Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Dirty Dozen, Minus Ten

Sometimes I'm late to the party.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I don't even go to the damn party. In this case, though, I still want to write about it (thanks to Daniel Kahn for sending me the link).

On April 19, The Inquirer posted a story about Ubisoft advertising for Splinter Cell: Essentials, which, based on the reviews, was quite the little turd. Based on the review average at, it was in the bottom fifth of all games reviewed by more than twenty sites in the last three months. It's average rating was 63%, and given that you have to essentially be unbootable to average below 50%, that's a dismal score.

Hard to sell that.

Not if you're Ubisoft, though, because instead of using review copy, they used preview copy. So while GameSpy Editor Will Tuttle said in his review that the game represented "the all-time low point for the series," in the preview for the game (which he also wrote) he said "Although Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Essentials doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, it’s shaping up to be one of the best games we’ve played on the PSP."

What phrase did Ubisoft use in the ad? Why, the phrase “One of the best games on PSP,” of course. Was it identified as a quote taken from a preview? Of course not. Here, take a look (thanks

In other words: scummbaggery.

Here's the twist, though. According to Kotaku, Ubisoft contacted Gamespy about using the incredibly misleading phrase--and GameSpy said no problem! Here's an excerpt:
I contacted Gamespy editor John “Warrior” Keefer for an explanation. Staggeringly, Keefer says he authorized Ubisoft to use the “best games” line in their advertising copy for “Essentials”.

“It is the publisher’s job to try to make their game look as good as possible in their marketing of the game,” Keefer e-mailed me. “My job is to make sure they don’t use our quotes out of context. All quotes have to be approved through me.

...“Bottom line is that it was unfortunate that the game was radically different from what Will originally saw,” Keefer explained, “which makes our quote stand out even more. He said he stands by the original quote because at the time he made it, the graphics and lighting were phenomenal and it did a very good job of fleshing out the universe. Unfortunately, the rest of the game did not pan out with the demo.”

WTF? If it's your job, then why aren't you doing it? Using a glowing quote from a preview of game that turned out to be garbage and making it look like it's a review quote is about as out of context as anything could possibly be. The reason the quote "stands out more" is because the game sucked ass, John. You're allegedly part of the press, and it's the press's responsibility is to protect the public from getting lied to.

At least, that's what journalists do.

Allowing Ubisoft to use a quote from a preview without proper identification is worse than totally irresponsible--it's dishonest.

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