On April 20th, I wrote a post titled "Do Not Trust This Magazine's Review Scores" that showed what seems to be the conflict of interest Japanese magazine Famitsu has. And what a conflict of interest it is.
Famitsu appears in upcoming stealth PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. What's more, former Famitsu Editor-in-Chief Hirokazu Hamamura appears in print ads and on a Konami website, actively promoting the game. In fact, an entire ad campaign was built around a pun on his last name. Hamamura is currently president of Enterbrain, the company that owns and publishes Famitsu.
Unlike normal advertisements, Famitsu and Enterbrain are being used to promote the game.
This did not stop Famitsu from reviewing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Famitsu did not mention this conflict of interest in the body of its review.
Peace Walker was awarded a perfect review score from Famitsu. Whether or not Peace Walker deserved this score is besides the point — the score is not the issue here. The issue here is how Famitsu and Enterbrain operate.
From my original post:
From what Kotaku has played of the game, Peace Walker does look like an exceptional PSP title. We're not saying that it didn't deserve the 40 out of 40 that Famitsu gave it. The game's designer, Hideo Kojima, has continually stressed how much effort and energy has gone into developing the title. All that effort and energy seems wasted on raised eyebrows over poor promotional and collaborative choices. Even if the game does appear to be fantastic, the review appears bought. It needlessly dirties up what could very well be a great game - a game that should stand alone on its own merit.
Peace Walker is better than this. Hideo Kojima is better than this. Famitsu, it seems, is not.
Today, Kotaku Japan (which is owned by a different company than Kotaku.com) received a letter from Famitsu over this post, seeming to take issue with the post. Kotaku Japan published a translated version of my original piece with a new title that roughly translates to: "MGS: PW Got a Perfect Score in Famitsu... But Is It An Impartial Assessment?" Kotaku.com has not yet been furnished with a complete copy of this letter.
Today, Kotaku Japan was also contacted by Konami, the game's publisher. Konami has uninvited Kotaku Japan from a launch event for Peace Walker — an event that the site had previously been invited to. Apparently, the issue here is also this post over Famitsu conflict of interest. However, Famitsu's review seems to be a conflict of interest. The publication does not appear trustworthy.
So, Kotaku Japan was contacted by both Famitsu and turned down by Konami. Both appearing to take issue with the post. In the same day. What a kwinky dink. And it might simply be a coincidence.
It doesn't matter if Kotaku Japan cannot go to some Peace Walker PR event. What does matter is that this seems coordinated, insidious, even. It is as if both Famitsu and Konami appear as if they are attempting to bully Kotaku Japan. But Kotaku Japan didn't write the post, it translated it. I did. So shoot the messenger when you don't like the message.