Is it wrong to request compensation to review a product?

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bribe

Recently Indiegamingmag hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when they changed their review policy to now request a $50 payment if you want your indie game reviewed.

Now let’s be clear here, they are not asking for $50 to give you a good review but rather for simply reviewing the game independently. The owner of the site, Chris Newton, has written a blog post explaining the policy that I will try nutshell for you.

Basically there are billions of indie games that everyone wants reviewed, these reviews take time and energy and a small site such as theirs isn’t earning enough money from advertising to reimburse proper writers for their work. So now if you want a game reviewed it costs $50 and they then use that money to pay for reviews.

I completely understand where Chris is coming from as we struggle on a monthly basis to pay our bills and to cover the salaries of our awesome staff. Often we miss payments entirely or dip into personal funds to cover costs which is pretty depressing to say the least. Then we get hundreds, if not thousands, of requests to review indie titles, mobile games, flash games etc and it is literally impossible to do that.

So yeah asking for money would definitely help but is it right?

I don’t think so, how can you honestly sit there with a straight face and state that the money the client is giving you specifically for a review isn’t going to sway the review? What if you were incorrect in your review? Can they then claim that you owe them a refund? What if the company who approaches you represents 1000 indie games and they are willing to pay $50 per game review, are you going to ruin the opportunity to net $50 000 when one of the games is just plain pathetic or are you going to sugar coat the review a bit to ensure your income stream isn’t affected?

All of us in the industry understand why IGM wanted to implement a policy like this, reviews are a nightmare to work with but they are also a necessary evil.

Last Updated: November 22, 2013

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