implicated in yet another 'review silencing' scandal...
started with a message on Twitter.
Games journo Guy Cocker, reviewing Tomb
Raider Underworld for Gamespot UK, posted just one
sentence, sending waves of suspicion through much of the
message was simply thus:
from Eidos – if you’re planning on reviewing Tomb
Raider Underworld at
less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review until
We all know about some of the shockingly manipulative
behaviour that goes on in the journalism game, but it’s
always disappointing to see this sort of thing.
But it gets worse.
When popular games blog Videogaming247 picked up on
this message, they contacted Eidos’ UK press
representative, Barrington Harvey PR, to ask what was going
spokesperson of BHPR – who, we must stress, are far from
being the baddies here – responded with this:
trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.
We’re trying to get the Metacritic (media
score aggregate website) rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling
all of Tomb Raider
has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is
out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off
buying the game, basically.”
7/10 review had 'caused problems'..."
spokesperson admitted that Eurogamer’s early posting of a
7/10 review had “caused problems.”
If this is the case – and we must stress that both Eidos
and BHPR officially refute the claim – then it’s not on
at all. Asking
for all reviews to be held back is one thing, but asking
that critics only post overwhelmingly
positive reviews until the week after release is
a flagrant attempt at censorship, albeit for a limited
period of time. If
publications bow down to the pressure, it renders their
critical response pointless, or at least devalues the needs
of a readership who are excited to read professional
opinions as soon as possible.
If they don’t comply, they risk putting their
essential relationships with publishers on the line.
It’s a no-win situation.
PR Director Simon Byron released the company’s official
statement on the issue.
Harvey is not in the position of telling reviewers what they
can and cannot say. We love Tomb Raider and
believe it merits a score of at least 8/10, but if someone
disagrees that’s entirely their prerogative. No problem at
all. Seriously: no problem.
Our original NDA stated that in order to receive an advance
copy of the game, reviewers agreed not to post reviews ahead
of 5:00pm, Wednesday 19th November 2008. Nothing else. No
further obligations whatsoever.
As you can clearly see from the scores posted so far,
Barrington Harvey has no issue with scores of below eight
out of 10 being posted online. The Eurogamer review in
caused “problems” in so much as it originally contained
a couple of minor factual inaccuracies which, to its credit,
the site has quickly rectified and addressed (without, quite
rightly, changing the context of the review).
Any site, be it Gamespot or whoever, is entirely within
their rights to post whatever score they want and no-one is
under any sort of obligation to delay any review.”
But the statement goes on to confirm
Harvey has been working hard to ensure the launch scores of Tomb
Raider Underworld are in line with our internal review predictions
over the launch weekend.”
This left us a little confused.
If Eidos and Barrington Harvey had not asked for the
delay of any negative press, then how exactly had they been
working together to ensure the game hit its review targets?
We posed this question to a Barrington Harvey
representative, who refused to comment, instead reiterating
the very statement we were querying.
Understandable – we would imagine that Eidos may
have had some stern words with their PR reps about speaking
out of turn.
worrying is the possibility that Eidos had a different plan
all along. Surely
they know the importance to the press of publishing reviews
as early as possible. Suggestions
are now rife that Eidos hoped reviewers would up their
scores a mark or two, just to ensure their copy could go to
press at the desired time.
It’s another claim that both companies involved
deny, but it’s a scary prospect.
trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos..."
unnamed Barrington Harvey PR representative
isn’t the first time Eidos has been implicated in such a
almost exactly a year since the publisher was alleged to
have put pressure on Gamespot to alter their official word
on Kane & Lynch,
pressure which many suggested led to the dismissal of
Editorial Director Jeff Gerstmann.
Gamespot confirmed that Eidos had lodged a complaint
about the review, which was quickly altered to read somewhat
more positively, although the score remained the same.
Both Eidos and Gamespot, however, denied that
publisher pressure was behind the alterations, citing the
reason as the need for more cohesion between text and score
– and Gamespot continues to assure its readers that
Gerstmann was dismissed as a result of an entirely unrelated
matter. A clause
in Gerstmann’s contract prevented him from detailing the
circumstances surrounding his departure.
As it happens, problems with availability of review code
prevent us from appraising Tomb
Raider Underworld at all this issue, and as such we
didn’t receive any pressure from either Barrington Harvey
or Eidos. However,
with it being our first issue, let’s set a precedent: any
words or ratings you read in Resolution are entirely formed
of our own opinions, never as a result of external pressure
or manipulation. We
simply value our integrity too much.