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Doritosgate – after the storm, lets clean ourselves up

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 09:11 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Scottish writer Robert Florence sparked a series of events that brought “games journalism” to its knees last week. Patrick Garratt says the time has come for an indelible line to be drawn between the industry and the media.

I’m glad Doritosgate happened, even though many people in the UK games journalism trade have had a terrible week. It’s been a long time coming, but we now have to openly accept that cosying-up to the people selling the products on which we’re reporting is blatantly unethical.

Towards the end of last year, I became so uncomfortable with VG247′s general relationship to the games trade that we had serious discussions internally about dropping all contact with the PR process treadmill. We are not “corrupt,” but our audience – over 1.3 million unique users in October, more than 3.5 million YouTube views per month – has grown to the point that we are now on almost every list for every publisher event. I had just been abroad with a large publisher, and the level of hospitality was cringeworthy. We got some great content as a result, but a large amount of money had been spent on the trip and there was open pressure from PR and marketing surrounding some of the output. We could hardly complain: we’d taken the shilling simply by being there.

Some weeks later I was having dinner with another journalist on another press trip. I raised my concerns, and this person dismissed them, saying that I was “intelligent,” and therefore wasn’t likely to be swayed by publisher PR spend. That we shouldn’t be so lavished upon by the companies selling the games we’re writing about was scoffed at. This person produced no content from that trip, then went on what I can only describe as a holiday with another publisher a few weeks after.

I didn’t reach a definite conclusion on any changes in the way VG247 was to operate in 2012, but I took the decision that I wouldn’t accept any more flights and hotels from publishers for press trips. I thought we could “play it by ear”. We’d sent a US freelancer to Valve’s studio in Seattle to create Portal 2 launch coverage last year and paid for the flight and hotel, and it didn’t work out too expensively. I wanted to create more distance between us and PR. As VG247 got larger, so did my sense of unease.

The resolve didn’t last long, unfortunately, and I’ll explain why. Firstly, I tried to sort out my own arrangements for a press trip to Rome, and just didn’t. It was expensive, it was to see a single game, and when your own money’s on the line you think far more carefully about getting on the plane. As a result, though, we missed out on some crucial coverage. This irked me, and I immediately questioned whether or not going on all-expenses-paid trips like this really did matter. Everyone else was doing it, and we’d done it for years. Maybe I was just being silly. I spoke to a few PR people about it, and, again, was laughed at. If you’re swayed by someone buying you a flight, it was said, then maybe you’re in the wrong game. If you’ve been watching the violent debates surrounding games journalism over the past week, you may well have seen similar lines trotted out by others.

Secondly, I was invited to the Microsoft Spring Showcase in San Francisco in February. California is a long way away from Europe. The costs really were high, and I wanted to go. There are some trips, I told myself, that it’s important to attend in order to foster a decent relationship with UK PR. Conveniently, it fell just before GDC; Microsoft was flexible about the flight, so I was able to travel from Paris then stay on for the show. Microsoft paid for the premium economy ticket and several nights in the Mark Hopkins hotel. We spent the days at the event working, and the evenings at mass dinners, which were always paid for by Microsoft.

We got a lot out of it. I worked hard. We had content live for the Halo 4 reveal, and we got the first look at Forza Horizon. Given what VG247 is, we should absolutely have been there. Whether or not I should have been there personally is a different matter. And if I should have been there, then I should have just flown myself there and paid for a hotel. It would have cost thousands, but this is my business. This is how we make money. I was ignoring the fact that I could have sent Steph, our US editor, instead. This is what I should have done. And we should have paid for it ourselves.

I made the wrong decision. The truth is that if one performs as part of sponsored trips, one cannot, no matter what anyone says on the matter, remain completely objective. No matter how well intentioned, you are not independent if you operate this way. If you’re not independent, then it seems logical that the content you create under these circumstances can’t be absolutely trusted.

I want VG247 to be trusted. We are not “bent,” and never have been. I do not want anyone to think we are.

The Great Crisp Disaster

I’m not going to go into the details of what happened last week. If you’re not au fait with Eurogamer’s editing of Robert Florence’s article on grey areas between the games press, marketing and PR, and what ultimately proved to be a Sandy-style aftermath, you can get everything that’s been said about it from this post on NeoGAF.

And I’m not going to name names. I’ve read some insane, shuddersome drivel over the past few days which misses the point of both Robert’s article and quite why we should be closely examining games journalism. Some names have probably been named enough. One of them is that of VG247′s Dave Cook – I’m only including him here because unless I do there’ll be some genius in the comments screaming about me wanting to cover up his part in events – and I sincerely hope it’s the last time he sees mention of himself in relation to “Doritosgate”. Dave is, without question, one of the most diligent, dedicated games journalists I’ve ever worked with. Seeing him involved last week over what was essentially a momentary error of judgement was unpleasant. The point lost to many in the hysteria that followed the editing of Florence’s article was that this isn’t about individuals: it’s about an entire industry, about the video games press and the closeness of its relationship to marketeers, about how the line between “enthusiasm” and “advert” has become blurred in some cases to a dangerous degree.

I believe Robert’s piece, and the circumstances around its publication, should be all the impetus we need to make changes now.

I’m glad Doritosgate happened, even though many people in the UK games journalism trade have had a terrible week. It’s been a long time coming, but we now have to openly accept that cosying-up to the people selling the products on which we’re reporting is blatantly unethical. It’s common sense. While I have total faith in both myself and my team, in our passion for the subject and our ability to be professional, I think that, honestly, we have all been professional in an unprofessional situation for far, far too long. While we certainly are independent in mind, we must, at this point, become independent in action. “You have to trust us,” after Doritosgate, is no longer enough.

As a result, I’ve decided to put the following rules in place for our staff, effective immediately. I’m ashamed I didn’t do this last year. I would encourage other websites to follow suit. Several of the US games publications adhere to similar guidelines, but VG247 will be, as far as I’m aware, the first UK games site to adopt anything like this.

  • We’ll declare everything. Any travel, accommodation or hospitality accepted by VG247 staff in the course of work will be fully declared in any resultant editorial.
  • No engagement in publisher-held competitions. VG247 staff will never again enter a competition hosted by a publisher or platform-holder.
  • Writers will never report on companies or products in which they have financial interest, or on companies which employ family members or close friends. Most games journalists have friendly relationships with some publisher PR. As of now, those friendships will prevent staff members from writing about any related company’s products. Similarly, our staff will now not write about products and companies in which they have a vested interest: this includes any crowd-sourced projects they may have backed.
  • We will always protect the identity of our sources. VG247′s sources will never be disclosed it they speak to us under condition of anonymity. It’s normal that VG247 journalists’ sources aren’t even divulged internally.
  • A note on advertising. VG247 is always likely to be primarily funded by video games advertising, for reasons I hope are blatantly obvious. We will never carry advertorial. Our ads our sold by Eurogamer Network’s sales team, which is based in Brighton, UK, and is independent to VG247′s editorial staff.

In reality, these (obvious) rules won’t greatly affect the way we work at all. We don’t take bungs for scores or sell top-slot stories for coke and hookers. Our journalists have integrity, no matter what may have happened in the last week. We try to be good. VG247 is a quality, popular site, and I’m proud of both the publication and its team. What these regulations will do, in theory, is shade any grey areas in our operation either black or white. Our staff will now know what they can and can’t do, and you, as a reader, can feel completely comfortable in reading both our news and opinions and knowing you’re seeing independent editorial.

Like, that’s what you were seeing anyway. Hopefully now there’ll be no question to the contrary.

Note: This article has been edited. The following sections of our original guidelines have been changed or removed:

  • No flights or hotels. We’ll no longer accept flights and payment for hotels from third-parties.
  • No hospitality. No more free bars. I mean, I’m sure there’ll be free bars. But our employees won’t be drinking at them. This rule also includes food. As of now, VG247 staff will buy their own vittles when they’re “in the field” wherever possible. If, for whatever reason, a VG247 staffer eats or drinks at the expense of a publisher, it’ll be disclosed.
  • Any gift over £50 disclosed. We regularly get sent promotional materials by games publishers. From now on, all “swag” will be either given away on the site or through social media, or donated to charity. This doesn’t include games, or at least it doesn’t include all of them. We need to play games a lot, and the only way we can keep up is through promos.
  • Any coverage resulting from press trips to be disclosed. Self-explanatory. If we do decide that we’re going to pay our own way to attend a publisher promo event, we’ll clearly say so in any resulting copy.

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84 Comments

  1. Rhythm

    Spot on. You’re the only site to get this right so far, let’s hope others follow suit.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dragon246

    *Claps with both hands*
    This is precisely what was needed. Kudos to the entire staff. This is why vg247 is my most frequently visited eu site.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. JPickford

    Good stuff.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dean

    This is good. Very good.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Specialist89

    I’ve always been a “silent follower” of your work on VG247 and today i can proudly say that this article is a clear sign of the quality “hiding” behind this webpage. In my life i’ve never seen an editor being so humble and honest about his job.

    You speak the truth. Being a videogames editor puts you, and your staff, in a delicate position. You want/must be neutral, but a the same time you can’t really avoid what every PR will set up for your editorial staff and your company. I’ve seen tons of magazines and websites claiming to be independent, and at the end i’ve always been able to see where their judgment was clearly influenced by PR people.

    I’m a sort of a colleague. I’m an external contributor to a lot of videogames magazines in my country, I have some experience in the field and i’ve been given the chance to grab a lot of “swag” by publishers and PR people, but i’ve always had the same concerns and behaviours when publisher’s advertising come down to this. You really can’t be open to those kind of “prizes” and pretend to stay independent. This job is about being totally “friendly” with PR people, or cold and professional for the sake of “pure information”.

    I can’t say anything more than “thank you” for what you’re doing for our industry, and i hope that VG247 will keep having this openness for a very long time.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. mathare92

    Here, here. A bold move. A welcome move.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Jimaroid

    “And my axe.”

    I love the gaming press, I hope others follow this outstanding and admirable lead.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. mongbatstar

    Bold move, bit harsh to block the free bar though! Will VG247 be subbing the bar bill instead? :)

    Sincerely, I hope this works out for you.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. expose the core

    Great to see this kind of action being taken. It really validates my personal opinion that this place is one of the best videogame news sites in the web.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. G1GAHURTZ

    Excellent stuff!

    Honesty is always the best policy.

    …although, I do feel like a big bag of Doritos right now.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Beta

    This is why VG247 is my favourite gaming news site. Well done Sir, I can only hope that other sites follow your example.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Old MacDonald

    I don’t have any meaningful comments really, just wanted to say that I really respect what you did here.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. BraveArse

    Well done Pat, a shining example of exactly how it should be done, on all sorts of levels.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. stevenhiggster

    Bravo, this is how all sites should operate.
    In all seriousness though, can you pretend that I work for you and send me to all the PR funded events? :P

    #14 2 years ago
  15. PaulLFC

    Well done for this, good to see a site being so up front about its policies and making changes in response to the recent events. I can only hope other sites follow suit.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. BULArmy

    Nice. I think both Robert and you are totally right the industry is corrupt.

    The same in some way is with the auto journos. For 90% of the time they are totally in manufacturers hands and those things don’t lead to objectivity. Chris Harris from the YouTube channel Drive wrote an article on Jalopnik which stated the bad things Ferrari do and now he is on their blacklist, which is totaly wrong.

    The Gamespot scandal the same absurd. Movie journalist asked to go to preview screening of a new blockbuster and writing a review for that movie before it is released. Again how can he/she be totally objective and the site/magazine/newspaper he/she is working also, when somebody is favoring you this way.

    The problem is that not playing by the rules can be bad for the “offender”. It is a reallity, some companies will decline interviews if they think, they can’t get enough benefits from you. But this is why I like you, RPS, Kotaku, to some extend Eurogamer. I think those are the sites in which I can put my trust. To sites like Gametrailers and IGN I go only if they offer some special that I am interested.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Christopher Jack

    I never for a moment questioned any of VG247′s staff integrity, I have always trusted & respected you guys & your opinions. I personally don’t think these guidelines were even necessary but I’m glad you’re still taking responsibility for the way the industry works & respect that fact that you’re trying to change it.

    Hopefully this whole situation will also pave a way to more honest reviews. Very rarely do I ever think someone was bribed, but when they have their hand in a cookie jar, no matter how honest they are, it’s likely to influence their opinion & that leads to safer scores- it’s just plain rare to see an OK game score less than a 7 by most reviewers & that’s why I disagree with publishing a score in the industries current state.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Hamlet

    Great job VG247! Nice to see these policies set in stone and giving readers full transparency. You’ve set the bar, anad hopefully other sites do the same and realise that this is an important issue for many readers.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Erthazus

    I said long time ago that industry is corrupted as hell.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Dave Cook

    @19 Erth you have to be careful with blanket statements like that, seriously. Most journalists we know aren’t corrupt, but they just see the meals, flights and freebies as part of the process – and don’t let it sway their opinion of games at all.

    The problem is, that they should see it as an attempt to curry favour.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. NinjaMidget

    I don’t comment on a lot of articles but I’ve been going on VG247 every day for almost 2 (could be 3) years now.

    The biggest reason is that you don’t review games, and this to me has proved your objectivity for all that time. This article has proved that my trust was well founded.

    The VG247 staff are a bunch of legends! And as a new addition to the team, Dave certainly is a hard worker. You can see it in the articles. Well done guys and gals!

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Old MacDonald

    19 & 20: Not to mention that such statements makes it even harder to be the “good guys”, because everyone just assumes you’re bad anyway.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Dave Cook

    @22 exactly, and this has been a real eye-opener for me. I never saw retweeting the hashtag as a bad move until the fall-out from ‘Doritos-gate’. It was wrong, and it has caused me to see this side of things in a new light. it’s time for others to question it too.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Erthazus

    @20, i’m not talking about Journalists actually.
    I’m talking about the industry in general.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. voxelman

    Consider yourselves un-adblocked

    #25 2 years ago
  26. G1GAHURTZ

    I think journos should maybe see themselves as Dr Ian Malcom in Jurassic Park.

    Getting flown to a beautiful Island where ‘no expense is spared’, and given a whirlwind tour shouldn’t stop you from being a super cynic.

    (Or getting eaten by dinosaurs…)

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Dave Cook

    @24 then I retract :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. bitsnark

    Do you hear that sound?

    That, loud, clanging sound?

    That would be VG247′s massive, bronze balls swinging together in doing the sort of thing that every other games site should aspire to do.

    This sort of transparency is great to see and kudos to Team VG247 for stepping up first.

    \o/

    #28 2 years ago
  29. G1GAHURTZ

    @24:

    What!? How can devs be corrupt!??

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Hirmetrium

    I only have one comment:
    “No hospitality. No more free bars. I mean, I’m sure there’ll be free bars. But our employees won’t be drinking at them. This rule also includes food. As of now, VG247 staff will buy their own vittles when they’re “in the field” wherever possible. If, for whatever reason, a VG247 staffer eats or drinks at the expense of a publisher, it’ll be disclosed.”
    I feel that this rule is a step too far. Your staff need to eat and drink, and the reality of it is that if you get somewhere at a god awful hour after yesterday’s flight, so your suffering from jetlag, your going to need tea/coffee.

    Not only that, but surely events are sometimes out of the way – the only source of food for miles is going to be what their serving you.

    I feel that if anything this should be relaxed a little – if a publisher is offering you a sandwich, and it means you can get an extra hour or so on whatever title it is to squeeze that bit more coverage out of, you should take it.

    I’m not trying to contravene you, but trying to be realistic. I guess that’s why you put “where-ever possible.”

    I do, however, agree with the open bars part. Good shout.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Hamlet

    Wait wait wait… are we really calling it “Doritosgate” now?

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Deacon

    Working in this industry it must be so hard to stay completely impartial and unbiased, and that’s without factoring in such attempts to ‘curry favour’.

    Great piece Pat. VG247 is fantastic, and now even more so :)

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Dave Cook

    @32 yeah especially with gamers who hate the press scrutinising every time we sneeze or scratch our balls. They hound us constantly and everything we do is wrong. It’s not an easy job most of the time, even if it looks it.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. OrbitMonkey

    Huh, so this is what integrity looks like…

    #34 2 years ago
  35. RandomTiger

    Good stuff, I hope its practical in the long term. Is the reader truly the customer when advertising pays the bills?

    “this includes any crowd-sourced projects they may have backer”

    This one is important I think, its going to be very interesting to see the effect of kickstartered projects on game website reviews.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. KrazyKraut

    Journalism is not posting some news other ppl posted or a press release of a publisher/developer. Journalism…is well…Journalism. Thats what a lot of ppl forget which have a video game site.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Zarckan

    This is why I love this site!

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Dave Cook

    @36 I think anyone can safely say that we’re starting to expand our bespoke and investigative content considerably. News is still our crux, but we’re growing our content rapidly.

    Watch this space.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. jayc4life

    @35 Absolutely. The amount of game journalists I see on Twitter publicly praising and acknowledging that they’ve paid into Kickstarters is quite something. However, where does the cut-off for that lie? If this is the case, where would this leave Minecraft coverage considering most people paid for it when it was still in Alpha? Or Prison Architect, which has its own tiered system? I think that for these kind of crowd-funded games, if you’ve paid anything above what’s necessary to be granted the base final retail copy, that should be disclosed, but if you just want to throw in a cheeky fiver into the pot, that can be overlooked.

    This code of ethics should probably be permanently linked somewhere on the site for future reference. Kudos for making it crystal clear to the readers, Patrick & Team.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. viralshag

    I think some of the guidelines are a little extreme but as long as they don’t affect the coverage I don’t mind.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Deacon

    @36 you can’t really expect a gaming news site to only report on things they themselves have gleaned. I think that’s wildly ambitious, especially for a site with only half a dozen or so staff.
    We receive a great mix of news & journalism here, imo.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Dave Cook

    @40 it won’t, business as usual. There are always better ways to get the content :)

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Talkar

    Great piece!
    As an addition, could you start crediting posters who linked you to news when you write an article? I know you do it already, but a lot of the times the original poster is ignored. It just seems fair to credit it :P

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Paranormal Pett

    This is brilliant news, well said. At least someone is taking a stand and showing other sites on how it should be done. Take a bow.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. dfar80

    Congrats, kudos, and all that. But one has to ask – were weren’t any of those guidelines a concern before Doritosgate? If they were, why address them now? “Last year” seems little when the damage done has built up for years; suddenly writing an editorial on integrity seems misplaced. It suggests that if none of this had happened, VG247 and other sites would have remained quiet on the issue; and some will still pay no mind to this, no doubt. It’s not that I’m questioning your integrity and professionalism (though content like “eating pants” is just sensionalist and pointless), but that comes with time and effort, not simply saying you’ve acted that way. But even then, the general cowardice of the industry has made it so there is always a high level of suspicion surrounding videogame journalism that even the most honest sites and staff cannot hope to overcome.

    In fact, integrity in an age of advertising is hard to maintain. Could VG247 afford to cut their ties with Eurogamer in protest of their treatment of Florence and his article? Probably not, but the end result is an editorial pining for transparency and integrity from a site linked to a network that censored someone writing about those things.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Freek

    Don’t think it’s extreme at all. Part of having integrity is not letting there be any doubt and not even opening yourself up to the posibility of being influenced.
    It’s part of taking your job as a journalist/reporter/critic seriuously.
    Good move on VG247′s part and hopefully more sites will follow.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Dave Cook

    @45 yeah they were our rules, but they were unwritten rules. Now they’re written in the name of transparency :)

    #47 2 years ago
  48. GwynbleiddiuM

    Hats off to Pat and the VG247 staff. This was always tangible in your work, that’s why I left hanging around other places a long time ago and hopped on the VG247 boat. That’s why I like it here and that’s why I’ll continue to be part of the VG247′s community. Guys, thank you for being honest and thank you for all the hard works you do on a daily basis.

    #48 2 years ago
  49. Simplicitly

    Despite having popped in to read stuff on VG247 for a long time, I was only prompted to register recently after new appointments meant that the site was updating with more content, and with some really great writing from, in particular in this case, Dave Cook. I’ve occasionally seen Patrick tweet about how pleased he is with the increased traffic on the site, and I felt good for him that this boost had come about, in my eyes, from an increase in quality content.

    So it was with some disappointment that I read the names of people in the EG piece last week. Indubitably the reaction might not have been so public without the naming of names leading to other things, but I always felt it was wrong to infer ‘corruption’ about individuals, however qualified Robert Florence’s statements were that perception was the key factor, rather than any allegations actually being made.

    All that said, a part of me is glad that a light has been shone on this, however late it might seem to some, and however some might still seek to justify the receipt of favours as just a tool of the job. I actually think that the very high standards that Patrick sets here might almost seem too extreme, as I don’t think there is any shame in accepting travel costs or accomodation in the pursuit of your job, and while I’m not interested in the turnover of VG247, I’d hate to think that they would be financially compromised in the production of their great content. But I guess that is the point, isn’t it? You have to draw a line somewhere, and as a keen gamer, and observer of the industry, I have to say that from all of this kerfuffle, the line drawn here by Patrick is one of the clearest.

    The writing around it in this piece is also reflective, thoughtful and I thought very interesting. Just like the stuff that has made me come and read more on VG247. Given how personal to DC this seemed last week, this is exactly the kind of grown-up response that I was hoping for from somewhere. Having read all of that neogaf thread linked above… yes, ALL of it, I can safely say that not everyone appears to be thinking in the clear manner in which this piece has been constructed.

    The clarification has to start somewhere, so Bravo for this.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. dfar80

    @Dave: I think Garratt explicitly stated he decided to put those rules “effective immediately”… which suggests they weren’t, adding he felt ashamed he didn’t do this last year. Maybe it’s poor phrasing or the rules themselves coincide with how the staff has worked in the past, but it still doesn’t sound right.

    I want to repeat I’m not questioning how the staff operates, or did. The issue itself needs to be tackled head on by all sides, and any step toward that is a welcome one, though this awareness – coming from several sites, not just VG – feels somewhat strange.

    #50 2 years ago
  51. Dave Cook

    @50 I think many of them went without saying, so we didn’t have spoken rules in place. But I see what you mean. Rest assured they are firmly in place now.

    #51 2 years ago
  52. Robustitron

    Just registered to say I found a new source of game news.

    After dropping Kotaku and the other Gawker blogs, which are essentially caricatures of the Doritos problem, I was left so disillusioned that I avoided gaming news sites for two years now.

    Any site that deletes/bans comments consisting of objectively correct, properly referenced factual corrections just because it undermined an advertorial, has no right to call themselves journalists. People who got upset at Polygon’s pizza flop don’t know the half of it.

    #52 2 years ago
  53. LuLshuck

    What pisses me off is that everyone clearly knew it was corrupt but no one has written anything until this guy retires and tells everyone, this should of been written when that guy got fired for doing a bad review on kane and lynch

    #53 2 years ago
  54. mistermogul

    Well done Patrick, an honourable move.

    Now… can I have the flights/hospitality please?!

    ;)

    #54 2 years ago
  55. Razor

    Yeah… all expenses trips, free food, gets to see games early? Where do I sign up ? :)

    #55 2 years ago
  56. frod

    I wish we could all be honest with each other and call it ‘entertainment reporting’ instead of ‘game journalism’. The latter isn’t something that I think most people would even be interested in, as games are a form of escapism. Unfortunately the former (clearly more accurate) title confers a lot less gravitas, so here we are being shocked by something quite unremarkable in reality.

    #56 2 years ago
  57. Dave Cook

    @56 I tend to refer to myself as a game critic, rather than a journalist. The term journalist doesn’t sit right with me. I am aware that My Twitter profile has me down as a journo, I just haven’t gotten around to changing it.

    Should probably do that now ;)

    UPDATE:

    Done! :D

    #57 2 years ago
  58. Demigod

    Good policies and may help bring game reviewing up to the standard of real journalism (we can argue about the decline in that another time) from what to my eyes has increasingly been akin to freelance reviewing from the publishers.

    However how these disclosures will be done?
    Will there be an side box with the reviews/articles or will there just article at the end of the year? While the first may seem a bit over kill and some publishers probably wont like it, the second is a bit sweep under the rug.

    #58 2 years ago
  59. ManuOtaku

    I always clean myself after eating doritos, they let my fingers with a yellowredish colour, nice to know you are doing the same ;)
    p.s Nicely done guys, iam proud of being a commenter here and somewhat ,somehow , be part of this in any form or shape, thanks.

    #59 2 years ago
  60. ZeGerman1942

    Great stuff guys! Fully migrated now from Eurogamer to your site. The only site who seems to be honest and serious about reporting games news.

    #60 2 years ago
  61. Demigod

    @57 I would love to see more game journalism though – more articles about how games are made, how developers raise and fall. Instead of just a review and leave a game come back in a few months see how it sold what the public reaction was, ask the devs what went right and what went wrong. Articles about new tech. We all love the unreal and crysis dev vids so interviews about that new rendering techniques etc.

    I realize such things would cost money and the demand would have to be weighed but if game critics cant do it who can?

    #61 2 years ago
  62. frod

    @61 Edge do pages and pages of articles like that every month, but most people can’t see past their review scoring policy to even consider reading it, much less paying for it.

    #62 2 years ago
  63. DSB

    Well fuck me.

    I wasn’t expecting that, and certainly not that level of aggression.

    Proud to be a VG247 reader.

    Are you saying that you don’t check the sources though, Pat? Not that VG247 has been involved in any Watergates, but litigation and libel became a topic this week, and it is ultimately the editors job to make sure the research, and the sources hold up before printing.

    The editor checking those things is as much a guarantee for the reader, as it is for the people who may or may not be impacted by the article.

    #63 2 years ago
  64. Dave Cook

    @61 I’m personally queuing up a lot of developer profile pieces – Stay tuned for Harada’s Tekken legacy piece soon – as I enjoy reading about how games are made. But there is this weird line drawn in the sand where some consumer sites don’t report on game development as it’s seen as too ‘industry’.

    It’s something I’ve personally encountered at previous jobs – won’t name names – but yeah I’m a fan of making of pieces. I’m just not sure they’re relevant to an up to date news site.

    There’s always room for us to consider them however :)

    #64 2 years ago
  65. Dragon246

    @61
    That’s what gamasutra is for.

    #65 2 years ago
  66. drizzom

    Hey guys! Just registered and posting for the first time. I’m glad you guys had backbone enough to take a leading step in progressing an important part of this industry.

    Thank you.

    “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe

    #66 2 years ago
  67. Gheritt White

    Can we still be friends?

    #67 2 years ago
  68. Mike

    With the viewing figures quoted in the article, I’m seriously at a loss toward why other ads that are relevant to probably the most market-friendly sub section of society can’t offer a valid alternative to publisher-funded ads. 18-35 y.o. – young single, professional. Loads of money. I’d rather see an ad for Apple, Windows 8, Calvin Klein etc. etc. than see Ubisoft’s latest.

    Surely true independence is when your (3rd person) wages aren’t being paid by the people you’re reporting on?

    Perhaps naive, perhaps incredibly stupid, but alas, a completely honest quesyion.

    #68 2 years ago
  69. Chockster

    So I guess I’m not getting another trip to Stockholm, eh Pat?

    And y’know what, I’m fine with that. I saw how the sausage was made, and it wasn’t as pretty as I thought. (I think Pat will know which bit of the trip I’m talking about.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I had a brilliant time on that competition trip, made some good friends and talked games for three days solid. We even got an extra night in an asylum for our trouble, but there were things that left me uneasy about the whole process, and I applaud Pat for his stand here today.

    Even though I’ll not win another trip to Sweden.

    #69 2 years ago
  70. The_Red

    This is really great and I’m more than glad to see VG247 staff like Pat and Dave being so honest and humble here but I’m still mad. Even if the original article did get its message across, it was still threatened and censored by some people within this industry and as long as those people still work in their respective publications, I have almost zero faith in anything reported by them (I’m mainly looking a MCV and a certain “law suit education / threat” wielding lady).

    #70 2 years ago
  71. fear_itself

    A little sidebar / side box along the lines of

    “The writer of this piece was supplied the following items at the Publisher’s, or their representative’s expense,…. flight, hotel, cup of tea ;)”

    might be useful. That way there’s always a specific place to look for that info?

    But, then you’re probably already on this.

    BTW – bravo. No one even thought to do this back in my day (I think).

    #71 2 years ago
  72. Ireland Michael

    Am I the only one who thinks the first rule really isn’t necessary (flights and hotels)

    Just be honest in your opinions, and if publishers react negatively to it, that’s their prerogative. It’s simply something you can’t avoid. I honestly don’t see why it’s hard to remain objective in that situation.

    Just be sure to put a disclaimer at the end of your pieces. That’s worked for me for years.

    #72 2 years ago
  73. ooQoo

    resistered. bookmarked.

    hope springs eternal.

    #73 2 years ago
  74. Dave Cook

    @73 welcome :) Hope you enjoy your stay.

    #74 2 years ago
  75. simsum

    You still need to promise to be proactive in uncovering unethical behaviour in your own industry, and you still need to promise to join (and preferably, help create) a trade organisation whose sole purpose is to report on the standards and failures of your industry as soon as such an organisation appears.

    Even so, you just gained a potentially regular reader.

    One who feels kind of weird to be grateful for your now unambiguous ethical guidelines. Because I shouldn’t be. Pretty much every other kind of critic, journalist and outlet operate within clearly stated ethical guidelines and are members of trade organisations whose sole function is to play watchdog.

    #75 2 years ago
  76. polygem

    it´s the right move. the only way. even if it seems like it will hurt, in the end it doesn´t. you shouldn´t play the game if the game is corrupting you. maybe you will have more inconveniences, maybe less cash, but you´ll be able to look into the mirror knowing that you are not just doing a job but living your own life, a life where you are the captain not letting the circumstances steering the boat.

    #76 2 years ago
  77. OlderGamer

    Well, good luck maintaining the highroad.

    Just don’t forget that by having a large website, with a lot of viewers, that you are already doing said companies a favor by showing up at their events. I would have ZERO problem with some level of compensation.

    I know it is a fine line.

    I also know that maintaining your independant integurty is meaningless if your viewership and website are meaningless. I mean to say, if your site doesn’t get the “inside” coverage(like exclusive one on ones, previews, interviews, ect), readership can easily fall off. Most of us aren’t loyal and will go as the wind blows. the truth is you need industry and the industry needs you. It really is one hand washing the other.

    You can’t afford to burn bridges. The industry isn’t that big. Snub the wrong guys, and you could get snub for their next game and the few after that.

    So, while I aplaud the notion of independance and journalistic integerty, I don’t think those things apply fully to games as they do in other sectors. A dumb example:

    Sandy(the hurricane) just went through several states. There was no preview of it, no inside info, no creative personel to interview, there was little or nothing to cover that could be kept from anyone that wanted to cover it. It just happend, no one needed an invite to cover it. If you have weather staff, ground staff, network feeds, and a venue you could cover Sandy. Didn’t matter if you were CNN, TWC, or the local news.

    But games…Games isn’t just about a game that released. Covering the games industry is indeed about events, pressers, interviews, etc. there is a lot of inside and exclsuive content. You either play the game or risk being on the outside looking in. I would rather have my staff eating some chips and drinking some beer that were provided by the promoters and be able to get a sit down with the lead design on a major upand coming release, then to be snubed infavor of another site that plays their PR game and gets the scoops.

    So in all of my wind bagging, I say caution. You guys know the industry. You know how things work. And I think you know what it takes to keep bringing us the best damn stuff possible. Just don’t forget that. I love the idea of giving away much swag, that helps conect with readers. But if acepting a plane ride, a hotel room, and a bag of Doritos means getting us the freshest and best info on something … might as well suck it up.

    Because honestly, if you don’t, someone else will.

    #77 2 years ago
  78. LuLshuck

    Im with Ireland Michael on this one, get rid of rule 1

    #78 2 years ago
  79. sg1974

    My name is Steven Gould and I support Dave Cook.

    That is all.

    #79 2 years ago
  80. Telepathic.Geometry

    Good show guys. I hope you’re able to survive and stay competitive with those rules in place. You have my axe, my bow and my level 20 scythe of waning frost!

    #80 2 years ago
  81. OrbitMonkey

    Hand on cold callused heart, i’m a cynical cunt. I’m honestly surprised at the steps Pat wants to take.

    I’m not gonna hoorah… Cuz I don’t *get* why this is needed for VG247…

    Its a entertainment blog, sure… & Pats shown good editorial decision making…

    This just seems like reacting to the sins of others tbh.

    #81 2 years ago
  82. Kabby

    It’s perhaps overkill for a news site. However, if you intend to expand into reviews I’m sure these changes would engender trust with the readership.

    #82 2 years ago
  83. NocturnalB

    Holy cow! I’ve only been coming to this site for a couple months but it steadily became the main games site i come to, and now I’m happy it is!! You guys rock for this. And I’m with #25 you guys are totally un Adblocked on my computer!

    I just gained massive respect for ya’ll! Your number 1 reader from Houston, Texas, USA!! Rock on, I’m stickin’ with ya’lls ship till the end!

    #83 2 years ago
  84. Bobstrikesback

    81 – I think that’s exactly it, though. I’ve seen a number of games writers responding to this mess as if the suggestion of more transparency and clearly-defined boundaries on their end is a direct and ludicrous attack on their own integrity (I’ve seen ‘guilty until proven innocent’ thrown around, as well as ‘if you don’t trust us, go somewhere else’, and, in response to this article, ‘extreme paranoia’).

    It’s sad. Because games writers can make it an issue about their own sites and whether or not they personally need this sort of thing, or they can – as Pat has done – set some visible standards in the hope that other outlets will follow suit and create a bit of accountability across the board. Good job, lads, I’ll be keeping an eye on you from now on.

    #84 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Erron Black, the gunslinger which was outed for Mortal Kombat X in the achievements listing last week, was featured in the latest livestream from NetherRelam Studios yesterday evening. Along with gameplay, fatalities and variations for Black, the developer also provided a look at gameplay for: Ermac vs Mileena; Ermac’s brutality and fatality moves; Lui Kang […]

  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U: 2015 release not a “priority”, skipping E3

    The Legend of Zelda franchise producer Eiji Aonuma is featured in the latest video update on the status of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, stating a 2015 release is no longer a “number one priority” for the team. While Aonuma never specifically says the game has been delayed into 2016, the announcement confirms […]

  • Destiny gameplay designer exits for Bethesda

    Destiny’s senior gameplay designer Josh Hamrick announced on Twitter overnight he would be leaving the company in a week’s time for Bethesda. Hamrick joined Bungie in 2009 after working two years at Midway Austin, where he created multiplayer maps, modified single-player levels, and other designer functions. He was in charge of fixing bug in code […]

  • What to expect from the Call of Duty Championship this weekend

    Just settling down to the Call of Duty Championship this weekend? Here’s a rundown of today’s matches and what else to expect over the next three days. The Call of Duty Championship is taking place in LA this weekend until Sunday, with 32 four-player teams battling it out for a prize pot of $1 million. […]

  • MLB 15 The Show video highlights improved graphics, updated grass patterns

    Sony has released a video for MLB 15 The Show which provides a look at graphical improvements made to the game. Along with the visual upgrade over MLB 14 The Show, the game contains new minor league stadiums, dynamic sun generated in real-time, and upgraded grass patterns which reflect each stadium’s unique look. MLB 15 […]

  • Valve to offer HTC Vive Developer Edition free to qualified developers

    Valve has said it will offer the HTC Vive Developer Edition for free to qualified developers in an effort to buoy projects before the tech launches commercially. Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios and The Room studio Fireproof Games are just some of the developers which already have a free Vive in-hand. According to Valve’s Doug […]

  • DriveClub gameplay video features MotorStorm’s off-road buggies

    Some gameplay footage of MotorStorm’s off-road buggies in DriveClub has surfaced. Pictures of the buggies were shown on the Japanese PlayStation Blog earlier this month, which considering the game was developed by Evolution Studios – which developed MotorStorm – this isn’t too much of a surprise. The buggies were first spotted by Videogamer, which pulled […]

  • Mortal Kombat X live-action TV spot features the track Chop Suey

    The TV sport for Mortal Kombat X has been released, and not only does it contain a “spontaneous fight circle” taking over an entire city, but it features the System of a Down track Chop Suey. Mortal Kombat X will be released on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One April 14. The […]

  • Bloodborne Forbidden Woods progression bug caused by multiplayer summon

    A progression bug in Bloodborne is in the works, according to Sony and From Software. The issue occurs when players activate a multiplayer session in the Forbidden Woods using the Sinister Resonant Bell or Small Resonant Bell. It also appears the Lunarium Key won’t appear because of the multiplayer bug, and without the key you […]

  • Yo-Kai Watch game franchise has sold over 7 million copies

    The Yo-Kai Watch IP has sold over 7 million copies, according to developer Level-5. The figure included both physical and digital download sales. Yo-Kai Watch 3 will be unveiled during Level-5 Vision 2015 next month. The first title is in the works for the west but is still without a release window. Thanks, Gematsu.

  • Bloodborne trademark returned to Sony after accidentally losing it

    In case you were worried or anything, Sony has once again obtained the Bloodborne trademark. Earlier this week it was revealed that Sony mistakenly abandoned the Bloodborne trademark along with four others registered with US Patent and Trademark Office: Guns Up!, Kill Strain; How Games Were Made to Sound, and No Heroes Allows: No Puzzles […]

  • GTA 5 PC official trailer coming next week, 15 new screenshots released

    New PC screenshots of GTA 5 have been released along with word of a new trailer coming on Monday. The screens below are from the PC version and you can view them in 4K glory over on Rockstar Newswire. The PC version of GTA 5 releases on April 14.

  • PSN real-time server status page launching in Europe soon

    PlayStation users in Europe will soon have its own a PSN Service Status Indicator. It was released earlier this month in North America. The indicator makes it easier to check whether PlayStation services are down or running as planned. This includes account management, PlayStation Now, the store, social services, etc. Sony told Eurogamer the service […]

  • Exclusivity contract prevents Bioware from revealing Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC release on PS4

    Bioware is unable to discuss when the Jaws of Hakkon DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition will arrive on platforms other than PC and Xbox One. According to various tweets from executive producer Mark Darrah, due to the exclusivity contract between EA and Microsoft, the studio is unable to announce a release date for PlayStation 3 […]

  • LEGO Batman 3 demo, Namco Museum, more added to North American eShop

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo for LEGO Batman 3, Namco Museum on Wii U Virtual Console, and various sales. Below is the full update. Nintendo eShop Dot Arcade – Wii U LEGO Ninjago – 3Ds LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Demo – Wii U Harvest Moon: The […]

  • Square Enix’s Easter Surprise bundle contains five mystery PC games

    Square Enix offering another mystery bundle to customers in the UK, which comes with five mystery PC games for £3.99. As before, customers will be unaware of the games they are purchasing in the mystery bundle, but the bundle contains triple-A titles worth £40 combined. One of Square’s previous mystery bundles contained Tomb Raider, Just […]

  • From Software’s PSone game Shadow Tower coming to PSN

    Shadow Tower, the first-person action-RPG developed for the original PlayStation by From Software, will be released on PlayStation Network. In the 1998 title, players took on the role of a mercenary who has returned home to the Holy Land of Zeptar to find the place has been sucked into the Underworld. He must use the […]

  • PlayStation TV gets price cut in the UK, now £44.99

    PlayStation TV has received a price cut in the UK. After several retailers started offering the console for less than the RRP of £84.99, users on DealSpwn began to wonder whether this is an official price cut, and not just regular deals or stock clearance. Sony later confirmed the new price of £44.99. “Starting from […]

  • Fast & Furious expansion for Forza Horizon 2 is now available, for free

    You can download Forza Horizon 2 expansion Fast & Furious starting right now. Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious is available to download now through Xbox Live for Xbox One and Xbox 360. The expansion is standalone, so you don’t need to own Forza Horizon 2 to play it. It’s also free from now […]

  • Fire-based weapons come to PayDay 2 with the Butcher’s BBQ Pack

    The 20th DLC for PayDay 2, the Butcher’s BBQ Pack, is now available on Steam. The DLC will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: Piglet Grenade Launcher, 12G Steakout Shotgun and Mk1 Flamethrower Molotov cocktails and incendiary ammo Four new masks, patterns, materials and achievements The Butcher’s BBQ Pack is another co-development between Overkill and Croatian […]

  • Lords of the Fallen developer offers Hideo Kojima a job

    Amid the current turmoil between Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami, one studio has offered the legendary designer a position. Lords of the Fallen developer Deck 13 took to Twitter to extend a job offer to Hideo Kojima. Dear Mr. @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN In case you are currently searching, we have an open position as Head of Game […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy MIDA Multi Tool?

    The question on every Destiny player’s lips today. And the answer, supplied by resident Destiny expert Paul Davies, is… Yes! We asked Paul whether or not he thought Xur’s Exotic weapon this week was worth the 23 Strange Coins. Here’s what he said: “It was already a great gun to own for PVP owing to […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 has an all-male cast to make it “more approachable”

    According to Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata, the main cast of the game is all-male because it makes the game “more approachable.” Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata spoke to Gamespot about the reason for his choice of making the core cast an all-male affair. “Speaking honestly, an all-male party feels almost more approachable […]

  • Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain is coming April 2

    Blizzard has given Hearthstone expansion Blackrock Mountain a solid release date. Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain adventure pack will be released April 2 in the Americas region, and April 3 in Europe, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Blackrock Depths is the first wing to be released, others will follow one week apart. Other than the 31 new cards, […]

  • Bloodborne: if you can’t load your save after installing firmware 2.50, this will help

    If you’re having issues loading your Bloodborne save after applying firmware update 2.50 to your PS4, this should help you out. Reddit user KBALLZZ encountered an issue after installing update 2.50 on his PlayStation 4. Bloodborne started reinstalling the day one patch again and when it was done he couldn’t continue his game or load […]

  • Use this code to get 10% off on PSN purchases

    Sony is offering a 10% discount coupon to anyone looking to buy games on PlayStation Store this weekend. Sony’s latest discount coupon code is here. You’ll receive 10% off your cart total when buying from the PSN Store. The offer is not valid on purchases made on PS Vita, PlayStation TV, PSP, or in-game stores. […]

  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin upgrade path announced, system specs revealed

    Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin will offer returning customers a chance to upgrade at a discounted price. Those who already own Dark Souls 2 on Steam and are interested in picking up the Scholar of the First Sin edition will be happy to know that publisher Bandai Namco is offering them an […]

  • Bloodborne: this is what happens when you have 40 Insight

    Insight is one of the currencies in Bloodborne, but it’s also a mechanic that affects the gameplay. There are MASSIVE SPOILERS below, so turn back now or one of Bloodborne’s gameplay mechanics will be SPOILED for you. Just like Blood Echoes in Bloodborne, Insight is used to purchase certain items from vendors in the game. […]

  • Phase two of Xbox One April update brings voice messages, dedicated servers for party chat, more

    The second phase of the April update for Xbox One is now open to members of the Preview programme and and it looks like there are even more features in store. Phase one of Xbox One’s April firmware update started a few days ago with improvements to party chat and achievements notifications. Today, phase two […]

  • GTA 5′s graphical “downgrade” is a bug, will be fixed in upcoming patch

    As of patch 1.8 for GTA 5 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a few graphical issues have cropped up leading some to believe there has been a stealth downgrade to the game’s overall graphics. Over the past couple of days, Reddit went nuts over a video showing what appears to be a downgrade to […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for March 27, 28 – MIDA Multi-Tool edition

    Xur: Agent of the Nine has arrived at The Tower in Destiny to rid you of your Strange Coins. Xur: Agent of the Nine has once again made it to Destiny’s Tower to sell you Exotic weapons and gear in exchange for Strange Coins and Motes of Light. For this weekend, Xur can be found […]

  • Destiny vault space upgrade will have enough room for every Exotic

    Destiny is finally getting the vault space upgrade players have been begging for almost since launch week. Destiny players can currently use vault space to store 20 pieces of amour, 20 weapons and 20 general item stacks. In the latest Bungle Weekly Update, the developer revealed that as of patch 1.1.2, due before House of […]

  • Half-Life 2: Update mod applies some sparkle to the original title

    Half-Life 2: Update will be available tomorrow, and thanks to the modding community, those who own the vanilla version of the game can apply a visual update to the 2004 title. The comparison video shows you the differences between the original version, and the version with Half-Life 2: Update applied. Here’s what the mod includes: […]

  • Neverwinter MMO can now be pre-downloaded on Xbox One

    You can now pre-download the free-to-play Neverwinter MMO on Xbox One. The game launches on March 31, but you will still need an Xbox Live Gold account to play it. Based on the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, the game can be downloaded from the Xbox Store.