The gaming site IGN has removed a review for the game Dead Cells after allegations surfaced yesterday that the review’s writer had plagiarized from a small YouTube channel.
“As a group of writers and creators who value our own work and that of others in our field, the editorial staff of IGN takes plagiarism very seriously,” reads a note now in place of the review, which was written by IGN Nintendo editor Filip Miucin. “In light of concerns that have been raised about our Dead Cells review, we’ve removed it for the time being and are investigating.”
UPDATE (7:20pm): IGN has let go of Miucin, writing in a statement that it plans to re-review Dead Cells. “We apologize to our readers, developer Motion Twin, and most especially the YouTuber known under Boomstick Gaming for failing to uphold those standards,” the outlet said.
The original story follows, along with a second update below this piece illustrating a second discovered example of Miucin’s apparent plagiarism.
Last night, a YouTube channel called Boomstick Gaming posted a video titled “IGN Copied my Dead Cells Review: What do I do?” In it, the video’s maker plays a sequence of clips from his own review of the roguelike action platformer and compares them to IGN’s video review, revealing a number of phrases that are strikingly similar.
“This combat system is fast, fluid, responsive, and one of the most rewarding representations of 2D combat of the entire genre,” reads Boomstick Gaming’s video, which was published on July 24.
“Fights are fast, fluid, responsive, and hands down one of the most gratifying representations of video game combat I’ve ever experienced,” reads Miucin in IGN’s video, which was published on August 6. The written review includes the same text.
Some other examples:
Boomstick Gaming: In most games of this genre, your coolest skills and spells are often set to strictly long recharge timers or a limited mana system, but in Dead Cells, your abilities have incredibly quick recharges and allow you to seamlessly integrate these gadgets in normal encounters and it doesn’t make you feel penalized for using your cool stuff.
Filip Miucin: Most games limit your most useful skills with long cool-down timers or a limited mana system, but Dead Cells encourages you to use your deadliest gadgets with a fast recharge timer. It never punishes you for using your best tactics.
Boomstick: Dead Cells only falters slightly with some repetition setting in, especially on the early areas and during longer play sessions.
Miucin: Dead Cells does falter slightly with some repetition but it’s only felt in its earlier areas and during extended play sessions.
Boomstick: Dead Cells figures out an intriguing way to have your rogue-like and Metroidvania experience all in one by focusing on your failures and encouraging you to try something new the next time.
Miucin: Dead Cells strikes a perfect and engaging balance between the Metroidvania and rogue-like experiences by focusing on your failures and urging you to experiment every time you do fail.
Boomstick Gaming’s video went viral last night, skyrocketing to the top of Reddit and other forums. The similarities between the two reviews were too numerous to be coincidental, and many observers saw the incident as a massive outlet taking advantage of a smaller one. (Before this, Boomstick Gaming had around 11,000 subscribers on YouTube. IGN has over 10 million.)
“No hate man but I wish I was cited, collaborated with, and or compensated in some way for the healthy views your site saw on your Dead Cells review,” Boomstick Gaming wrote to Miucin on Twitter this morning.
Miucin has not yet commented publicly, and did not immediately respond to Kotaku’s request for comment. IGN also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE 2 (7:35pm): Earlier this evening, a tipster pointed Kotaku to another example of striking similarities between Miucin’s work and another outlet’s, this time from before he was hired at IGN.
Here’s an excerpt from a NintendoLife review of Fifa 18 for Switch posted on September 29, 2017:
However, because it’s not running on the Frostbite engine, FIFA 18 on Switch doesn’t play exactly like the other current-gen versions. The pace is slightly faster and player animations and physics aren’t quite as fluid, lending the game an ever-so-slightly more arcade feel (but not to any major degree).
And an excerpt from a video review from Miucin posted on October 1, 2017:
Only this time, it’s running on a custom engine that EA designed specifically for Switch, which means that it doesn’t play exactly like the Xbox One and PS4 editions of the game do. The animations and physics are definitely not as fluid and the pacing feels slightly faster, ultimately leaving the game feeling a little less realistic and slightly more arcadey.
It actually works well; as long as you aren’t a stickler for intricate animation detail, you’re going to have fun here. It runs smoother than a greased-up jazz musician too, with a full 60 frames per second in both docked and handheld mode making for a silky performance and the general feel that you’re playing a high quality product. Although its (slightly less silky-smooth) cutscenes and other close-up moments reveal that the character models are a good deal less detailed than their Xbox One and PS4 counterparts, squint a bit during normal gameplay and you’d genuinely struggle to tell the difference.
But when you’re playing the game, it actually works really well, and it’s easy to look past the graphical setbacks. Because whether you’re playing docked or undocked, the game seems to run at a consistent 60 frames per second, which looks silky smooth and really leaves you feeling like you’re having a true triple-A home console experience but on a console you can take with you on the go. However, when you get up close and get a good look at some of the character models, it’s pretty clear they do have a good amount of less detail than the Xbox One and PS4 versions do, but any imperfections are pretty much unnoticeable during gameplay.