesda is playing a game of chicken with reviewers. They're basically banking on the popularity of these games being so high that the big influencers and reviewers are going to play these games anyways, regardless of an early copy, because they're incredibly popular and that's what their audience wants to see. I imagine they figure they'll still get a ton of coverage for the game and not have critics damaging their early scores if they don't like the game.


At the very, very least I can see some sense in reigning in who you're giving copies to. Does every mid-tier streamer with a few thousand views need a free copy of Fallout 4? What would that have benefited Bethesda? Everyone knew the game was coming.

I know companies like Paradox are selective about who they give copies to. Quill18 has a good relationship with them because they know he's a fan of grand strategy and can shed well informed exposure and give great bang for buck marketing with Paradoxes slim marketing budget.

However, Bethesda doesn't have a slim marketing budget.

Does this benefit the consumer? No. I agree with TB on that. However, the reviewers/influencers need the games industry more than the games industry needs them - at least on the AAA level.
 

hermes

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Weaver said:
Does this benefit the consumer? No. I agree with TB on that. However, the reviewers need the games industry more than the games industry needs the reviewers.
Well, sure. That is a factual truth.

Control gates, consumer services and accountability need corporations playing along more than corporations need accountability, control gates and services based on informing or protecting the public. Pharmaceuticals don't "need" the NIH, Biochemicals don't "need" the FDA, Guns manufacturers don't "need" the DOE and Financial institutions don't "need" the SEC... they play along, but all of them would be happier if they didn't have to answer to them. That doesn't mean we should accept them being taken away because it would make the corporations job easier...
 

Weaver

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hermes said:
Weaver said:
Does this benefit the consumer? No. I agree with TB on that. However, the reviewers need the games industry more than the games industry needs the reviewers.
Well, sure. That is a factual truth.

Control gates, consumer services and accountability need corporations playing along more than corporations need accountability, control gates and services based on informing or protecting the public. Pharmaceuticals don't "need" the NIH, Biochemicals don't "need" the FDA, Guns manufacturers don't "need" the DOE and Financial institutions don't "need" the SEC... they play along, but all of them would be happier if they didn't have to answer to them. That doesn't mean we should accept them being taken away because it would make the corporations job easier...
I feel conflating independent and subjective video game reviews that - at their best - entertain and inform consumers is simply not the same as rigorous government regulation designed to save lives and preserve the literal well-being of the entire population.

One is mandatory, and mandatory for a very good reason; while the other is simply a business relation that can be severed if either party deems fit.

Edit: I understand your point, that reviewers are an important role in informing the consumer and providing a kind of oversight. And, I agree Bethesda is doing this only for their own gain, but I was just trying to point out that from their perspective this makes sense.
 

hermes

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Weaver said:
hermes said:
Weaver said:
Does this benefit the consumer? No. I agree with TB on that. However, the reviewers need the games industry more than the games industry needs the reviewers.
Well, sure. That is a factual truth.

Control gates, consumer services and accountability need corporations playing along more than corporations need accountability, control gates and services based on informing or protecting the public. Pharmaceuticals don't "need" the NIH, Biochemicals don't "need" the FDA, Guns manufacturers don't "need" the DOE and Financial institutions don't "need" the SEC... they play along, but all of them would be happier if they didn't have to answer to them. That doesn't mean we should accept them being taken away because it would make the corporations job easier...
I feel conflating independent and subjective video game reviews that - at their best - entertain and inform consumers is simply not the same as rigorous government regulation designed to save lives and preserve the literal well-being of the entire population.

One is mandatory, and mandatory for a very good reason; while the other is simply a business relation that can be severed if either party deems fit.

Edit: I understand your point, that reviewers are an important role in informing the consumer and providing a kind of oversight. And, I agree Bethesda is doing this only for their own gain, but I was just trying to point out that from their perspective this makes sense.
Sure, I am not saying reviews are on the same magnitude as, for example, auditors, the same way I am not saying publishers are on the same level as guns manufacturers (which, incidentally, was the reason I never quite understood the "EA is the worst corporation of the world" when others like Monsanto or Wells Fargo were nominated), just that they exist as a buffer between consumers and corporate marketing bullshit. I think established critics and reviewers are more than just kind-of-funny entertainers with an audience, that sometimes says a couple things interesting or relevant, but they are an important part of opinion makers in consumption goods and services, specially in a time where anyone can say anything about anything.

Edit: I think we are in some agreement here, and I know it "makes sense" for Bethesda to cut them out of the loop, I just don't think "it is best for a corporation" is something we should consider a good reason, or something to be rallying for. At least we should recognize that "we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time" (their exact words) is their way of saying: we don't want anyone's opinion (at least, not anyone they didn't pre-selected) to affect the sales of our game. They don't care (in fact, they can't prevent) if every reviewer buys a copy at a store and proceeds to bash a crappy game after they collected the preorder money, but they don't think a person should have (uncontrolled) information about something before it is out.
 

Fox12

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Bethesda releases the same game every year anyway.

It doesn't bother me. I don't buy a game unless I see some lets play footage. I only preorder for special occasions, like Persona 5 or Dark Soul's.
 

CaitSeith

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Fox12 said:
Bethesda releases the same game every year anyway.

It doesn't bother me. I don't buy a game unless I see some lets play footage. I only preorder for special occasions, like Persona 5 or Dark Soul's.
I would had hated to be one of those who preordered Dark Souls for PC. I mean, what a nightmare the experience was without patching and mods. If it weren't because of mods, DS on PC probably would had died on the vine shortly after release (coincidently much like most Bethesda games).
 

Fox12

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CaitSeith said:
Fox12 said:
Bethesda releases the same game every year anyway.

It doesn't bother me. I don't buy a game unless I see some lets play footage. I only preorder for special occasions, like Persona 5 or Dark Soul's.
I would had hated to be one of those who preordered Dark Souls for PC. I mean, what a nightmare the experience was without patching and mods. If it weren't because of mods, DS on PC probably would had died on the vine shortly after release (coincidently much like most Bethesda games).
I've heard the stories. Thankfully I got the console versions.

Though, DS3 was still underwhelming for me regardless.
 

Windcaler

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DudeistBelieve said:
Counter to this point? Average Consumers, the one that is going for the family gift that isn't informed? They're not getting their information from Total Biscuit. They're MAYBE asking the counter jockey, and those are also the people that pre-order games so again early reviews don't affect them cause they'll buy the crap anyway.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Im one of those counter jockeys and that most certainly is NOT what we do at my job. We have to build trust with the customers because we want them coming back and keep spending money so we can in turn pay our bills. To build that trust we stay informed and yeah some people will preorder games (I dont) but none of us straight out tell people to buy them. We give informed opinions much like a critic will, giving our customers information so they can make an informed decision. They dont walk away feeling good about buying a game if all I do is say "yeah its great" or something like that. The best way to do it is tell someone about the game instead of giving them a simple score

You need to get your facts straight and not just about the clerks in stores
 

Drathnoxis

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BloatedGuppy said:
Really? We're defending this now? Even championing it?

I mean, consumers can do whatever they want for whatever reasons they want, I just find it odd to applaud a company for hiding their products from critics. Is this like a "we hate the critics in their ivory towers, bravo to the common man" populist insanity thing? I'm confused.
What do you mean "now"? As far as I can remember there has always been hordes of people on the Escapist defending every shady move the game publisher's made. DRM, day one DLC, games as services, microtransactions, campaigns against used games, that thing where Nintendo actually owns all the pictures you take with the 3DS. There was always a ton of people eager to throw away all their rights and defenses for no benefit to the companies that only care about making money and then call anyone who disagrees "entitled".
 

BaronVH

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I previously made statements that I understood their reasons and they were legitimate. Upon refection of the opinions of others, I am respectfully changing my mind. It is a bad idea and bad for the industry. While the types of games they release may be "review proof", that does not justify hampering the very journalists that advertise their products in the first place. If the entire industry did this, I think it would lessen the demand which would lessen the quality of the final products in the long run. Certainly if a game is online only, then a review should wait until it is live, but I now believe they are making a mistake doing this with primarily single player games.