Has Famitsu Lost Objectivity?

2 min read
10

scales

Famitsu is one of the premier gaming print publications in Japan – and perfect scores from the magazine, once rarer than hen’s teeth, are highly sought after by game developers and publishers.

It’s becoming more and more apparent though that this generation in particular, Famitsu’s reviewers seem to have sold their souls – and with them their objectivity.

Since 1986 only 6 titles have received a perfect 10 from each of the magazine’s 4 allotted reviewers.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998),
  • Soulcalibur (1999)
  • Vagrant Story (2000)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
  • Nintendogs (2005)
  • Final Fantasy XII (2006)

Since the launch of this generation’s consoles though, 8 games have received the coveted perfect Famitsu score.

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
  • 428 (2008)
  • Dragon Quest IX (2009)
  • Monster Hunter Tri (2009)
  • Bayonetta (2009)
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010)

While one could ostensibly argue that games this generation have just gotten much better, the last perfect score they gave – for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is particularly worrying. Not to detract from Kojima’s latest – which in all likelihood is a masterpiece – but Famitsu failed to disclose in their review that the magazine is heavily involved in the marketing of the game. Not only does Famitsu appear in the game, but Enterbrain – the company that publishes Famitsu – has its president appear in print advert for Peace Walker. If that’s not a conflict of interests, I don’t know what is. It’s almost impossible to believe there’s been any impartiality in the review.

Famitsu perfect scores were so prized because they were so incredibly rare. Their significance this generation has been significantly lessened, as it seems they can be bought.

Unfortunately this sort of behaviour; enticing publishers with positive reviews and frothy, gushing news pieces to elicit advertising revenue is all too common, not only in the videogame industry but journalism in general. It’s something I can’t abide and as Nick pointed out in the comments recently we review games, not companies.

Sources ; Kotaku, Wired

Last Updated: April 21, 2010

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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