This post is an educational one. I say educational because if you run a game site or are just a fan, you will learn something from reading this post. Some of you may already have knowledge about this subject but will still find it an interesting read. Where do I begin?
The process of procuring review code for a website is an interesting one. There doesn’t seem to be a set of standards across the board. Every publisher does things differently. It’s also good to note that publishers have two types of PR: First party and 3rd party. Some publishers produce so many titles that they use both first and 3rd party PR services. If you look at a company like Nintendo, they primarily use a 3rd party PR service and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. This company is Golin Harris. If you’re in the industry, you know that GH is the toughest company to get review code from. Since starting thebitbag.com, I’ve received one game from them, but I understand how they work and who they are.
Standards are important to me. I love the fact that Capcom tells you from the get go that you need to have at least a 100,000 Alexa ranking to receive review code. I love the fact that EA delivers whenever I request something. With Microsoft and Sony, sometimes I have to send a request, other times stuff just arrives. For instance, Fable III was sent to us 2 weeks early and I was able to have the review complete by drop date. The same thing happened with the PC release. So in getting Fable III without even requesting it, I figured I was on some master list and would receive all of their titles without having to request them. Alan Wake was also sent to us early last year in the same fashion.
So thinking that I’ll never need to request from Microsoft again, I start seeing Gears 3 out in the wild. Apparently, press copies were being sent out. One of my game editors, Michael Ajibade, was interested in reviewing the game and had known of several other sites that received copies. When I inquired about this with Microsoft’s PR house, Edelman, they stated that they were short on review copies. This is understandable to a certain extent. I know that 3rd party PR will run out of their stock of review copies and need to wait for the publisher to supply them with more. However, we’ve witnessed several pics of celebrities getting early copies and wondered how it was relevant for them to have the game early when they probably won’t be reviewing it. To top it off, I saw a video of Ice T opening the console and the game on Youtube. I know he’s involved with the project so I didn’t sweat it. When I saw a pic that showed that one of the “Pro-Gamers” had received, not one, not two, but THREE copies of Gears Of War 3, I got heated. To top it off they stated that they wouldn’t be reviewing the game.
I’m not really angry with Microsoft as much as I am with the process. I’ve been doing business with them since 1995 but thebitbag.com has been on their press list since 2007. I understand after further digging that different PR people work on different games. I dug through emails going a year backwards and found out that one of the people handling Gears Of War 3 is a person I’ve never communicated with before. So it’s likely that this person doesn’t know who I am. However, I also found out that my beta code was sent directly from one of the other PR reps. So how was I on their list to receive a beta but not the game?
Emails were sent out today in a last ditch effort to get the game quickly so Mike can review it. If it doesn’t come within the next 10 days it goes on the back burner. There’s too much product coming in to sacrifice coverage on an upcoming release to post a review of a game that’s been out for over a week.
So who loses out here? Well for one, our fan base loses out. They won’t get thebitbag’s opinion on the game. Microsoft loses out on what may possibly be a shining review. Epic loses out because if we don’t receive Gears Of War 3 for review, it will not be considered for any Editor’s Choice Awards. The Bitbag loses out on any Gears Of War 3 review traffic. This is why it’s important to understand every publishers processes and to continue to pester them so you can have proper coverage when embargo drops. While I hate being that pestering guy, it seems like it’s the only way to get what you want if your traffic doesn’t speak for you.