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Are IGN's reviews paid for?
Former IGN Employee Admits Review Scores Are Skewed Due to Public Relations and The Almighty Dollar
10. October 2012 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Let me start off this breaking news report by mentioning that IGN is not the only review site or publication that does this, and it’s actually a rather sad, but common, occurrence across the industry. IGN is mentioned specifically so as to make clear how deep this runs, and how serious of an issue this really is. This is not an indictment against IGN, nor are we any less trust worthy of them for doing this. However, this is a harsh reality of the industry and something we have been fortunate enough to have not run into for ourselves yet.
The story goes as this: IGN, among several other publications, alter review scores, alter editorial pieces, based on who is paying the bills. Essentially in order to continue to get review copies of games, to get certain publishers to advertise on your site, things get altered to appear more favorable for certain games. This is not true of every game reviewed or talked about, and it’s hard to point to any specific examples, but ZI just received exclusive confirmation that this happens all the time.
According to a former IGN employee, who will remain anonymous for obvious reasons:
The truth is that marketing and PR and readers have a major influence on reviews. I can tell you that just about every preview and review you read spouts out a lot of marketing’s message. Journalists don’t get it, see it, realize it, or accept it. But that is the truth
Fact remains that this is something we have all suspected for some time. In fact, we know some sites have literally taken money directly for writing a positive review. In IGN, and other similar site’s defense, they are rarely paid directly for the review itself. Rather, the money, one can assume, is all related to marketing and public relations. The big money makers for any website that posts news. All of our income is produced off of similar methods, where companies come to our ad agency and offer certain amounts of money to display advertising. Naturally, if we talk negatively over and over again about a product it will make them less likely to advertise it to our fan base thus hurting income.
Setting aside our inside source, which even if you have a hard time believing us let me just say that if this was false I would sell this site to any fan for 1$ (that’s how confident I am), this entire story starting initially making rounds today off the words of Rich Stanton on twitter. Rich Stanton is a freelance writer who is known for his work with Future Publishing/PC Gamer. While he is hardly the elite of the elite, it simply adds a lot of weight to the ongoing problem in the industry that many Journalists, and fans, are just afraid to admit to.
I warn that there are some vulgar words used in these direct quotes off twitter:
Edge gave GTA IV  but the review didn’t “@CiaranMac90: @RichStanton Just give us the worst story on Future you have and get some rest!” I’m genuinely amazed that nobody has picked up on the fact that GTA4 got a 9 which became Rockstar’s much sought-after  in Edge.
They control everything “@theubermod: @RichStanton Do publishers/platform holders ‘pay’ for covers? In either ad spend or access.”
Yes “@helloimandrew: @RichStanton do review scores in future publications sometimes magically change before it hits the self”
Homefront, less obviously. Most is Driv3rgate “@Tim__Lane: @RichStanton game that got most obviously dodgy reviews?”
Rockstar, without question. “@LittleJuiceBox1: @RichStanton Who were the dodgiest PRs for doing deals (review scores etc)?”
Yes. Future will do anything to accommodate advertisers. “@LewieP: @RichStanton have you witnessed any dodgy deals?”
PC Gamer asked me to take some photos of something very specific. A wall of concept art. I asked permission, and did so. Valve went nuts. This wasn’t approved! Do you know what PC Gamer’s editor, Tim Edwards, did? He denied I had ever been asked to do it. Said PCG were merely the innocent recipient. Lied, in other words. ****.
In short, this is an industry-wide concern. Speaking from some of my own experiences, sometimes negative remarks about games are requested to be completely eliminated from an article, rather than directly lying, because the game developer is the one “paying for that article to exist” - and usually the freelance writer has no idea that is the case at the time they take the job. They are just offered a sum of money to create an honest review, only to have to alter it before sending it live so as not to “piss off” the people who paid for it.
It makes you really question the integrity of the internet, and really question every review you see anywhere. Is the site popular? Yes? Does that mean the reviews are skewed? Possibly. It’s hard to tell in today’s day and age what’s honest and whats not, and since the consumers are none the wiser it’s hard to know if this trend will ever change. All we can do at ZI is inform all of you as to whats really going on and then leave the debate and decisions up to you. This isn’t just IGN. It’s not just Future publishing… it’s… who even knows. This runs deep folks.
SOURCE - http://www.zeldainformer.com/news/co...blic-relations
IGN's response -
IGN Strikes Back: Editorial and Marketing Teams Separated, Reviews and Articles not Skewed
12. October 2012 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Setting aside the bad Star Wars reference, when you look into any sort of news, especially as it pertains to something as serious as letting publishers push you around, it’s important of course to let both sides get their say. While our source is solid, it’s only fair we let IGN defend themselves, and as such here is what IGN has to a say according to their publicly available policies, as well as a brief statement sent to me via email from Tal Blevins, VP of Games Content at IGN
“I have been part of the IGN editorial department since 1998 and I can tell you that these statements are not true. No money or any other favors are exchanged for review scores or favorable opinions. We do not alter what we think to secure review copies of games or to encourage publishers to advertise. We also keep a very clear distinction between the editorial and advertising sections of IGN, and the editors don’t know what ads are running on the site or how much any publisher has spent to advertise on IGN’s sites.”
I know the initial reaction of many is “of course they deny what really happens”, but the fact remains that even with our solid source and these words from IGN, we at ZI can only truly know how we handle things at our own home base… not theirs. It’s true we do have some outside pressures for advertising. As an example, our American fan base, which is a majority of you, no longer receive high priority ads from Nintendo because we have to change our site name in order for that to happen. We have to drop Zelda from the title, and we’re not so sure that’s the best move.
Of course, we have talked about just dropping the “elda” and becoming zinformer, or simply just ZI, but the fact remains it’s a pressure and a decision we have to make internally. I cannot naturally understand or fathom any potential pressure IGN, or any other site, faces since we are not in their shoes. Here is what is available publicly in regards to their policies on the matter.
I see ads on IGN’s site for games you review. Do advertisers affect your review scores? Absolutely not. IGN has a very strict separation between sales and editorial. Editors are unaware of upcoming ads and promotions. It’s as much a surprise to us when we see an ad on our site as it is to the readers.
In the end we can’t tell you what to think about the whole ordeal. This naturally doesn’t change the fact that this does happen, as can be drawn from the twitter remarks in our previous post on the matter. It’s also true some money has exchanged hands with the full intention of puffing review scores, however none that necessarily applies to IGN directly.
As I stated when we posted it originally, even with the information from our source I in no way trusted IGN any less, and IGN, being the professionals they are, definitely have an extremely solid case of defense against such accusations. We may never know what truly happens, but we do know the pressures we face, and the likely chance these pressures will only get bigger as our fan base grows.
For now, we apologize to IGN for not letting them get a fair shake at the breaking of the story, but it’s not on us to cast the judgement. IGN is a fantastic site, and still my home page (blasphemy, right?) when I load my browser every morning. We have now presented both sides and the rest is left up to you folks.
SOURCE - http://www.zeldainformer.com/news/co...ews-and-articl
Rigged reviews have been talked about for a while, but I've been seeing it come up a lot more recently
Which of the two are you more inclined to agree with?