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Games news versus Price and Bleszinski – Why it’s time for developers to man up

Thursday, 21 October 2010 14:50 GMT By Patrick Garratt

context

Last night, Insomniac’s Ted Price claimed he was “misquoted” and his words from a recent EGM interview were taken “out of context” when reported by gaming news sites, calling for “the press” to focus on the bigger picture of an American legal issue instead of posting his words up as news.

Price joins Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski as another high profile developer to recently claim he’s been mistreated by the games media, both of whom have complained about the use of “context” in news reports.

I’ve wanted to write this piece for a long time. VG247 was one of the sites Bleszinski chose to publicly name in his “push back” against what he sees as a growing “tabloid” press sector earlier this year, and I never felt we got the chance to state our case.

In the meantime, though, and prompted by Price’s post yesterday, my opinion on this matter has gone far beyond explaining our side in the reporting of a single story – I believe it’s time to face down the likes of Bleszinski and Price on this subject because I think their views, while having legitimacy at their core, are largely ill-informed and driven almost purely by ego.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the circumstances that put Bleszinski and Price at odds with the Modern Games Press.

Flashpoint

Bleszinski’s first proper outburst on the issue of being selectively quoted was in May this year, and was based on this VG247 story, written by Joe Anderson and edited by myself. It was the headline, “Bleszinski: Heavy Rain has ‘hideous’ children,” which got his goat. When he became aware of the story, he tweeted: “This was a JOKE people. Some gaming ‘press’ is becoming *very* tabloid these days. I LOVE Heavy Rain.”

We had a bit of a behind-the-scenes scuffle with Epic PR on the matter, but we were all fine in the end. For the record, I’m a big Epic fan. I love the studio’s games. Its macho nonsense is very fitting of VG247′s core style, and Gears of War remains one of my favourite all-time titles.

I need to explain that Joe had very little experience at the time, and had just come from a stint at TheSixthAxis. I apologized to Cliff face-to-face about the story at E3 this year, as I felt he had a point, despite the fact the story was factually correct. I explained that we were working very hard on developing VG247′s editorial, talking to him at a Microsoft aftershow event.

After the Heavy Rain kerfuffle had died down, Bleszinski next hit out at CVG, who published the following from an Xbox 360 World interview: “‘Part of the problem is, technically, Japan just can’t keep up with the US,’ Cliffy said when asked whether Epic had plans to move into Japan, Korea and China.”

The developer, again on Twitter, called foul.

“Internet tabloid alert: I said nothing about Japan not being able to keep up with the US regarding tech,” he said, adding, “There are plenty of existing and upcoming Japanese titles that look amazing. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those devs.

“If this ‘journalism’ continues devs will only be able to recite fact sheets verbatim.

“Websites intentionally publish misquotes and out of context pullquotes to create forum flamewars which generates traffic and profit.

“Here’s another technique: you can say anything as long as you put a ? after it.”

In this instance, Bleszinski really had been completely misquoted. Future put it down to a “production error” and made a full apology. What’s worth noting here, though, was that Bleszinski claimed that websites made these sort of errors deliberately in order to make money.

Following that, Bleszinski talked to Eurogamer TV on the matter of games news at E3, as we’ll discuss later, reiterating his belief that websites deliberately sensationalize selected quotes for financial reasons.

And most recently, he called out an Electronic Theater Eurogamer Expo report as being based on “total horseshit,” after the site reported that it had been told the Gears 3 single-player component was “too buggy” to be shown at the event.

He went on to say the story contained a “silly quote,” and told LazyGamer, the original subject of his ire, that it “shouldn’t have reported it”.

That’s Cliff’s press war up to now. Let’s look at Ted.

This one’s easy. Price told EGM recently that, “First and foremost, I think we have a world-class engine team. In particular, they focus heavily on using the PS3′s SPUs more effectively (in my opinion) than anyone else in the business.”

GamesThirst picked up the quote and ran it with the headline, “We’re Best on PS3 Insomniac Boasts”.

Price said in a blog post yesterday that the comments had been “taken completely out of context” and that he’d been “misquoted”.

He added: “The original headline and the revised headline (‘We Aim to Be Best on PS3′) are not statements that I or anyone at Insomniac would ever say or would want implied.

“While we’re proud of our games, we also have the greatest respect for our peers in this industry and are always grateful when our games are supported by our fans and media alike.

“Our goal is to make games people love, not to crow about how awesome we think we are. We’re also particularly harsh self-critics and are always looking for ways to improve ourselves, our processes and our games. As a result the web article really struck a nerve for me because it was so far off in describing who I am and who we are at Insomniac.”

As far as I can gather, the quote from the article was actually correct, so I’m assuming the “misquoted” part of Price’s complaint comes solely from the GamesThirst story’s headline. I don’t have a copy of the magazine in question, I’m afraid, so I can’t check.

Price then went on to say that he believes “news sites” would better spend their time providing rolling commentary of the upcoming SCOTUS hearing in the US. We’ll come onto that in a minute.

Let’s try to put both this into perspective.

I believe Bleszinski and Price both felt the need to go public with their complaints about these stories because they think they’re dealing with “the press”. They’re not. Bleszinski, at least, thinks people are exploiting his quotes for financial gain. They want to deal only with the guys who get paid well, allow them access to an audience of millions and will publish everything they tell them, but those people – the Game Informers and IGNs of our world – are only part of the story in 2010.

Whether they like it or not, Bleszinski and Price are dealing with the Modern Games Press. They’re dealing with a movement that’s 24-hour, low-budget and insane in its drive for traffic and popularity. They’re dealing with an army of sites, mags, blogs, fanboys, kids and parents, an uncontrollable swathe of good hype, bad hype, professionalism and unprofessionalism that litters the internet all day every day, that has Digg groups in its IM clients in an effort to push for the front page, that batters Twitter and Facebook with everything it writes, that constantly fights for approvals, PVs and UUs.

Unwittingly, they’ve become the subjects of a word war.

A large component of the Modern Games Press doesn’t give a fuck about money, and that’s what makes it so genuinely mad. There is a community here that doesn’t care about repercussions or “context”. It’s driven by the headline, the megaton. Man says PS3 is shit? News. Resistance 3 billboard spotted on a film set? News. Retailer poster shows GTA IV 360 £5 cheaper than PS3 version? News.

Ted Price says his PS3 programmers are the best in the business? News.

I’d say VG247 status has shifted up to a place where we’re staffed enough to care properly about our editorial and begin the achingly slow process of building “the vision,” but in the early days – we’re in our third year – we were as much involved in the traffic scrum as any. You can’t understand it unless you’ve been a part of it, and that’s what’s making Bleszinski and Price’s views look so horribly prehistoric. You know how a favourite developer line when talking about the press is that you can’t understand games development unless you’ve made a game?

The door swings both ways.

The problems

I have three major problems with the stance Price and Bleszinski are taking here.

The first is, in my view, the most important: comments made by both developers appear to show a fundamental lack of knowledge about how the games news press actually works as a business.

Speaking to Eurogamer TV at E3 this year, Bleszinski said, “For every journalist that I’d trust with information, or that I would, you know, catch drunk at two in the morning in a club and have a good time with, there’s ones that I’m, like, ‘OK, I didn’t really know that he knew that.’ People are people, and unfortunately we’re at a situation where certain websites like to grab any quote that they can and put it up in a very large font, and even out of context. And then, of course, they’ll correct it inside and say how it actually was, and then let the flame war ensue in the comments. What happens is that they get all the click-throughs from the 400 comments, they get all the advertising revenue, so therefore it’s a direct line where the headline means money to them.

“That said, there are still a lot of amazing journalists that do their homework and ask the legitimate questions that are very, very fair. I’m just pushing back against the complete misquotes and the fabrications.”

The key quote there is, “It’s a direct line where the headline means money to them.” Bleszinski apparently believes that there’s a direct correlation between games sites winding up their communities and getting paid.

I’m sure there are many site-owners reading this saying, “I wish.”

For the record, there is no magic page-view shop where I go at the end of the month and cash in my traffic. Making money in this business is extremely hard. I’m not going to go into details about how we sell ads on VG247 for competitive reasons, but I promise you that Bleszinski’s belief here is out-and-out wrong.

Of course, there are plenty of online advertising systems that will fill a site’s traffic with ads, and yes, this means that the more pages you serve, the more ads are served. These creatives, though, will almost certainly be “cost-per-click,” or CPC. That means the site-owners gets absolutely nothing unless someone clicks on an advert. You can have a billion users looking at your Bupa ads, but seeing as how no one’s going to click on them you may as well not bother. Any small site-holder will tell you the same thing.

The other end of the ad scale is CPM-based, or “premium”. This means the buyer takes a block of impressions for a set cost. They’re not sold solely on raw numbers but rather a whole range of criteria. As I said, I can’t go into specific detail, but I can tell you categorically that Cliff Bleszinski has got this wrong. He’s right in that traffic is important, but it’s clear he has no real insight in the machinations of the business of a modern games site.

Ted Price appears to be suffering from a similar delusion. In his blog post yesterday, Price said that, instead of quoting him from EGM interviews, he wants the games news media to focus attention on the impending SCOTUS decision in the US, that, if upheld, could make it illegal to sell videogames to minors in California. The law was signed previously by Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was never applied and was quickly thrown out on constitutional grounds. It will be reconsidered by the US Supreme Court on November 2, but it’s unlikely to pass as it’ll require the Court to create an exception to the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

Price said, “I challenge the news sites to carry the flag on this issue, to make it a key and ongoing story. Because ultimately whatever decision is made will affect them too.”

Now, I’m not saying that SCOTUS isn’t important. It is. But, as with Bleszinski, Price has got the business and priorities of the huge majority of the Modern Games Press flat-out wrong.

The site Price claims he was misquoted by in the first place, GamesThirst, is a consumer-facing blog. It carries no premium ads at all. In fact, the only promotional space I can see on there, looking at it today, is given over to a network leaderboard and an ad for “Baby Butt,” obviously also from a network. These creatives make virtually no money. It’s fair to assume whoever runs GamesThirst doesn’t make a living from it.

Price said that he wants sites, presumably like GamesThirst, to treat SCOTUS “with the gravity it deserves – giving us frequent updates, interviewing those involved, opining on the outcome and explaining the consequences of a decision that goes against gamers.”

GamesThirst is very much part of the Modern Games Press. It’s a blog, written by what looks to be two guys, and seems to be a part-time thing. It cannot, nor would it ever, focus professional press attention on something like SCOTUS. There are only two authors visible on the homepage. Doing what Price is suggesting costs money. Seeing as GamesThirst doesn’t appear to generate any, how can it face in Price’s chosen direction?

Maybe Price was talking about larger sites picking up the story and reporting on SCOTUS in more detail. It was an open “challenge,” so that’s a fair assumption. He was probably just seeking to highlight the issue (or deflect attention away from his quote).

But he said “news sites,” and GamesThirst exists to publish “news gamers thirst for,” and considering this is the site that kicked Ted into action in the first place, it’s safe to assume he’s expecting GamesThirst to stop sticking up whatever it likes and start talking politics. We don’t know for certain because Price doesn’t give specific names in his blog post.

What we do know is that to ask a site like GamesThirst, and the dozens of others like it all over the web, to pay attention to SCOTUS, displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the Modern Games Press.

How it actually works

Let’s help Ted out. Here’s the whistlestop tour.

The Modern Games Press is split into various sub-sections, all of which operate in differing ways depending on their goals. All of it, whether print or online, carries game-related news in some shape or form.

The most important split is between consumer and trade. VG247 is a professional consumer news site. We talk about games, the business of games, development, E3, review scores, and all the rest of it. We have a prosumer audience and we generate revenue through ads. Our UK consumer competition consists of sites like Videogamer.com, CVG, Eurogamer, IGN UK, Gamespot UK, NowGamer, Gamerzines and whoever else. Our American competition is mainly Kotaku, Joystiq, Destructoid, GameTrailers, and so on.

Trade sites talk, as you’d expect, to the trade. Notables are GamesIndustry, IndustryGamers, Gamasutra, MCV, GamePolitics, and so forth.

After that, you have a ton of unprofessional sites – and by that I mean they’re probably part-time affairs that don’t generate substantial revenue. In here would be GamesThirst; VG247 freelancer Joe Anderson’s Made2Game; Johnny Cullen’s old site, GoOnl!ne; and all the rest. Just watch N4G every day and you’ll get a good idea of who’s in this bit.

And then you have consumer print. Future’s the last great bastion of games mags in the UK, publishing OXM, OPM and ONM as well as other publications like PSM3. CVG, also Future-owned, pimps all these heavily in its news content, which is where that Bleszinski Japan quote came from in the first place. There’s also Imagine Publishing in Bournemouth, with RetroGamer, GamesTM, 360 and all the rest, pulled together online by NowGamer.

Consumer print in the US is ruled by Game Informer, but EGM’s just relaunched as well.

And don’t forget trade print. MCV and Develop are the biggies in the UK.

These are the main groups. I’ve missed many, many publications here, but that’s a broad stroke. Now, logically, the only sites and mags from this lot to even consider putting considerable focus on SCOTUS would be the trade guys because they generate revenue by talking about trade issues. All the consumer chaps survive by appealing to consumers and either selling ads based on their attracted audience or, in the case of print, combining ad sales with a cover price. They don’t talk about politics on an ongoing basis unless there’s a mature story they feel they need to relay to consumers. VG247 might carry less mature SCOTUS pieces because its coverage bleeds into trade quite often, but running coverage on a political issue like this is pretty much reserved for the likes of GamePolitics.

The consumer guys talk to consumers. Is Ted asking them to take on heavy trade coverage? It really does seem so. Will they do it? Of course not. They may report on the decision itself, but ongoing interviews, opinion pieces and the like? I’d be surprised, put it that way.

I’m not saying consumer sites don’t cover trade issues. They do. EGTV’s recent look at the subjects of games education and legislation in the UK is proof of that. But to call on “news sites” to flock to a trade issue en bloc is simply unrealistic in a business sense. It’s not what the vast majority of them do.

It seems that Cliff and Ted don’t really understand how “news sites” operate financially and what motivates them professionally. How, then, can they complain about the way they operate at all?

Some more problems

The other two problems I have with Price and Bleszinski’s complaints are interlinked. Both of these developers are very experienced and are well-used to dealing with the press as a PR tool. I’ve interviewed Cliff Bleszinski on several occasions, and, no doubt, you’ve seen him talking in videos of press conferences and interviews with other sites. Cliff’s a passionate, funny, clever man. He’s also “a bit of a rock star”. He likes to joke and shock both on and off the record, and he knows how to work with the press on generating the “right” sort of editorial for the business of making games. He’s a dream interview, precisely because he knows exactly how to give journalists knock-out quotes on major IPs and big issues.

Cliff Bleszinski is anything but stupid.

I’ll give you an example. In late 2008, Microsoft held a press junket in London to show off Gears of War 2. Bleszinski was the star attraction, and did group interviews. I spoke to him in a session with a bunch of other European sites, and we sat in a circle in a hotel room asking questions in turn.

As is often the case in this sort of situations, you get very nervous kids – I’m nearly 40, for the record – asking benign stuff that doesn’t land decent quotes. I was starting to get a little anxious that we weren’t going to get any proper value, so I asked Bleszinski about PS3 and whether or not he thought Gears 2 could have been a better game if he’d been given the Sony console’s extra power.

Before I go on, I want to look at my question and the motives for asking it. It’s important. I’m not going to bullshit anyone: I was after a headline, and I was trying to get it by asking Bleszinski to say something contentious about differences between PS3 and 360. VG247 was much smaller then than it is now, and I was looking for a story with impact that would be syndicated by other sites and get us noticed. I was taking a punt on Bleszinski’s personality, gambling one of my few questions on whether or not he would meet me halfway with some trademark showboating.

I doubt I would have asked the question in the same way now, but I would still want to know what he thinks about PS3, especially in the context of Gears of War. News is conflict, and everything is news. You may wonder why mainstream news sites always focus on “the bad stuff”: it’s because bad stuff makes for the “best” news. Why do US TV news choppers shadow police chases? It’s because it’s exciting and it’s a raw depiction of conflict. It’s compelling in a base sense and drives viewers. Why do paparazzi take pictures of celebrities on holiday, or in their homes? It’s because by invading their privacy, the viewer is given a raw sense of conflict. The voyeuristic intrusion puts the user in conflict with the personality – “I shouldn’t be looking at this” – and the image becomes compelling. Why do “quality” news organizations like the BBC and CNN focus so much of their attention on wars, disaster, famine, financial difficulty, strikes, budget-cutting, elections, crime, racism and so on? It’s because these issues are conflict-based and therefore naturally seen as more “important” to their viewers than those that aren’t. It’s for exactly this reason that there’s such an outcry if major “human” stories don’t get the press people think they deserve; Price asked for more coverage on a big conflict issue in his blog post, right?

News is conflict.

I can’t speak directly for Cliff, but I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s fully aware of this, based on the answer he gave:

“I hate the fucking controller,” he told VG247. “I’m sorry, I can’t stand the PS3 controller. I love the Blu-ray player.”
Bleszinski added that PS3 did have some good games, though, whether he likes the controller or not.
“I think there are some great games for PS3,” he said. “I think Metal Gear’s great. Heavenly Sword was great. But at the same time, right now, I’m always working on Xbox with Gears.”

The PR conducting the interview, a nice lady called Kate, went white as a sheet. The “fucking controller” quote was headlined on many games sites, as Cliff knew it would be.

A single quote, taken from an interview, and headlined alone without supporting context. Did Cliff or Microsoft complain? Of course not. Why? Let’s go back to that in a second.

Pirate ships, planks, big ol’ waves

Now let’s look at Price. I’ve never interviewed Ted face-to-face, but I did talk to him on the phone earlier this year when the Insomniac-EA Partners deal was announced. EAP boss David DeMartini was also on the line, as were, if I recall correctly, one US and one UK PR.

There was no flamboyance with Price at all. He came across as being serious. Everything he said was on the line, and at one point he literally gave me a monosyllabic answer, tellingly when I tried to get a quote on his aspirations for 360 development. Ted Price isn’t stupid either.

He was hard work, but he was very professional. He knew what he wanted to say and he never deviated from his course. You develop a sense of what you can and can’t headline from interviews if you want to stay onside with someone, and I was, very deliberately, given nothing to remove.

My point is that Price maintained a very high level of control over the press surrounding the announcement. He knew what he wanted to get from it, and he succeeded.

The reason neither party complained about the use of their quotes in these instances is because we used them in a way that was advantageous to the developers’ games, studios and egos. It was the outcome they wanted. In the Bleszinski case, he said in front of a group of journalists that he hated the “fucking” PS3 controller. That means, “You can say I hate PS3′s controller.” Price wanted the coverage surrounding his EAP partnership to stick rigidly to the hard information given in the press release, with only a little expansion. Both these examples showed the men as being in control of their opinions and their respective situations.

Both Bleszinski and Price only complained about “the press” when they lost control of it in a specific situation and were displayed in what they perceived to be a negative light. This is hypocritical. Both men are demonstrably aware of how the press can be used as a tool for their own ends, and yet both men have been highly critical of press outlets when stories haven’t turned out as they’d like.

My final problem with their stance, then, is that it seems logical that the remarks in question are driven by anger and ego, not primarily from a desire to see the games press better itself.

Neither developer raised these issues before they felt they were slighted by the press, a fact which, unfortunately, damages their cases. I personally agree that the games press does need to become more professional, particularly in the reporting of news, but it seems in this case that Ted Price and Cliff Bleszinski only cared about any of this when they felt their quotes were taken out of context.

I don’t believe the whole “focus on the bigger issues” thing has anything to do with these outbursts. I believe Ted Price and Cliff Bleszinski are, very simply, pissed off about the way they’ve been portrayed in these instances, and I believe they said things they probably regret having seen them stripped away of any caveats. I believe they feel they’re fighting personal corners.

It’s worth noting that both Bleszinski and Price delivered their challenges to the press outside of the normal PR channels. Bleszinski’s a notorious Twitter-user, and this is where he spoke up about both the VG247 and CVG stories. Price chose to manage his message on Insomniac’s blog. Again, this just adds to the case that these are thorns in the sides of personalities, not their businesses.

Calling for an increase of professionalism in the press on a platform of hypocrisy and ego, then, just seems transparent. If Bleszinski and Price were serious about making games journalism a better place, why are they simply attacking it on a personal level, throwing around accusations of a lack of professionalism and complaining that gamers should be more interested in politics than PlayStation 3 development? Granted, they both do have points at the cores of their arguments, and you definitely could argue that they’d been misrepresented in some of these examples, but I can’t help feeling that Price’s post read like a motorist who’d been stopped for speeding, grumbling that the police “should be out catching murderers.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Cliff and Ted. I respect both of them massively. I play their games, and I report on their work. They’re key creatives in a booming industry and they’re about as “important” as anyone in games trade probably ever will be.

But if you’re serious about making the games press a better place, guys, then shelve all this ill-considered ranting. Engage the press openly, accept the media instead of fighting it, and debate the matter. You have a right to be reported on accurately, but you certainly don’t have the right to be reported on positively. We have the right to report on you as we see fit. That’s our business. Stop spitting the dummy when you see the things you said handled in a way you don’t like. Man up. If you said the children in Heavy Rain were “hideous,” then accept that you said it, joke or not. If you said that your programmers exploit PS3′s SPUs “more effectively (in my opinion) than anyone else in the business,” then that’s what you said. Just deal with it. Stop the martyr act. It’s helping no one.

We all want games journalism to be better. We all want games to be better. We all love games, and everything surrounding games, and we’re all sailing through heavy seas on the same giant, unruly, piratical games boat.

Let’s just see if we can get to dock without either games development or journalism being made to walk the plank.

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51 Comments

  1. Tonka

    get a blog

    oh…

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Psychotext

    Awesome. :)

    #2 5 years ago
  3. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    I´m gonna need some time to read through this^^ But great work!

    #3 5 years ago
  4. EscoBlades

    GREAt write up. I agree 100%

    #4 5 years ago
  5. OlderGamer

    And people think I am long winded! Great post Pat, great read!

    #5 5 years ago
  6. Harry

    Well said Pat. I doubt CliffyB could sit still long enough to read it all though. :)

    #6 5 years ago
  7. Gheritt White

    tl;dr

    haw haw haw

    #7 5 years ago
  8. mathare92

    Here’s a headline for you:

    Flying the flag high for the Modern Games Press – Mr. Patrick Garratt

    :)

    #8 5 years ago
  9. spiderLAW

    wow, nice.

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Tonka

    Let’s dos attack the fuckers up their asses

    #10 5 years ago
  11. kallaz

    thanks for share this :)

    #11 5 years ago
  12. Psychotext

    On a note related to the story in general, this is not a unique situation. Wherever you find the press, you will find savvy individuals using the press to their own advantage. When that advantage is lost, you will find complains regarding fairness, impartiality, privacy, professionalism.

    …and so it will go, ad infinitum.

    #12 5 years ago
  13. Dr.Haggard

    Very interesting read. Not great timing considering that frankly stupid headline about John Romero Justin posted here yesterday. Just out of interest did you see that post before it went up yesterday Pat?

    I just don’t know how I feel about all this. I don’t think you can defend things like that, and not everyone you take on is going to have the same integrity you do, but you can’t vet every post, so what do you do?

    #13 5 years ago
  14. Kumo

    Great article, Pat. I’m part of one of those “unprofessional” (as you put it) sites myself, and comments from developers suggesting that these types of headlines are just traffic traps to generate ad revenue is, quite frankly, embarrassingly ignorant.

    I have a fair amount of experience with internet marketing (I’m not evil, I swear), so I suppose you could say I have some insight into how things are run at the more “professional” level for gaming sites — and websites in general, for that matter. I don’t expect the devs to know how complicated simply getting ads served can be, but you would think there would be a level of common sense in that you can’t apply tactics to generate revenue used by giants such as IGN on sites that get less than 1% of the traffic that a site like IGN pulls in, at least not effectively.

    In short, I’ll just echo your words from the article by saying that I WISH it were that simple.

    Edit: stuff.

    #14 5 years ago
  15. The_Red

    Holy fucking shit, that was a great read. Thanks Patrick. Hopefully Cliff or Ted will read and respond to this. I’m not saying I disagree with you but you’ve opened a great debate and so far, only one side has spoken about the new issues. Here, that one side may actually be completely right but still, it needs both sides talking about the same subject in the same context.

    #15 5 years ago
  16. Michael O’Connor

    As someone who has been a part of this field for years now, I couldn’t agree more. Especially with the last point.

    It always feels like the media and the industry are two conflicting beasts… Godzilla vs. Mothra.

    If you work in this industry, take acceptance for the things you say, and stop relying on one to maintain the other.

    #16 5 years ago
  17. cookiejar

    Interesting read.

    #17 5 years ago
  18. spiderLAW

    O, and Cliff. I prefer Dualshock3 to Xbox controller :p.

    #18 5 years ago
  19. Tonka

    Yeah, it really isn’t that shit.

    #19 5 years ago
  20. luffy

    Nice read! When I was at Gamescon in Cologne some of the developers kind of surprised me with how open they were and how they liked being there etc. I mean it in the way that the PR people are in most cases the “bad people” who are on a “war” against us.

    #20 5 years ago
  21. orakaa

    I agree with your article, but being a VIDEOGAME reporter/journalist is NOT the same as being a news reporter (thank god otherwise I wouldn’t watch video game websites) and I disagree on THIS part of your article

    “News is conflict”

    No, news has become conflict. Mass news media tend to talk only about deaths, murders, economic problems, etc. just to depress people and install fear into “consumers” (there are ALSO good things happening, but it is almost never mentioned in comparison).
    Depressed people tend to buy more and every news show, press or website generate income through advertising and “mystery-based headlines”, just like that annoying colleague who keeps saying “oh, I JUST discovered something AWFUL you’ll NEVER believe about this assistant, but I promised I would never repeat it…….” or “something bad happened yesterday”.

    It’s the oldest trick in existence : you put someone in a mystery and he’ll be running to discover what it is in the end !

    Yeah, I like video game press… but I don’t like “normal” news media

    #21 5 years ago
  22. itsucks

    A shitty controller that was already outdated(saturn D-pad FTW) when it came out? POS(3)

    #22 5 years ago
  23. Socrates

    Excellent read, Patrick. I don’t think I’ve read anything so true about game journalism in a long time, covering so many points. The advertising revenue point is especially important for everyone to read. I’ll add in my own “I wish”.

    We journalists complain to each other around the water cooler and in IMs about the hypocrisy of mouthy devs who get cut by the double-edged sword of rockstar-ism, but it’s so nice to see you speak up for common sense like this.

    #23 5 years ago
  24. manamana

    Can I haz a Word War II shooter with Modern Wordfare, pleez? :-D

    Really interesting read Patrick, keep up your good and professional work, thumbs up!

    #24 5 years ago
  25. Sidology

    That was such an awesome read.

    #25 5 years ago
  26. Joe Anderson

    Well said Pat.

    As mention in the story I run my own site and even though I work my ass off, like Pat says I get virtually no return. I do it because I love writing gaming news plain as.

    I was slightly naive when I wrote the story about Cliff, but Pat’s right, developers are only happy to hear something when it puts them in a good light.

    The devs need to think before they speak, because for all the sites out there that are well written and will double check their source, there are others that won’t and will instead go with the sensationalist headline.

    Its all about hits, especially for smaller sites who want to make a name for themselves.

    #26 5 years ago
  27. spiderLAW

    Like the xbox fanboy itsucks has the right to speak about better D-Pads, lol.

    #27 5 years ago
  28. Socrates

    Also, VG247 is way better than Kotaku. You shouldn’t lump yourselves in with that trash. They’re so popular for their ridiculous exploitation of women in skimpy clothing. Someone should write an article about how sickening it is that Kotaku gets dev support at all (interviews, exclusives, etc). But devs roll with it because they know they’ll get in on that traffic. Hypocrisy is funny that way.

    #28 5 years ago
  29. Erthazus

    Great Article, Cliff is a douchebag although he makes great games. I remember when he said how he hate Dualshock 3 or how he don’t want to make Gears 2 for PC because of piracy and that PC users can buy just a videocard.

    He is just a troll.

    #29 5 years ago
  30. Aimless

    I don’t wholly agree with this article.

    If we’re going to label Price and Bleszinski as “spitting the dummy out”, is that not exactly what Pat’s doing here? In reality both sides are simply frustrated at instances where they’ve felt used or hard done by; perfectly understandable in both cases.

    Personally I think the press-developer relationship is pretty much screwed, but I do have slightly more sympathy for the development side by virtue of PR only being a part of that person’s role; the impression I get is that most developers aren’t ready to be celebrities, it’s seen more as a necessary evil than an ego boost. Price and Bleszinski aren’t celebrities in the modern sense of ‘person that is famous by virtue of being famous’, they became developers to create games, not deal with the press. Obviously I’m not saying they can’t enjoy their new-found roles — Cliff seems to, for the most part — but it will generally have been foisted upon them.

    This article is certainly an interesting read and it made a lot of salient points, but I’m not willing to swallow it whole. When you boil things down it’s just as biased and hypocritical as Price’s protestations, and whilst that certainly doesn’t make it worthless — indeed I’d be interested in seeing further articles in the same vein — it is, as ever, just one side of the story. I’m glad Pat gave me the chance to hear it, mind.

    #30 5 years ago
  31. Psychotext

    “Price and Bleszinski aren’t celebrities in the modern sense of ‘person that is famous by virtue of being famous’”

    No… they’re celebrities in the traditional sense surely, people who got ‘famous’ doing something well… and have since learnt to deal with all that entails. Don’t forget that both of these guys are very savvy businessmen amongst other things.

    #31 5 years ago
  32. Aimless

    @31 That isn’t my point, I was saying they didn’t become developers to be famous, and up until a few years ago the idea of a celebrity developer was pretty much unheard of.

    I’m not claiming they shouldn’t have to deal with the press — that’s part of their job now — but I find it easier to be sympathetic towards their position when it isn’t their sole calling, especially when there are so many examples of sloppy games journalism about.

    #32 5 years ago
  33. Psychotext

    I agree, but then it’s quite easy to be one of the many faceless devs that chooses not to court media attention directly, leaving it instead to PR mouthpieces and press releases.

    There’s advantages and disadvantages to that obviously.

    #33 5 years ago
  34. Aimless

    I suppose the crux of the issue is that the games press’s relationship to development is slowly regressing from symbiotic to parasitic.

    As I don’t make a living writing about games I’m afraid I’ll have to leave that point unsubstantiated, at least for the moment. Although you can have the flashcard version: developer diaries, community managers, studio podcasts, reporting = aggregating.

    #34 5 years ago
  35. Anders

    “That isn’t my point, I was saying they didn’t become developers to be famous, and up until a few years ago the idea of a celebrity developer was pretty much unheard of.”

    John Romero begs to differ.

    Also, great read. Kudos.

    #35 5 years ago
  36. aggies11

    Sensationalist Media.

    Spin-doctoring PR.

    Hungry Sheep consumers.

    All are responsible. None seem to be inclined to change, so we are stuck on this path.

    As someone who is neither, I find it somewhat frustrating and annoying at times. Sensationalist headlines designed to attract the attention of voyeuristic readership, you see all the time. But that’s in between PR sound bytes designed to be “on message”. Neither are what I want (frank, honest communication about an industry/passtime I very much enjoy and am interested in), but both seem opposed to my interests.

    One thing I have noticed though, is that those who “report” on gaming news, often don’t take it as seriously as say in other “news” industries. They’re doing it for “fun” so what does being “professional” even mean?

    It’s self interest on both sides. Which means it will likely never change. Anyone who wants anything different, just gets caught in the middle, and an increasingly smaller space

    #36 5 years ago
  37. davidkenobi

    I write for 3 years now and I never had a single penny for this. Thank you so much Pat!

    #37 5 years ago
  38. Ernice Gilbert

    “I’m sure there are many site-owners reading this saying, “I wish.” I’m one of them.

    This is Ernice Gilbert here, owner of Gamesthirst.com. Pat, I’ve been a long time visitor of your site, and to be quite honest, I think it’s one of the best gaming sites anywhere. You, Johnny, Steph and the rest are beasts at news. Keep it up. I’m here everyday.

    Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin so I’ll just start:

    What you see in the thread on gamesthirst:

    http://www.gamesthirst.com/2010/10/18/insomniac-no-one-can-handle-the-ps3-like-we-do/

    Is exactly what Price said: “First and foremost, I think we have a world-class engine team,” Ted Price, Insomniac Games boss told EGM magazine in a recent interview. “In particular, they focus heavily on using the PS3′s SPUs more effectively (in my opinion) than anyone else in the business.”

    The boss went on, talking about Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction and how it was an evolution of what they “built for Resistance”.

    “However, we spent a lot of time going back and reworking systems we had just barely finished in time for the PS3 launch,” he said.

    “Whenever you have a chance to revisit tech, it’s a great opportunity to improve things,” Price continued, “basically everything got a facelift and it allowed us to do more with our visuals, audio and gameplay.”

    Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING was taken out of context. Ted’s just disgruntled because his little quote came out as arrogant to many a gamer.

    Every thing you said is correct. Gamesthirst is part-time, and although I have big plans for the site, as of now, I’ve made no money.

    Pat, I’ve been running the site for a full year, and I’ve only made $135. That’s it. Passion drives me, not money.

    So for Ted and Cliff to start taking issue with the way we report news only when it serves them negatively, trash-talking the press like we’re cows they squeeze only when they want milk to drink, robs me, and as I’ve noticed, you, in the wrong manner.

    I love their games too, and I think, just like you, that said men are important players in this industry. But they need to stop this nonsense.

    I’ve written countless articles talking up their work, with tens of thousands of gamers viewing them, but did I hear Price, Cliff, or any other developer for that matter, say anything? Never.

    http://n4g.com/news/451587/the-decades-top-17-most-outstanding-devs

    Earlier this year, Gamesthirst was the first to publish the then new Fallout: New Vegas screens:

    http://n4g.com/news/487449/these-fallout-new-vegas-screens-are-really-something

    Immediately after, I received mail from Bethesda demanding that I tell them where I got the screens from — I refused. Now, they won’t respond to any of my requests.

    Media, games media, is not respected by these developers unless the news is “favorable” in their sights. To me, it’s all hypocrisy.

    In the end, though, I’ll keep on pressing, please Pat, you do the same.

    Now I know why they call you a legend. This is the freaking best read I’ve had all year.

    #38 5 years ago
  39. McLovin85

    This was a interesting post to read through and although I might not agree with everything I do feel that it boils down to one fundamental fact:

    Written articles are exactly what they are….written.

    When someone says something, it could have been said sarcastically, as a joke or just to wind people up but it is then how the press choose to use this quote which is what is causing this friction.

    If I’m asked,’What do you think of Vince?’, and I reply,’ Oh that Vince, what a cock’. I’m trying to be light-hearted and funny (maybe to break the ice in an interview or some other reason) but I certainly hope I’m not quoted as seriously thinking Vince is a cock (which is neither my intention nor my belief) and I wake up the next day with headlines round the world quoting me lambasting Vince and saying ‘McLovin calls Vince a cock!!!’. Of course I said what I said but out of context or without being able to hear the tone in which I said it (in a Ricky Gervais tone btw) people will construe it as something harsh or critical that I said towards Vince.

    Obviously I’m over simplifying this example but for all I know Cliffy B could have said,’ Oh that fucking controller’, in a light hearted way. He may be ok with that quote and think nothing of it but then I’m sitting here reading the article thinking to myself ‘Does he really hate it that much? Is that really the reason they’re not developing for PS3?’

    I like to think that the press have a bit of common sense and when reporting controversial news they know what quotes they can use and what quotes they should just leave in the room they were said in. In this day and age I’m not surprised there are people that pounce on anything they can just to get ahead for whatever reason.

    P.S. I recommend watching ‘The Wire’ Season 5 as there is a similar topic addressed in that season and although it’s nothing to do with gaming it’s well worth watching.

    #39 5 years ago
  40. Ansob

    While I agree with you that no amount of hypocrisy is ever good for anyone, I do have an objection to part of what you said, Pat. Disclaimer, though: I’ve not read the Ted Price pieces.

    Chiefly, none of this changes the fact that from a normative point of view, consumer sites SHOULD be focusing on the SCOTUS stuff (American sites more than non-American ones, for the simple reason that even though the law being upheld might set a nasty precedent for use in national law elsewhere, the obvious first country to be affected will be the US) – because the politics of gaming ought to be incredibly important to us.

    So many people express a desire for the medium as a whole to mature and become something more than a bogeyman seen as a passtime for kids under twelve by your average adult, and engaging with the politics of gaming is part of this. We’re incredibly privileged to be involved in the genesis of public video gaming culture, something which no one born any later than the 1920s can say for practically any other “big” cultural medium. This makes it our duty as intelligent human beings to get off our asses and make sure the cultural growth of video gaming does not end up being stunted by a bunch of legal minds who have about as much of an understanding of technology invented since World War 2 as we have about Stephen Hawking’s thought processes.

    So yes, GameThirst and other small sites like it might not have the financial means to afford the SCOTUS case much coverage. This does not automatically make it acceptable for every self-professed consumer-facing game website out there to pretend the political side of video gaming isn’t important (except when there’s an opportunity to roll eyes at biased “scientific” studies). In fact, as far as my opinion as someone who isn’t a member of the gaming press is concerned, it doesn’t even make it acceptable for small sites to pretend it doesn’t exist. You don’t need coverage of the nature and magnitude that Price suggested to do justice to the fact that politics is an inherent part of our everyday lives and of everything we love, including gaming.

    Anything, even a two-paragraph op-ed going “so, about that SCOTUS case, eh?” is better than just burying our heads in the sand, and it doesn’t cost a thing to read around a little and condense whatever information you might find as (at the very least, someone who professes to be) a journalist into something the average “consumer” can understand. In fact, considering that VG247 at the very least is run by intelligent people, I’d argue it’s the consumer sites’ intellectual duty to talk about the politics side of thing more than it is the trade sites’ – game industry professionals know and understand these things, but I imagine most “consumers” don’t have a clue what the implications of either ruling are for the hobby they love.

    #40 5 years ago
  41. mathare92

    @28 Oh come on, I visit Kotaku all the time. And it’s not because of their supposed “ridiculous exploitation of women in skimpy clothing.”

    @39 You make a good point there. There was a point in Kaz Yamauchi’s recent interview with Car Magazine where he jokingly likened GT5′s complexity to the Apollo space programme. As a part-time rookie games news writer myself, it was quite tough resisting the temptation to write up a story titled “Yamauchi: GT5 as complex as Apollo space programme” or something to that effect.
    (I didn’t by the way) :)

    #41 5 years ago
  42. gorman

    Hi Pat. Good stuff.

    I disagree about a law against selling game to minors being of no interest to consumer sites. Isn’t that a significant portion of their target audience?

    In any case, the press writes about whatever it wants. Whether developers like it or not. From a country with Mr. Berlusconi, I tell you: you don’t want *anyone* telling the independent press what it ought to write about. It really boils down to this.

    #42 5 years ago
  43. Ernice Gilbert

    And to talk about ads. What ads? These ads generate no cash at all. So when sites like Games Thirst put out threads on a daily basis, mostly good press with the far in-between so-called “negatives”, who wins? The developers and publishers, obviously.

    Most small sites make no money after writing an article that’s titled, let’s say, “10 Reasons Resistance 3 Will Win”, yet it gets plastered around gaming’s web and get read by tens of thousands, boosting the title’s hype meter and heightening its anticipation level.

    But again, the small site that published the thread made no money. That, plus the bring news about games everyday. So in the end, who wins? Who benefits the greatest? Of course it’s the developers and publishers.

    Maybe then, they should start helping the smaller sites by advertising on them? But this won’t happen, at least not now because IGN, Kotaku, and the Gamespots are media outlets steering away, by all means necessary, from telling the truth; it’s true.

    And yet we continued to play a perpetual game. But as, like Pat said, the “Modern Games Press” continues to grow, hopefully this all will change.

    #43 5 years ago
  44. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    @43 working without gaining anything.. life sucks, huh?^^

    “Maybe then, they should start helping the smaller sites by advertising on them? But this won’t happen, at least not now because IGN, Kotaku, and the Gamespots are media outlets steering away, by all means necessary, from telling the truth; it’s true.”

    That´s the point. But how to change?*sigh* I´m a quite active user of a german website, bought by IGN 1 1/2 years ago. They really pit on a system which allows users to write their own news. Stuff like that is also interesting. But it´s not really viable as well..

    #44 5 years ago
  45. Ernice Gilbert

    @44, nah, dude. Like I said, I’m building and things are growing pretty well. I’ve got other ventures and do extremely good for my wife and myself.

    It’s never been about money with me; never will.

    #45 5 years ago
  46. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    @45 Sure,the reasons for doing that stuff doesn´t (shouldn´t!)include money. And you´re lucky when you don´t have to worry about that ;) But when you have to, you´re in a dilemma/double mill (is that right?sry, I´m German! :D)

    You´re attitude is right. When you´re doing it just for the cash, you´re wrong. and probably gonna fail.

    #46 5 years ago
  47. AHA-Lambda

    wow that is a DAMN good read right there, top stuff pat! ;)

    #47 5 years ago
  48. rentheunclean

    The examples you gave of misquotes were actually misquotes by press, so I don’t understand the connection you made between incorrect/fabricated quotes and contentious quotes reported in context? Seems obvious why they would have a problem with the first but not with the second.

    I don’t understand what your point is about the monetization of press sites. Granted these two guys might not understand the inner workings of how you get paid, but page views must have SOMETHING to do with it. If they don’t then there is literally no reason at all for misquoting or fabricating quotes from industry people, so the people writing these headlines are just incompetent and/or malicious? I doubt that is your point, so you are simply defending your actions by pointing out that you know more than them about monetization of press sites. Seems like an irrelevant conclusion to me.

    #48 5 years ago
  49. SwiftRanger

    About traffic/ads: right now I can see a personalised cell phone ad based on the country I live in in the top right corner on Gamesthirst. Sites make their money from more hits (more people=higher chance someone clicks the ad) and you do get more hits with sensational headlines. So imo CliffyB is right on that point, maybe not on the point that sites make a lot of money but definitely right on the fact that sites want to attract people in a wrong way.

    About Insomniac: while the headline said roughly the same thing Gamesthirst worded it in such a different and more compact way that it comes across way more egocentric and bullish compared to when the actual source quote would have been used as a headline. It is sensationalism and the headline is just there to attract more folks for just a single part of a sentence as the rest of the article doesn’t say much. I think that’s the biggest reason so many newsposts are getting on my (and other people’s) nerves: it’s pulp, it doesn’t tell me much other than that line which most sites “reform” to make it sound more juicy than the source quote really is. Sites seems to be chasing the headlines more than a good story.

    So no, I don’t think you’re right, Pat. VG247 is doing good but more real news would make people stop putting you in the same corner as Kotaku and the like. Of course, you need publishers and developers to get good stories and PR is awful in this biz when it comes to releasing good stories. It’s a problem of both sides, not just press, not just PR/publishers/devs with a big mouth.

    About the SCOTUS stuff: see how many minors from California are reading this site and then think again why it’s important or not.

    #49 5 years ago
  50. mojo

    good read. comments too

    #50 5 years ago
  51. bpcgos

    Pat, I beg you to write else than very short news and interviews everyday at VG247!!
    Write more Pat, whatever it is your opinion about the latest games (not review of course,just very personal opinion!),your ideas, experiences with some people /developer, or your everyday thoughts that having any correlations with games!
    Please Add another section in this site about all the stuff mentioned above!
    Do you know why ??
    Because I love the way you wrote pat! Love it!
    And, honestly I’d love to read this kind of article more on VG247(thats why I’m also a big fan of RPS, but sometimes I just dont understand with the joke they wrote cos i’m not native English speaker). Its well written, with clear chronology of what happened and not to confusing language!
    I Hope you listen to this, coz its my 2nd Year as VG247 reader(although i’m just subscribe a year ago)!

    #51 5 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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