Conflict of Interest?

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VideoGameCritic
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Conflict of Interest?

Postby VideoGameCritic » December 29th, 2016, 6:59 pm

So I posted a tweet the other day asking why other video game sites don't give out below-average grades, and someone pointed out that if they did, that company would pull their ads.

This brings up an important point. In theory, video game critics should be objective/unbiased to a reasonable extent. However, they are basically being financed by the video game publishers. Isn't this a blatant conflict of interest?

Do other industries have this problem? Is there a solution?

I think the current model lets publishers basically "have their way" with critics and consumers alike.

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Atariboy
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby Atariboy » December 29th, 2016, 7:14 pm

Not only would they pull their ads, they'd pull their review copies and everything else if they decide to punish your outlet.

So not only do you not get advance access to a title, but you don't even get a free review copy of the finished product that gives you an opportunity to have a review ready to go on day 1. So you have to wait for it to release and then buy it yourself just like everyone else, which means it would just go un-reviewed at most places.

Codemasters did this to TeamVVV on YouTube which is a channel dedicated to racing games, after F1 2015 was poorly received. They were taken off the press list for a year and thus didn't cover F1 2016, despite it being significantly improved and likely to have gone over much better.

So in their zeal to suppress an honest but negative opinion, they prevented an opportunity for this network to extol all the benefits of the latest iteration that was received so well by most that played it. I guess they're now off the blacklist, but what good did it do for Codemasters except make them look bad and prevent TeamVVV from selling a few copies of F1 2016 and Dirt Rally for them?
Leo

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scotland
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby scotland » December 29th, 2016, 9:29 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote: Do other industries have this problem? Is there a solution?


Video games, like movies, are a lot about what's hot right now. Movies seem to have a very different review ecosystem.

I'm reminded of old school Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports accepted no advertising, and bought the products retail. They would rate them in several categories against each other, which forces a distribution of ratings. The upsides were that the reviews were based on actually using the product and input from others who did, and everything seemed professional and unbiased. The downsides are the results were for subscribers, and since they rated hardware that was on sale for an extended period of time, the results were not always timely. Something like that might work, but it would have to earn a reputation for being fair, professional, quantitative and honest (in contrast to much of the content on the web), use a paywall or some other way to generate revenue, and get out a 'first glimpse' review as quickly as possible.

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Sut
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby Sut » December 30th, 2016, 11:01 am

The other elephant in the room is that reviews seem to have to be out at day 1.
If people would wait for the reviews a week or so after launch then it wouldn't be an issue. But reviewers are under pressure to get the reviews out asap and need the publishers more than the publishers need them these days.

This is where the VGC is immune to this pressure as he reviews games across nearly a 40 year timespan.
To be this good takes AGES, to be this good takes SEGA.

txsizzler
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby txsizzler » December 30th, 2016, 11:50 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:So I posted a tweet the other day asking why other video game sites don't give out below-average grades, and someone pointed out that if they did, that company would pull their ads.

This brings up an important point. In theory, video game critics should be objective/unbiased to a reasonable extent. However, they are basically being financed by the video game publishers. Isn't this a blatant conflict of interest?

Do other industries have this problem? Is there a solution?

I think the current model lets publishers basically "have their way" with critics and consumers alike.


You are 100% correct that this is a conflict of interest, to the "nth" degree! That is why I do not actually buy any game that has "just been released", so I can get a much broader feel from the community, and from sites like this one.
"Life is like a bath; the longer you stay in it, the more wrinkled you get!" -Garfield

Robotrek
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby Robotrek » December 31st, 2016, 2:56 am

Can't be any worse than downplaying flaws of AtGames units in order to appease to them providing demo units.
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Atarifever
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby Atarifever » December 31st, 2016, 6:53 am

Robotrek wrote:Can't be any worse than downplaying flaws of AtGames units in order to appease to them providing demo units.

Please elaborate. I think you're implying something about The Critic, but with no context, I don't know for sure. If that is what you're doing, my first response is to ask if you have seen his collection? I think it's obvious he can afford to buy those relatively cheap and easy to find units himself if need be.

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Rookie1
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby Rookie1 » December 31st, 2016, 8:25 am

Its like anything else, it all comes down to $$$$$$.

I dont think there are "payola" laws on the internet, so thats what happens.

Conflict of interest, yes. Shady, yes. Is it going to change, no.

Without getting political, those big game sites are the equivalent of Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. If you get 100% of your news from them, youre probably only getting 3% of the facts. They appease the masses. The rest (present company included) turn to smaller sites and message boards to get their information from other fellow gamers.

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 1st, 2017, 10:30 am

For anyone who thinks this critic is getting paid off, I'm pretty sure I'm on just about every industry black list. Why would they send product to someone whose average grade is a C? With very few exceptions I buy everything I review.

LS650
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Re: Conflict of Interest?

Postby LS650 » January 1st, 2017, 12:20 pm

The same thing happens in a lot of industries. For example, I have been riding street motorcycles since 1992, and have read many reviews in magazines and web sites over the years. If you flip through a motorcycle magazine, you'll notice that the vast majority of ads are for motorcycles and riding gear, as you would expect.

I've noticed that if a mag gives anything less than a glowing review of a motorcycle, ads from that brand tend to disappear - and this is especially true of Harley Davidson. The Harley marketing folks do NOT take kindly to criticism, no matter how well deserved. I've read of motorcycle mag writers and editors complaining that they really have to be careful and self-censor themselves in their reviews, or they'll feel the wrath of the advertisements being pulled.

I'm sure much the same thing happens in any enthusiast magazine or web-site.


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