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[Column] General: More on the Issue About Paid Review Scores



  • Octagon7711Octagon7711 Member LegendaryPosts: 8,967

    I don't believe professional reviewers get actual money, a car, or anything like that for writing positive reviews.  I think it works just like in many organizations that have a working relationship with others. 

    If a reviewer feels a game is crap he/she can't come out and say that.  But they can hint at it and sugar coat it in a professional way.  After all everyone has to work together and you would have to be very diplomatic in how things are said.  I think if a reviewer develops a rep for being a hard a** then the game companies will think twice when granting them interviews and won't even think about giving them heads up on special projects.


    In my line of work I had to deal with the press a lot and was told something which was good to remember.  Getting mad at them or seeking to one-up them does little good as they will always have the last word in the story they report to the public.  Best to be cool, paint a professional picture, and never let personal feelings get in the way.


    Independent reviewers are in the some boat.  If they have a history of saying that sucks, game companies won't want to have much to do with them.  If that reviewer needs to have copies of the game given to them for reviews they learn to be diplomatic about what they say.


    The average gamers on the other hand can say just about what they want.  What can the game companies do?  But to expect trash talking from professionals who do it for a living just will not  happen.  Unless of course they're having a really bad day which can happen to any of us, but that's what checks and balances are for...


    "We all do the best we can based on life experience, point of view, and our ability to believe in ourselves." - Naropa      "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  SR Covey

  • sketocafesketocafe Member UncommonPosts: 950
    That's nice. Now if you would only just work to avoid all appearance of impropriety, like an actual journalist, you wouldn't need to keep bringing this up. 
  • grimgryphongrimgryphon Member CommonPosts: 682
    Originally posted by Hrimnir
    Originally posted by sominator
    Originally posted by serrenitei

    Som, I applaud your efforts over the last two columns.  You are a braver man that I to face the insanity of the mob.  Maybe someday gamers will realize how great they have it in our corner of the world, but I'm not going to hold my breath.  

    There are a few of us out there who don't spit on reviewers, who realize that you are people too, and that we all love games, most us care far more about games than we care about money.  I know that the journalist/reviewers of the world have a relatively thankless job and get paid crap, and still love every second.  



    Yeah, what a HORRIBLE job, getting paid (even if its shit pay) to sit around and play video games and write about.  I would so much rather work in a call center, or get a job shoveling trash into a furnace, you know or any number of the 900 million other jobs that suck far more than being a gaming "journalist".

    +1 for putting journalist in quotes.

    Gaming journalist. No such animal.

    Optional PvP = No PvP
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,125
    Originally posted by zymurgeist

    "Any reviewer worth his salt."


    And there lies the problem. Many reviewers are often believed to be worth less than a grain of salt.  Conflicts of interest are widespread and rarely reported. 'Gaming journalists' go along to get along. Gaming companies don't cooperate with reviewers who give negative reviews to their products. Gaming magazines and websites eventually let those reviewers go because they can't function without the gaming companies cooperation. Gaming companies aren't openly abusive but they do wield influence.

    Sometimes it's not so much the reviewer as the timeframe.  A lot of people are looking for reviews of a game right at or shortly before launch.  Thus, sites rush to get reviews up, even if it means publishing something by someone who mostly has no idea what he's talking about.  A reviewer who only played a game for a couple of hours and has no clue what's going on in the game is not going to write a useful review.  The score isn't even relevant when the review has more howling factual errors than it has paragraphs.

    That's why the "review in progress" approach taken by this site is such a good idea.  The start of the "review in progress" may well have the reviewer talking about things that he doesn't really understand.  But after a few weeks, he's got a much better idea of what's going on and how the parts of the game fit together--and is far more likely to have misunderstandings cleared up before assigning a score.

  • tyfontyfon Member UncommonPosts: 240

    In my company it is simply not accepted to receive gifts from partners, customers etc.

    The reason is so that there should be absolutely no question about the integrity of the business relations.

    Whenever there are gifts and friendships involved, you cannot separate it from business. The only way to do it is to not accept the gifts etc. It's that easy.

    Anything else is as corrupt as election campaign donations in the US.

  • winterwinter Member UncommonPosts: 2,281

    This article is the biggest pile of BS I've seen in along time.

    It is human nature to help friends and hinder enemies, saying we're professionals and we'd never be human is BS. Sure the author or reviewer might not recognize that they are doing it , but they do. Major million dollar companies get caught doing unprofessional things all the time. (kickbacks, hireing family members etc.) and they lose millions over it. Anyone remember CCP giving out free Blue prints to their friends in game (Eve) and when they were reported they punished and banned the guy that reported the abuse while giving the dev responsible a 2 week PAID vacation!!!. So don't expect me to believe a site like MMORPG.com that basically has nothing to lose doesn't play favorites at times. Seriously when your boss critics you and says your review is too down and wants you to put a more positive spin on it, you put a more positive spin on it if you want to keep selling reviews to this site. You probably don't stop to consider if he's friends with one of the games devs or recieved too much swag or advertising dollars

  • KickaxeKickaxe Member UncommonPosts: 157
    Originally posted by Kickaxe
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    Hey folks,

    Currently on vacation with my family. I did not see Som's article until today. I can however say that WE DO NOT accept payment for reviews, but some companies have tried. Usually Eastern imported MMOs, and never a big AAA company.

    And I know for a fact of two of our direct competitors who DO accept $$$ for their favorable reviews. I won't say who without proof to back it up. But they're not likely the kind of sites that most of our readers would visit outside of good Google Search returns. They don't have the community that Massively and MMORPG support.

    And if those sites do it, it's highly likely that other sites across other genres and countries do as well.

    So while you may not agree with scores we sometimes give, they've never been paid for.

    For the TSW COLUMN: we honestly just see good traffic on those, as the game has a following here and abroad. Niche though it may be. We generally write what you guys read, so if people stop clicking TSW columns, we will move on.

    Cheers! Now I'm going back to vacation.

    PS - The column stays. Som is wrong about some thing's, but there's still plenty of value in this discussion. Go ahead and try to hash out what sites DO accept paid reviews.


    I appreciate the condor of your reply, Bill. Respectfully, I would suggest that a change in title for the article would be good. Using the term myth is unnecessarily provocative and somewhat undermines the discussion to the extent that it suggests a position of total denial rather than one of good faith in the discussion.

    Quoting myself for context.  

    The article's title has since been changed; 'Issue' replaces 'Myth' (if my memory serves, that is).  I just wanted to recognize MMORPG.com for making this change which to me demonstrates goodwill on their part.


    Personally, I don't believe this site or its writers to be corrupt--I don't believe that they take bribes in exchange for favourable reviews.  That being said, however, I do think that the reviews and articles here often have a strong fansite vibe rather than what I would expect of a game press site oriented to enthusiast level readership.  Moreover, at other times, and with reference to the OP article, I sense contempt for many of us who frequent the site--for those of us that tend toward the critical view (and not exclusively against the hostile or unhinged) of games and developers. Thus it appears at times that MMORPG.com and perhaps other similar sites is not holding itself up to an appropriate professional standard if it is to be considered a member of the games press (though perhaps I am wrong and MMORPG.com does not identify itself this way).

  • Azaron_NightbladeAzaron_Nightblade Member EpicPosts: 4,825
    Originally posted by Kickaxe

    Quoting myself for context.  

    The article's title has since been changed; 'Issue' replaces 'Myth' (if my memory serves, that is).  I just wanted to recognize MMORPG.com for making this change which to me demonstrates goodwill on their part.


    Hah, my first thought when I saw this new post was "What? Another one?" and then I realized it was the same topic, only renamed to have a more fitting headline.

    I definitely didn't expect to see that, so it makes for a nice surprise. image

    (And yes, it was originally 'Myth', unless we're both remembering it wrong.)

    My SWTOR referral link for those wanting to give the game a try. (Newbies get a welcome package while returning players get a few account upgrades to help with their preferred status.)


  • VolgoreVolgore Member EpicPosts: 3,872

    This "article" almost looks like clickbait to me.

    Is "Sam Purfa..." even a real person or is it rather a pseudonym mmorpg.com uses whenever they want to publish an unpopular opinion to stir up some controversy?

    However, every "gaming journalist" releasing a piece so far off should probably write about other things in the future.

    Paid reviews have happened and do happen. Period. And like many posters before me have pointed out, it also happens on this page. Not in terms of cash for good scores, but more subtle and indirectly.

    "freelance authors" are just that - to an extend writers for hire. Hired for what? To write articles the people who pay them prefer. Who pays them then? In the end, they get paid by the industry. Try to be a freelance author writing stuff the folks up there frown upon. Now count 1 and 1 together.

  • FlyinDutchman87FlyinDutchman87 Member UncommonPosts: 335

    Yeah...... I usually agree with what's said on this site. However their instance that Paid reviews never happen( or don' happen often) is wildly optimistic at best. 

    People are people and money always corrupts.  


    Now i'm not saying that's true for this site, but if you look at a site like IGN.... or some of the big name youtube/twitch guys it's pretty obivous. 


    You can talk about professionalism, pride and all that other crap, but at the end of the day if someone ways to pay you real dollars to play and talk about games all day if you give there score a bump or pull a few written punches,  most are going to go along with it. I'm damn sure I would. 

  • BurntvetBurntvet Member RarePosts: 3,465

    It is simple: Publishers/Developers will not pay to advertise on a site that gives their product lousy reviews. Or continue to advertise there.

    So what happens?

    The editors hand out the assignments to the writers to "review" a game, and to concentrate on finding a few things to like about a given game they are to review (there are usually a few bright spots in the worst pile of junk game).

    The writers, not being stupid, realize where the money that comes to pay them comes from, and do everything they can to "accentuate the positive" and gloss over the real and existing negative parts, which have been obviously there in some cases, to give games high scores.

    No one 'tells" anyone to cook a score, but it is all part of not making waves, and making sure everyone gets paid: the sites get repeat advertising revenue from the publishers happy about the high scores and puff hype articles, the writers get paid to write the puff pieces and inflated reviews, and the publishers make out on ignorant gamers that read the BS reviews. (Plus sites like this one DIRECTLY profit from selling the same games they give the inflated reviews to... see that "Store" button?)

    So the only people that suffer from all of this is the gamers, who buy  the over-priced, hyped-up crap.


    Yeah, no one "pays" for a review, they don't have to.


    (And a HUGE LOL at this author at having ANY credibility whatsoever, He is a "Cryptic guy"? Those jokers are the worst for hyping up disposable games at the expense of the consumer. And what do you know, the MMORPG.com folk have a nice cozy relationship with him, what are the chances? It is UTTERLY ironic that the guy that straddles the fence between "developer/publisher" and "journalist" writes an article on "the ethics of gaming sites." It is this direct conflict of interest that is at the core of what is wrong with the whole mess.

    BS on that whole load of self serving drek he wrote.)

  • crack_foxcrack_fox Member UncommonPosts: 399

    "Trust me, I'm a professional


    I'm sure your professional integrity is very important to you, but I really don't care. I no longer buy games at launch and I rarely pay reviewers any mind. I use early adopters like mine canaries. If they're still singing after a few weeks, it's usually safe to go in. And usually cheaper too. 

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 6,259

    Just had a thought about game reviewers. In my opinion, ANY reviewer that gets a copy of a game for free, is not "unbiased." If they rip the game apart, they may cease to receive free copies from that company.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.

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