He starts with a statement that is as true or false as you want it to be: "Nobody is seriously accusing any website or writer of accepting money from publishers in direct exchange for positive reviews."

He ends with quotes from Metal Gear Solid.

And, in between, in a post tagged with such words as "IGN," "Journalism", "Kotaku", "8.8" and "Bribe", whoever YouTube user Instig8ive Journalism is damn near blows the lid off this whole game-reviewing racket.

"Please download and mirror in case this video is censored and taken down," our truthteller writes below his YouTube post entitled "Paid Reviews: Critics or Conmen? Gaming's Ad-verse Situation." (It's embedded above. Watch it!)

Who would censor these truths?

From the video: "To say there isn't at least something going wrong would only call further into question one's honesty, particularly when there is such an abysmal track record."

Ok, ok. I'm an honest man. Therefore I must yield and say, sure, at least something is going wrong.

  • The problems, as delineated in this video:
  • Video game publishers see game reviewers as marketing tools.
  • Publishers sometimes allow positive reviews to be published before negative ones.
  • Publishers sometimes require game reviewers to not mention certain plot or technical details in exchange for being furnished with an advance review copy.
  • Publishers might not want to advertise on an outlet that slams their games.
  • Critics are often "at a loss for insightful ways of describing what they found objectionable" about a game they don't like.
  • Reviews are banal checklists.
  • Game reviewers may not know that they're biased, but "if they knew they were biased, would they tell us?"
  • All these positive reviews from biased reviewers lead the public into accidentally playing bad games.
  • Legislators are happy when this mess results in pro-American games topping the charts.
  • "War has changed. When the battlefield is under total control, war becomes routine."

Some of these things are true and worth a drubbing. Others are hilarious. But now you know.

(The embargoed-details one sticks in my craw, because it's on-point. We need to find a better way to address when, say, Nintendo tells us that our early copy of Super Mario 3D Land comes with a prohibition against launch-day reviews mentioning the game is only halfway over when the credits roll. Of course, the fact that Nintendo was trying to bar reviewers from mentioning the best part of the game doesn't fit our current conspiracy theory. Konami's old prohibition on mentioning the length of cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4 does. Funny how after I reported that several years ago, Hideo Kojima suddenly wasn't able to attend an interview we had planned. Almost as funny as how that didn't appear to stall my career.)

Don't let this video be censored!

Paid Reviews: Critics or Conmen? Gaming's Ad-verse Situation [YouTube]