Bethesda Won’t Send Review Copies Out Until One Day Before Launch
John Williamson / 3 years ago
Historically, video game reviewers are provided with early copies of a particular game and agree to an embargo. This means every outlet has the same opportunity to produce content within an acceptable time frame. This prevents a mad rush to publish in the quickest possible time which tends to result in shoddy, incomplete articles. It’s important to remember that critically analysing a game’s narrative, core mechanics and technical elements isn’t a quick process. In recent years, there’s been examples of publishers refusing to send out press copies until a game is officially released. This is to dispel any negative criticism and maximize sales. To be fair, the line between media and consumer has become less apparent due to the rise of streamers, community content and early access incentives.
Yesterday, Bethesda unleashed a rather interesting statement regarding reviews for Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2. The full statement reads:
“At Bethesda, we value media reviews.
We read them. We watch them. We try to learn from them when they offer critique. And we understand their value to our players.
Earlier this year we released DOOM. 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.
With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release. While we will continue to work with media, streamers, and YouTubers to support their coverage – both before and after release – we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same 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.
Skyrim Special Edition releases globally on October 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Dishonored 2 releases globally on November 11 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.”
Even if you dislike the gaming media and do not trust their opinions, this shouldn’t be received as a piece of good news. Bethesda is attempting to control the amount of information consumers have before considering a purchase and this could result in some people being unhappy if the final product doesn’t live up to their expectations. Of course, you could argue that this is simply resolved by not pre-ordering and waiting to hear what early adopters think and reading the later reviews. From what I’ve seen, consumers tend to buy and ignore many game reviews. Does this mean they’re irrelevant? Possibly! Saying that, this is an anti-consumer measure and doesn’t evoke any confidence in Bethesda’s upcoming products.