More and more outlets have started to outsource their writing to freelancers because: A) it's a lot cheaper and B) video game journalism as a whole has moved toward more video content. It's expensive to keep writers around on the payroll when the majority of your traffic comes from your video content.
On the other side of things, video game publishers and developers are starting to use social media and Youtube to directly speak to their audiences. And of course the audience is flocking towards them because, ewww, "opinions and context are gross", "video games journalists are biased anyways". Oh, and don't forget Youtubers.
This trend can be seen with the demise of print magazines (the old EGM, GamePro, Nintendo Power, OPM and such), multiple gaming websites being either shutdown or downsized (1UP, Gametrailers, G4, Rev3, and many, many more).
That's the business side of things.
And now the readership side of things. A majority of readers of video games sites are male. Heck, you can have a look at the recent survey for GB at http://www.podsurvey.com/bomb/thanks. A majority of people interested in video games journalism are male. We could guess whether the audience reflects the writers or vice versa, but these are the facts. Also, judging by this panel hosted by Gamespot's very own Mary Kish, a vocal minority is very unfriendly towards dissenting voices (as if the recent weeks haven't proven that already).
So, on one side there's a shrinking demand for fulltime writers and a vocal hateful minority in the readership. Both factors not very conducive to hiring different voices.
Then again: "All this talk about video games journalism is boring, start talking about games already!".
@joshthevaliant: IIRC, #IDARB is integrating into their game design. And so far I haven't seen the #IDARB guys struggle with their sudden internet fame, nor snapping at the endless tweets from their fans and detractors :)
I sometimes wonder if today's culture of social media and and exposure is completely antithetical to the nature of people in game development. These are people who just like games and like making them, not dealing with customer support, PR, press and the general shittiness of the internet.
I can't help but wonder if all of this will change how Nintendo gives out press/ESRB copies of games in the future?
Nah. It's possible to get games early in Japan really easily. I have friends who do it all the time.
I think he / she's referring to the earlier leak of info in August which have basically been confirmed by these early release videos, which probably were leaked from a ESRB copy of the game.
Doesn't change much about the answer though: IIRC the ESRB rating is "mandatory" for all games sold in the US? And don't they just typically receive a short descriptor text with an accompanying DVD with game footage, not a playable copy of the game?