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Publishers Dirty Little Secret

by Ernice Gilbert on July 8th, 2010, under DLC, News

So it’s about one week before a game is made available at retail, the review embargo is still up and most a sites are respecting it. Suddenly, a website breaks the review embargo with no fear of being punished by the game’s publisher. The review score, however, is a very high one – in the 90s and up.

Guess what? That publisher most likely gave the go ahead. There are dirty games being played in the gaming industry, especially when it comes to review scores of a game, knowing that it could determine a title’s success or demise.

Metacritic is the leading reviews aggregate site that the industry uses to gauge whether a game has been a success or not. It’s also an easy target for good press. Amongst other things, it’s a tool that can be used by public relations departments of might publishers like Activision, and down the smaller ones, to help their product, even if it’s not good, garner praise in the first two weeks on sale.

How do they do that? I’m glad you asked. Publishers literally give some gaming sites, those who previewed their title favorably, the go ahead and break any embargo that was set so the title’s Metacritic could look stellar.

“It is absolutely standard for us PR folks to get our games’ Metacritic rankings as high as possible,” one PR manager, who wished to remain anonymous told EGM Magazine.

“There’s a lot of pressure from above to get this done, so there’s really no way to avoid it.”

Another PR manager of a major publisher who also wishes to remain anonymous told the mag “I generally try to get my games in the hands of reviewers I think are gonna like it first.

And sometimes I know they’re going to like it.”

They added: “If a reviewer s**ts on a game in there preview, we won’t send them review code.”

So basically, if you own a website and wish to receive review codes from these big publishers, then you must, even if their games are crap, you must give a decent score, and even before that, show that you’re enjoying the title in the preview.

See, Metacritic is a powerful force, and if these publishers think that you’re going to rate their title high, which intern would help keep the Metacritic score high in the first opening two weeks. By then they’d have already made good money because of the reviews that landed first would have skewed.

So the next time you see a site break a review embargo, and the review for the game is very high, be extremely cautious.

And now you know.


  1. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 2:39 am

    Aspect ratio…please….*dies*

  2. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 2:44 am

    Great article. The industry is definitely corrupt and we as gamers need to do something about it. Not that we can though.

  3. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 4:03 am

    ahhhhhhhhh so thats why COD and halo have been getting 9s?
    I KNEW IT!
    not only that, anyone remember the free swag M$ were offering reviewers with the forza 3 review code?
    or halo 3 review code came as the legendary edition.
    M$, if your going to offer a little sugar under the table, at least be discreet about it.

  4. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 6:45 am

    @ El_Colombiano, fixed.

  5. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 6:46 am

    It’s a dirty game out there man. Dirty, dirty game.

  6. Fri, 9th Jul 2010 at 10:37 am

    very dirty game indeed!
    im starting to think the same thing about our ratings board.
    i really can not understand how L4D2 can get banned, but fallout 3, dead space, no more heros 2, GOW3, mad world, dead rising 2 ect ect do not.
    i mean WTF?
    blowing a zombies head off in L4D2 is not ok for a MA rated game, but blowing a zombies head off in dead rising 2 is fine and dandy!
    go figure!

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