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Eidos UK PR firm: We are “not in the position of telling reviewers what they can and cannot say”

Friday, 21st November 2008 15:45 GMT By Patrick Garratt

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Eidos’s British PR firm, Barrington Harvey, has issued a statement on the subject of UK Tomb Raider: Underworld reviews after it came to light this afternoon that sites had been requested to not publish score for the game lower than 80 percent until Monday, three days after it goes on sale.

The story arose after Gamespot UK journalist Guy Cocker wrote on his Twitter on Wednesday that he had been told that, “If you’re planning on reviewing Tomb Raider Underworld at less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review till Monday.”

VG247 then contacted Barrington Harvey to be told by a rep: “That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.”

When asked why, the spokesperson said: “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic 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.”

The following statement is from Simon Byron, one of Barrington Harvey’s directors. In its entirety:

Barrington 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 questions 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.

As an ex-journalist myself, I firmly believe in editorial integrity and the right to express an individual opinion. As an agency, we never – ever – make demands of the press in terms of awarding scores; at the end of the day, they are free to score as they wish.

Barrington 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 – but to suggest that we can in some way “silence” reviews of the game is slightly overstating our influence.

Tomb Raider: Underworld releases today for Xbox 360 and PS3.

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20 Comments

  1. Blerk

    We can’t tell them what to say, but we can tell them when to say it. :-)

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Blerk

    Sorry, “strongly suggest” when to say say it.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. TheDifficult3rdAlbum

    I rate this story 6.0 / 10

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Blerk

    Not before Monday, you don’t!

    #4 6 years ago
  5. OrphanageExplosion

    to suggest that we can in some way “silence” reviews of the game is slightly overstating our influence.

    And yet I still don’t see that GameSpot UK review… perhaps they’re just being a bit quiet as opposed to being ‘silenced’…

    #5 6 years ago
  6. JonFE

    Blerk, you’re on fire :)

    #6 6 years ago
  7. morriss

    He didn’t really address the real issue: Why should they hold back until Monday if the score is lower than an 8? Why is it acceptable to make the public think it’s better ‘across the board’ than it actually is, just to generate sales for the product?

    Still, made my Friday, anyway.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. Blerk

    Eidos just came round and torched my office.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Dean

    “Barrington Harvey is not in the position of telling
    reviewers what they can and cannot say.”

    Fair enough. Nice of you to explain, Mr. Byron.

    “We need you to hold your review till Monday.”

    Umm… errrr.. whaaaa?

    Mr. Byron hasn’t even explained why, if BH don’t do this kind of shit, one of their employees is a: telling a GameSpot reviewer to play nice, and b: telling Pat that this is what they do.

    This stinks of lies.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. Deanzor

    .

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Egon Superb

    Didn’t Pat say the game is out today? So surely, Gamespot can just play it /really really/ quickly, then put up the review now. :)

    #11 6 years ago
  12. JonFE

    morris, pardon my ignorance, but didn’t he (Simon Byron) blatantly deny that anyone had to delay their below-8 reviews by saying :

    “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.”

    Unless I’m mistaken he does address the issue. Whether he or his employer is lying (because both cannot be telling the truth), though, is another story.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. morriss

    I’ll have another look.

    #13 6 years ago
  14. No_PUDding

    My step dad is a Fed Ex delivery guy and delivers to quite a few publishers including Eidos. Anyone have any requests?

    I can ask him to shit in the lobby or something.

    #14 6 years ago
  15. wickedman

    the game really sucks, and is really sad because i am a fan of the series of games they did before this one, but Underworld really,really,really SUCKS!!!!!

    #15 6 years ago
  16. Michael O'Connor

    It does? My experience of the game has been nothing but excellent. It’s an extremely well polished title.

    Which makes this pseudo-embargo all the sadder.

    #16 6 years ago
  17. wickedman

    the movement of Lara is really bad and the camera is the worst,i think comparing this game to Drake is not even close,drake will beat Lara like a b@#$, if u feel my drift ;-)

    #17 6 years ago
  18. Curious_Orange

    Embargoes are part and parcel of modern games publishing.
    Accept it, deal with it. While sites like GamesRadar and Gamespot have editorial integrity, it’s often easier to respect the publishers wishes on a minor thing like delaying for a few days, and keeping a good relationship that allows them to get future access to the games and more importantly, advertising.
    It’s a dirty word, but Ads sell mags and keep websites afloat. The writers don’t work for free and the games sites and mags are not a public service. They need the cooperation of companies like Eidos to keep doing what they do.
    Does this compromise editorial integrity? Well, not usually, 99 times out of 100 the writers and editors are engaged in a constant struggle with publishers and ads people to keep giving the readers their honest unbiased opinions on the games with no interference.
    That doesn’t mean that almost every games publisher tries to influence mags and sites in a variety of ways – from embargoes, to free stuff, to attractive PR ladies coming round trying to charm journos with their womanly wiles (not being sexist but 99% of game hacks are blokes). The big thing here is that the frigging tea boy or whoever it was at Barrington Harvey showed remarkable stupidity in openly admitting an unsavory practice that everyone in the industry knows goes on, but doesn’t mention so brazenly. Methinks he’s not long for a job…

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Harry

    In my experience PR folks often ask for such stuff because the order has come down from on high. When the PR bod asks you they do so in a way that leaves you knowing they think it’s dumb and don’t expect you to say yes. You say no. The PR bod has followed orders and asked. And the world turns happily.

    I was recently asked not to post a review if the score was below a certain level. It was a minor title from a small publisher. I said no. But away from the ethics was a purely practical matter – my writers work freelance and are paid for features that get posted on the site. So an unposted feature meant no reward for someone’s hard work. And the idea of that offends me more than being asked to take a dive.

    #19 6 years ago
  20. zoydwheeler

    “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…”

    OH, FUCK OFF! JUST FUCK. RIGHT. OFF.

    #20 6 years ago

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