Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Frictionless Story

Dan Hsu, editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly, had this to say in his latest editorial:
For the time being, you'll get little, late, or no coverage of the following products: anything Mortal Kombat (they didn't like our reviews), anything from Sony's sports department (ditto), and now, anything from Ubisoft (it seems our coverage of Assassin's Creed was the last straw). So in case you're wondering why you're seeing so little of these games in our magazines and on our websites, now you know.

In other words, those three developers/publishers won't be providing pre-release product to EGM, and given the delay in publishing the magazine, that means reviews for those games will appear months after the games have been released.

That seems like a big deal.

Bizarrely, though, this story doesn't seem to be getting any traction. It's been briefly mentioned over at Joystiq and Kotaku, but there are a ton of major sites who haven't mentioned it at all, and I can't figure out why. This doesn't qualify as news?

This isn't some unidentified person making claims--it's an editor of a major gaming magazine specifically calling out publishers. Yet this story has zero traction right now.

None of the companies mentioned in the editorial are commenting right now, but when they do (and I think they'll have to), I'll post an update.

Oh, and here's one more thing: the companies blew it. Totally.

If you want to do this, you have to make it your story, not EGM's. You put out a press release that says you won't provide pre-release product to EGM anymore, and then you show how there has been a major variance between their review scores and and the average review score given to the games.

I know--the score shouldn't mean so much, but it does.

So if they could demonstrate that EGM consistently rates their games 20-25% lower than the average score, but doesn't rate the games of Company X lower, then they have a point. They would have an even better point if Company X does a huge amount of advertising in the magazine. Failing that, though, they just come off as churlish.

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