Exclusive reviews do nothing to help an industry already accused of anti-journalism practices. Yet IGN continues to stun the world with its “exclusive” Infinite review.
Video game review embargoes are a good thing. Every reviewer and outlet is given time to complete the game fully and not forced to rush to “be first”, a goal of Internet journalism. There are integral problems with an embargo, like publisher manhandling, but for the most part it serves its purpose and keeps the competition grounded. Except when a publisher grants an outlet the opportunity to publish a review first, and exclusively, four days ahead of competing sites.
It blurs the process and creates a microcosm of opinion all solely based off a single review, most likely tagged with a fantastic score. Consumers look to that grade and think, “This game must be good”, and scurry to pre-order. It also wreaks with bias; that outlet appears grateful and may notch the score up a couple of ticks. All of this is emphasized more because BioShock Infinite is an anticipated title and probably an early candidate for Game of the Year considerations. Inundating the site are curious fans, a publisher grabs more unwitting pre-orders, and everyone walks away satisfied.
Exclusivity lets IGN run teaser posts, a preview of the review. Though, reading the title is mind-numbing: “BioShock Infinite Review in Progress“. If nobody was writing it, every reader would be concerned. To proclaim the review is “in progress” is an obvious statement and headline. Frankly, this is too neatly negotiated and tarnishes any credibility the site had left, if any.
The decision is good business for either side. Publisher 2K has more pre-orders because one single, isolated review score has that much power over people, and to have millions of readers flood IGN is great for an ad-operated site. But the practice is rife with ethical questions and skewers the site’s review process. And for an industry infinitely accused of bias and improper journalistic practice, how does this help?
This article is a little shorter than usual, but not much needs to be said other than this practice is despicable and manipulative. Do not trust early reviews.
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