This past week, publishing giants Bethesda announced that they would no longer be offering media outlets early copies of their games for the purposes of reviews. The reason they have given for this is that so everyone can experience their new games at the same time.
If you believe that spiel, please check that you haven’t accidentally caved your head in.
So, let’s dig into that nugget of genius from the PR team first, because that’s absolutely not the reason they are doing it. The actual reason, in the real world, is so that they don’t miss out on any pre-order or week one sales from a poor review, giving them more leeway as results will not come in a good few days/weeks into its release.
That is not the customer-friendly approach that they want you to believe in, in their fantasy world of rainbows and sugar sticks instead of the cold, corporate machine. Experiencing a game all together is not their goal and not something we should aspire to, many reviews from reliable, quality writers are needed to safeguard us from shovel-ware and half-hearted attempts at a video game.
It has a serious impact on those websites, who are already fight each other to be the first one to get their reviews out. Some will say that some are biased or have strange scaling, some will say it helps match YouTube reviewers as well but it is not a good move for anyone, with traffic for reviews being such a huge audience pleaser.
There are other reasons they are holding off too, with many games getting day one patches that can sometimes be as big as the game. However, they rarely have a huge impact on a game and you can’t really polish a turd, no matter how much shoe shine you have in your pocket.
Those slightly snootier commentators may say that a game like Doom, which did not send review copies, was actually really well received and that initial move that used to sound out a bad game that someone wanted to hide affected their sales. However, it’s pretty certain that the name recognition and positivity afterwards was enough to bump them out of that small hole they made out of the gate.
The only positive is that the better reviewers that usually are blacklisted by some companies or simply pay for their games will not be affected. Companies have already burned their bridges with them and their against-the-grain speech, long may they continue to bludgeon back beasts like this one.
Pull the mask of Bethesda and all you see is contempt. Contempt for those trying to help the customer, contempt for the public buying their games and an all-consuming greed for profit.
Let the panic really set in too because in this crazy world of gaming, expect others to follow Bethesda’s “valiant” suit. Like moths to a flame, companies wait for one to jump in so that they can all pile on to get their asses lit on fire.
The only real hope is that we as a customer base fight back, hold out for the first few days before news filters through and then pay for their products. Then, and only then, will this real sickness spread like the black plague.