"Write About This Game We're Promoting And We'll Let You Play It Early"

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Posted by Jeff (3400 posts) -
I'm not too sure if this sort of thing happens too often, since we're usually not on the kinds of mailing lists that get hit with this sort of offer, but hey, let's not beat around the bush: Giant Bomb isn't the largest site for video games on the Internet... yet. Maybe we just need to get a little more "word of mouth" going, right? Maybe we need to "take it viral." Or maybe we just need to keep doing our thing and, as we become more entrenched in your hearts and in your minds, we'll become a more frequent part of the daily lives of game players around the world. OK, I'm getting off topic before I've even told you what the topic actually is... sorry.

As I understand it, there are a lot of non-commercial game sites out there that don't typically receive too much attention from the game publishers of the world. The concept of receiving review copies ahead of retail release is something of a rarity for these outlets. But since they provide a useful, community-like voice, sometimes publishers hire smaller marketing firms to reach out to these outlets, either overtly with direct contact, or covertly by posting HEY MAN YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS GAME on the site's message boards or comments.

It's the overt contact that proves to be a dangerous test for the folks that run these community sites. Will they pass the test and get ahold of a reviewable disc or other asset without bending over backwards and doing something they wouldn't normally do? Or does the lure of free games become so enticing that they're say anything to keep them coming in? It reminds me of a story from a few years back, where a PC game publisher provided a few of these sites with brand new video cards "just to make sure the game was reviewed on proper hardware." It's a fine line, but as a rule of thumb, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

We received this e-mail today from an external promotions firm (meaning not THQ directly) that effectively says "if you write about this trailer we posted, we will let you into a closed beta for the game." This is, for starters, poor bait. Considering the main idea is to get people excited about the release of said game, shouldn't you be letting in as many credible journalist-types as possible?

Before I get too much further ahead of myself, here's the e-mail:

Hey Jeff,

[REDACTED] here with a great exclusive for your site! We’re working with THQ on the FPS Red Faction: Guerilla (PS3, X360, PC). As a valued member of our network, we would like to invite you to an exclusive closed multiplayer beta tourney and share your initial thoughts. Red Faction releases on June 9th.

To get in to the closed multiplayer beta, all you have to do is write up a post and feature the teaser spot below on your site and send me the link. The closed beta tourney will occur on May 1st.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCrfNArzx68

Looking forward to seeing what you think of the game!

So here's the proposed timeline of events:

1. Outlet writes about trailer (which I'm sort of bummed to be doing here in the first place, I feel like I've already lost this battle)
2. Outlet gets download code for multiplayer Red Faction beta (which, unless they're releasing a newer version, I'm pretty sure I've had since late last year)
3. Outlet participates in tournament, writes about game again.

Kind of funky. We often get e-mails and PMs from people looking for advice on how to get into our line of work. So here's my advice: if the lure of getting to play something before someone else or perhaps getting something for free is the sole reason you want to write about games, you've already lost, and you're destined to be swayed by the possibility of getting something for free. This means that the first time you give a game a negative review, the company will threaten to cut you off from the games, and you'll probably cave and retract the review.

But, really, the big loser here is THQ. Why? Because Red Faction: Guerrilla is a game that deserves better than this trailer that this external promotion company is trying to get us to... promote. Seriously, check out this totally busted trailer with audio that's around 12 seconds out of sync.

  


I know, right? On top of that it's got a description of "red faction guerilla ps3 rocks just like fallout mi rite or mi rite" on YouTube. Quality material, all you people at the promotion company! Corner offices for all.

[UPDATE] THQ got in touch with us about this story. While THQ does work with the promotions company involved with this stuff, a company spokesperson for THQ stated that it never approved this specific campaign. Considering the game's multiplayer beta launched on Xbox 360 last year and the awful quality of that trailer, I'm inclined to believe them.
Staff
#1 Posted by Jeff (3400 posts) -
I'm not too sure if this sort of thing happens too often, since we're usually not on the kinds of mailing lists that get hit with this sort of offer, but hey, let's not beat around the bush: Giant Bomb isn't the largest site for video games on the Internet... yet. Maybe we just need to get a little more "word of mouth" going, right? Maybe we need to "take it viral." Or maybe we just need to keep doing our thing and, as we become more entrenched in your hearts and in your minds, we'll become a more frequent part of the daily lives of game players around the world. OK, I'm getting off topic before I've even told you what the topic actually is... sorry.

As I understand it, there are a lot of non-commercial game sites out there that don't typically receive too much attention from the game publishers of the world. The concept of receiving review copies ahead of retail release is something of a rarity for these outlets. But since they provide a useful, community-like voice, sometimes publishers hire smaller marketing firms to reach out to these outlets, either overtly with direct contact, or covertly by posting HEY MAN YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS GAME on the site's message boards or comments.

It's the overt contact that proves to be a dangerous test for the folks that run these community sites. Will they pass the test and get ahold of a reviewable disc or other asset without bending over backwards and doing something they wouldn't normally do? Or does the lure of free games become so enticing that they're say anything to keep them coming in? It reminds me of a story from a few years back, where a PC game publisher provided a few of these sites with brand new video cards "just to make sure the game was reviewed on proper hardware." It's a fine line, but as a rule of thumb, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

We received this e-mail today from an external promotions firm (meaning not THQ directly) that effectively says "if you write about this trailer we posted, we will let you into a closed beta for the game." This is, for starters, poor bait. Considering the main idea is to get people excited about the release of said game, shouldn't you be letting in as many credible journalist-types as possible?

Before I get too much further ahead of myself, here's the e-mail:

Hey Jeff,

[REDACTED] here with a great exclusive for your site! We’re working with THQ on the FPS Red Faction: Guerilla (PS3, X360, PC). As a valued member of our network, we would like to invite you to an exclusive closed multiplayer beta tourney and share your initial thoughts. Red Faction releases on June 9th.

To get in to the closed multiplayer beta, all you have to do is write up a post and feature the teaser spot below on your site and send me the link. The closed beta tourney will occur on May 1st.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCrfNArzx68

Looking forward to seeing what you think of the game!

So here's the proposed timeline of events:

1. Outlet writes about trailer (which I'm sort of bummed to be doing here in the first place, I feel like I've already lost this battle)
2. Outlet gets download code for multiplayer Red Faction beta (which, unless they're releasing a newer version, I'm pretty sure I've had since late last year)
3. Outlet participates in tournament, writes about game again.

Kind of funky. We often get e-mails and PMs from people looking for advice on how to get into our line of work. So here's my advice: if the lure of getting to play something before someone else or perhaps getting something for free is the sole reason you want to write about games, you've already lost, and you're destined to be swayed by the possibility of getting something for free. This means that the first time you give a game a negative review, the company will threaten to cut you off from the games, and you'll probably cave and retract the review.

But, really, the big loser here is THQ. Why? Because Red Faction: Guerrilla is a game that deserves better than this trailer that this external promotion company is trying to get us to... promote. Seriously, check out this totally busted trailer with audio that's around 12 seconds out of sync.

  


I know, right? On top of that it's got a description of "red faction guerilla ps3 rocks just like fallout mi rite or mi rite" on YouTube. Quality material, all you people at the promotion company! Corner offices for all.

[UPDATE] THQ got in touch with us about this story. While THQ does work with the promotions company involved with this stuff, a company spokesperson for THQ stated that it never approved this specific campaign. Considering the game's multiplayer beta launched on Xbox 360 last year and the awful quality of that trailer, I'm inclined to believe them.
Staff
#2 Posted by GioVANNI (1283 posts) -

Wow...

#3 Posted by Lifestrike (481 posts) -

Many journalists leave Dagobah before they are steeled against the Dark Side.

Unprepared, they are easy targets for large-scale publishers...

#4 Posted by StarFoxA (5137 posts) -

Wow, that is just about as low as promoting a game can go.

#5 Posted by Moridin (713 posts) -

I wonder if you emailed this to them, if they'd still let you in the beta. You're basically doing what they asked, just with attitude!

#6 Posted by Cloneslayer (1620 posts) -

Sad, tisk, tisk, tisk marketing company!

#7 Posted by gunslingerNZ (1899 posts) -

That's got dodgy written all over it. Good to see you still hold to your code of ethics Jeff ;)

#8 Posted by rargy (437 posts) -

I don't know what you're talking about.  Looks totally legit to me.

#9 Posted by Flikery (19 posts) -

*Tips his cap to Jeff* Well played, sir.

#10 Posted by CarolynP (91 posts) -

HEY GUYS DONT LISTEN TO THEM YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT RED FACTION THIS GAME WILL PWN MI RITE OR MI RITE

#11 Posted by jonnyp (192 posts) -

I've got a great exclusive for you site!! </usedcarsalesmanvoice>

#12 Posted by ZettaSlow (148 posts) -

This is why you don't do viral marketing.  When it gets out, you lose hard.

#13 Posted by JJOR64 (18887 posts) -

Lmfao, the video only has 1 star.

#14 Posted by Doobit (101 posts) -

Worst. Trailer. Ever!

#15 Posted by Zuul (313 posts) -

Ha

#16 Edited by JoelTGM (5596 posts) -

I like free stuff though.  If they still send you a beta code, can I have it.

#17 Posted by MrMiyagi (929 posts) -

Pathetic.

#18 Posted by Cathryn (545 posts) -

Pathetic and icky D:

#19 Posted by JoblessTerence (349 posts) -

Almost as pathetic as "the incident."

#20 Edited by MB (11891 posts) -

I see what you did there.  I guess technically you did do what the dude asked. 

Moderator
#21 Posted by Zounds (47 posts) -

And this is one of the reasons why I like this site. 

#22 Posted by Timothy (54 posts) -

That's pretty gross. I was actually just listening to an old GFW Radio from 2006, and they were talking about this very same thing happening to them.

#23 Edited by tak (41 posts) -

Jeff, did you send him the link to your article and get the beta code? You did write about the trailer.

:D

#24 Posted by HartKnight (81 posts) -

That trailer has a bunch of shitty stock footage which doesn't get me excited in the least.

#25 Posted by icoangel (47 posts) -

LAME!

#26 Posted by HatKing (5777 posts) -

Makes me think it was some joker trying to get their stupid YouTube video some hits.  Seriously I couldn't see any legitimate company of any sort, be it video game devolopers, producers or advertisers making something this poor and then trying to get it out for the public.  No joke, I could make a far superior trailer in about one hour with only the video that they've released online. 

#27 Posted by zymase (158 posts) -

Best part of the trailer is the juxtaposition of the Kingdome demolition with a nuclear detonation.  Free-association "blowing shit up" statement, or just a lazy collage from the Library of Congress archives?

#28 Posted by Fritzerbacon (144 posts) -

Thank you for the major heads up, sir. Thank you very much.

#29 Posted by aurahack (2264 posts) -

"Quality material, all you people at the promotion company! Corner offices for all."

Brilliant.

#30 Posted by HadesTimes (802 posts) -

I played the beta, not too fun.  Maybe they have upgraded it since.  Anyway, it seems that PR is getting pretty desperate.  Wouldn't it have been easier to recruit a bunch of fans to something like this?  They would have gone nuts.

#31 Posted by JJRage (58 posts) -

Bah, who needs integrity anyway. FREE SHIT.

#32 Posted by GioVANNI (1283 posts) -
JJOR64

You can thank me, sir.
#33 Posted by DoctorTran (1544 posts) -

So... you send the link yet?

#34 Posted by Meltbrain (2968 posts) -

Wow, that's pretty messed up, man.

#35 Posted by Relys (984 posts) -

Satire?

Are you sure this is from the company... I have the strangest feeling you've all just been trolled.

#36 Posted by Levi (21 posts) -

......Yeah I tried but....I got nothin' for this one

#37 Edited by MeatSim (10737 posts) -

Poorly edited fan video is your big promotion for this game, that's no good at all.

#38 Posted by stephengotlost (703 posts) -

I think it was "Take your kids to work day" and the publicist's kid took over his shift.

#39 Posted by lamegame621 (975 posts) -

Well played, Jeff.

#40 Posted by FiestaUnicorn (1577 posts) -

What was that supposed to show.

#41 Posted by coldmilk (66 posts) -

All I want for Xmas is a PSP

#42 Posted by GHT (164 posts) -

at this point, does anyone still care about the Red Faction name?

#43 Posted by redskineer (46 posts) -

explains why crummy games get good reviews.....poor little tink tink....

#44 Posted by Cheapoz (1064 posts) -

Did you get in the beta?

#45 Posted by Lassegp (98 posts) -

Jeff + Giantbomb> This is the reason why this is my starter page and why you guys are the coolest and best gamesite 4 me!

#46 Posted by TomA (2531 posts) -

Wow,that really is stupid.You should have just not posted about it at all,cause that's a terrible way for THQ to promote a game.But at least you put in your thoughts on it,so i hope this doesnt sell any copies of Red Faction Guerilla for them.

#47 Posted by SpikeDelight (687 posts) -

The best part of this YouTube video is the fact that the author's name is JorgeCostanza11

#48 Posted by Foxdemon2k (261 posts) -

haha :)

#49 Posted by Steven (247 posts) -

Woah, awesome article.  I'm thankful for your commitment to integrity and being principled.

#50 Posted by taco484 (120 posts) -

haha, I dont even understand... this is so shady and weird... like when you get ads fro V1@gra in your e-mail.

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