Recently there has been a lot of talk about Bethesda announcing their new review policy about not giving early review copies to journalists. Many people are understandably upset on all sides. Let’s be clear Bethesda decision does not benefit their consumers, but it is totally their right to not give out early copies of the game for game media. I am just not sure if this is the right choice.
Bethesda is one of the few companies that can get away with doing this for their games. Many of the smaller game companies would not be able to get away with this for the simple fact that those game journalists would just not review the game. Journalists have a lot of games to play and need the time to properly review games. Being given time before the game releases allow them to make the best review for their viewers which benefits everyone.
There are going to be games that aren’t even going to benefit from a review since they wouldn’t make sense like Pokemon GO. Sometimes the experience of the game can only objectively be critiqued when it is released into a public and the social aspect of it is truly realized. By then it might be too late to even review the game.
There are many topics that need to be discussed such as when game reviews actually make sense for a game in the age of ever updated games from when they are released to when the media should be given the game early to review. I just want to briefly talk about what I think is the most important of all of them which is the relationship between the media and developers.
In the end of the day, what matters most is those game companies and the game media have a functioning and positive relationship with each other. When it comes to reviews, game companies need to trust that the media will to the best of their ability review the game in a way that their audience expects them to. The media needs ample time to research a game to give their best review.
Video games are unlike many other forms of entertainment. Many games are relatively more expensive, time intensive, and requires more of your attention. Books, films, and music are all much less expensive and easier to consume which is why it is so popular. With the resources required for the average consumer it is important they have trusted sources they can turn to so they are getting the most out of all games.
When consumers can get trusted information to make sure they are playing the games that are best for them, the industry benefits. No one wins when a consumer is turned off of games forever because of one horrible experience. In this changing world how consumers get that information is ever changing and adapting, but that is ok as long as the core source of trust is kept.