Today’s Word Is: Embargo

Some video game industry terms that can be confusing, that is why you have me to explain them.
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Ahh…game embargoes. What can I say about them. Do you know what a game embargo is? A game embargo is a date before which video game journalists are asked not to publish any material based on a review copy of a game sent to the journalist or playing a demo at the publisher HQ. You sign a Non-Discloser Agreement (NDA) and move on with your life until the embargo is lifted. 

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I am writing this because of one reason. The Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes press event. Let me start with MGS. Yesterday, February 12th, Konami held an event for the press to see Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes in Japan. It looked to be a fun party. I noticed one strange thing. Most video game journalist were tweeting about it. It even had its own hashtag #MGSVGZNasu.

Starting with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. It was strange for me to see this much openness for a “Boot Camp.” According to Konami’s Twitter: “Some of our guest on hand at the #MGSVGZNASU Boot Camp are tweeting their 1st hand experience with GZ & meeting Kojima-san.” Reading these tweets I noticed that most of the people replying were hating the journalist that were their in Japan. I know the rule “Don’t read the comments” but I could not help it. These some comments were hateful and others wanted to get rid of the embargo. Me being me, I replied to them. Suffice to say that did not go so well.   

This got me thinking. People get mad at a journalist for not telling what they know. I get that but is not the journalists’ fault. The game publisher or developer is controlling the flow of information. The press has the right to see a game early. Then there is a caveat. They say don’t write about that yet, we want it to hit on this exact date when everyone else is writing about it. As a journalist, you have to follow this embargo. The publisher or developer holds the power. They do not have to show you the game.

I am lucky enough to see both sides of the issue. As a journalist you are compelled to tell the story but if you sign the NDA you can’t say anything before the embargo. If you do, well you are shunned and could be sued. Sometimes breaking embargoes means lawsuits in the thousands or millions. As member of a gaming community, I want to know all the details of the of an upcoming game minus the ending.

I almost want the gaming industry and journalist to go back the era of unknown. If that makes sense. No one knew what games were coming out and only learned about these games at a E3 press conference. Thanks to the advent of Twitter and Facebook, we can see new games in real-time. I have asked my Facebook friends about embargoes. Most of them wanted a Wikileaks gaming website to leak info out to the public. That is want NeoGaf is for.

Are we seeing the future of these embargoes? Will more publishers/developers create a sense of openness and not a closed-door experience to those who have the qualifications. What do you think of embargoes? Would the industry be better without them? Answer in the comments below.

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Steven Oz
Believe it or not the Wizard of Oz is not at home. Please leave your name and info after the tone. Likes: Comic books, Video Games, and voice actor. Dislikes: long walks on the beach and ion cannons.