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Old 03-12-2006, 07:19 PM   #1
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Default "Previews suck!" : Kotaku.com declares war on publishers & ass-kissing games press


Batman Returns, Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness, Shadow Of The Colossus, and Katamari Damacy.

AWESOME! My favourite games journalist, James Wagner Au, has just posted this up:

Quote:
After covering the game industry for some five years, I think I’ve found the primary source of the trouble. Not the only source, but the weakest link in the greater chain of suck—and more key, the one that can be hammered at by blogs like Kotaku.

I found it at an E3 cocktail party in Beverly Hills, shortly after I’d begun introducing myself not as a journalist but as a writer with the virtual world Second Life—not a game per se, but close enough, evidently, for folks on the business end of the industry to lower their shields. The topic was the gaming press, and on that subject, the opinion of a top exec from a major publisher was decidedly bottom line.

“Press previews are very important to our sales,” he casually mentioned to me over martinis, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Retailers don’t know anything about games. So we show them previews of our titles from the game press, and they reserve shelf space for our games on the strength of those.”

And just like that, the gaping mouth of suckage was staring me in the face. Or rather, it had always been there, but I just hadn’t noticed until then.

For the thing of it is, game magazine previews are almost uniformly positive, even for the most undistinguished titles. So it unrolls thus: publisher makes mediocre game; press previews depict mediocre game as being good or at least worth a look; excited gamers read previews, foolishly believe them, start making pre-sale orders of mediocre game; driven by preview press and pre-sale numbers based on that press, retailers stock up on mediocre game; publisher makes money from mediocre game, keeps making more games like it.

And the circle jerk is complete. All started by the gaming press, in their preview section.
Kotaku feature, 3/11/06
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Old 03-12-2006, 07:55 PM   #2
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he's right....
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Old 03-12-2006, 09:44 PM   #3
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I've read previews that couldn't stop gushing about the game, and then a week later got slammed in a review by the same website.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:36 AM   #4
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I remember reading the preview of Stupid Invaders on this very site. Man, do I wish I hadn't.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:57 AM   #5
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I can't help but feel that this is another example of something that everyone knows; after all, how many people here have preordered a game having seen a glowing preview of it?

Still, I do believe that previews shouldn't be as overwhelmingly positive as they often are, but I have also seen a trend to moving towards slightly better journalism at least in the magazines that I buy. If something looks like being a problem that might not get fixed it's no longer uncommon to see some mention of it, however small that mention might be.

Of course, part of the danger of writing critical previews is that you can then get lept upon by overhyped fans who tell you off for faulting a game that hasn't been finished yet...
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Old 03-13-2006, 10:03 AM   #6
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I think the problem is really a catch 22. Gaming magazines/websites for the most part make their bucks by covering games. If they slam a game hard before it hits the shelf, the publisher of the game will most probably threaten and even stop advertising with the said publication and that would hurt their business. The same applies to the game publisher, if they get bad previews for their games, it might hurt their sales as james stated.
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Old 03-13-2006, 01:43 PM   #7
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I'll be the first to agree that there's plenty of stench in the gaming press, but I'm curious why everyone immediately leaps to the most mercenary, conspiratorial conclusions.

Remove any publisher influence at all, and the gaming press is still part of the gaming industry. A side industry perhaps, but not a separate one. Which means, the more interest there is in games, the greater the audience. In other words, it's in the best interest of the press to maintain and amplify that enthusiasm wherever possible.

So, game X is announced, and it has a totally clean slate. As anticipation in the game increases, attention on your site/magazine increases with it. Then comes the time for a first legitimate preview. The most self-destructive thing the press could do at that point is quash all interest in that game. Goodbye anticipation, goodbye readers (viewers, listeners, whatever). Far better to fuel the fires and let the review rain down on it if necessary.

I'm not defending this approach if it involves actual dishonesty about a game's quality, but nor will I condemn hype simply for being hype, and perhaps that's part of a preview's role. Otherwise, why have them at all? They aren't the last, definitive word on the game. That's a review's job. So why is the assumption that a preview should do the same thing as a review, just earlier and based on incomplete versions? Should it?

There are lots of other reasons why previews might be more positive than not, but I won't get into that. Again, I'm not disputing that there is plenty of bogus journalism out there. But it's not nearly as cut and dried as "all previews are positive to appease publishers". I call major bunk on that one.

EDIT: And for the record, AG doesn't sugar coat its previews.
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Old 03-13-2006, 01:58 PM   #8
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The main problem i have with previews is that they sometimes have spoilers in them...even if they are small ones it still kinda annoys me. Like recently I thought it would be a good idea to read an oblivion preview and it went on to telling you the events that happen at the start of the game, I know its only the start but it would have been so much better beggining the game and not knowing that was gonna happen...but now im gonna be expecting it
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Old 03-13-2006, 02:39 PM   #9
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I don't think you should read previews if you don't want to know about the game.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:02 PM   #10
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Why do the press want to promote crappy games?!
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:03 PM   #11
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Because they want to promote all games. Because it's their job to write about games. And because people want to hear about games even when they could well turn out to be rubbish [mumbles something about Tomb Raider]...
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fop
I don't think you should read previews if you don't want to know about the game.
I wanted to know about the game, not the story
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dasilva
Why do the press want to promote crappy games?!
They shouldn't want to present crappy games as good games, and anyone that does deserves whatever scorn they get. But Robert's right. Maintaining an active interest and anticipation in all games in development is what keeps people coming back for more.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:33 PM   #14
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Well, do we want the video gaming industry to turn into the film industry? I don't think so.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLacey
Because they want to promote all games. Because it's their job to write about games. And because people want to hear about games even when they could well turn out to be rubbish [mumbles something about Tomb Raider]...
So its their job to hype you up about a game they know is crap/average?

And yeah, I think most people already think past Tomb Raider games are shit, so drop the lame-ass comments & come up with new ones.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dasilva
So its their job to hype you up about a game they know is crap/average?
It's their job to create interesting copy from what they've got to work with, and to make you want to read more. Otherwise, people will stop reading. If that means "hyping" a game, then why not? Again, no one should EVER say a bad game is good, but creating (or feeding) hype is a whole different thing.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal
It's their job to create interesting copy from what they've got to work with, and to make you want to read more. Otherwise, people will stop reading. If that means "hyping" a game, then why not? Again, no one should EVER say a bad game is good, but creating (or feeding) hype is a whole different thing.
I am yet to read a SINGLE preview where the previewer comes out and says that the game looks like crap.

*Except maybe on idlethumbs *
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:01 PM   #18
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And you're saying thats okay? I mean, I used to buy PC Gamer all the time, but I stopped because there are no interesting games that I personally want to read about. But yeah, thas how the market works.
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Old 03-13-2006, 05:24 PM   #19
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Perhaps it's not really the press's fault. I mean, the publisher controls what the press sees and feeds the press all the information they get. Obviously the publishers only give out good information to hype up the game, so perhaps the gaming press actually thinks the game will be fun when previewing. Also, playing short press previews/demos is very different from the actual game itself, I imagine, as quirky mechanics will seem fresh in the short time period but perhaps redundant in the full version, and the story/characters might become very bland in the actual game as well. Just saying...

EDIT: Also, I don't think I've ever seen big coverage of a game that did turn out to be "crap"....disappointing maybe, but not complete crap.
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Old 03-13-2006, 06:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoccerDude28
I am yet to read a SINGLE preview where the previewer comes out and says that the game looks like crap.
But why should it? A preview isn't a review.

I could argue all kinds of theories on this topic, but it all hinges on this expectation that a preview serve the purpose of an early review. That's an assumption that just may not be true.

Of course, I'm also of the belief that most (note: not all) people don't really want objective previews, anyway, even if they climb aboard this preview-bashing bandwagon. People LIKE to be hyped. They WANT to have games to look forward to, even if they turn out to be a letdown in the end. But only in the end. They still want that hope to last as long as it can. Negative previews would probably just make us all a lot more jaded a whole lot faster. And who really wants that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dasilva
I mean, I used to buy PC Gamer all the time, but I stopped because there are no interesting games that I personally want to read about.
Well, see, you're really answering your own question. When you lose interest in the games, then you turn away from the media. Can you blame the press for doing whatever it can to prevent that from happening? Should it grease the skids of your disillusionment with more negativity than is necessary?
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