Rockstar refusing to send out review copies

#1 Posted by Milkman (17311 posts) -

Rockstar is pretty notoriously strict about reviews for their upcoming games but it appears as if they are straight up refusing to send review copies to some publications for their newest game. There has been some rumors as of late that Giant Bomb wasn't given a review copy of Red Dead Redemption after some comments made by Ryan and today, it seems as if Joystiq is also among the shafted publications. 
 
Justin McElroy, editor at Joystiq, tweeted this today:
 
 "Despite our repeated requests, Rockstar refused to send us a review copy of Red Dead. When theres no review from us today, that's why."
 
He then followed it up with another tweet saying:
  
"In response to several questions: I have no idea what Rockstar's problem is with us."
 
McElroy's was then retweeted by our own Ryan Davis, which pretty much confirms any doubt that Rockstar did indeed choose not to send a review copy to Giant Bomb. So, this raises a couple questions. Why were Joystiq and Giant Bomb both refused review copies? And what other publications were denied review copies by Rockstar? I highly doubt that Rockstar would single just two websites.

#2 Posted by BulletproofMonk (2730 posts) -

Too bad. I was kinda hoping for an early review.

#3 Posted by cancerdancer (315 posts) -

Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they trust.

#4 Posted by Jadeskye (4368 posts) -
@cancerdancer said:
" Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they trust. "
This. Gotta control the metacritic average otherwise someone gets fired.
#5 Posted by ColumnBreaker (1164 posts) -
@cancerdancer said:
" Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they trust. "
Read: Pay.
#6 Posted by AlwaysAngry (2866 posts) -
@cancerdancer said:
" Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they trust. "
Yep. They send it to the places that will give it high scores.
#7 Posted by DrLove (361 posts) -

most of the sites that got review copies early had adds for the game on their site.  doesnt mean that high scores were promised, it could just mean that "if you put adds for our game up we will pay you plus let you review the game early" type of deal.

#8 Posted by DukesT3 (1945 posts) -

ign has a review up. Guess Rockstar trust those dudes, the guy gave it a 9.7.

#9 Edited by JokerSmilez (1293 posts) -
@cancerdancer said:

" Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they trust. "

Exactly. They want to make sure all the early reviews are as high as possible for the day of release.
 
Doesn't mean it's not a good game, but I don't trust a single review that's come out so far, since this is such a shady business practice. This reminds me of the supposed common practice of outlets getting letters or e-mails from PR people saying that if their review was going to be less than a 90%, then to wait until X date to release it.
#10 Posted by Jeust (10854 posts) -

Not only that, but this way there was no leaked copy on internet. what is reassuring. :p 

#11 Posted by fugie7 (1109 posts) -

oh well, they are going to review it anyways. when the game comes out in stores tomorrow.

#12 Posted by Jimbo (9983 posts) -

Somebody over there trying to remind their 'puppet media' how they're supposed to act perhaps?  They (the GB crew) did sound totally nonplussed about RDR when it came up on the Bombcast, after whatever the last trade show was.  But if Rockstar are going to be dicks about it then they can go fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned.  
 
This industry-holding-the-media-to-ransom bullshit has to stop.  If that means only reviewing launch copies, or the media becoming directly reader-funded, then so be it.

#13 Posted by atomic_dumpling (2482 posts) -
The answer is so obvious that I am not even going to type it.
#14 Posted by Bucketdeth (8048 posts) -
@cancerdancer said:
" Quality control over the reviews. They send out review copies to the companies they pay. "
#15 Edited by ProfessorEss (7513 posts) -

*This is all speculation for the sake of conversation:
 
This strikes me as more of a red tape scenario than any sort of "beef" against any of these publications.
I wonder if Rockstar's PR department has potentially grown wary of sites that don't have any form of process or accountability and have therefore put in strict rules about what they require from a publication in order to receive a review copy.

It certainly seems interesting and controversial, but is it really? Or is it really just a bunch of boring rules and documents made and enforced by the suits?

#16 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

I love all the conspiracy theorists xD

#17 Edited by Kombat (2205 posts) -

They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past.  It's a method of keeping initial review scores high so that people that base their purchasing decisions off that kind of thing will pick it up on day one.  Some PR guy was likely handed a list of dudes to send the game out to, and anyone not on the list that inquired was rejected.
 
Not only does this help Rockstar, but it helps the limited number of sites that were able to score review copies of the game.  Since there are only a few of them, they get more traffic than other sites for the time being.  It's a win-win situation.  I don't understand why everyone has to immediately assume money changed hands somewhere behind closed doors whenever something like this surfaces.

#18 Posted by Creamypies (4091 posts) -

Fuckin' Metacritic man, it's a real bummer on the industry.

#19 Posted by Milkman (17311 posts) -
@Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past.  It's a method of keeping initial review scores high so that people that base their purchasing decisions off that kind of thing will pick it up on day one.  Some PR guy was likely handed a list of dudes to send the game out to, and anyone not on the list that inquired was rejected. It's called making money. "
That's doesn't make sense when you consider that Giant Bomb gave Grand Theft Auto IV Game of the Year.
#20 Posted by bcjohnnie (442 posts) -

I'm not surprised that this happens in general, I mean, I'm not going to get all uppity about integrity in the game reviewing industry or anything, but I'm constantly astounded that Rockstar feels the need to do this.
 
I think most of us will agree that Rockstar's games are pretty amazing on their own merits, and so releasing the game to a few more review sites would really only drop the metacritic score by a few points at first, if that.  I think they are just trying to create mysterious internet buzz by doing this.  Also, they're probably doing this because they can.
 
Another example of this crazy behavior was during the Kotaku interview with a couple of developers.  One of them (who was kind of an asshole throughout the interview), kept saying "no comment" when asked about features in RDR... the game is already made, dude, as long as you're not spoiling anything you might as well tell people why they should buy your damn game.
 
Really disappoints me that a studio that can make such good games seems to be staffed by dicks.

#21 Posted by MachoFantastico (4888 posts) -

Not sure I agree with that view, trying to control the media as already burnt one to many companies and I can't see Rockstar doing that. Their not perfect, but they are the type of company that would let the game do the talking. There as already been a large selection of reviews hit the web. 
 
 If Rockstar wanted to control scores they wouldn't have given Eurogamer the game, considering they have an reputation for giving out tough scores and 8/10 is still a pretty solid score. We'll wait and see I guess but I can't see Rockstar controlling the media. If a games good, it's good no matter what you do. Why are we even moaning about this, shouldn't it be a good thing if a game is good? 
 
The piracy thing could also be an issue, you let out to many review copies and it will get pirated to hell. 

#22 Posted by Kombat (2205 posts) -
@Milkman said:
" @Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past.  It's a method of keeping initial review scores high so that people that base their purchasing decisions off that kind of thing will pick it up on day one.  Some PR guy was likely handed a list of dudes to send the game out to, and anyone not on the list that inquired was rejected. It's called making money. "
That's doesn't make sense when you consider that Giant Bomb gave Grand Theft Auto IV Game of the Year. "
Like I said, "list of dudes."  Giant Bomb was probably never even considered for a review copy.  When they requested one and didn't pop up on Mr. Press Representative's list, they were probably rejected outright.  They're just controlling the review scores in an arbitrary manner.  Obviously this is just me guessing, but it's based on limited personal experience.  This is probably what happened.
#23 Posted by ThePhantomnaut (6201 posts) -

That's probably why they didn't do a TNT for this. Well let's cancel the friend request.

#24 Posted by Jimbo (9983 posts) -
@Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past. "
That's about as 'being a dick about it' as you can get, surely?  What message does that send?  "If you don't score our games how we think you should, we will actively prevent you staying competitive".  
 
That's so blatantly fucking shady and open to abuse than I'm surprised there isn't a law or some kind of trade guideline against it.
#25 Posted by xyzygy (10077 posts) -

They're selecting who they want the reviews from. 

#26 Edited by Bionicicide (1213 posts) -

Weird considering GTAIV was the GB staff's GotY for 2008.

#27 Posted by Kombat (2205 posts) -
@Jimbo said:
" @Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past. "
That's about as 'being a dick about it' as you can get, surely?  What message does that send?  "If you don't score our games how we think you should, we will actively prevent you staying competitive".    That's so blatantly fucking shady and open to abuse than I'm surprised there isn't a law or some kind of trade guideline against it. "
What are you talking about?  It's their product.  They own it.  And, what do Rockstar care what message they send to the press by making a move like this?  All they care about is the message they send to the consumer, and the majority of consumers aren't actively browsing Giant Bomb for this kind of information.  And, if the game is good, should they even care?  It's a business decision, and a good one at that.
#28 Posted by Jimbo (9983 posts) -
@Milkman: True, in 2008.  But since then they've also given Ballad a 3/5 for basically being the same game as GTA4, whilst saying how it now feels outdated.  If RDR still feels like GTA4, then you can see why they might want to avoid that reviewer seeing it.  Perhaps.  More likely they just looked at Ballad's score and crossed them off the list (assuming they are off the list that is).
#29 Posted by FunExplosions (5407 posts) -
@Milkman said:
" @Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past.  It's a method of keeping initial review scores high so that people that base their purchasing decisions off that kind of thing will pick it up on day one.  Some PR guy was likely handed a list of dudes to send the game out to, and anyone not on the list that inquired was rejected. It's called making money. "
That's doesn't make sense when you consider that Giant Bomb gave Grand Theft Auto IV Game of the Year. "
Yeah, but they also don't know who is going to review it. One of their PR guys that checks review sites probably saw Brad's ill-received Lost Planet 2 review (among other contested GB reviews), and just decided it would be better to wait. IGN, Gamespot, GameInformer, etc are pretty much sure things.
#30 Posted by Swaboo (451 posts) -
@Jeust said:
" Not only that, but this way there was no leaked copy on internet. what is reassuring. :p  "
Yeah, except there was and people were streaming  playthroughs of it over the weekend...
#31 Posted by CptBedlam (4457 posts) -
@Jimbo said:
" @Milkman: True, in 2008.  But since then they've also given Ballad a 3/5 for basically being the same game as GTA4, whilst saying how it now feels outdated.  If RDR still feels like GTA4, then you can see why they might want to avoid that reviewer seeing it.  Perhaps.  More likely they just looked at Ballad's score and crossed them off the list (assuming they are off the list that is). "
True
 
They probably consider Giantbomb to be a potential danger to the early metacritic score. A possible 4 out 5 would drag down the metacritic score quite a bit.
#32 Edited by Jeust (10854 posts) -
@Swaboo said:

" @Jeust said:

" Not only that, but this way there was no leaked copy on internet. what is reassuring. :p  "
Yeah, except there was and people were streaming  playthroughs of it over the weekend... "
Yeap, still the piracy is nowhere near where it would be if the copy had leaked into the internet. Everybody would be talking about how the game *is* and not what they are hoping from it...
#33 Posted by Bionicicide (1213 posts) -
@Swaboo: 
They just got retail copies early: oblivious clerk, retail employees themselves with access, or early shipping.
#34 Posted by sixghost (1679 posts) -
@Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past.  It's a method of keeping initial review scores high so that people that base their purchasing decisions off that kind of thing will pick it up on day one.  Some PR guy was likely handed a list of dudes to send the game out to, and anyone not on the list that inquired was rejected. It's called making money. "
Yes, that's all obvious. It's still fucked up.
#35 Posted by Swaboo (451 posts) -
@Jeust: @Bionicicide: It was downloadable on the internet since last friday is what I am saying...
#36 Posted by Jeust (10854 posts) -
@Swaboo said:
" @Jeust: @Bionicicide: It was downloadable on the internet since last friday is what I am saying... "
Still it doesn't seem all that pirated. Weird...
#37 Edited by ProfessorEss (7513 posts) -

While you guys all run off about Metacritic scores and conspiracy, here's my question (that none of you will answer I'm sure):
 
I love GiantBomb, you love GiantBomb, but when Rockstar is going through their endless list of videogame publications, what it is about GiantBomb that should make Rockstar stop and say "Oh, we have to get one to these guys"?

#38 Posted by TheGreatGuero (9130 posts) -

Seems silly of them to snub Giantbomb like this. Really, I can't imagine them scoring it anything but a 5 out of 5.

#39 Edited by Jimbo (9983 posts) -
@Kombat said:

" @Jimbo said:

" @Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past. "
That's about as 'being a dick about it' as you can get, surely?  What message does that send?  "If you don't score our games how we think you should, we will actively prevent you staying competitive".    That's so blatantly fucking shady and open to abuse than I'm surprised there isn't a law or some kind of trade guideline against it. "
What are you talking about?  It's their product.  They own it.  And, what do Rockstar care what message they send to the press by making a move like this? "
Uh, because sending out that message and attempting to passively blackmail the media, makes it far more likely that any future review will be scored higher than it deserves?  The industry shouldn't be in a position to influence reviews in any manner beyond making a better product.
 
If they're deciding who gets a review copy and who doesn't by readership or something, then fair enough, but they shouldn't be allowed to pick and choose who gets a review copy based on previous scores.  For exactly the reason I just gave - it undermines the veracity of any future reviews and the consumer ends up being mislead by these supposedly independent reviews.
#40 Posted by MAN_FLANNEL (2462 posts) -

Wow.  2 small video game websites didn't get a review copy of a video game.  Let's freak out some more. 

#41 Posted by pbhawks45 (738 posts) -
@creamypies: Thanks Keith!
#42 Posted by Kombat (2205 posts) -
@Jimbo said:
" @Kombat said:

" @Jimbo said:

" @Kombat said:
" They're not being dicks about it.  This was very obviously a business decision.  They sent out review copies to the outlets that have been generally favorable to their games in the past. "
That's about as 'being a dick about it' as you can get, surely?  What message does that send?  "If you don't score our games how we think you should, we will actively prevent you staying competitive".    That's so blatantly fucking shady and open to abuse than I'm surprised there isn't a law or some kind of trade guideline against it. "
What are you talking about?  It's their product.  They own it.  And, what do Rockstar care what message they send to the press by making a move like this? "
Uh, because sending out that message and attempting to passively blackmail the media, makes it far more likely that any future review will be scored higher than it deserves?"  
That's what you care about.  I doubt Rockstar cares at all about the integrity of the enthusiast press.  They just want high scores for their games.
#43 Posted by Milkman (17311 posts) -
@MAN_FLANNEL said:
" Wow.  2 small video game websites didn't get a review copy of a video game.  Let's freak out some more.  "
That's not the problem. They were refused, not forgotten.
#44 Posted by ShaneDev (1696 posts) -

I think they said before that they dont get review copies of games from everyone, and that they have to buy them.

#45 Posted by Aleryn (705 posts) -

*gains more hatred of MetaCritic every day...
 
Good to know they're pullilng this BS though, thanks OP.

#46 Posted by ProfessorEss (7513 posts) -
@Milkman said:
" @MAN_FLANNEL said:
" Wow.  2 small video game websites didn't get a review copy of a video game.  Let's freak out some more.  "
That's not the problem. They were refused, not forgotten. "
But if they were refused because Rockstar deemed them unimportant then what's the problem?
#47 Posted by DukeTogo (1504 posts) -

Let's continue to go on making assumptions without those annoying things called facts.

#48 Posted by bhhawks78 (1207 posts) -

They used early copies as leverage to get cheaper advertising or just gave it to sites like IGN because they basically work on a 8.5-10 scale on big budget games unless they are complete shit.

#49 Posted by Milkman (17311 posts) -
@ProfessorEss said:
" @Milkman said:
" @MAN_FLANNEL said:
" Wow.  2 small video game websites didn't get a review copy of a video game.  Let's freak out some more.  "
That's not the problem. They were refused, not forgotten. "
But if they were refused because Rockstar deemed them unimportant then what's the problem? "
Considering places like "Cynamite", "GameReactor", and "Playmania", among others, were given review copies, I doubt that popularity was the issue.
#50 Posted by Jimbo (9983 posts) -
@Kombat: No fucking shit.  I didn't write it from the perspective of the CEO of Rockstar.  I understand why they're doing it.  I'm saying - as a consumer - that the industry should not have the power to try and influence future review scores by blackmailing the media.
 
There is little difference between saying "If you give me a good review score, I will give you money" and saying "If you don't give me a good review score, I will actively prevent your business earning money".  One misleads the consumer immediately and costs the publisher some money, the other does exactly the same thing for all future products without costing them a penny.

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