Preview Ho of the Month

Kotaku just became my favorite gaming-related website.

Starting in April, Kotaku will launch a regular feature called “Preview Ho of the Month”, and the object is to name and shame.
“Preview Ho” will be a compilation of the most egregious, blatant promotion for unreleased games from across the gaming press. We will challenge the editors of these magazines and websites to justify their hype on behalf of their advertisers’ products. We will ask them why they gave so much glowing press to games that were so unfinished as to be design documents with conceptual art, or gave any attention whatsoever to yet another movie spin-off with no perceivable originality at all. In doing so, we will go after previews as they exist now for what they are: the mortal enemy of good games.

You see, the way the current crop of gaming "journalists" (remember the rules about gaming "journalism" -- always in quotes when not prefaced with the words so-called) conduct their job is with fear. Fear of losing access to early builds of games. And because of that each and every preview that ever graces the pages of a gaming magazine or the html of a major site is written without an ounce of criticism. And, in turn, game publishers show this glowing press coverage (which they might as well have written themselves) to the buyers at retail and use it to convince stores like Electronics Boutique and Wal-Mart to stock large quantities of their game. The stores then buy into the hype and push the games and, then months later when the title is released, every customer that walks into said store or calls on the phone is immediately pressured to buy the game.

Kotaku's Wagner James Au seems very proud of himself for "uncovering" this secret of the industry via some cocktails at an E3 after-party, but truth is that this is all very obvious. Now, I don't want to pop Au's bubble entirely though. Because although this process doesn't take insider tips to uncover, Au is proposing to do something about it. And, should his efforts even make a minor difference on just one editirial staff, it will be a triumph for gamers everywhere.

The goal is good games for everyone. But to get there, the dogs of the industry have to be exposed rather than hyped during the preview process. Imagine how many mediocre games could have been great had somebody have had the sense to call it out for what it was. Ideally, if enough previews actually critiqued the game like they're supposed to, publishers and developers would be faced with the decision -- go back and make the game good or unleash it as is and lose lots of money.

Read the entire article at Kotaku here.

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