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-   -   PC Gamer and other Future Publications Accused of Taking Bribes for Review Scores (https://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18302)

Couchpotato October 12th, 2012 11:15

PC Gamer and other Future Publications Accused of Taking Bribes for Review Scores?
A freelance writer, Rich Stanton, whom has done work for various publications, went on Twitter last night and in a drunken fit. Basically it explained about how Future Publishing has altered review scores and taken bribes from publishers for better review scores.

Notably, he says that Future Publishing (owners of PC Gamer, Edge, OXM, and numerous other online and physical publications) have been taking bribes for quite some time from publishers for better review scores.

Neogaf outlines some of the more choice selections from Stanton's impromptu Q&A session from last night.


Then you get an update from Stanton himself on his blog. He basically semi apologizes and calls out the sites that reported his comments.


Did my motivations give people pause before reporting? The fact I’m a disgruntled ex-employee with a grudge, clearly taking down a bridge with several tonnes of dynamite and all guns blazing? Of course not! One of the most amazing things about this whole affair, which caught me totally off-guard, was that of all the outlets reporting on this, a single solitary one got in touch to try and check the veracity of what I’d said. Do you know who it was? Kotaku. Fucking Kotaku! I have criticised Kotaku in the past for their addiction to lady pictures and Bomberman cakes, but here they were the one place that actually thought it was worth trying to establish the truth of the matter beyond a nobody’s twitter feed.

Neogaf, of course, is a law unto itself, full of wiseass cynics and anonymous authority figures claiming to have insider knowledge of everything. Well, I certainly gave them what they wanted. A friend of mine made a good point about this:

“You’re not just poisoning Future’s well, I’m afraid. When people are given license to assume that every opinion is purchased, every editor is a liar or a pedophile, you’re tainting the ground water in its entirety.”

That made me think more than anything else. I don’t regret having a go at Future, because the behaviour of some of its employees towards me has been abominable, and I’ll be damned before I sit down like a good little freelancer and take it. But I do regret failing to make that distinction between the company and them – Future is not a singular entity, but in my anger I treated it as such. And you can’t depend on others to be able to parse those things when you haven’t.

Let me spell it out. Is Future bent? No. Have I seen individuals do bad things? Yes. And to be honest, I’ve just as often seen people TRY to do bad things, and get slapped down by management.

So draw your own conclusions. But don’t take one angry man’s twitterings as gospel, and don’t mistake score-settling as the truth about score-selling.

Just goes to show I will never work in journalism and don't know If I pity the ones that do. What do all you think as this seems a controversial topic with different opinions?

azraelck October 12th, 2012 11:46

Like this is a surprise? All publications do this, including the so-called unbiased ones like Consumer Reports.

JemyM October 12th, 2012 11:48

Haven't read much from PC Gamer or Future Publications recently but from what I have seen there's no gamers left at IGN. Their reviews correlate with the size of the publisher not the depth of the game and most of their articles appear as having more exposure to corporate culture than gaming culture. If you click on a platform you no longer see reviews but "news", which most often discuss gaming companies economical success or failures, new or laid off employees, new presidents etc. There's no retro-articles and almost no coverage of indie titles.

Corwin October 12th, 2012 13:52

This is not news, merely more confirmation of what is already well known.

DarNoor October 12th, 2012 14:05

I thought this was common knowledge. That's why i don't trust review sites. I would rather get gamers opinions on games.

Couchpotato October 12th, 2012 14:09


Originally Posted by Corwin (Post 1061165236)
This is not news, merely more confirmation of what is already well known.

Well some people vehemently defend PCgamer and other review sites so I guess it's not.;)

I think we need more journalist to step up and talk but there probably afraid of getting fired or sued.

Lucky Day October 12th, 2012 18:35

its a foregone conclusion on our site because our favourite (PC) games never get high scores.

That said, I think metacritic has been a great site that holds up a mirror finally to these review sites.

I mentioned before in my lecture from a 2k games developer that some of these review sites offer a sort of pre-review service that they charge for and if you buy into it they will list item points about to improve the game. Its ultimately a 3rd party playtesting service. This is one way they do it and are open about the facts. I don't anything else makes it to email - just an open secret.

Case in point as a salesman: once a year for one week we would sell epson inkjet printers - we couldn't keep them on the shelf. At first we tried to talk them out of it but then we realized something was going when we got more and more. The customers told us outright it was printer review week in the PC magazines.

Except that one week all Epson printers came back! AOnly newb salesmen sold them and they quickly learned not to.

A similar thing happened with Compaq computers I later realized. Compaqs proprietary and slow compared to their competitors - they wanted the computer right away too so clearly the customers did their "research".

vurt October 15th, 2012 01:44

What's a good gaming site these days (something that also covers indie games?) Does it even exist?

Corwin October 15th, 2012 02:37

Yes, here!! :)

vurt October 15th, 2012 02:52


Originally Posted by Corwin (Post 1061165515)
Yes, here!! :)

The watch is indeed good but i'm not just interested in RPG's :) I mean a broader gaming site.

Gorath October 15th, 2012 12:25

For RPGs obviously GameBanshee, if you take into consideration that they're often too focused on criticizing minor details, which makes games appear worse than they actually are.
If you can read German the best reviews can be found on Yiya.de (no longer regularly updated). GamersGlobal is a reliable site too. Not without flaws, but their reviews are usually detailed enough to see where they're coming from. Plus they usually disclose for how long with how many reviewers they've played.

joxer October 15th, 2012 14:01

Besides already mentioned sites, I'll add also adventuregamers.com that covers adventure genre.

Alrik Fassbauer October 15th, 2012 16:40

Yiya is indeed a good site. One of the best I know of, still personal views, but seemingly balanced, as far as I can see it.

Peter Stauffenberg October 15th, 2012 20:43

I think many game magazines make reviews too early. They're competing to get the reviews out first and that means they haven't played far into the game.

E. g. Dragon Age 2 got initially good scores (about 9/10). That just proved the reviewers hadn't played through the chapters to see all the recycled stuff, choices that never had an impact, lame combat with waves etc. and a story that fell apart. Even I would have given DA2 a 9/10 after playing for just some hours.

Fortunately later reviews became more critical of the game and proved the reviewers "dared" to oppose big game companies like Bioware (EA) and give a low score if the game deserved it.

I personally feel the reviews were worse a couple of years ago than now. Then most of the big titles got high scores, regardless of the quality of the game. We believed then that buying advertising in the magazine or WEB page ensured a decent review and that was the reason for the high scores. The article above showed it was even worse. Some companies used bribes.

Lately I think reviewers are more critical so 9/10 scores aren't given often. Even an 8/10 score should be considered very good now. Big titles end up with 6/10 or 7/10. The game companies complain a lot about the low scores now because they were used to getting at least 9/10 for their games.

Still, we see that since magazines compete to be first out with reviews that they aren't always very accurate. Good games get low scores and vice versa. Maybe the corruption is less now than before, but the accuracy is just as bad.

So kudos to reviews in sites like RPGWatch (reviewers like Corwin etc.) who actually play the games to the very end before giving a review. RPGWatch probably publish their reviews LATER than most review sites, but the quality of the reviews is definitely higher.

As a gamer I think you should have learnt by now that you can't buy new games purely based upon magazine reviews published on the day of the release. Wait some time until the players make their own reviews. They you can avoid buying hyped stinker games like DA2. When DA3 is out I promise myself to wait for player reviews before buying it. :)

jhwisner October 15th, 2012 22:37


Originally Posted by Peter Stauffenberg (Post 1061165701)
I think many game magazines make reviews too early. They're competing to get the reviews out first and that means they haven't played far into the game.

Yeah this I think is one the single most pervasive and overwhelming problems shared by major review sites.

azraelck October 15th, 2012 23:10

You can't say Corwin makes his reviews too early, he takes 6 months for a game of solitaire. :P

Lucky Day October 16th, 2012 00:46


Originally Posted by azraelck (Post 1061165726)
You can't say Corwin makes his reviews too early, he takes 6 months for a game of solitaire. :P

what score did he give it?

azraelck October 16th, 2012 01:41


Originally Posted by Lucky Day (Post 1061165752)
what score did he give it?

He still hasn't finished it! :P

Corwin October 16th, 2012 03:32

I'm marking it down due to a lack of Multiplayer!! :p :)

Lucky Day October 16th, 2012 04:01

You haven't reviewed Klondike's sequel then yet. Its called Kings in the Corner.

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