In the most meta-y meta I’ve seen this week (possibly ever), the gaming media world is throwing a tiny journalistic tantrum.
Bioshock Infinite’s official release date is March 26 (next Tuesday), and 2K has allowed gaming sites to publish their thoughts on advanced-review copies of the game on Monday. If you’re gaming news giant IGN, however, you’ve got exclusive privilege to publish your review days before your competitors on March 21.
Understandably, everyone who isn’t IGN feels a little scorned, including big-name journalists like Adam Sessler and Geoff Keighly.
When a game is released, there’s typically a mad dash to compress as much information as possible into one article and release it as soon as possible. This essentially boils down to a page view competition (which subsequently leads to ad revenue). At the same time, exclusively-review material typically garners a higher rating than it does when competitively reviewed.
But the amount of sass 2K is getting for letting IGN review early is kind of laughable. The comments on N4G‘s link (you probably don’t want to click on this, to be honest–it’s not pretty terrain) actually made me laugh out loud. People are complaining left and right that IGN’s deal with 2K will guarantee a high rating for Bioshock Infinite. I find this kind of ridiculous. Given 2K’s history of producing viable, entertaining games (the first Bioshock installment garnered a 96/100 Metacritic rating, after all), and the fact that early reviews have promised good things from Bioshock Infinite, I doubt that there will be any inflation of an honestly earned, exceptional score.
But it does call into question some pretty interesting ethics. Are game writers actually journalists? Do we have the same responsibility to readers as other news outlets, or are we simply here to serve as glorified game spokesmen?
While you’re pondering that question, I’ll be over here looking at highly satirical pictures of Geoff Keighley photoshopped onto a Dorito.