Another story about Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops review event has kicked off a new round of navel staring on Twitter. Something similar happened late last year when we wrote about these events. And I'm sure many times before when they've been written about.
For the record, we declined to go to the Black Ops review event. In fact, we no longer go to review events at all and haven't
for most of the yearsince last year. Why? There are plenty of reasons, the top one is that I think they're an enormous waste of everyone's time.
They're also a massive disservice to all involved. They take up a writer's time, often forcing the reviewer to play a game non-stop for days to churn through it. They often present the game on high-end equipment tweaked specifically to make sure the game shines. They often include multiplayer matches running on the sorts of servers that don't really replicate a real world experience.
I also sometimes wonder if having to play a game in front of the game's creators dulls a critic's analysis. I've been to events, back when we used to do these on occasion, where developers hovered in the background ready to explain any bumps or issues you run into. That bothered me.
But that's really the least of my concerns. It's right down there with the notion that professionals, who fully disclose what they did and didn't take from a developer or publisher, are incapable of separating their true opinions from some sense of obligation they may feel to a game's creator.
Maybe I'm a borderline sociopath, but I've never felt an instance of obligation to a publisher or developer, only to my writers and our readers. No review event, throwaway schwag, paid trip, or fancy E3, GDC, Gamescom or Tokyo Game Show party has changed that or ever will.
Bottom line, we don't do review events, but mostly because we have better things to do than spend days locked in a hotel room playing a single game. Has this caused issues for us? Sure, we've had to run quite a number of reviews well after embargoes lift, reviews for some of the year's biggest games. But so what. I'd like to think you'll wait.
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