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Publishers: withholding review code is wrong

Friday, 5 April 2013 08:26 GMT By Dave Cook

In the past fortnight we’ve seen a handful of middling games release ahead of reviews. VG247′s Dave Cook argues that the practice of withholding code can do more damage than bad metascores.

Dear publishers,

I don’t like being called a game journalist. I prefer to be called a game critic. For a long time my job has been to offer critique of games and topics for a variety of outlets, so that I can inform the buying decisions of my readership. These are your customers. These people pay you money for your products.

To properly assess a game I need time to play it through and to closely inspect every mechanic, element of design, multiplayer components and other separate parts to see if the complete package warrants the top-line asking price.

It’s a failure if I can’t give an accurate picture of what your product is like, then my readership spends good money on an inferior product.

When you realise you have a bad game on your hands, and you choose to hold no preview events for the press, or withhold review code until the game is already out, then, I’m sorry, but you’re effectively conning your customers.

I understand that “shock and awe” is a term used regularly in the game marketing world. I’ve interviewed enough independent developers who hate the phrase to understand that it exists. It’s the notion of keeping elements of a game secret until your marketing plan allows them to be made public.

You can file teaser trailers, screenshot reveals, release date reveals, pre-order incentive reveals and soundtrack composer reveals under “shock and Awe”. I call it something else. I call it deception. The games industry has become a circus of half-truths, mystery and false messages. You see this whenever studios release tarted-up bullshots of games. It’s a false image.

Transparency was once a dying virtue in the games industry, but it has found new life in the PC scene, where paid alphas and Kickstarter campaigns live or die depending on how open and responsive a studio can be. The open forum approach and the dialogue between consumer and developer can make for a superior product, but this is a rare thing in the triple-A market.

Developers now have to hit certain Metacritic scores in order to keep their publishers happy, keep their bonus pay and, in some cases, keep their jobs.

So when a publishing house like you knows it has a dud game on its hands you often engage in in a spate of dishonest rug-sweeping. Should you choose to give me and my press colleagues an early glimpse of such a product, it’s usually a cleverly-orchestrated ‘vertical-slice’ that makes your game look better than it is.

You may also push out trailers that give an incorrect view of the final product, but at times publishers might choose to hold no preview events for a bad game, or to withhold review code so that the press can’t tear it apart pre-launch. But here’s a better solution: make a better game. It’s not our fault that you ended up with a poor product. Stopping us, agents of the gaming press, from properly appraising your product before it goes to market reflects badly on you.

Sure, you may still squeeze sales out of people before the bad reviews come out, but what does that say about how you view those paying customers? From this side of the fence it looks like you see them as money in the bank, rather than loyal fans who have perhaps saved and squandered for your game for some time. That is no way to maintain customer loyalty.

Take your poor reviews like grown-ups and learn from the experience. See and understand what you did poorly and use it to better your next project. Iteration is a major part of game development.

Why not hold preview events early, read the resulting previews and use that feedback to make much-needed changes? How about paid alphas that evolve over time thanks to the input of gamers and the press? We can help you make these games better at a distance.

The games press needn’t be your enemy. Read what we have to say and use it like a tool. Talk to your fans properly.

Stop hiding behind misleading marketing campaigns and doctored images that dupe customers into parting with their money for nothing more than a fantasy. When they see the reality of your poor product having paid for the displeasure, they will pin the blame squarely on you.

Insight is crucial. Last year I argued in a blog that game reviews should tone back the philosophical fluff and just explain whether a game is good or not. That’s the core of any review. I was quickly accused of missing the point, and was told by a commenter that reviews shouldn’t just be a straight list of product features and opinions.

That’s not what I was saying at all. It’s just when I read an article about game that rambles on for four paragraphs about what the interviewee is wearing and having for lunch, I switch off. I’m not interested in how many big words a reviewer knows. Just tell me if the game is any good or not. When you, publishers, withhold final review code because you fear a poor Metacritic score, then you’re effectively curbing that insight.

I’ll concede that, yes, publishers in the majority have lifted the ‘red rope’ on studios. And I’ll agree that gamers today have never been given so much insight into how development works.

But there is still much work to be done. When I see a five second teaser for a teaser trailer that shows nothing, I can’t help but think we’re all missing the bigger picture here. Transparency can be useful for all corners of the industry – press, developer, publisher and consumer – but until certain companies realise that their customers are more than just money then this malpractice won’t cease.

Withholding code does your customers a grave disservice. When I see your game placed high in the charts without any reviews to criticise it, that doesn’t make me think you’re shrewd. I’m sure that many gamers reading this feel the same way.

Sincerely,

Dave Cook, game critic.

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35 Comments

  1. Samoan Spider

    Excellent letter Dave, I hope some of them sit up and take note. But like anything they know that a shiny turd, if given proper attention, will be shown to be a shiny turd and people won’t buy it. I don’t see this practice changing as much as we would all like it too. As with all industries, there are good guys and there are arseholes.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Lord Gremlin

    See, some of those publishers get around exclusively by lying to the customer. So, this entire article is basically telling thieves to stop stealing.
    It’s how they roll, stupid. They will die before they change.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. solsticegamer

    “Last year I argued in a blog that game reviews should tone back the philosophical fluff and just explain whether a game is good or not. ”

    I disagree because reviews can never be objective. What you refer to as “philosophical fluff” is often the reviewer’s perspective. There is a place in reviews for pros and cons, but beyond that, it’s about the experience, and that is very subjective. It’s something that can’t simply be explained with good or bad. That’s why it’s also pointless when certain reviews try to cover aspects like graphics, story, sound, just for the sake of it, like its a box that needs to be ticked. Sometimes those areas need to be left out, and at others they need to be highlighted more. It changes with the game.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 Yeah, box ticker reviews are bad, I said as such in my piece above and yeah there is scope for insight and back-stories and other information that help give real value to a review.

    But do I really need to know what Ken Levine is wearing or having for lunch by the pool of some expensive hotel in a BioShock Infinite interview feature? It adds no value to the piece.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. life28

    I call myself game critic too, because I review games for few years. Me, as editor in chief of independent office is always hard to get review copy of game, and usualy, we get them at day of release. There are still much publishers, who can access us into game before release and we can tell reader if game is bad, or good just before release, before buy. But…we are small office and I am scared every time, when I have to post my review back to publisher and their game has poor score. I am scared, that beacuse our reviews have poor score, we won´t get another game in future. So I think, this is one reason why publishers are bit late with review copies, they fear of sales in first days of release.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 “They fear of sales in first days of release.”

    Yeah that’s true, and that’s perfectly understandable. But it gives off a bad message. I see gamers often ask us why no reviews have gone live for a game that’s out in the same week. Suspicions get raised and everyone assumes the game is shit. It’s negative.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    I agree.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. rbevanx

    “When you realise you have a bad game on your hands, and you choose to hold no preview events for the press, or withhold review code until the game is already out, then, I’m sorry, but you’re effectively conning your customers.”

    It’s their choice to show the game or not, you don’t see magicans showing their tricks before the show…
    I think it’s when they show footage as “in game” when it’s not in game it’s conning people, like with the recent Aliens game.

    It’s not a legal requirement for the publishers to issue a review copy and calling then con artists doesn’t help your argument I’m afraid.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. OmegaSlayer

    Great read.
    Publishers must hear the customer base or they bomb like DmC.
    Because we’re not cash cows and we know what we want.

    Also Dave…nice guts to pull out a piece like this.
    It will gather hate more than enlighten publishers, because…simply because it seems all the people in charge of something in this world are presumptuos, dumb and full of themselves, so they refuse others’ people honest and well thought opinions.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. silkvg247

    Good read.. not sure on the “grow up” part, I think really it’s more to do with them being professional and taking responsibility.

    I wonder which game/games triggered this article?

    In either case, at least the more experienced gamers know to wait for scores before they buy. I made my gf hold back from that walking dead trash.. she’s a fan of the show, she was going to buy it.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. sb319

    This seems curiously naive.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. ps4some

    Nice words Dave I agree entirely.

    You’re pissing in the wind though :)

    #12 2 years ago
  13. viralshag

    What’s the difference between a bad game getting withheld review code and a good game held under wraps by an embargo? The news of whether they are good or bad games will generally come to light at the same time and it’s often at the same level of risk.

    Not to mention the fact that game sites, like VG, will often promote/hype/release any info about said bad/good game before launch. I think game journalism is just as bad for misleading potential customers or catering to their readership.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. frostquake

    Adapt or Die? Evolve or be Replaced? They make perfect sense! But not to a Company run by a Board!
    Remember the ONLY responsibility a board has is to its shareholders! And the only responsibility is P R O F I T!
    While the CEO of Gaming companies may know what is going on, the majority investors, either are on the board, or have a pawn on the board, and some of these people are extremely clueless about how the gaming industry only works! The only reason they are there, is the potential for profit!
    There are great many Documentaries that explain this concept, and why consumers will always be the last concern, ALWAYS!
    The Upper Echelon\Board\Majority Shareholders, will do whatever it takes to make a profit, Not giving review copies, gutting and splitting up a company to make a profit. Their goal is to give the LEAST for the Most! Least for Maximum Return.
    There is a Major Shift in the Economy right now in the USA, and parts of the rest of the world, but most Corporations will NOT change their formulas. As long as they get their profits, they could careless about the workers\developers or the consumers. Once they get their profits out, they are more then happy to let the company go Bankrupt.
    A company I worked for, which I shall not name, was bought by a certain past Presidential Candidate here in the USA. Instead of Him or his board being happy with a smaller profit over the long term, it was much easier to make a quicker profit by gutting the company and then putting it into bankruptcy! Even though thousands of people lost their jobs, the Board and CEO made a ton of quick money, even though if they would have kept the company they would have made more in the long term, but it was too tempting to turn a quick buck! This type of behavior exists in all Companies, including Game Companies!
    So good luck in getting any Company\Corporation to change!

    STAY FROSTY MY FRIENDS!

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Dave Cook

    @13 good games deserve your £45, bad ones don’t.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. viralshag

    @15, How do I know it’s a good game or not? Embargos are usually lifted upon the day of release. People will often have the games pre-ordered anyway if the hype train has been at work.

    So what’s the difference? It’s not like hyped good looking games have turned out to be disappointing before.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. silkvg247

    @15 No game deserves £45, that’s extortion :p

    #17 2 years ago
  18. SameeR_Fisher

    Great read Dave and totally agree, I hope other ‘game critics’ take the same stand as you, and start voicing concern regarding such matters.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Dave Cook

    @18 They aren’t. They mostly disagree, but thanks for reading.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Samoan Spider

    @19 And that Dave, is why we are here. We know that you guys aren’t just shills so fuck ‘em.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. ps3fanboy

    very good written article by dave cook here, he hit the nail on the head with this one.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. SameeR_Fisher

    @19: wait what ?!, I thought they won’t talk about it to not harm their relationship with the publisher or something, but disagree ?!

    I mean yeah sure people can disagree, but what is there to disagree about holding out a review copy ?!

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Dave Cook

    @22 I was told my opinion was naive and uneducated. I admit I could have offered more insight into some areas and presented the case of the other side better – I mean that sincerely – but mostly I was told that a PRs job is to help their employer make money and if shrouding the facts is the way to do that then who I am I to argue?

    I still cannot accept that with a smile. I don’t even blame the PR though, I blame the top tier marketing execs. I know lots of PR folk and understand they’re just doing their job, but again it’s my failing for not explaining that better in the piece.

    I used to work in PR for a legal firm though (nothing to do with gaming though) so know full well what parts of the job entail. I should have just stated it better. My bad on that one.

    Live and learn eh?

    #23 2 years ago
  24. SameeR_Fisher

    @23: Dave, I am sure you could have written it better, but to me when I read this piece it felt coming out from me, it was easy to relate to what you are saying as a fellow gamer.

    And really these people see that kind of PR the way to go ?!, seriously ?!, I mean as you said the top tier execs want something specific, but the amount of deceive the consumer goes through should matters most, to say this bluntly we are the reason company X is kicking, loyal consumer who have faith that company X give quality titles, betraying such trust is really dangerous.

    yeah Dave, live and learn, you know most readers here love your pieces, so keep them coming, keep voicing our concerns that may go unchecked, I for one will be always supporting.

    Cheers

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Dave Cook

    @24 thanks pal, much appreciated :)

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Lengendaryboss

    Very impressive letter Dave, stick it to the man :D. I can understand why publishers do it: to fool the uninformed crowd, get as much sales as possible thats the sort of anti-consumer, greedy and sad tactics i don’t like in a publisher. Everyone should know what they are getting into, which is again something the uninformed crowd don’t know about.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. DSB

    It’s certainly brave.

    It’s just another case of control being given over to publishers and PR because the press refuses to stand up for itself.

    If a movie studio refuses to hold press screenings before a premiere, the press responds by covering that irregularity and letting everyone know just how little confidence they have in their movie.

    The obvious result is that 99% of all movies have press screenings after which the press can write what they like.

    The videogaming press doesn’t respond in the same fashion, and so they don’t get the same respect.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. RocknRolla

    I haven’t been registered on this site long, but Dave this is the best I’ve seen from you! Great job man! Keep this up :) this is why I never buy games not known to me before I watch a review, I sudgest the whole should wait for a review as well haha :)

    #28 2 years ago
  29. salarta

    As Dave said, withholding the chance for critics to review a game until it’s already out is ultimately a bad thing for sales. If it’s a bad game, then it’s the difference between a loyal customer seeing the review and merely skipping that one game, or the customer wasting their money on a bad product and deciding not to buy countless future games that they’re on the fence about in case they suck as bad as the first one they wasted their money on.

    Using deception to sell one game is not worth, in the eyes of a sane person, the loss of a sale for ten future games. It’s also one of many reasons I stopped buying anything associated with Squeenix back in 2011. Among the many horrible things about Squeenix’s practices, both FF13 and 3rd Birthday as well as other games involved the writers, directors and marketing openly lying about the content or purpose behind the content as a ploy to boost sales. I can’t support or respect a company that treats its customers like morons.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Dave Cook

    @28 and @29 thank you guys. Much appreciated.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Gekidami

    Pat would not agree:
    http://www.vg247.com/2012/05/21/how-diablo-3-gave-metacritic-a-giant-middle-finger/

    “Reviews written after launch, especially those for games which feature a heavy online component, are more accurate and less susceptible to being tainted by publisher control. For the most savvy consumers in the games space – yes, that’s you – that means you’re going to get better reviews from unhurried experts”

    Interesting divergence in opinions.

    “They aren’t. They mostly disagree, but thanks for reading.”
    Indeed.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Dave Cook

    @31 divergence of opinions is good though I’d say. We are two different people after all. Shows we’re a democracy in the end. Thanks for reading bud.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. scott_wright

    Having just read this I hope you don`t stop doing pieces like this they are great!

    I understand you don`t want people to dislike you Dave but you are doing great work!

    #33 2 years ago
  34. FuzzyPixels

    @31: It depends on what you hold the function of a review to be, and indeed the nature of the game at hand. It’s impossible to successfully review an MMO before launch, and indeed irresponsible to do so, but the vast majority of games may certainly be critiqued in both a timely and thorough manner…

    …given that the actual code arrives on time.

    But it depends what we’re writing for. Are we writing for consumers? Are we writing for developers? Ourselves? Posterity? All of the above?

    Personally, I think Dave’s frustration is warranted, but the practices of PR and marketing folk must be in the interests of their clients rather than those clients’ customers. Sadly the two are not always the same. As critics, it’s up to us to try and change the culture of blind buying, to make transparent what reps seek to make foggy, report on delays and stonewalling and hold publishers to account when code is late. We need articles like this from more of the top tier sites, honest writing (what a novelty!), but coupled with action.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Dave Cook

    @34 thank you :)

    #35 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

  • HTC hopes to see Half-Life on VR headset Vive

    Vive manufacturer HTC said that it hopes to see Valve games, including Half-Life, on the virtual reality headset. Speaking to the BBC, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang said that Valve is keen on having its games available on the VR headset. “I think Valve’s best game is Dota, right, and Portal and [Team Fortress] and I […]

  • Make money easily in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

    If you’re looking to buy a fell set of armour for your character in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate but keep falling short on Zenny, this video will show you an easy way to make lots of it. Arekkz Gaming has a very handy tip for all Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate players: how to make Zenny […]

  • This is how you claim free Xbox One games from your Xbox 360

    Microsoft is giving everyone the ability to claim their free Xbox One Games with Gold titles from their Xbox 360 console, even without owning an Xbox One. If you don’t yet own an Xbox One and want to make sure you don’t miss out on all those free Games with Gold games, you’ll be pleased […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for March 3: Heroic and Nightfall detailed

    Bungie has reset the weekly cap of Crucible and Vanguard marks and added new Heroic and Nightfall strikes, now with burn. From now until next Tuesday, the weekly Heroic strike will be The Devil’s Lair with Heroic and Lightswitch modifiers. As for the Nightfall, you’ll be fighting Sepiks Prime with the help of Arc burn. […]

  • Few Mass Effect FemShep cosplays are as elaborate as this one

    The internet is full of Female Commander Shepard cosplay from Mass Effect, but very few are as terrific as this one. Visual artist Freya Willia has spent over two years painstakingly creating the perfect suit of armour and the best weapons to make her cosplay of Female Shepard as authentic as possible, Omni tool and […]

  • Deals with Gold: Assassin’s Creed Unity, Red Dead Redemption and more discounted

    This week’s Deals with Gold titles for Xbox Live subscribers is a good mix of modern games and old favourites. The list of discounted games through this week’s Deals with Gold is live with discounts on Assassin’s Creed Unity, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, and more. The deals are live now […]

  • Destiny guide: how to maximise your Grimoire Points

    Destiny players regularly compare the size of their Grimoire Points. Learn how to make yours the biggest. Destiny guide: how to earn Grimoire Points In Destiny, earning most Grimoire cards is just a matter of playing the game, maybe a little more attentively than usual. You’ll either need to complete a certain number of actions […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows will let you play as a baddie

    Shovel Knight owners will benefit from the generosity of Kickstarter backers quite soon. Because Shovel Knight was overfunded during its Kickstarter campaign, developer Yacht Club Games committed to releasing free content updates. The first of these, Plague of Shadows, has now been detailed. The expansion stars baddy Plague Knight, who turns on his former allies, […]

  • GTA controversies, from Hot Coffee to PR manipulation

    GTA has a long history of controversy. The latest Did You Know Gaming tells the full stories behind the sensational headlines. Grand Theft Auto is such a byword for controversy that it’s easy to forget the full context of what actually happened to bring mainstream press, politicians and interest group awareness to the Rockstar series. […]

  • Infamous 2 one of five new PlayStation Now additions for March

    PlayStation Now will expand to the tune of five new games this month. The March PS Now additions are Infamous 2, Twisted Metal, R-Type Dimensions, Alone in the Dark: Inferno and Operation Flashpoint: Red River. PS Now will set you back $20 per month or $45 for a three month subscription. It offers all you […]

  • Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster gets PS4 release date

    Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster hits PS4 in May. The PS4 release date for Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster is May 12 in North America and May 15 in Europe. Gematsu reports a special pre-order bonus calendar with art by Yoshitaka Amano is available through the Square Enix Store and participating retailers. In Europe, pre-ordering […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting 15 new Prestige levels

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can now aspire to the ranks of Grand Master Prestige. Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games will add 15 more Prestige levels to the latest Call of Duty, giving players at max XP a chance to grow even further. According to the Sledgehammer Games blog, when you enter Master level […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End recreated in Minecraft

    Destiny’s toughest challenge gets even nastier if you throw Creepers into the mix. The ultimate Destiny challenge – for now – is the Crota’s End raid. Taking place in an alternate dimension accessed through the Hellmouth on the Moon, the Raid takes Guardians through a pit of darkness to the resting place of Crota himself. […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D trailer introduces the Heir to the Monado

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3D protagonist Shulk is the Heir to the Monado, his distinctive red sword. Let this trailer fill you in on what that means. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D releases for New 3DS on April 2 in Europe and April 10 in North America. As well as all the content of the Wii original, it has […]

  • The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod covers Morrowind, Oblivion and more

    The Elder Scrolls: Total War is a terrific mod allowing you get get intimately involved with the history of Bethesda’s detailed fantasy universe. The first release of The Elder Scrolls: Total War dropped on the weekend, giving players their first chance to try out LoRdNazgu1‘s creation. This version runs from 3E 427 to 4E 45, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 out now on Steam

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is out now. Yes, we’re surprised too. You can grab Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 on Steam for $8. Developer Scott Cawthon really doesn’t mess about; the game was only announced in early January. Here’s the blurb: Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed it’s doors, the events that took […]

  • EVE Online heister makes off with $13,000 worth of goods

    EVE Online is a hotbed of villainy, espionage and backstabbing, but one intrepid corporate thief has made waves even in this setting. The thing about EVE Online is that it’s a true sandbox: the game’s rules are very loose, and allow players to make careers out of theft, piracy, assassination and espionage in addition to […]

  • Marth Amiibo getting a stock refresh in North America

    Nintendo of America has announced a fresh supply of the difficult to find Marth Amiibo. The Marth Amiibo will be back in stock in the US in late April, the platform holder said on Twitter today. Planning to pick up Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and don’t have a Marth amiibo? More are headed to stores in […]

  • Skyrim beta update upgrades creation kit file size

    Skyrim has been granted a new beta update – more than three years after launch! – to improve the experience for modders and those who use them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in November 2011. I think that’s worth noting before we discuss the beta update that dropped today, even as Bethesda is working […]

  • Paradox’s next epic RPG is, uh, Knights of Pen & Paper 2

    Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is very serious business so please enjoy this very serious trailer. “Return to the dicey world of Knights of Pen & Paper for a new turn-based adventure, where players get to take on the role of players, and also of the game’s encounter-designing, rules-laywering GM in a fully customizable […]

  • Amplitude looks amazing in new gameplay trailer, has a team multiplayer mode

    Amplitude may have been delayed but we still get something this March: a fine new gameplay trailer. Amplitude is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 sometime in northern summer. It’s a reprisal of Harmonix’s classic rhythm action game, a forerunner to its later efforts with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and was crowdfunded. Update: Turns […]

  • DayZ creator’s “crazy”, “esoteric” next game developed with Improbable

    DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall has dropped the first vague details of his new game project. “I do not want to make safe games. I do not want to make games the way we have been making them. What if the most experienced video game staff in the world collaborated on the most esoteric and […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will support AMD’s Mantle

    AMD has confirmed what most Battlefield fans thought. Battlefield Hardline will indeed support Mantle. Battlefield Hardline will support Mantle, AMD has confirmed. Some players weren’t sure whether the retail version of the game will support AMD’s API, due to its absence from the recent PC beta. AMD did not say whether the feature will be […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 GDC 2015 sizzle reel shows what the tech can do

    Unreal Engine 4 is a pretty versatile bit of tech, as this new sizzle reel shows. As one of the more ubiquitous engines, Unreal will be on show at GDC this week. Developer Epic produced the following sizzle reel to quickly demonstrate what it can do – cutting edge graphics (there are very few games […]

  • Survarium’s latest patch removes limit on battle ammo, rebalances experience gain

    The latest Survarium patch has readjusted the value of experience and reputation points gained and removed the limit to the maximum amount of ammo you can use in combat. Survarium developer Vostok Games has released patch 0.27a to the public, having recently finished testing it. The patch is a major one and covers changes to […]

  • The Hunt Begins in new Bloodborne TV spot

    Bloodborne is so close you can almost smell its coppery tang on the wind – and also you can watch commercials for it. Bloodborne arrives on PS4 at the end of this month (March 24 North America, March 25 Europe, March 27 UK) so excitement is starting to build. Sony isn’t helping keep us calm […]

  • World of Warcraft: you’ll soon be able to buy game time with gold

    Blizzard will soon allow World of Warcraft players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard has announced a new system that will launch soon for World of Warcraft. The system is called WoW Token. Using this system, players will be able to buy game time using in-game gold. Here’s how it […]

  • 3D Realms’ Bombshell returns with the first gameplay trailer

    Remember 3D Realms’ Bombshell? The isometric ARPG that was announced last year? Well, it’s back, and we get to see gameplay footage. The game stars Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a bomb technician turned mercenary with a mechanical arm. She will embark on a quest to rescue the president and save Earth, all while shooting aliens. The […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to use

    Epic Games has made Unreal Engine 4 available for anyone to download and use, for free. Unreal Engine 4 is now free. Anyone can download it and start using it, the developer announced today in a blog post. The download features the the full set of tools used by Epic, and includes 100% of the […]

  • Call of Duty European Championship winner announced

    The winner of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship has been announced. This past weekend, 28 teams representing UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe and Middle East attended the final of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship. UK team Epsilon eSports was crowned […]

  • GOG brings back Insomnia sale with discounts up to 90% off

    GOG.com is bringing back its Insomnia sale event with even more games. GOG’s Insomnia sale is back with double the amount of games. This year, there will be two sets of games available at once. The sets are seasoned classics and fresh new titles. Each set will feature games with discounts up to 90% off, […]

  • 2K is shutting down NBA 2K14 online servers, won’t affect career save files

    2K will be shutting down the servers for NBA 2K14 this month. The publisher revealed yesterday that online servers for NBA 2K14 will be turned offline on March 31. “You will no longer be able to play ranked games/online association,” reads the announcement. NBA 2K14 relied on online servers to store save files for MyCareer […]

  • One Dead or Alive tournament organiser is proposing ban of “over-sexualised” costumes

    A Dead or Alive tournament organiser has suggested a soft ban on some of the game’s “over-sexualised” costumes, and not everyone is happy. Tournament organiser “The HuBBs” took to the FreeStepDodge forums to suggest a list of rules that other offline tournaments can follow. The list goes over stages, characters, moves, which is certainly in […]

  • Destiny: all the news from Bungie’s open house Q&A

    Bungie hosted an open house Q&A session with the community last week and lots of exciting news have come out of it. Arekkz Gaming has gathered all the information that came out of Bungie’s open house Q&A in one handy video. The list is massive, going over Exotic weapon balance, upcoming events, PVE, Crucible rewards, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to honour Nimoy with in-game memorials

    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]

  • Hayter’s gonna hate: the voice of Solid Snake wouldn’t answer my Metal Gear question

    Voice actor and Hollywood writer David Hayter discusses the differences between movies and games. And politely declines my leading question. “It might be fun to do a crazy, over-the-top film version of Saint’s Row.” Yeah, that headline is a bit cheap but you’re reading the work of a man who once asked the maker of […]

  • Xbox One bundle gets £100 price cut in UK

    Microsoft has knocked up to £100 off Xbox One bundles in the UK. The Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed bundle is now £100 cheaper and comes with a free £20 voucher to be spent on the official Microsoft online store. Over on the Xbox online store there’s a £70 price cut on the white […]

  • Pokemon Shuffle downloaded 1m times, free stuff given out to celebrate

    Free-to-play 3DS title Pokemon Shuffle has been downloaded over 1 million times. As a reward for playing the match-3 puzzle game Nintendo has gifted players a Complexity -1 item for free. The item reduces the difficulty of a level, according to Eurogamer. By all accounts Pokemon Shuffle is a cynical game with poorly implemented microtransactions. […]

  • Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power sure is pretty

    FrozenByte Games has revealed Trine 3, due for release in 2015 And what better way to reveal a new side-scrolling adventure than with a very pretty trailer full of gameplay? The latest in a series that has already sold 7 million copies is earmarked for PC and “other” formats. Trine 2 released on PS3, PS3, […]

  • Dying Light takes UK number one

    A month since it was released on digital platforms, Dying Light’s physical release has topped the UK charts. Techland and Warner’s zombie survival game has proven to be one of the big hits of the year so far. It was released on digital formats a month ago but has only just been released on good-old […]

  • GTA 5: that’s some seriously accurate grenade throwing

    Think you can take down a jet plane with a grenade throw? This guy can. In fact, he can do it twice. This is in a variation on the player-created deathmatch “Stunters Versus Snipers” which seem to be all the rage in GTA Online at the moment. One team has a sniper rifle (and grenades) […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: Mother Base turns pink in the morning sun

    The Phantom Pain looks nice even when Kojima just takes a quick pic with his phone. Look at that beauty. We get nice reflection in pink at the first gray of dawn. pic.twitter.com/aERTBoZT9z — HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) March 2, 2015 The game doesn’t have a release date yet, which makes us a bit nervous for it […]

  • Dying Light: Underpant Gnomes and 9 other secrets you missed

    Dying Light still has legs – maybe because it’s crammed full of secret things to discover. Ten of those have been highlighted by TerraMantis’ latest YouTube video, including reference to the Underpant Gnomes, guitar lessons, farting zombies and well, we don’t want to spoil it for you. Even if you think you’ve seen everything in […]

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Raid Mode dance gestures are deadly

    Why blind ‘em with science when you could kill ‘em with dance moves? revelations raid When I say Resident Evil: Revelations 2‘s Raid Mode dance gestures are deadly, I’m not being figurative. If you finish the first chapter of Revelations 2 you can unlock Gina for use in Raid Mode. All characters can use gestures […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition mod enables male Blackwall romance, terrific joke

    “Male Inquisitors can now scale the wall,” says a clever Redditor. A new Dragon Age: Inquisition mod removes Blackwall’s romantic restrictions, allowing male Inquisitors to chat up the fuzzy-faced warrior. Blackwall doesn’t have any race preferences, so you’re good to go there. Dragon Age: Inquisition romance mods are pretty common by now, and to be […]

  • Destiny: it is possible to solo the Weekly Heroic

    Destiny players willing to faff about with their system clock can solo the Weekly Nightfall if they prefer. The Weekly Heroic is one of Destiny‘s toughest challenges. Responding to player feedback Bungie implemented matchmaking for the Weekly Heroic, but there are players who genuinely prefer to go it alone. There’s now no legitimate way to […]

  • Clayfighter remaster on the way, says Interplay

    A Clayfighter remake is inbound, apparently. Interplay has announced a Clayfighter remaster, combining the content of all past games into one package. Features include: Characters such as Bad Mr. Frosty, Blue Suede Goo, Earthworm Jim, Hoppy, Boogerman, Tiny – and more with over 20 characters total Over 20 familiar environments from the series to duke […]

  • The quickest way to climb in Dying Light

    Dying Light players! Are you sick of picking your way carefully up the sides of tall towers? Have I got a trick for you. The parkour system in Dying Light is okay, but climbing anywhere especially high can be a bit tedious. Enter Jesse Lester, who took a look at the tools available and worked […]

  • Bungie “always” looking at Exotic changes for Destiny updates

    Destiny developer Bungie won’t stop tinkering with Exotic weapons. In Destiny, Exotic weapons are supposed to be the best of the best – and to feel unique. Guns like Ice Breaker and Gjallahorn definitely hit the mark there (although less so when everyone has one), but unfortunately, there are a few that just don’t strike […]

  • Is Uncharted 4′s first trailer a tribute to Crash Bandicoot?

    Uncharted 4′s first proper trailer bears some remarkable similarities to the opening moments of a much earlier Naughty Dog game. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has more in common with Crash Bandicoot than you might think. It’s Naughty Dog’s first game on a new console, yes – but if you compare Uncharted 4′s E3 2014 […]

  • Sonic console games will continue, says Iizuka

    Sonic Team leader Takashi Iizuka has said there are no plans to stop making Sonic games. Sonic hasn’t retired from the ranks just yet. “Please rest assured, I personally have no plans to stop making Sonic games for home consoles,” Iizuka told 4Gamer [Japanese]. The comment arose after the site asked if Sonic would become […]

  • Stealth Inc. 2 coming to PSN, apparently

    Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones will soon be available on PlayStation platforms, if a trophy list is to be believed. Stealth Inc. 2 initially launched as a Wii U exclusive, disappointing fans of Curve Studios’ tough action game. We’ve heard nothing to contradict this, but Exophase, a generally reliable source, has dug up […]

  • Runescape developer has an “undisclosed MMO” in the works

    Runescape developer Jagex is working on something new. According to Jagex’s careers page, the developer has a new, unannounced game in the works. Its advertisement for a lead programmer makes explicit mention of an “undisclosed MMO”. The ad mentions the new title is in “the preliminary stages of redefining the cross platform MMORPG genre” and […]

  • Destiny PvP rewards system to be addressed

    Destiny developer Bungie has said it will change the way Crucible rewards work. Destiny players are always complaining about the perfidy of RNGesus, but there’s one area where it particularly hurts: the Crucible. PvP players often receive nothing at all for excellent performances, and sometimes Guardians receive the best drops merely for logging in as […]