Home Gaming Bethesda will no longer send out early review copies

Bethesda will no longer send out early review copies

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Bethesda clamps down on early review copies 2

Publishers and their ability to provide critics with early copies of their games has become a more topical subject this year more than ever. Normally it was a given that a game withheld from reviewers until launch usually had something to hide, and you only have to look at this month’s Mafia 3 to see proof of that. But then 2016 also provided DOOM – one of the best games this year that also only got into critics hands on launch day. A game which Bethesda is using as an example going forward.

In a press release sent out yesterday, Bethesda confirmed that they will no longer be supplying advanced review copies to press, starting with Dishonored 2 and Skyrim Special Edition. Instead, outlets (like this one you find yourself on) will only get access to games a day before launch, without any sort of embargo.

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.

This does not rule out the possibility for Bethesda to supply copies to persons or outlets they wish well before launch, under conditions that the publisher can control everything a little more tightly. It does, however, mean that outlets committed to critical analysis of both content and stability will only have their impressions out well after pre-orders have shipped – which is likely the intent behind a move such as this.

To be clear though, there are both pros and cons to this. Bethesda has no obligation to provide copies in advance to anyone. You, as a consumer, also have no obligation to pre-order the title. But should you choose to, you run the risk of the game either being poor, or a heaping pile of a broken mess at launch. Without anyone to say otherwise, this could be just as likely as DOOM surprising everyone with the contrary in May, and it’ll be up to you to gamble with it.

Bethesda clamps down on early review copies 3

On the flip side, it does encourage better critique from games media. Some of the best reviews for games arguably come after the wave of press and hype has crashed, and it’s likely consumers who choose to wait it out will have a much clearer image of the game they intend to purchase. It of course also means that outlets will race to get reviews out much faster than usual – the downside to not evening the playing filed with strict, fair play embargoes. It’ll make reviews a bit of a minefield, pushing you, as a reader, to pick your critics wisely.

It’s a sentiment shared by Bethesda too in the close stages of their press release, which encourages consumers to wait for their preferred writers’ thoughts before purchasing. It of course fails to mention the many monetary benefits you might miss out on with pre-order specials, but if it ends up saving you the pain of a bad purchase, maybe that’s worth it.

Bethesda clamps down on early review copies

It’s a complex issue that could mean different things to you depending on how (and where) you choose to find your gaming opinions. But if you’re here, reading this sentence right now, there’s a high chance you come here for reviews. And those reviews are not going to change. We’re all committed to delivering timely but critical reviews on all the games we play, and changes like this will not shift that.

But understand that a move like this is also clearly consumer predatory. Bethesda is preying on the temptation of playing on launch day, at the expense of critical writing before that can happen. At the end of the day it benefits them exclusively – so the only thing you can do is exercise patience or gamble. And given the current unpredictability of game launches, the former is probably more advisable.

Last Updated: October 26, 2016

91 Comments

  1. Oh man, anyone else super excited about Skyrim remaster?

    Reply

    • Viper_ZA

      October 26, 2016 at 09:07

      Definitely, getting a free copy on Steam…I think? xD

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        October 26, 2016 at 09:10

        Indeed, hence the excitement!

        Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      October 26, 2016 at 09:07

      I’m not. 😛

      Reply

    • Dungeon of JJ

      October 26, 2016 at 09:25

      Cannot wait. Wish the pc folk could preload it. 🙁 Will have to wait until Friday.

      Reply

    • Skyblue

      October 26, 2016 at 09:28

      Is it free like Bioshock if you own it on PC already?

      Reply

    • Mariano

      October 26, 2016 at 09:51

      no the first one is mediocre and bad in most aspect starting by not playable at launch. This is a resell of that thing, all and “downgraded” in that 2011 so now is like a ps2 game at AAA price.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        October 26, 2016 at 11:18

        I take it you play on console.

        I don’t.

        First game gave me over 6 months of glorius entertainment. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but was far from “mediocre and bad”

        Reply

      • BakedBagel

        October 26, 2016 at 14:22

        Oh wow a game that was ported to console that doesnt run properly.

        Welcome to the last 5 years as a PC gamer

        Reply

    • Nikola

      October 26, 2016 at 09:52

      Duuude can’t wait to jump back into it:)))

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        October 26, 2016 at 11:16

        Awwwwyussss

        Reply

    • Lu

      October 26, 2016 at 13:53

      LOAD ALL THE MODS! Gonna make my 1060 cry.

      Reply

  2. VampyreSquirrel

    October 26, 2016 at 08:19

    I personally don’t see an issue with this at all, but that’s just me… the internet (as a majority) will have issues with it.

    Reply

  3. Pariah ???

    October 26, 2016 at 08:20

    To be fair, their games are predictable enough already. Elder Scrolls will always be buggy, even years after launch, but will always attract a faithful set of fans per release. Fallout will be much the same. Hit or miss, depending on who you speak to.

    And id software have come back with a bang, so that’s nice.

    Reply

    • Dutch Matrix

      October 26, 2016 at 08:32

      Funny, but I have not come across a game breaking bug in the hundreds of hours I sunk into Skyrim. Not starting a fight, just a counter point to your point!

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        October 26, 2016 at 08:36

        I didn’t experience many bugs in Skyrim either, or Fallout 3 & NV for that matter. Odd glitches that had a few weird effects sure, but meaningful stuff – very little.

        Reply

        • Dungeon of JJ

          October 26, 2016 at 09:27

          I’ve also never encountered game breaking bugs in Skyrim or Fallout. A few minor bugs in Skyrim (like twitching corpses and such) and a few small things in Fallout 4, but nothing significant. The only times my Skyrim crashed royally is from too many mods, or using iffy mods.

          Reply

          • Pariah ???

            October 26, 2016 at 09:38

            Did you play with the unofficial patch?

            That fixed a lot of the game breaking stuff.

            But that wasn’t around early on.

          • Dungeon of JJ

            October 26, 2016 at 09:49

            Ah. I probably did play with the patch. Not sure. I only got Skyrim about 6 months after release. If not later.

      • Pariah ???

        October 26, 2016 at 08:37

        I’ve encountered many. Sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. I’ve had one block an entire storyline permanently in one playthrough, and in the other no issues.

        And hearthfire – well one of the 3 houses (so a 1/3rd of the DLC) was and still is broken.

        Reply

        • Dungeon of JJ

          October 26, 2016 at 09:28

          Come to think of it, I had a serious artifacting problem in Fallout NV, but I think it was actually a result of my gpu software in the end.

          Reply

      • Alessandro Barbosa

        October 26, 2016 at 10:12

        Skyrim was notoriously broken for months on PS3 after launch. And Bethesda never really fixed it either. Stuff like that makes this a little more serious

        Reply

        • Dutch Matrix

          October 26, 2016 at 11:56

          Again: If you buy a game before a review lands, you take the risk. You and you alone. If the game is crap, blame yourself for the money wasted, and blame the dev studio for releasing crap.
          Simple as that. It’s called taking responsibility for your own actions. Something I think people in general do not want to do anymore.

          Reply

    • BakedBagel

      October 26, 2016 at 09:56

      tbh, i dont know many people who play Skyrim Vanilla.

      Mods are the saving grace.

      Reply

      • Pariah ???

        October 26, 2016 at 10:00

        Now, yes. But on release and for a good few months thereafter? Also, console. I’ve played on both PC and console, on release and years later.

        Reply

        • BakedBagel

          October 26, 2016 at 10:03

          Truth, Those first couple months are almost no mods, and completely up to the company to patch etc.

          I played Skyrim originally on the pc, played it on a console. Still a farking good game! But mods was the icing on the cake that really made me sit down and explore the world

          Reply

          • Pariah ???

            October 26, 2016 at 10:06

            Honestly, I like the vanilla game with the unofficial patch, the graphic overhauls and the DLC. Literally no other mods. For me that kept me going for around 5 playthroughs (2 on console).

          • Lu

            October 26, 2016 at 13:58

            My general rule is that if it adds to immersion I’ll install it. Lightsabers and sloot mods can gtfo.

          • BakedBagel

            October 26, 2016 at 14:22

            That mesh mod for Skyrim was the best.

      • miaau

        October 26, 2016 at 11:59

        Hi, this is me. I played on console for months, bloody well to death thanks. Still do not want to replay that one, started playing on release day

        Reply

  4. HairyEwok

    October 26, 2016 at 08:22

    Well if that’s the case then no pre-order shall ever be done? It’s only fair.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      October 26, 2016 at 08:31

      Except it will still happen, because consumers

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        October 26, 2016 at 08:54

        *Idiot consumers

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          October 26, 2016 at 09:02

          There’s a lot of them 🙁

          Reply

          • Original Heretic

            October 26, 2016 at 09:35

            I was being redundant, wasn’t I… The words “idiot” and “consumers” are almost interchangeable most of the time.

        • Dungeon of JJ

          October 26, 2016 at 09:28

          😀

          Reply

      • Dungeon of JJ

        October 26, 2016 at 09:28

        *idiots

        Reply

        • miaau

          October 26, 2016 at 11:59

          punters

          Reply

    • Dungeon of JJ

      October 26, 2016 at 09:28

      For sure. Though I did pre-order Fallout 4 without knowing anything, but I paid R400 for it. Now you can only get the game for that price at 50% discount.

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        October 26, 2016 at 09:34

        Yeah but that’s standard for any product that’s been on the market for a while. When brand new, it costs huge, then the price drops as time passes.
        Look at cellphone prices. A brand new top of the range phone can cost up to R20 000.
        6 months later, the same phone is nearly half the price.

        Reply

        • Dungeon of JJ

          October 26, 2016 at 09:50

          Only this is completely the opposite. Since I paid half the price at release, (R400) and it’s now R800 on Steam.

          Reply

          • Original Heretic

            October 26, 2016 at 09:56

          • Dungeon of JJ

            October 26, 2016 at 10:08

            Haha. I was confused myself. But I think it was just at that moment before the Rand went to crap and Steam went over to Rand pricing.

          • BakedBagel

            October 26, 2016 at 09:57

            Christmas is around the corner.

            So many games for R800 will be dirt cheap.

            Unless they pull a R* and mark it up 25% before hand lmao

          • Dungeon of JJ

            October 26, 2016 at 10:07

            I’m not interested in R* after that. But I’ll definitely be checking out for a few others, hoping to pick up some good ones. The Halloween sale that should start this Friday will hopefully also have a few interesting ones.

          • Pariah ???

            October 26, 2016 at 10:08

            I just want 1 game when Christmas rolls around. Shadow Warrior 2. I’m getting me a new graphics card. 😀

          • BakedBagel

            October 26, 2016 at 10:24

            All that gore
            All those cheesy 1 liners.

            YES PLEASE

          • Dungeon of JJ

            October 26, 2016 at 10:29

            Woo! What’re you considering? I just got my new gpu but now I don’t know what to play to properly try it out.

          • Pariah ???

            October 26, 2016 at 10:31

            GTX1060 6GB. It’s not a considering, it’s happening. 🙂

          • Lu

            October 26, 2016 at 14:00

            Still have no regrets. Which one you getting?

          • Dungeon of JJ

            October 26, 2016 at 14:46

            Oh excellent. I was also eyeing that one myself. Damn good card that.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            October 26, 2016 at 10:40

            I knew it! YOU WANT WANG!

          • Pariah ???

            October 26, 2016 at 10:44

            Damn straight!!!

            Well, maybe that’s not the right term…

    • Original Heretic

      October 26, 2016 at 09:36

  5. Pariah ???

    October 26, 2016 at 08:24

    My only day 1 purchase in the last 4 years was not everything it promised. So there was no risk of me buying anything day 1 or pre-ordering anyway.

    Reply

  6. Dutch Matrix

    October 26, 2016 at 08:31

    “Bethesda is preying on the temptation of playing on launch day, at the expense of critical writing before that can happen…” This sentence is a bit too harsh, don’t you think? Any company will hope they have a great launch and all that no matter what the product.
    But if any gamer out there hands over cash for a game they have not read reviews on, it’s hardly the fault of the publisher.

    Reply

    • Dungeon of JJ

      October 26, 2016 at 09:30

      There’s still no denying that critical writing does hinder sales. So that must play some role in why they’ve opted to go this route.

      Reply

      • Dutch Matrix

        October 26, 2016 at 10:14

        I hear you but I do not fully agree. The thing is: Gamers like you and me will still wait for a review of a game, even if it means a week or two added to our wait. Well, I would wait for a Lagz review of a game, because R900-R1000 for a game is a lot of pennies.
        The same idiots that buys a game day 1 without reading a proper review of the game will still do that. Nothing an embargo on reviews or release of review copies to the media will change.

        Reply

        • Dungeon of JJ

          October 26, 2016 at 10:28

          Yea. True. For sure. And Bethesda will still cash in quite well on that.

          Reply

  7. Original Heretic

    October 26, 2016 at 08:36

    For shorter games like Dishonored or Doom, no problem.

    But when you have a time sink game like Skyrim or Fallout, what I really want to know is, after 50 hours into the game, is it still fun to play?
    Fallout 4 started off really fun for me. But the more I played, the more monotonous it became.

    Reply

    • Mariano

      October 26, 2016 at 09:53

      Probably because you played the witcher 3 and you wont like anything that much after it.

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        October 26, 2016 at 09:57

        I’ve played through Fallout 3 (with expansions) 6 times. Fallout 4 just didn’t have the same magic to it.

        Reply

  8. Jonah Cash

    October 26, 2016 at 08:47

    This is why I have not bought a new game outside of Fifa and Destiny over the last two years. I am buying only after about 6-12 months and on special. You want to screw me over, then I will screw you over later. I now buy games for R250-R500 and they feel well worth that price to me. (Haven’t bought Doom yet, might just skip it altogether now in any case)

    Reply

    • Original Heretic

      October 26, 2016 at 09:03

      Doom is worth it, give it a look.

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        October 26, 2016 at 11:51

        Will get it one day for R100. I get my shooter fix from Destiny and Titanfall to be honest. So I don’t really look at any other shooter games.

        Reply

    • Nikola

      October 26, 2016 at 09:53

      I do the same buy games either on special or pre-owned they too expensive.

      You making a huuuuge mistake get DOOM man it is really the best game I’ve played this year besides Uncharted 4!

      Reply

  9. Alien Emperor Trevor

    October 26, 2016 at 08:51

    It makes sense for Bethesda. Less than glowing reviews before launch means less sales for them. They want people hyped, information-free and excited to play on day one, plunking their money down on preorders. Informed buyers are an unnecessary risk.

    And it’s not like the games media are going to stop with endless fluff pieces based on screenshots and arb crap about upcoming games that function as free marketing and hype generators either. All those and the review after launch will still be clicked, so they lose nothing.

    Of course, I’m neither of those. I’m just a cynical old bastard who plays games, what do I know. Should go back to buying a game like I did in the old days – because it had a cool cover.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      October 26, 2016 at 08:55

      • Audacity (or-das-it-eeee-eee)

        October 26, 2016 at 12:36

        Lol nice gif

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          October 26, 2016 at 12:40

          XD

          Reply

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      October 26, 2016 at 08:56

      This only goes to protect publishers, they want to protect their preorders and bad reviews are bad for sales.

      Reply

      • Mariano

        October 26, 2016 at 09:57

        you are saying the same he did but in a “nice looking way” but it isn’t nice what you are arguing, is corruption, in any planet, that’s a lie. People should decide what is good and what not. Like people did with fallout 4 and Witcher 3. Bethesda fear that heir fanboys wont be enough to cover the gains they want.

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          October 26, 2016 at 09:59

          People should stop spending money on Preorders

          Reply

    • Original Heretic

      October 26, 2016 at 09:18

    • Dungeon of JJ

      October 26, 2016 at 09:31

      That’s how I got into Half Life 😀

      Reply

    • Dungeon of JJ

      October 26, 2016 at 09:33

      At least No Man’s Sky was all it promised, right? So there’s nothing to worry about with this. 😛

      Reply

  10. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    October 26, 2016 at 09:02

    I don’t think people trust IGN and other corporate gaming sites as much as publishers would like. Instead people are turning to independent reviewers more and more. Now those independents can review the game almost the same time as IGN so publishers are kinda shooting themselves in the foot on reserving early copies

    Reply

    • Mariano

      October 26, 2016 at 10:00

      Agree. But we have another problem. “independent reviewers” are also corrupt and at cheaper costs, we can see this with youtubers benchmarking video cards for example. Making amd cards look worst than they actually are. With games can be the same. But some game reviewers at least look honest….. for now.

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        October 26, 2016 at 10:58

        This place, Angry Joe,Ben Yathzee and Jim Sterling are my go to place for reviews atm.

        Reply

    • BakedBagel

      October 26, 2016 at 10:00

      Yeah i skip “reviewers” all together.

      Honestly. Nothing more honest than watching a stream of it.
      Watching lirik berate a game real time is far more effective than a score 😀

      Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      October 26, 2016 at 10:11

      I don’t agree with the idea that people don’t trust IGN (they have 150 million uniques a month for a reason), but I understand the sentiment. To me, finding a critic or two who have similar views to you is always a good idea. Follow their content, make decisions based on that.

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        October 26, 2016 at 10:57

        150 million?
        O_o

        Reply

  11. Dungeon of JJ

    October 26, 2016 at 09:25

    This isn’t exactly a great sign. But all it means is fewer and fewer day-one purchases, and possibly more refunds.

    Reply

    • Pariah ???

      October 26, 2016 at 09:34

      I’m all for more refunds.

      Reply

  12. Original Heretic

    October 26, 2016 at 09:37

  13. MakeItLegal

    October 26, 2016 at 09:52

    mmm…their game…it does make me feel as a consumer then that i will will 3 weeks after launch to make sure of where my goes

    Reply

  14. Mariano

    October 26, 2016 at 09:52

    Well bethesda went from master race to peasantry and failure. Got raped by an almost indie studio like CD projekt RED.

    Reply

  15. BakedBagel

    October 26, 2016 at 09:55

    ” It’ll make reviews a bit of a minefield, pushing you, as a reader, to pick your critics wisely.”

    Been doing this since 2013.
    Dont pre-order games.
    Simple.

    Reply

  16. Ghost In The Rift

    October 26, 2016 at 10:08

    As i stated before, The Witcher 3 has totally ruined Skyrim for me, i really tried but story, questing and the NPC’s, so dead, i loved the game when it was released 5 years back, but that’s just a hardcore RPG fan talking.

    Reply

    • Pariah ???

      October 26, 2016 at 10:09

      And funnily enough I’m the opposite. I found Witcher too constricting in style, story, setting etc. It was so dull. I never bothered with #3, it was difficult enough for me to finish 2.

      Reply

      • Ghost In The Rift

        October 26, 2016 at 11:38

        and that’s understandable, both games has its pro’s and cons’s, The Witcher 3 for me was all about the story, its pretty much how i game, gameplay, visuals etc is just a bonus in my book since story’s in games have matured over the years, better than some movies and series, in the end everybody has different taste and approach to games , we just have to respect that and keep the community alive

        Reply

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