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I'm running out of game companies I can support without feeling like a whore.

I've had a tenuous relationship with Electronic Arts over the years, especially since they've taken and summarilly raped the Madden franchise, and I don't have many nice things to say about Sony or Sega either, the former because they'll always be tainted by the Rootkit fiasco, and the latter because they continue to jerk around with Sonic and Phantasy Star while ruining their other franchises, such as the latest Nights game.

However, "Gerstmanngate" - the firing of Jeff Gerstmann almost definitively because of the poor review he gave Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, which caused external pressure from publisher Eidos, who were actively pouring advertising money into CNet - opened the door to so many potential problems for the industry, and their relationship with outlets that could theoretically keep them in check with consumers. The precedent had been set: there were companies that were willing to buckle to the almighty dollar at the small cost of journalistic integrity, and the small, triffling fact that I will never buy another Eidos game again, as if they've ever released anything that appealed to me. It was only a matter of time before other companies decided to see how far they could go.

A few companies picked the wrong people to fuck with.

Electronic Gaming Monthly has been removed from the mailing lists of three different game makers because of low review scores: Midway's Mortal Kombat team, Sony's sports game division, and Ubisoft. The line is clear here: you will give us the scores we want, or we will try to run you out of business, and there aren't enough Frank Provos out there to hurt us. They should have done some homework: when EGM first came out, they had a review of the NES game Total Recall that was so poor that Acclaim went to pull it's advertising to show them who was boss. So Ed Harris publically humiliated them, and made them a laughing stock. By the way, they ended up going out of business. Even more recent, Dan "Shoe" Tsu, the man who currently holds the Executive Editor position that Harris brought to fame, was noted for a particularly harsh interview with Peter Moore, who at the time was head of Microsoft's XBox division, where he asked a lot of tough questions, a practice which isn't really propagated throughout the industry, because afterall, companies need access to inside information in order to get a scoop, or they'll be made irrelevant.

Game companies have been trying to get game review standards back to what they were in the early '80s, when magazine companies knew the score: you give us good scores, or you don't get paid. And back then, these publications - more sizzile than steak all around - were all anyone had. Therefore, anyone relying on these publications for honest reviews got burned, and with the propensity of bad games getting good reviews, the market crashed. That's right: game compnanies are so short sighted that they don't realize they're trying to bring back one of the conditions that killed their very industry 25 years ago!

This brings forth an interesting game of Chicken. Electronic Gaming Monthly has put three different companies on the shame list at a time when most smart consumers are already on alert due to Gerstmanngate. Companies know that EGM - and it's parent company, ZiffDavis - are the exceptions to the norms of CNet, IGN and others. It'll be very intersting to see who blinks first, and interesting to see if EGM is still the same EGM that I grew up reading, and the same one I've been subscribed to for 17 years.

In the meantime, I'll miss the MLB: The Show series. But I'll find something else, because there are always alternatives.

Comments

rantmaster_mark
Jan. 9th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
Win. Epic win.

Though I find it hard to get bent about shady business practices in video gaming as a collective whole on the basis that if we want to start being pissed about shady bullshit then we have to go sell our Wii's. I just hate everyone (and I mean EVERYONE, from monoliths like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft to the little guys like Dreamcatcher and Atlus) and find this makes me happier.

It's also very telling that Kane and Lynch, for all of the negative press surrounding it, has for the past two months been rented out from Gamefly, two local Blockbusters and the Hollywood video near my house. This, to me, says that no one is really paying attention, but hey.
superbus
Jan. 9th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Well, there's a reason I named my columns at IP "Unbranding the Sheep". ;)

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