Bethesda Will Only Send Out Review Copies One Day Early

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Bethesda Will Only Send Out Review Copies One Day Early

dishonored-2-social

Bethesda Softworks has officially updated its review policy to state that review copies of its games will only be sent out a single day ahead of their respective releases.

Bethesda Softworks, publisher of big-name titles such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, has officially updated its game review policy to state that from now on, review copies will only be sent out a single day ahead of release. It stated Doom as a catalyst of this change in policy.

"Earlier this year we released Doom. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years," wrote Bethesda Global Content Lead Gary Steinman.

"With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release."

There's a lot to say about this. The idea of review embargoes initially appeared as a way to ensure all reviewers had an equal opportunity to play and experience the game for an extended period of time. It stopped people from rushing through the game in order to get a review up "first". Electing to only send copies out a single day ahead of launch brings the rush back into reviewing, and for a game such as Dishonored 2, which has multiple play-through options, it can really hurt the quality of the review.

In short, if you plan on buying a Bethesda game in the future, it may be best to wait one or two weeks for the proper reviews to come out, and if you're wondering why our Dishonored 2 or Skyrim: Special Edition reviews are slow, this is the reason.

Source: Bethesda Softworks

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That sounds worse than me losing my ability to be OP & collect lower level crafting items in ESO.

They don't have to. publishers can do what they want because the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.

why risk rocking the boat by allowing a potentially bad review out there to damage the all important day 1 sales.

I'm a great believer of voting with your wallet, as that is the only thing that makes a change in capitalism.
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

This seems like a publisher flexing their PR control muscles. I find this interesting given what Jim Sterling has recently written about with review copies.

It won't change my spending habits. I got off the hype train around Too Human. I hold out until the Monday after to see if a game is a train wreck or not.

I'm sure this is done with their customers best interests in mind. Absolutely.

"Earlier this year we released Doom. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years,"

The way this is phrased almost makes it seem like a boast. Like they think their games are such hot shit that it doesn't matter that they're enforcing such bullshit embargoes on their products.

Mr Ink 5000:
the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.
[...]
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

Who's "we"? You should stop lumping the compulsive hype-buying consumer with the informed customer. Bringing out the "shut up you're going to buy it anyways" claim is such a pathetic dismissal.

I try to not pre-order and wait until word of mouth and reviews hit before making a purchase. I'll risk being out of the loop if it saves me from having a horrible experience the way of No Man's Sky or even the PC port of Arkham Knight.

Another step downwards, signaling the inevitable bubble burst of the game industry.

Since beth didn't make dishonored 2, it probably won't be horribly bland and inept, but I'll stick to not buying anything on release from them ever again.

On one hand, yeah, it kind of means you won't get a solid review out the gate, and stuff like Skyrim(Ps3) being unplayable after 6 hours from a memory glitch won't be reflected.

On the other hand, most of the reviews from "Review copies" I find almost completely useless to begin with. The entities that get review copies are usually the ones that wouldn't dare rock the boat anyways. See the old 7/10 is the baseline chestnut.

In the end, nothings really stopping anyone from waiting who wanted to analyze things properly anyways. The same pre-order parade will still be at Gamestop at midnight, the same wait-and-see group will still get things a year later used/on sale. The main effect this would seem to have will be to create a divide between click-hungry reviewers slapdashing the review up to get the early clicks and ads and the more thorough reviewers showing their credibility by doing it properly.

Mr Ink 5000:
They don't have to. publishers can do what they want because the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.

why risk rocking the boat by allowing a potentially bad review out there to damage the all important day 1 sales.

I'm a great believer of voting with your wallet, as that is the only thing that makes a change in capitalism.
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

The masses. The invisible enemy.

OT: this seems like a good idea. I mean won't this assure people wait for proper reviews before buying a game?

ShakerSilver:
I'm sure this is done with their customers best interests in mind. Absolutely.

"Earlier this year we released Doom. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years,"

The way this is phrased almost makes it seem like a boast. Like they think their games are such hot shit that it doesn't matter that they're enforcing such bullshit embargoes on their products.

Mr Ink 5000:
the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.
[...]
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

Who's "we"? You should stop lumping the compulsive hype-buying consumer with the informed customer. Bringing out the "shut up you're going to buy it anyways" claim is such a pathetic dismissal.

pathetic but true. us as in gamers who consume AAA. and enough of "us" to shift 5,000,000 units to make such anti consumer practices viable. no it's not all gamers, but those millions are enough to win the vote.
EDIT, and it wasn't a dismissal of "shut up you're going to buy it" - I was hoping to make some realise that what they purchase matters.

Lufia Erim:

Mr Ink 5000:
They don't have to. publishers can do what they want because the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.

why risk rocking the boat by allowing a potentially bad review out there to damage the all important day 1 sales.

I'm a great believer of voting with your wallet, as that is the only thing that makes a change in capitalism.
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

The masses. The invisible enemy.

OT: this seems like a good idea. I mean won't this assure people wait for proper reviews before buying a game?

I don't know. You'd like to think so, but there have been many anti-consumer practices before this, and a lot of these developers carry on because 5,000,000 (or however many are needed to turn a profit) will still buy the game regardless just to see what the hype is about.
theres some analogy about not noticing the water boiling while you're sat in it. it'll come to me

Their games will surely sell anyway even if they don't give any review copies. There a fanatics out there that will defend bethesda's games till they die.

Lufia Erim:

Mr Ink 5000:
They don't have to. publishers can do what they want because the masses will pre-order before any reliable reviews/word of mouth reach them.
the masses may bitch online if the game turns out to be awful.
then pre-order the next game game anyway because they're too scared to miss out on the latest hype.
rinse repeat.

why risk rocking the boat by allowing a potentially bad review out there to damage the all important day 1 sales.

I'm a great believer of voting with your wallet, as that is the only thing that makes a change in capitalism.
This is what we (a few million of us) have voted for.

The masses. The invisible enemy.

OT: this seems like a good idea. I mean won't this assure people wait for proper reviews before buying a game?

Only if they were the type of person who waited for a review before buying to begin with, which most people aren't. On average, most people will check a review if one's available, and gamble if it isn't. This will reduce the number of reviews and thus make it more likely that people will just gamble that the game is good anyways and buy it without reading one.

Furthermore, even the people who DO wait to see a review first, this change will ensure that the reviews they get are of lower quality and less detailed. Since most game reviewers make their money from advertising, they need to get as many people to click their review as quickly as possible, because the longer they wait to put out their review, the more the hype around the game will inevitably fade and people will become less interested in reading it. As such, it becomes a race to get a review out as fast as possible because the longer you take, the more the hype dies, and the more other reviewers will beat you to the punch and get all the views. But racing to put out a review means you don't have as much time to dedicate to properly exploring the game's features, which means the review will end up being of poorer quality. So even people who wait for a review before buying will still be receiving less complete information with which to make an informed decision.

Mr Ink 5000:
pathetic but true. us as in gamers who consume AAA. and enough of "us" to shift 5,000,000 units to make such anti consumer practices viable. no it's not all gamers, but those millions are enough to win the vote.
EDIT, and it wasn't a dismissal of "shut up you're going to buy it" - I was hoping to make some realise that what they purchase matters.

You must not have been keeping up with AAA development if you think every release is pushing out millions. Many a company have been consistently saying how games are becoming too expensive to make and that their titles are underperforming compared to their (often ludicrous) sales margins. Now it's still a long way from having these AAA games being considered outright failures - 4 million sales versus an expected 5 million isn't exactly anything to snuff at - but it's a farcry from "oh no everyone just readily buys up AAA titles. Consider this: even though 5 million people is a significant number of people, it's not anywhere near the majority of any of the current platforms audience.

Considering that their games are generally received positively by critics, I don't see where this is coming from. Perhaps some high up suit read a single bad review of Doom and decided he was gonna show them dirty video game developers.

Well Bethesda can technically do what ever it wants when dealing with Review copies, there's no actual industry standard that says they have to provide review copies at a set time before release or even provide review copies at all if they wanted to.Though maybe they believe now that most reviews for their games boil down to it's buggy but good or it's good but short and that their customer base identifies it's games as such and know what to expect that they don't really need early reviews to move a load of units as such anymore because they're guaranteed a decent amount of sales anyway. But I have to say I understand that the Dishonored 2 would be delayed because of these new practices but why would the Skyrim:SE review be delayed? As everything is pretty much the same as the version already up on steam with ilterally the only things you'd need to check is if the graphics are up to par with the trailers they've been putting out and whether the chickens still report you for crimes that you commit to know whether the game is any different from before. Oh and whether it dies on the PS4 as much as it did on the PS3.

Dick move.

ShakerSilver:

You must not have been keeping up with AAA development if you think every release is pushing out millions. Many a company have been consistently saying how games are becoming too expensive to make and that their titles are underperforming compared to their (often ludicrous) sales margins. Now it's still a long way from having these AAA games being considered outright failures - 4 million sales versus an expected 5 million isn't exactly anything to snuff at - but it's a farcry from "oh no everyone just readily buys up AAA titles. Consider this: even though 5 million people is a significant number of people, it's not anywhere near the majority of any of the current platforms audience.

i skim gaming news TBH, in an effort to not get too disheartened by looking into too much detail.

Oh yeah, I agree it's not all. My statement was hyperbole I'll admit. But its still on the millions who just can't wait,who reaffirm all the bad practices of the industry. They're enablers

If those millions waited a week here, a month there, it'd kill this Day One DLC, microtransactioning, pre-order exclusive bonus, bug filled mess we're in.

Ubisoft should be dead in the water with their broken games released.

The idea of a a $60/?50 multiplayer only game with microtransactions should never as got as far as it did. I do get the feeling though that they tide is turning on that one.

FYI: I've written this reply on my phone. It's hard to review.

I don't think anything Bethesda put out will affect me in foreseeable future. But man.. the way they announce the news is pretty scummy.

You know what though, Honestly, I prefer the process be simple. So much of recent games media over the past couple years has been literally over the process of how reviews are written. Quite frankly, and this isn't really limited to the games press, but the press in general, there is too much talk of the press itself and less of the subject matter.

If you just played games and didn't spend all your time reading game sites, you ultimately would have completely missed what Gamergate was about, why MassEffect 3 is important in our hobby, Polygon as an entity in general. You would not be aware of a lot of these things. I personally don't feel it's a very big deal to know to much of how the games press operates only because it distracts me from why I came here in the first place. Now I mean that to say ultimately I'm not making a judgement on any of the issues facing gaming, I'm just saying that I don't want to think about how easy or hard it was to write a review, or even if that review was super quick or out before day one. If I've decided to buy a game on day one 90% of the time, I'm gonna find a review that supports my confirmation bias. Otherwise, there are reviewers I trust, not because they're the most ethical, or because I agree with them politically, but rather because my tastes line up with theirs. When they talk about games they like, they articulate their opinion in such a way that makes me feel I will like that game. It's very subjective but so is the medium.

I'd rather read a review that honestly reflects the taste of the reviewer as opposed to the fastest released review or the most well written. If I'm on the fence, I'm gonna wait for a review from someone I trust. If I'm set on buying a game, I'm probably gonna buy it whether I can find that review or not.

i dont know what they are talking about with skyrim. there are review and comparison videos, etc popping up all over the place on youtube at the moment

You'd get exactly the same result (reviewers hurrying to finish playing and writing) if you sent out review copies ten days earlier, or thirty days, or four months. It's like they're not even trying to make it sound believable.

Somewhere, Jeff Gerstmann is crying.

Recusant:
You'd get exactly the same result (reviewers hurrying to finish playing and writing) if you sent out review copies ten days earlier, or thirty days, or four months.

Not really. There's a thing called a review embargo. If you publish a review before they say you can, you'll never get any more review copies. Of course you still have to write a reasonable number of reviews, but however fast you are, your reviews will not come out ahead of anyone elses and if your review makes people wonder whether you've actually played the game, you'll lose traffic to those who played it properly.

Does anybody else remember the days of rushed reviews skipping over important details and generally being shit? I remember the days of rushed reviews skipping over important details and generally being shit.

Good.

My simple rule here is No Pre-review=No Pre-purchase. I could give a fuck about pre-order exclusive DLC...

Uh huh. This late embargo nonsense always strikes me as a massive lack of confidence from a publisher in their game, as if they're trying to hide it for as long as possible to trick more people into pre-ordering. Not sure why Bethesda would have that issue given their track record but that's still what it looks like to me because I can't see any other explanation for keeping everyone in the dark so long on releases. It'd be nice to think this somehow reduced the number of people pre-ordering their games with people waiting for reviews to go up instead but I somehow doubt it'll even make a dent there.

Steven Bogos:
Bethesda Will Only Send Out Review Copies One Day Early

"Earlier this year we released Doom. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years,"

"With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release."

I'm just trying to figure out the logic they used to get from A to B on this.

Due to the multiplayer beta being lackluster and the fact that there were no early review copies sent out people were fearful of Doom's quality. So now they want the same apprehension around all of their new releases?

Is it just that they want people to be pleasantly surprised every time or do they want to institute this policy so the occasional stinker gets in there without a review as well? I don't understand how Doom being good following a lack of transparency leads to this decision. Maybe that's why I don't have an MBA *shrugs*

Bethesda once again showing their insecurities. Hey guys, this isn't going to stop speculation about your games being grossly flawed. It makes me wonder if they're just mad that theire Metascore average has gone from 90s to 80s. In which case they'd best get the hell over it and stop coasting on their past achievements.

pookie101:
i dont know what they are talking about with skyrim. there are review and comparison videos, etc popping up all over the place on youtube at the moment

I'm sure there will be more of this. Publishers are going to favor YouTubers going forward. They're going to pick streamers they know will deliver the expected level of positive and effusive commentary (or at the very least, not say anything negative). They'll feed previews and early review code to streammers they deem to be "fans," hoping the streams will essentially be free advertising.

It's a shame too. I think there are some really good streamers out there that are doing excellent criticism/reviews. But the way that companies like Bethesda are playing favorites with YouTubers who they think can be counted on to toe the line, it's going to be tough for people to determine which YouTubers are objective and trustworthy, and which are happily acting as extensions of the publisher's marketing team.

P.S. On the subject of YouTubers, just a quick reminder that we STILL don't know who the other YouTubers were in the WB/Shadow of Mordor FTC case (besides PewDiePie), and we don't know if WB has has pulled this crap with other games, or if the marketing firm involved with WB has done similar campaigns with other game companies/titles, among other questions. And it doesn't seem like very many people care, which is a shame.

Eh. There are two kinds of customers: Those who will buy the game at launch or pre-order it regardless of what any critics say, and those who will wait until the critics have weighed in before buying even if it means waiting a week or more. This isn't hurting either group, really. There has never been any real incentive to have started playing the game the very day it hits stores. I honestly wouldn't mind the entire industry just giving up on free review copies entirely. This isn't like movies where the film is completely finished months in advance and the theaters need to get butts in the seats on opening weekend.

I'm going to quote TB
"Stop preordering video games"

Good job publishers, you're doing everything in your power to ensure that I absolutely don't buy your game. I'm thrilled with the amount of money I'm saving by not indulging in one of my favorite hobbies.

Bad Jim:

Recusant:
You'd get exactly the same result (reviewers hurrying to finish playing and writing) if you sent out review copies ten days earlier, or thirty days, or four months.

Not really. There's a thing called a review embargo. If you publish a review before they say you can, you'll never get any more review copies. Of course you still have to write a reasonable number of reviews, but however fast you are, your reviews will not come out ahead of anyone elses and if your review makes people wonder whether you've actually played the game, you'll lose traffic to those who played it properly.

But that has nothing to do with what I said. If you send out all the review copies at the same time, regardless of what time that is, all the reviewers have the same amount of time to play the game. That was my point, that it doesn't work as a justification for Zenimax's move here.

So Dishonored 2 is going to be bad and buggy? Got it! Thanks for the heads-up, Bethesda! :)

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