Bethesda Announces Backwards Review Policy
Bethesda has announced officially that it will only send out review copies of games to publications one day before release. They have been doing this since the release of DOOM, which was a critical success, but because of this policy speculation was rife about its quality.
They give their rationale as wanting everyone to experience their games at the same time. And that if people want to wait for reviews before they buy a game, then they should simply wait, as they don’t have to buy the game on release.
Both of these things are essentially true. However in practice, Bethesda is not sticking to them, and it does not work out that way.
For starters, Skyrim Remastered has been given to certain sites and ‘influencers’ before release. The problem being that their new policy is not a blanket one, they can easily give out codes and copies to publications they know will review them better than others, and leads to the undesirable possibility of the way games used to be reviewed in the early 2000’s, with publications essentially bidding on exclusive reviews much earlier than anyone else, leading to debacles such as Drivergate.
In addition, they have a special pre-order bonus letting you play the game a day early. That isn’t the same time for everyone then either.
The problem with this policy is mostly for the consumers and reviewers. They will be forced to get into companies good books to be chosen to get a code early, so that they can actually have something up on release of the game, as most people only read the earliest reviews before deciding if they should or shouldn’t purchase. This creates an imbalance in which reviewers are far more likely to want to impress the companies with great deals rather than reviewing the game honestly – which is bad for the average consumer expecting all reviews to be somewhat unbiased.
Of course, it’s the companies right to do this. These are their most prized assets after all. In the end it’s a bad omen for consumers and gaming publications, but Bethesda will probably do just fine. I don’t personally see this becoming a huge issue until they have some kind of scandal – a game that is awful upon release which everyone expected to be good and preordered without any reviews available, or even worse, false good reviews.
To read Bethesda’s statement, click here.