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EGM refuses to score MGS4 because Konami imposed censorship

Monday, 2nd June 2008 09:58 GMT By Patrick Garratt

This is only going to get worse. According to this GameSetLinks piece, US paper-staple EGM has refused to score Metal Gear Solid 4 because Konami attempted to censor certain aspects of the review.

According to the site, quoting from the mag, the decision was made because of “the limitations Konami wanted to impose on our comments”.

This is just the latest in an ongoing meta-row about Metal Gear Solid 4 reviews, which is sending fanboys grade-A crackers on a global level.

Eurogamer’s 8/10 attracted a comments thread over 1,700 posts long, and the revelation that Konami told US reviewers not to mention install sizes or cut-scene length last week has only added fuel to an already exploding fire.

All we’re going to say is, “Oh dear.”

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40 Comments

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  1. Killerbee

    Bit of a petty reaction by EGM (who they!?) – I don’t see why they didn’t just publish and stick two fingers up to the “attempted” censorship.

    Oh dear indeed.

    #1 6 years ago
  2. patlike

    EGM’s a big US mag. I can understand why they did it, to be honest. Publishers shouldn’t ever tell magazines or websites what they can or can’t write.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Psychotext

    Killerbee: Because they’d be up to their ears in laywers for breaching an NDA?

    #3 6 years ago
  4. patlike

    *smirk*

    #4 6 years ago
  5. Killerbee

    If EGM signed a NDA, then fair enough, but that wasn’t the impression I got from the story – it just sounded like Konami reps ringing up and putting pressure on them.

    Either way, I agree it is a bit of a PR blunder from Konami. Publishers really should be waking up to the fact that bullying tactics aren’t going to work with journalists any more and core gamers are getting wise to things like NDAs and review embargoes – and nearly always view such things negatively, as though there’s something to hide.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. patlike

    I think the key thing now is that there are a lot of sites out there that simply don’t rely on games advertising money. MTV first outed the install times and cut-scenes thing: they really have no reason not to make that sort of stuff public.

    #6 6 years ago
  7. morriss

    Why publishers continually shoot themselves in the foot like this is baffling.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. morriss

    Still find it strange that no review has mentioned MGO as part of the overall package.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Blerk

    Perhaps the servers aren’t turned on yet so nobody can actually play it?

    Anyway, bad move, Konami. If you’re going to put it into the game, you should be comfortable with reviewers talking about it. Otherwise you shouldn’t have put it into the game. Right?

    #9 6 years ago
  10. Spiral

    If it is the cut scene length and install times then Konami are clearly in the wrong here. But MTV also made a point that most publishers make a list of requests for things not to spoil, e.g. the Raiden switch in MGS2. If there’s another one in this game and Konami asked EGM not to talk about it, it becomes a trickier issue. Not sure who’d be in the right there to be honest.

    #10 6 years ago
  11. patlike

    Bit odd to think that no one was in on the beta, though. It did run for over a month.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. morriss

    Blerk: Fair enough if it’s not up and running, but I’d expect a review to say that as a whole package, MGO adds hours more life or something like that. But not even mentioning its existence struck me as odd.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. patlike

    Spiral: I think the inference here is that Konami asked people not to talk about aspects of the game that could be perceived as negatives. The Raiden thing was a massive spoiler, so I think it’s fair to try to hide that. Although, iirc, the first UK mag review’s cover was a piece of Raiden art.

    #13 6 years ago
  14. Psychotext

    morriss: It’s this that makes me feel it’s a Konami decision.

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Spiral

    Pat: For a lot of people another Raiden bit would be a massive negative. ;) It was that UK review that made me think of this, there was a huge row about that as well. At least on the internet. :)

    #15 6 years ago
  16. patlike

    That’s true, I guess. To me, the bottom line is that interfering in reviews should be a massive no-no for any publisher. As Eidos, etc, have found out to their cost in the past 12 months.

    #16 6 years ago
  17. Blerk

    From what I’ve been hearing from various people over the last few months, it’s a pretty regular occurrence.

    #17 6 years ago
  18. patlike

    I dunno if it is any more, really. It may be more so on mags, but I can say for definite that there are only really a couple of proper “blues” per year on the interwibble when it comes to reviewing. It’s always about a major product a company has a huge amount riding on.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Shatner

    I dunno. I’m getting far too strong a whiff of the media playing the victim card with this.

    Other limits are imposed on the media – such as dated embargoes. Some sites lasciviously report what they can’t tell you and just as enthusiastically tell you why and when the date may come that they can. There’s a sort of “I know a secret!” theme to it.

    What pisses me off is the inconsistency here. This kind of stuff has been going on for a considerable time. Other stuff, such as review guides, are also common but when they get mentioned it’s implied only the specific game in question is doing the dirty deed.

    Frankly, I’m sick and tired of the irresponsible and parasitic games media trying to make out they’re either victims or crusading under some sort of “The reader has a right to know!” banner.

    Yes, publishers put pressure on the media. They do this in many different areas of the entertainment buisiness. Control of information is absolutely paramount to their schemes. But it find the timing of this “Oh, poor us!” rhetoric and its attachment to one of the biggest games of the year to be far more than mere coincidence here. Considering the GTA embargo of just over a month ago it (nobody seems to refer to that anymore. How odd) and the squealing from the internet now, I just don’t see a consistent message from the media and, every day, find myself appreciating why it’s not worth catering to them. EGM, MTV – they’ll get lots of page hits from talking about a 4-years-in-development title. Then, next week, they’ll just move onto something else. They make out that they’re acting for some more noble cause than earning a revenue but how come all those “EXPOSED!” articles have lots of adverts all over the pages?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    #19 6 years ago
  20. morriss

    Psychotext: Why would Konami ‘not’ want people to mention MGO? I mean, if it adds life to what is already a huge game and thus more value for money, why ban any acknowledgement that it still exists?

    Makes no sense. Unless, of course, it doesn’t actually exist. :)

    #20 6 years ago
  21. patlike

    Shatner: I don’t think there’s anything here to do with a “noble cause” really, and if we’re being fair, Rockstar never told anyone there were things in GTA they couldn’t talk about.

    It’s news that Konami told media outlets to not mention aspects of the game that could be conceived as negatives, is it not? Doesn’t that imply that they’re trying to restrict review content so they can sell more copies by keeping gamers ignorant of the products’ facts?

    How would you feel if it came out that Apple had attempted to force iPod reviewers to not mention battery life in any way in their copy, especially if you’d bought an iPod with a battery that gave up the ghost a few months after you bought it? You’d see that as fair, right?

    #21 6 years ago
  22. Michael

    Shatner: Whilst I agree with you about the often nihilistic and self serving attitude of the gaming media industry (big kids acting like small kids), I think you’re missing the simple, basic fact here.

    They’re expecting reviewers not to detail negative aspects of the game. That *is* a problem, and a very serious one.

    It’s not gonna stop me from buying the game, but it certainly does lower my respect for the company by a great notch.

    #22 6 years ago
  23. Shatner

    Pat, I fully expect it. It’s what happens – and happens to a degree within this industry that never reaches consumers or media. It happens in other mediums too.

    It happens.

    That’s the problem. It happens ALL THE TIME – but it’s very inconsistently reported. How come the media such as MTV is happy to cite ‘other instances’ of such behaviour but the only name they’re prepared to mention is the name of next week’s big blockbuster game? If these people have the facts, why are they only delivering the stuff that’s associated with the biggest name and that will lead people to their article? It’s hardly out of some sense of decency or acknowledgement of the symbiotic relationship between publisher and media because they’re quite happy to name names when it suits them.

    And EGM just come off looking like a bunch of sycophants. They’re totally playing the victim card here. They’re not bold enough to snub the game entirely and not cover it in their mag are they? They’re still more than happy to have people buy the magazine and read up on Konami’s game – they’re just spinning it to make themselves look virtuous.

    I wonder if there are any Konami advertisments in that particular issue of EGM. Hmm?

    Sorry Pat, the timing of the expose, the profile of the (named) game its being attached to and the inconsistency of the rhetoric is just far too convenient and inconsistent for me to take completely seriously.

    I’m not saying Konami’s attitude isn’t ethically questionable – I’m just more suspicious of the behaviour of this industry’s unregulated media than I am about a veteran publisher.

    #23 6 years ago
  24. Blerk

    The “no review” does seem like a rather odd thing for EGM to do, because ultimately the only people who get hurt are the magazine readers and not Konami. They could’ve quite easily done a review with those things not mentioned then added a box-out to point out that the text was written ‘under restrictions’.

    Look at the whole Games TM “Half Life 2″ debacle. The mag lost tons of respect over that.

    #24 6 years ago
  25. ecu

    What happened with Games TM and Half Life 2?

    #25 6 years ago
  26. Blerk

    Valve refused to send them early review code, so they spat their dummies and refused to review it at all. In fact, they just stopped mentioning it altogether. Reader fury ensued, subscriptions were cancelled.

    #26 6 years ago
  27. Psychotext

    morriss: Possibly because they want it reviewed separately?

    #27 6 years ago
  28. El_MUERkO

    wont someone think of the children!

    i don’t get any of this, who cares about installs and cut scene lengths enough to stop them buying the game

    #28 6 years ago
  29. morriss

    Psyscho: Yeah I get that. But a reviewer could write – “will all this replay value there’s still MGO which will certainly add more life to your experience. Look out for our MGO review next month.” Or something.

    But they’re not even mentioning it. That’s what’s weird.

    #29 6 years ago
  30. patlike

    Shatner: Well, in the Apple example, I really would be upset on a personal level. It’s corporate bullying at its worst. Why should I pay for a sub-standard product I wasn’t allowed to read about fully before release?

    On the assumption that it happens all the time, I can tell you categorically that it doesn’t. In fact, I’m struggling to think of many instances at all that I’ve personally seen in the past 10 years where a publisher has specifically told reviewers to actually omit potentially negative truths from copy.

    Like, I can think of plenty of occasions, years ago, where code’s been shown to journalists and things have been said along the lines of, “The frame-rate will be fixed for release,” or whatever, but I don’t remember many occasions at all when it’s been formally messaged that elements of a game are to be left out of reviews.

    To be honest, I actually take the converse of your point. I think it’s more important that the PR “process” behind major games is exposed in this way. Yes, OK, it’s in MTV’s interest to publish the story as it increases traffic, but that’s like saying it’s in CNN’s interest to expose corruption because it increases viewing figures. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

    On the EGM point as well, I agree with what they did. They do have to talk about the game: it’s massive, and of huge interest to the magazine’s readership. What they’re doing is saying they’re opposed to the business practice behind the product. If they felt they couldn’t rate the game properly, to do so would be lying. Their only other option was to not to talk about the game at all, in which case you get a GamesTM situation, as listed above.

    Sorry, I think it’s right that this sort of thing is made public, whether or not coverage of review restriction is inconsistent.

    #30 6 years ago
  31. Blerk

    Freedom of the press is essential. Without it, what’s the point in even having a press? They just become yet another PR mouthpiece.

    #31 6 years ago
  32. Psychotext

    morriss: The fact that they don’t mention it at all, none of them… not even “we couldn’t test it, we’ll get back to it” is what’s so suspicious about it all.

    #32 6 years ago
  33. Tonka

    The press became another PR mouthpiece years ago.

    #33 6 years ago
  34. Psychotext

    Tonka: I forget which one, but either “The Inquirer” or “The Register” had a price list at one point saying what you needed to give them to get things like a negative story about a competitor or to out a mole in your own company.

    I can’t find it though. =(

    #34 6 years ago
  35. morriss

    Psycho: that’s wait I’ve been saying all along.

    /glares at noose

    #35 6 years ago
  36. Psychotext

    morriss: Yeah, but you were mumbling or something. Couldn’t get a word of it.

    #36 6 years ago
  37. ecu

    Get a room!

    #37 6 years ago
  38. Psychotext

    ecu: You paying?

    #38 6 years ago
  39. ecu

    Only if I can watch. Err..

    #39 6 years ago
  40. morriss

    Wait in line, ecu: there’s a queue.

    #40 6 years ago