Bethesda has announced today that they will no longer provide advance review copies to review outlets prior to release. Bethesda library includes The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, Fallout, Doom, Prey, Wolfenstein and etc.
“Earlier this year we released Doom,” Gary Steinman, Bethesda’s global content lead wrote in a company blog post. “We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.”
While Doom is one of your surprises of 2016 that’s mostly because it surpassed low expectations and released at the right time. It released the week after Uncharted 4 and afterwards there was nothing until E3 2016 rolled around. Bethesda’s number one goal is to sell as many games as possible on the open market – especially with Call of Duty releasing a week before – this action prevents game reviews from being published in a reasonable time.
“We also understand that some of you want to read reviews before you make your decision, and if that’s the case we encourage you to wait for your favorite reviewers to share their thoughts,” Steinman said.
This decision effect smaller outlets the most, in particular ours.
One of the biggest myths in Video Game Journalism is that small websites don’t generate traffic, which isn’t the case. Some PR agencies have shifted towards Youtubers and Twitch users because they rely on a niche audience. So if you see a Dishonored review on release date, it’s going to be hard to take that seriously.
Publishers are also finding ways to lock in players’ dollars allowing beta access doled out as a pre-order reward. Bethesda will let you play Dishonored 2 a day before launch, as long as you pre-order it. You could play Battlefield One three days early if you paid $20 for the “early enlister edition. ”
So where do we go from here? Currently right now at Victory Point, we’re holding cover plans on Dishonored 2 and future Bethesda titles (that includes Elder Scrolls 6 when it releases). We believe Bethesda’s new review policy isn’t the right direction the industry should go. Consumers should have multiple opinions available to them day one when the game is available at midnight.
This rush to get into the black when a game first hits store shelves is a rush to madness that benefits nobody in the long run. It has become apparent that Bethesda wants your money more than making sure you enjoyed the products they’re selling. Vote with your wallet.