Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bethesda Ends Early Press Copies

Today Bethesda announced that they are not going to send out review copies of their games until the day before launch. This means that the gaming press will not have much time to play through the game before it comes out. Many in the gaming community are upset by this, but I think that it’s a step in the right direction.
At Bethesda, we value media reviews.
We read them. We watch them. We try to learn from them when they offer critique. And we understand their value to our players. 
Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years. 
With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release. While we will continue to work with media, streamers, and YouTubers to support their coverage – both before and after release – we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time. 
We also understand that some of you want to read reviews before you make your decision, and if that’s the case we encourage you to wait for your favorite reviewers to share their thoughts.

I’d like to think that this will do at least a little bit of good toward ending the hype train. The hype train starts with game publishers releasing teasers and pre-release footage, then the media covers said footage on their blogs and YouTube channels, adding to the hype with every article and video. Consumers should be waiting until some time after launch before purchasing their games, instead of rushing to be the first on their block to own the game.

In this day and age, AAA game releases are bug filled messes on the day of launch, with Bethesda being one of the worst offenders. Anything written in before the game is released, or even just after, is going to be useless to anyone looking to buy the game later down the line. An in-depth look at the game won’t be possible until the game has been out long enough to get several bug fix patches.

There are plenty of overlooked titles out already that one could check out in the meantime, but then that wouldn’t get nearly as much traffic as articles on the latest AAA releases. Bloggers and YouTubers are incentivized to keep perpetuating the hype train, as their ability to make money depends on its continuation. If the hype train were to end, then a strong force for driving traffic would be lost.

The business model internet blogging is fundamentally broken; it needs to be replaced with a new one that rewards quality rather than typing speed and emotional manipulation.

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