Bad games journalism is the industry’s own fault

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We don't look anything like this

So yesterday I posted up an article based on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 CPU power that was backed up by a post on Neogaf from a known third party developer who had to post anonymously due to the NDA’s that everyone has to sign.

It didn’t take long for ex South African developer, Bobby Anguelov from Ubisoft Montreal, to take to twitter to call out the article and the state of games journalism at the moment.

So obviously I responded and asked him to comment and received the standard line that we get from all developers when asking questions about the consoles.

You see the problem is that we, gaming media, write for a huge audience of passionate and interested readers who want to hear about the inner details of the industry, the consoles and the games that make it all great.

However we are virtually at war with publishers and distributors who are under NDA or have a financial interest in what does and doesn’t get published in the industry. It makes our jobs exceedingly difficult and then as soon as we post an article with some backing, even if not 100% proof, we get called out for being bad journalists and posting click bait.

Here are some of the scenarios I’ve faced this year when posting or attempting to post stories.

  • A local distributor has called up angrily demanding where we got our information and demanding that we take it down if we want them to continue supporting us. (we didn’t)
  • An international publisher has threatened to blacklist us due to what we wrote in a preview that they didn’t like
  • Another international company threatened another blacklist for not paying enough attention to their product
  • Multiple retailers have taken offence to our posting on their products and prices and requested we do not post about their sales and compare them to others
  • A hardware manufacturer has blamed us for poisoning the local community against their product and if we don’t start posting good news about it we will be blamed for job losses and the desecration of the industry.
  • After being overseas to cover a title we were hassled for weeks afterwards asking why we didn’t post more about their product since they flew us out there.
  • We sign for a worldwide embargo and IGN gets given a 5 hour headstart on people, how fair is that?
  • We’ve had interviews where we’ve not posted them because they have been nothing more than a PR smoke screen to try and market their upcoming title. This doesn’t go down well.

The problem here is that the industry is a multi million dollar behemoth and the companies involved have an obvious financial interest in ensuring their product has the very best media available.

And you know what? I have no issue with any of this, we haven’t been blacklisted by anyone. We still get interviews and preview code and while we have some rocky moments with everyone there is no long standing issue with anyone.

However the excuse that games journalism is terrible because all the journalists are lazy and just chasing hits is rubbish. We want to publish top quality content that is 100% factual and correct but when 80% of the industry makes a concerted effort to hide a lot of the information we need to dig for it… and sometimes we find golden nuggets and other times it is just fools gold.

But before you claim the industry is useless then take a minute and think about how hard it is for the people on the other side of the screen or magazine. If Microsoft and Sony would release the developers of their NDA’s when discussing hardware we would all know the truth, however they won’t so we have to do our best to find out.

The games journalism industry is not broken and you are not playing the game wrong. Don’t fall for corporate PR garbage, our job is to translate that for you and that is what makes the difference between real gaming websites, like us, and the PR drone websites that post press releases masquerading as news just to please publishers and earn advertising income.

So the next time you see the mammoth sites posting their exclusive reveals think twice about whether our games journalism is broken or their relationship with publishers is poisonous.

Last Updated: December 24, 2013

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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