Total Biscuit explains the ins and outs of review embargoes

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With the release of Assassins Creed: Unity having a review embargo date of 12pm EST on the actual release date, and said game having a number of technical and general quality issues, the question of review embargoes has come up again. Popular game review Youtuber Total Biscuit has weighed in and actually made a pretty informative video about the whole thing. A good amount will be common knowledge to some of you, but I still think it's a pretty informative explanation from someone who works for the review industry, and what can be done to cut down on the abuse of them.

 
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Someone picked up this line from TB. It's sad how true this statement is:

W5ilaun.png
 
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I listened to the whole thing with my morning coffee. How did I know colonial marines would be mentioned? :biggrin

Great points starting with DONT PREORDER. If the publishers want to embargo reviews until just before or just after launch it is a bad sign. I think the average person realizes that anything technical these days is going to launch with some bugs and/or need improvement, so a review of a copy a week before launch shouldn't kill sales unless it is a total turd.

I also agree with him that the reviewers hold some responsibility. If you know something is a total turd before launch and say nothing you are just helping to fleece customers.
 
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I also agree with him that the reviewers hold some responsibility. If you know something is a total turd before launch and say nothing you are just helping to fleece customers.
Well the reviewer can't really say that because if they're given an embargo and they break it then they can say bye bye to that publisher giving them games. If you do that to a company like EA or Ubisoft that can really hurt to not have early access to the games. I like TB's and Kotaku's new stance of not reviewing games that have embargoes after the release like Unity did, and they should definitely tell consumers which games are doing that, although to be fair, sometimes there are legitimate reasons, like what happened with Destiny and they really want more players to show the full experience.
 
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I listened to the whole thing with my morning coffee. How did I know colonial marines would be mentioned? :biggrin

Great points starting with DONT PREORDER. If the publishers want to embargo reviews until just before or just after launch it is a bad sign. I think the average person realizes that anything technical these days is going to launch with some bugs and/or need improvement, so a review of a copy a week before launch shouldn't kill sales unless it is a total turd.

I also agree with him that the reviewers hold some responsibility. If you know something is a total turd before launch and say nothing you are just helping to fleece customers.

Jeff Gerstmann from Giant Bomb explained why review websites don't do that on a recent podcast. He said review websites agree to these embargoes and sign a contract for each individual game. They could completely ignore embargoes but then publishers would stop giving them early copies of games for review.

It's a deal reviewers have worked out with game publishers. The publisher sends them the game early enough to play and have the review ready before the game is available in stores. In return the reviewer agrees not to post their review until the date the publisher specified. He said that big websites like IGN have a little more power to push back when they feel that the embargo date is unreasonable and sometimes publisher will change the original date he was told because of just that. He also said that since the focus of his website is podcasts and videos about games more than reviews they will sometimes just choose not to review games if they feel the embargo isn't reasonable.


Well the reviewer can't really say that because if they're given an embargo and they break it then they can say bye bye to that publisher giving them games. If you do that to a company like EA or Ubisoft that can really hurt to not have early access to the games. I like TB's and Kotaku's new stance of not reviewing games that have embargoes after the release like Unity did, and they should definitely tell consumers which games are doing that, although to be fair, sometimes there are legitimate reasons, like what happened with Destiny and they really want more players to show the full experience.

Edit: I was typing when this was posted. Basically we said the same thing though. If reviewers start breaking embargoes publishers won't give them the game before release anymore.
 
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I understand the dilemma with knowing a game is a turd but not being able to say anything because of the embargo. Total Biscuit's idea of just not reviewing/testing games with an after release embargo date seems to be the ethical thing to do if you care about gamers. Obviously some of these sites and people are all about hitting up the google ads (or whatever) revenue and will continue business as usual.
 

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