Frank Provo reminisces about his Shenmue review at GameSpot

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1p

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#1  Edited By 1p
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Vorbis

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#2  Edited By Vorbis

Thanks for posting that, an interesting read. Got say to the score should of stayed at his original score, not because I agree or disagree with it, but because that's what his initial opinions were, changing it due to pressures from Sega was wrong. But I guess we all know how going against publishers when your site is ad driven turns out.

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1p

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#3  Edited By 1p

I agree, they shouldn't have changed the score. From today's point of view, it's clear that Provo was right about the game's flaws. Review scores are stupid anyways. What's really the difference between a 6.8 game and 7.8 game?

Reading this made me wonder how much of this corruption happened and went unnoticed behind the scenes of various games publications. He says GS changed policies after this review, and i'd guess Jeff and Greg Kasavin did their best to prevent stuff like this from happening, but the company was so big that it must have been impossible at times.

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onemoresolo

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#4  Edited By onemoresolo

great read.

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Vitor

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#5  Edited By Vitor
@Bib said:
"

I agree, they shouldn't have changed the score. From today's point of view, it's clear that Provo was right about the game's flaws. Review scores are stupid anyways. What's really the difference between a 6.8 game and 7.8 game?

Reading this made me wonder how much of this corruption happened and went unnoticed behind the scenes of various games publications. He says GS changed policies after this review, and i'd guess Jeff and Greg Kasavin did their best to prevent stuff like this from happening, but the company was so big that it must have been impossible at times.

"
Didn't even know that sites like that would ever change a review due to external pressure. Shocking to find out, if somewhat unsurprising the more I think about it. Especially as it was pre Gerstmann-Gate. Makes me appreciate the GB guys all the more knowing that they fought against this crap right from the get go.
 
Nice to see that time validated his opinions (has it been long enough that Jeff's Twilight Princess review also gets cut the same slack?). Definitely a great read, thanks for notifying those of us who wouldn't otherwise have come across it. 
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MooseyMcMan

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#6  Edited By MooseyMcMan

I never even knew they changed the score. As much as I disagree with Shenmue being a 6.8, I disagree more with GameSpot giving into external pressures and changing it. At least they didn't fire the guy.  
 
(Also, I should point out that I'm a super-Shenmue-fanboy, and thus the game will always be a 10/10 for me, despite all of its obvious and glaring flaws). 
 
Also, interesting read. 

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unsolvedparadox

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#7  Edited By unsolvedparadox

I wasn't familiar with this tale before, the story is quite disheartening. Hopefully this type of editorial pressure is a thing of the past...

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Diamond

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#8  Edited By Diamond

Very interesting.  I wouldn't have expected they would go back to the author and fret so much over a review score like that.  Personally I think Shenmue is an amazing game, and the reasons he didn't like Shenmue could be applied to hundreds of other games many people consider classics even if those people didn't enjoy Shenmue.
 
The core problem is people enjoy or don't enjoy games for different reasons.  Applying a one-size-fits-all score to a game is just idiotic.  Honestly I think this sort of stuff could be eliminated and game developers, publishers, and even gamers would benefit if scoring a game was done away with.  It seems idiotic that reviewers and publishers still favor short term prosperity over the well being of all by continuing this destructive trend.

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1p

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#9  Edited By 1p
@Diamond said:
"The core problem is people enjoy or don't enjoy games for different reasons.  Applying a one-size-fits-all score to a game is just idiotic."

That's exactly what i think.

I like that the Giant Bomb editorial style strongly emphasizes the fact that reviews are an expression of a single person's opinion about a game, not a scientific assessment of a game's quality (which is not even possible).

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CptBedlam

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#10  Edited By CptBedlam

"People occasionally ask me how much pay-for-play went on behind the scenes at GameSpot. Obviously, I couldn't say for sure, but my own interactions with Jeff, Alex, Brad, and Ryan in those subsequent years gave me the impression that they were trying very hard to maintain a level of integrity not typical to the entertainment industry."
 
And this is why Giantbomb has risen to the top.
 
It's totally fine if you don't agree with a reviewers opinion about a game - opinions differ - but for me it is utterly important that these opinions are honest and not heavily influenced by publishers etc.

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EpicSteve

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#11  Edited By EpicSteve

Damn, son.

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MattyFTM

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#12  Edited By MattyFTM  Moderator

That was a really interesting read. I wasn't a GameSpot reader back in 2000, so I never fully knew what went down with the Shenmue review, and it's interesting to hear what happened straight from the horses mouth. Gamespot was always a weird mix between the fantastic editorial staff that valued integrity and honnesty, and the corporate money making nature of the cnet suits, and that's what lead to things like this going down.

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#13  Edited By Hunkulese
@UnsolvedParadox said:
" I wasn't familiar with this tale before, the story is quite disheartening. Hopefully this type of editorial pressure is a thing of the past... "
If anything it's worse now
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mzuckerm

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#14  Edited By mzuckerm

Really interesting read.  My brother worked at CNet when the Gerstmann thing went down so I got some rumors at the time, but I always wanted to hear the complete story from both sides.

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Shabs

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#15  Edited By Shabs

That was a very good read.  Thanks for sharing this.

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#16  Edited By solidlife

Nice read. Gives me more reason to believe that GB review scores are more credible than others 

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#17  Edited By owl_of_minerva

I think he's wrong about the overall quality and importance of Shenmue, but his complaints about specific areas are hard to deny. That he had to succumb to outside pressure is regrettable, but on the other hand I feel the 7.8 score is more fitting than 6.8, due to the game's originality and at the time incredible presentation/open-world experience.

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EuanDewar

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#18  Edited By EuanDewar

While the whole shenmue think certainly makes for an interesting read but for my money the most intriguing part here is right at the end where he flat out says the whole gerstmann gate thing is because of eidos. I always thought it was under debate as to what actually happened but this guy certainly seems pretty confident on what hes saying. 
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#19  Edited By LordAndrew
@EuanDewar: It is still unknown. He believes it was because of Eidos though. He said as much in his final GameSpot blog. But being a freelancer and not working in the GameSpot offices, it's unlikely he could have known for sure.
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#20  Edited By 1p

I was half-expecting some blogs to pick this one up. Nothing yet. Don't they love this kind of stuff? Intrigue, dude.

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I remember when this review went up...me and my friend were freaking out...granted we were like 12 or 13 and thought Shenmue was the best thing since sliced bread.  Great game.

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#22  Edited By mosaic--defunct
@Bib: Wild, I didn't think anyone ever noticed my LiveJournal page. Heh. Anyway, just one clarification: GameSpot wasn't my last freelance writing gig. I kept going until August 2008 with GamesRadar, and then decided that I needed to get a job with more predictable pay and health insurance. I've been doing collections ever since, which hasn't been so bad (for a credit union, then a local home improvement company). 
 
For what it's worth: the information I was told second-hand led me to conclude that Jeff's sacking was due in large part to Eidos' pressure (well, the purse strings anyway), but that it was more a culmination of the higher ups (Josh Larson, in particular) wanting to take GameSpot in a direction that they felt he didn't fit in with.  Coincidentally, or not, Larson's position was eliminated in April of 2008. 
 
In the long run, it all probably worked out for the best. It motivated me to get out of freelancing (I had no desire to move to California) and it led to the creation of Giantbomb. Win win?
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#23  Edited By SuicidalSnowman

Great read, thanks for sharing. 
 
Although I still want to do some fact checking myself, this seems pretty legit, and really interesting.  Glad it came out.

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#24  Edited By HubrisRanger

Fascinating and honestly kinda depressing look at how little games culture has changed in the last ten years.

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#25  Edited By TheGreatGuero

Frank's a good guy. That was a nice read.

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1p

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#26  Edited By 1p
@mosaic:

Oh, hey. 

"In the long run, it all probably worked out for the best."
Right.
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#27  Edited By delta_ass

6.8 is probably a bit generous, in hindsight.

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cooljammer00

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This subject seemed to come up during a GOTY 2016 video. Guess it's more widely known now.

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Humanity

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Glad someone dredged this up from the past because I never got around to reading it back then and it was a very interesting read indeed - especially the frankness about how much that stuff paid back in the day which you don't hear people discuss as openly.

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