Jimquisition: Integrity, Journalism, and Free PS4s


New member
May 14, 2009
I cant believe a man that has said "konami is konami and konami is the worst" and "only konami could have the easiest job in the world and still fuck it up because konami is konami" is surprised he was blacklisted by konami. Theres only so much shit you can say about a company before they take their ball and go home


New member
Dec 26, 2012
Apparently no one has fulfilled Mr Sterling's request in the podcast describing "A picture of us licking a PS4 with a caption of 'Game Journalists' underneath".


New member
Jun 7, 2013
Yeah, this is a thing. Why is that news? I agree with Jim completely, though I do think that milder accusations could have been substituted. I mean, how else would anyone expect reviewers to review what they do? The common game is released at $60, and there are usually quite a few of those at any one time. And since they're reviewers, they can't wait until the price drops, otherwise their review becomes irrelevant. If someone is worried that these free games are used as bribery, keep in mind that everyone who reviewed Ride to Hell and Aliens received a free copy too, and I'm pretty sure most wish they hadn't.


New member
Jul 19, 2010
FightingFurball said:
Alandoril said:
Well if they didn't want it to look like that, then they really shouldn't have their names emblazoned all over them. That does make them look like gifts, not as resources for the companies they work for...
They were given out far before the release. It's common to have those things personalized so you can track back from whom it came if it sold or in case of movies etc. ripped from.
Then you give them inconspicuous ID codes hidden somewhere on the machine, not plaster someone's name all over them. THat just seems unprofessional.

Gunner 51

New member
Jun 21, 2009
I think that episode was a bit of a swing and a miss there.
If you think that paying to do your job is a bit unfair, spare a thought for those who have to pay for their own uniforms for work or those pay for petrol to put into their cars - all so that they can do their jobs. Most of us have to spend money to earn money, it's not nice - but it is the way of the world.

As far as journalistic ingegrity goes, the buck ultimately stops with the editors I'd imagine. They're the ones with the power to fire the schills, sellouts, the plain awful or the unpopular reviewers. But I do agree that with whole-heartedly that journalists showing off their games, consoles or game based merchandising is a rather tacky and gauche way to behave.

I don't mind the reviewers getting the free games on the condition that they have to give them back after they're done reviewing them. If they truly want the games, they are free to purchase them from their local retailers like everyone else.

Reviewers aren't the Übermenschen they take themselves for, nor do they deserve special treatment. Everyone has to pay for the things they want in life, reviewers shouldn't be any different.


New member
Nov 19, 2013
Hello Jim Sterling!

I apologize for being pedantic but I have to add that money isn't covered by any law of physics.



New member
Feb 24, 2011
themilo504 said:
Have there been actual cases of game journalists getting bribes?
I know IGN got caught taking bribes a few years back and it was supper shady when IGN gave ME3 nothing but praise after Chobot was given a role in the game *cough* while she was employed at IGN *cough*. Make no mistake professional review sites were all praising ME3, but IGN was the only one not to say anything negative about it. I think they amended their review to include some of the negatives after people started asking why.

OT- I understand why Sony would engrave names into the hardware. HOWEVER, just a serial number would accomplish the same purpose. I only really blame Sony for waiting three days prior to release to let reviewers have their hardware and forcing them to come to a pointless party. Just send the shit in the mail.

I understand why the internet would cry out in rage over seeing these people plaster pictures of themselves holding engraved pre-release hardware at a Sony event. I don't blame the internet. (Saying reviewers need to buy their own shit is just fucking stupid though. Seriously guys, would you buy half the shit these people HAVE to play?)

I blame the reviewers. For no reason should they have made such a big deal out of this. One or two pictures to show what they got and a description of the event. They could have even done more, but it had to look professional. I think that is what the biggest problem is here, the lack of professionalism.


Nov 5, 2013
While I have great faith in the future of video games as art and a creative medium, I think these last few weeks have been worrisome. Do we really need to sound out a battle cry over every event and make it into this weeks problem, regardless of what effect it has on us individually?


New member
Mar 12, 2012
Oh my, you can either go broke or accept free consoles from the companies whose products you review. You're absolutely rig... wait a second. Is there not a third option? Do you not have an employer? Do other game reviewers not have employers? Do employers not make a habit of providing their employees with the materials they require to do their jobs in every other industry? No, this isn't journalism, in my opinion. This is just justification of game journalism's dependence on the industry it purports to cover. You want to do journalism then do a video asking The Escapist why you're not getting your PS4 from them instead of from Sony.


New member
Sep 20, 2010
Jimothy Sterling said:
Ken_J said:
Wait. Blacklisted by Konami? HOW?
There is a Jimquisition episode called Konami. The road to blacklisting begun there.

It ended when I pretended to be the newly crowned head of Konami's PR department for a day. :)
You are my hero, that sounds so funny. Going to go watch that episode now!

On another note, you're vidoes are awesome and keep up the good work :)


New member
Jan 31, 2011
Dear Jim (and everyone else),

I'm not going to go out of my way and tell Jim is a corrupt guy. I think he is one of the few who I can consider above this. Nevertheless, when Sony or any company gives you any material, it is considered an investment on their part and many people will feel like they owe the company a form of kickback.

Let's look at my situation: I'm an ESL teacher. I used to teach in 3 different schools, 5 different grades in every school. Each school had a different mandatory set of material that had been selected by some guy before me, which is fine most times. On the other hand, to work more efficiently with the material I would need the teacher's guide for every single grade. A guide goes for anywhere between $200 (if lucky) to $600 and I'd need 15 to cover everything. Can I afford them all? Of course not. Will the school pay for them? In your dreams! I'd be lucky to even get a single one.

What often happens though is that a publisher will try to sell a new textbook into schools and will give away the guides to the main ESL teacher at a school (or set of schools) in order to push out another publisher and get their part of the market. Most schools will force the teacher to pick the textbooks if the guides come for free, regardless of quality.

So as a teacher, what am I to do? Would it be okay for me to pick the lesser material just so I can get free guides? What if I pick the material to get the free guides, but the quality is actually pretty good: would parents be justified to think I may have selected the material simply because it came with free stuff?


New member
Jul 16, 2013
I think it's obvious that free games for reviewers is necessary and non-corrupting. However, I would like to see an episode on the question of how beholden gaming websites are to AAA publishers and how it affects reviews. I find it impossible to believe that the average critic thought GTA5 was a 9.8/10, and even more impossible to believe same about GTA4. Particularly when some of these outlets had GTA ads splashed all over their websites for weeks before launch. Even if you think it's non-corrupting, merely the perception of corruption is a big problem for the industry.


New member
May 18, 2011
The only issue I have with the reviewers is the one that Jim himself touched in the video - showing off your hardware and games is unprofessional and makes you look smug. Emblazoning the names onto the systems is just tacky, too. I mean, they have serial numbers, right?

Thing is, if you're a professional game reviewer, then you need to look the part. What's expected of you is a professional, as-objective-as-possible review of the games and systems, informing us, the customers of the merits and flaws of whatever you're reviewing. That's the image you want to keep as a professional game reviewer.

Flashing your swag is just going to make you look like you're only in it for the freebies, whether that's true or not.

There's also the entire point of there not being enough degrees of separation between the industry and the reviewers, but that's something I currently do not have time for.


Elite Member
Feb 19, 2009
I think it's absolutely corrupting; but so is human nature.

You think outside of the games industry, in regular cable and network news- if guys like Bob Woodward routinely received gifts from Washington insiders so they could do their job- would Watergate have been a thing? But of course, most mainstream journalists are well paid presstitutes- and if they play their cards right they may get a position in the Obama administration [http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/business/media/richard-stengel-to-leave-time-magazine-for-obama-administration.html?_r=0]

You scratch our back, we'll scratch yours- it's human nature. However, the difference between mainstream journalism and gaming journalism is that mainstream journalism is for the most part funded by viewership and advertising, allowing the media for the most part to remain independent. Sure, you will see avoidance of inflaming sponsors, bending to the will of the network's parent company- nothing is perfect- but it's a hell of a lot better than asking for handout from whatever/whomever you are doing a story about.

Perhaps gamers make a lousy market demographic, you don't see too many ads here for erectile dysfunction pills, mortgage refinancing, or new cars- gamers buy games. Perhaps gaming media sites will never have the traffic nor the scratch to truly be independent. Probably, this is the best they can do.


Mugwamp Supreme
Nov 26, 2008
medv4380 said:
Actually, not getting the review copies would be better. When movie critics don't get review screenings everyone knows in advanced. It's become a red flag that the movie is known to be bad by the studio, and they want to reduce damage from critics. The act of doing it actually causes a backlash unless the film has a cult following, like horror movies.
How is it better? With that all you get is reviewers saying, "It's suspicious that we didn't get review copies" and nothing else. People actually have a review day one or earlier because of the review copy. Embargos don't push beyond release date so I fail to see how we lose anything by people getting a bad game early. People who preorder games are always running the risk of getting burned.

In the case of Aliens all the critics were aware for a month that the game was bad, but couldn't inform anyone due to the embargo of Feb 12, 2013 at 8PM [http://www.pcauthority.com.au/Feature/332038,aliens-dead-space-3-and-the-review-embargo-conundrum.aspx].
Right, but without the game they would also be unable to inform anyone due to not having played the game. At least this way they had reviews available for Feb 12, 2013. If they hadn't gotten the game at all, they wouldn't have the game review ready for hours anyway.

Though I do agree that the studio did some serious shenanigans, they are the worst example by far. They made an embargo and then released early. They essentially tricked reviewers on purpose. That is NOT typical. Can you name three other games that have done that in the past? You're essentially using a needle in a haystack to say that the haystack is made of needles.


The Crazy One
Feb 26, 2010
Lightknight said:
Though I do agree that the studio did some serious shenanigans, they are the worst example by far. They made an embargo and then released early. They essentially tricked reviewers on purpose. That is NOT typical. Can you name three other games that have done that in the past? You're essentially using a needle in a haystack to say that the haystack is made of needles.
Games that have abused the system

The War Z - The actual worst offender. Take your pick on the level of abuse.
SimCity - Gave reviewers a controlled to review the game.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men - Getting a reviewer fired, and this is the main issue. Most of these firing are secret. The reviewers don't know why they're being let go just that they are. When they do know they get slapped with legal non-disparagement paperwork. The only reason we know about Jeff Gerstmann is that it was very public, and CNET desperately wanted to buy Giant Bomb, but since they owned GameStop too they were forced to drop the non-disparagement agreement.

There isn't a single solitary way for the corrupt system Jim is defending to be abused. It is multi-pronged, and is only possible because reviewers are dependent upon bribes to do business.

It is far better to have no review. The few reviewers who refused to give a review of SimCity because they knew they were in a controlled environment that wouldn't reflect the users experience are honest reviewers. Reviewers like TotalBiscuit refused to actually give a recommendation because he knew his experience wouldn't reflect the users experience. Not all reviewers did, and it took the fiasco with Diablo 3 to teach the few reviewers that giving games in that stat any review is a bad idea.

The root cause needs to be removed in order to make reviews trustworthy. The direct dependence on the publishers and developers is the cause, and that needs to be mitigated.

Atmos Duality

New member
Mar 3, 2010
From the business's perspective, there is a difference between paying for exposure, and paying for praise.
Review articles so gifted are investments, not for praise, but for exposure. I can understand that.

Exposure is relatively cheap; you send review copies to a critic with an appropriate audience, they get reviewed, you get exposure (good or bad, it matters not as long as people are talking about your game during that tiny window it has to draw attention).

Blind Praise, or corruption, requires having hard leverage over the critic.
Such control occurs from effective buyouts, usually through ad-revenue control.

From the critic's perspective, gifts that are necessary for them to provide exposure alone don't ensure they give more praise.

I can say that because unless the critic is easily pliable to the point of idiocy, providing the opportunity for exposure alone isn't enough.
Any game critic without brain damage will understand how exposure benefits -THEM- even without bribes or other leverage hanging over them because it's how they make money and/or attain relevance.

(and why the advertising game is so important. Don't EVER trust a critic whose site is wallpapered with ads of the games they review. I don't care what the critic says, NOBODY is that impartial, not when it threatens their livelihood, and definitely not in an age where AAA publishers are increasingly willing to do anything to stem further loss in what has been a long period of decay for most of the them.)

In other words:
Critics are beholden to Sony, yes, but only to provide exposure for PS4 games. Not praise, just exposure.
More relevantly, to provide more immediate expose, since in doing this Sony ensures that many critics will actually have the system available to them. Timing is important, especially during a system's launch, and ESPECIALLY during the Holiday Season.

Ultimately, how a reviewer taints their expectations as a result of any sort of gift is entirely up to him/her.
It's up to their ability to discern when it's fair to sign that Non-Disclosure Agreement for exclusive additional coverage or accept anything either a token of good faith or a bribe for compliance, or to even turn down lucrative ad-revenue that would create a conflict of interest.

You know, their "professionalism". It varies.

And that's why gamers are right to question and occasionally challenge critics on these grounds (yes, that includes you too Jim).
Not out of contempt, but to keep them honest. Which is especially important in an increasingly dishonest business.

I don't blame gamers for questioning this event; and I'm certainly glad that Jim provided good reasons in response to this challenge, because to do otherwise is to encourage the kind of silent complacency that allows corruption to germinate and spread.