This is something we’ve looked at in detail before, but an email flew into my inbox last week that was so hilarious I thought it was worth sharing.
To recap: in this job, when sent a copy of a game for review, you’ll often also be sent a list of restrictions of things you can and can’t talk about. Most of the time, it’s understandable stuff, like not mentioning any big story spoilers, etc.
The restrictions I got for PES 2016 (read my showdown “review” here), though, were truly bizarre, at least from the perspective of someone who writes about video games. I can’t imagine the hellscape those working in sports or sports marketing have to deal with if this is any indication.
What you’ll see below are the capture (so, the taking of video footage) restrictions for reviews of the game. Note that this stuff only applied to video footage, not the text of a review itself. So writing about the fact Wayne Rooney is a central figure for Man United, or that La Liga’s popularity is disproportionately skewed towards Barcelona and Real Madrid, was fine. Presenting it in video form was not.
Also note that this has nothing to do with Konami, the developers of the game! These restrictions are all coming from the various sponsors, competitions and teams they’ve had to sign licensing deals with to appear in PES, and are conditions of their inclusion in the game.
So the next time you complain that PES has trouble with its licensing, spare a thought for the legal (and marketing!) teams having to stay on top of all this nonsense.
UPDATE: Here’s some perspective, courtesy of a former EA Sports developer:
This article about the PES restrictions is all about having to not pay additional royalties for using their images. For instance, the NFL is super strict on how video and screenshots are presented. You are NOT allowed to single out one player, you must have at least three players in the action. That’s why on screenshots you often get a random in the foreground. If you do then that player can say that he’s being used to endorse the product and wants to get paid. There is also a list of players the NFL has told EA not to use, such as Tom Brady, because he will ask for a payday even if there are other players in the shot. We also had an internal list of ‘difficult’ athletes who had given us trouble with approvals/money in the past.
So back to PES, I’m pretty sure that list is the breakdown of what they’ve agreed to with their license partners, but for some odd reason (It’s Konami!) they are trying to make media also follow their agreement. Pretty weird, really.
Hahah, fuckin’ Tom Brady. Anyway, on with the PES shenanigans!