You know, I hate these stories. I really do. Thing is, does EA even need to try and inflate review scores for Battlefield 3? It’s not like it hasn’t been saturated thanks to the media already. Maybe it’s beta test damage control? Who knows? I thought EA/DICE were 100% sure Battlefield 3 was a certified smash? Why play this game with the media?
The story goes like this, according to the BF3Blog:
According to Norway’s top news outlet, NRK, EA has withheld review copies of Battlefield 3 to reviewers whom they thought would give the game a bad score. Furthermore, EA inquired potential reviewers of Battlefield 3 to see whether they were Call of Duty fans, whether they played the beta and if they were frustrated with the beta. You can see the full list of questions above.
EA Norway marketing manager Oliver Sveen saying “this should not have been sent out. We have made ??a mistake and we apologize. This is not something that neither should have happened earlier or what we intend to continue.”
Sveen is right. This should NEVER happen. This may come as a surprise, but I strongly believe EA has the right to send review copies to whomever it wishes. Just because you say you’re “press” doesn’t mean you get free stuff. This is what I mean when I say that the game media is TOTALLY reliant on assistance from publishers in order to do its job. It’s the only reason we as an industry bend over backward to snuggle up to the publishers.
We need them to survive.
Take this quote from Norway’s GameReactor.com. This site was initially mentioned in the story and then the website’s editor fired off an email to Blue’s News saying the following:
“We would like to have our name removed from the article, we have received a preview code and have not had any problems with EA. We have had nothing to do with the ‘shenanigans’. It seems to be a matter between EA Norway and a major newspaper, why dedicated gaming media are mentioned also must be a misunderstanding.”
Think of it like this. What if tomorrow EA, Bethesda, Activision, THQ, Warner, Square Enix, Namco, Nintendo, Sony and Sega all got together and decided, “We will not work with Game Website X.” (regardless of its size and perceived influence). I can tell you point blank, regardless of how important Game Website X thinks its is — Game Website X would be bent over a barrel.
And Game Website X knows it. There would be initial outrage. There would be gnashing of teeth from fans of Game Website X…and then those fans would leave and find the info elsewhere.
We in the game media are still fighting as we try to figure out how to grow up. Seeing things like this EA Norway story tells me we still have a ways to go. As I said months ago, we need to figure out away to cut the cord in order to truly do our job. Review events with developers watching over your shoulder, embargoes on reviews that fall under a 90 Metacritic score, questionnaires for receiving review copies…
There are days I feel like Sisyphus.