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At Least Now You Know Which Video Game Reviewers Are Sellout Clowns

LivingD3AD

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Sep 24, 2020
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After years of hype, one of the biggest publicity and marketing campaigns any video game has ever received, and roughly 8 million pre-orders, CD Projekt Red released Cyberpunk 2077 on Dec. 10. You may have heard about it. The game has turned out to be a mess: riddled with bugs and glitches, clearly unfinished at the time of release, all but unplayable on the last-generation consoles (Xbox One and Playstation 4) used by a plurality of its consumers. Even for those relatively few gamers playing it on high-end gaming PCs, where it reportedly performs better, Cyberpunk 2077 turns out to fall wildly short of the supposed revolutionary ambition and advancement promised by its hype cycle; the best, least glitch-riddled experience of it is just that of another familiar type of game.​

If the game itself is a mess (it is, I just said so in the previous paragraph), the fallout from its release is an even bigger one. Sony took the rare step of yanking Cyberpunk 2077 from the online PlayStation Store on Dec. 17; Microsoft has offered full refunds to Xbox players who purchased the game digitally through the Microsoft Store. The share value of CD Projekt Red’s parent company, CD Projekt, crashed throughout last week. As Jason Schreier reported for Bloomberg News, furious CDPR staffers grilled executives over their company’s abusive labor practices and unrealistic development timelines during an internal video meeting this past Thursday. All of this, it feels important to note, for a game that received numerous glowing reviews from professional critics prior to its release.

As to that, here’s a fun passage, from Cecilia D’Anastasio at Wired:

In November, CD Projekt Red sent nondisclosure agreements to journalists ahead of Cyberpunk 2077’s launch that forbade the inclusion of original gameplay footage in their reviews. They could share screenshots, but the only gameplay footage they could publish had to come from CD Projekt Red. Infringing obligations in the NDA could amount to around $27,000 per violation.
In order to receive an early copy of the game, reviewers had to sign the NDA, which forbade them from showing their readers any actual video of how the game performed. The only credible read on this is that Cyberpunk 2077‘s creators knew their game would perform horribly on commonplace hardware and wanted to limit the viral spread of visual evidence until after gamers had already bought hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of copies of the game. The logic there is not difficult to figure out: In even the most apocalyptic release scenarios, some number of people who might otherwise have been dissuaded by visual proof that the game would be a glitchy, nigh-unplayable pile of shit would, in the absence of that proof, purchase the game and then never get around to seeking a refund—or would seek one but never get further than the first corner of some retailer’s labyrinthine return policy before giving up. (You can decide for yourself whether you’d like to call this “fraud.”)

The important thing is, by agreeing to these conditions, reviewers who signed the NDA abandoned any claim to adversarial journalism, as well as any utility they might have had to their readers, and are clowns. More than any particular condition of the NDA, what invalidates the product review of a reviewer who has signed the NDA is what that act represents: a negotiated agreement, between a journalist and the powerful company on whose product they’re reporting, to serve the company’s interests before the reader’s. It might as well be an employment contract.

How could a reader who’d been made aware of that agreement trust that every sentence of the product review did not reflect a careful compromise between the truth and a company’s interest in maximizing its sales? How could a reader possibly hope to parse that out? They couldn’t. That’s the NDA’s utility to the company that insisted upon it: It produces a courtier press, and a public ever more vulnerable to marketing. Oh, hey, apropos of nothing, thanks to pre-orders, CD Projekt Red was able to announce that Cyberpunk 2077 had fully recouped the costs of its years-long development by the day after its release.

All reviewers got in exchange for their signature on that NDA, their willing participation in a sales campaign, was the opportunity to publish a few days earlier. Any of them in possession of spines could have simply purchased the game on the day of its release—write it off as a work expense, clowns!—and published their review the following Monday without restrictions, but with a somewhat greater danger that their authentic service to their readers would alienate the scumbag executives of a company willing to ship an incomplete, unusable product in place of an abject apology. An ugly truth that people in ad-supported media often talk their way around concerns what the product is, and who is buying it: To whatever extent the business might be, or might appear to be, selling journalism to readers, it is at least as much the bulk-selling of readers to advertising companies. In the absence of dignity and integrity it can tip all the way over into the latter, where the journalistic mission of informing the public sometimes grinds against the commercial imperative to deliver the largest possible audience to advertisers. Nowhere is this more starkly illustrated than by product reviewers negotiating how much truth they’ll agree to withhold in exchange for getting a neutered, dishonest review up on the page a measly few days sooner than a truthful, adversarial one might arrive—weaponizing readers’ desire to gather information ahead of a purchase against those very readers for the sake of monetizing their eyeballs.

Cyberpunk 2077 has turned out to be an indictment of every part of the 21st century games industry: its abusive working conditions, its imaginative bankruptcy, the distorting power of its marketing machinery. Add to that list the complicity of so many of the people and publications covering it. In that respect this broken piece-of-shit game has revealed quite a bit more truth than most of what you could read about it prior to last Thursday.
 

Men_in_Boxes

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May 31, 2020
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No console copies were given for review. People didn’t know.

A) Anyone with an IQ over 80 could tell there was a reason CDPR was hiding the performance of the console versions.

B) Just wait until noon on the day it releases and see what players on your platform of choice were saying about the game.

Again, it's waaaaaay too easy to not be burned by a game in 2020. No one's waiting for their copy of EGM to come in the mail on the 25th anymore.
 
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Lanrutcon

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Feb 19, 2014
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The important thing is, by agreeing to these conditions, reviewers who signed the NDA abandoned any claim to adversarial journalism, as well as any utility they might have had to their readers, and are clowns. More than any particular condition of the NDA, what invalidates the product review of a reviewer who has signed the NDA is what that act represents: a negotiated agreement, between a journalist and the powerful company on whose product they’re reporting, to serve the company’s interests before the reader’s. It might as well be an employment contract.

Pretty fucking much.

CDPR knew exactly what they were doing. Protect that $$$ at all costs.
 

Tschumi

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Jul 4, 2020
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I've started to get into cyberpunk pretty heavily now, the reactions are a joke, dozens of games have played like crap on release and beyond - Bloodborne with it's never-fixed framerate issues comes to mind - but this game is already getting patched and becoming a delight to play. It's a total beat up, all this indignant spume, it didn't run perfectly on my platform on release, but I never once expected that to last, and never even considered refunding.
 

Northeastmonk

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Mar 18, 2013
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It’s a retail product. The employee selling console versions of Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t care about the game’s performance. It’s their job to sell whatever they have on their shelf. Whatever problems CDPR endures or whatever happens to video game journalists is all on them. It’s like how movie reviews and video sales ended up. Studios close, people get fired, someone gets sued, and etc etc. If they can’t fix something they claimed then they are lying snakes. They’ll just have to prove it to everyone next time.

The people writing reviews for the game probably need the traffic and then they can complain about the game until the next AAA game comes out. I’ve played better games than Cp2077, but that’s just how I feel.

This will be old news once we have a new game to talk about. I just hope all this bad press makes The Witcher 4 an amazing game. Whatever that is or whenever that comes out.
 
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Represent.

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Jun 22, 2010
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like every 95% of open world action adventure/rpg games.
hzd. AC. Ghost of Tsushima. The witcher 3. Dragon Age. Mass Effect. Spiderman. Far Cry. i can go on
Yup. Its pretty damn sad. R* is the only company that can make a truly living breathing open world experience. Even after all this time. Literally all those games you mentioned would be better as wide-linear.

Search "GTA V is better than Cyberpunk" on Youtube. A whole series of videos comparing the 2 games including NPC reactions
 
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Fredrik

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“Dishonest review”, lol. They reviewed the working, PC version. Which aligned with the numerous positive testimonials from PC players on Steam and various outlets.

Its normal for console versions to be the lesser version compared to PC.
~250k reviews on Steam and mostly positive says a lot. It’s not perfect but it truly is a fantastic game, on PC at least.

But I wouldn’t say that it’s normal for console versions to be this bad in comparison. CDPR has plenty of work to do before we’ll see console gamers as positive as PC gamers. PS4 version sits at meta 55 and user score 3.2 on metacritic 😕
 
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THEAP99

reposts tweets from kids about console wars
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Another banger thread from my dude Joe Miller
 

THEAP99

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You misspelled 'bought', 'mentally ill' and 'never'.
Seethe some more. Druckmann was promoted, meanwhile as we all know, a few big players at cd red will be ran out pretty soon :messenger_astonished:.

The tale of two stories:

- an underdog going to win it all despite a worldwide leak international hate campaign

- the other, the stars are perfectly aligned for success but hubris got the best of them & now they're damage controlling this mess. Yikes!
 

hemo memo

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Yeah when the New York Times write about your game very negatively and describe the launch a “disaster” then you really fucked up and CDPR did badly.

Cyberpunk’s rollout is one of the most visible disasters in the history of video games — a high-profile flameout in the midst of the holiday shopping season by a studio widely considered an industry darling. It shows the pitfalls gaming studios can face when building so-called Triple-A games, titles backed by years of development and hundreds of millions of dollars.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/19/style/cyberpunk-2077-video-game-disaster.html
 
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K.S v2.0

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- an underdog going to win it all despite a worldwide leak international hate campaign

>One of the most loved PS3 IP's ever
>Underdog

Nigga plz... Don't even try that angle, just don't. Also, you misspelled 'truth'.

Also implying Naughty Dog didn't undertake the biggest damage control blitz in history by ONLY showing vids of Joel and Ellie together as if it were still TLoU1 prior to the game's release since they knew they'd face around 90% cancelled preorders if they didn't.

Also implying Naughty Dog didn't flood Metacritic with fake positive user reviews, all of which literally are the same with just a few words rando-juxtaposed here and there, to try to cancel out all the negative ones.

But eh, whatever. You do you, quite sure in that REEEEEEEEEEEEE echo chamber you live in its GOTY AY and Cuckmann is Supreme Lord High Priest of the Cornhole Commissary® or whatever Church of Mental Illness™ you guys subscribe to.

In the real world however, Japan couldn't even GIVE away copies free.
 

Kagey K

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I still haven’t figured out are the clowns the ones that gave it a high score for being a great game or a low score for nitpicking it?
 

Bridges

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Everyone I know that's played it (on PC) thinks it's amazing

Reviewers all played the PC build as far as I'm aware, it makes sense. They should've skipped the last gen versions entirely, that is true, but it seems totally reasonable for a reviewer to enjoy the game if they never experienced the console version performance.
 

K.S v2.0

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Everyone I know that's played it (on PC) thinks it's amazing

Reviewers all played the PC build as far as I'm aware, it makes sense. They should've skipped the last gen versions entirely, that is true, but it seems totally reasonable for a reviewer to enjoy the game if they never experienced the console version performance.

I think its great for what it is... but then again I also had no inflated expectations going in. I didn't buy into any of the OMG YOU CANS ENTER EVERY BUILDING! YOU CAN LITERALLY DO ANYTHANGS ie Peter Molyneux tier of hype.

I had REALISTIC expectations. I expected a game similar to the Squeenix Deus Ex games, just expanded to open world with more options.... and that's exactly what I got.

I also expected it'd be buggy as holy fuck, and that's exactly what I got too.

I also played on PC, coz I knew first and foremost CDPR is a PC developer... so I played on the appropriate platform, and... got exactly what I expected.

Apparently, I am in the EXTREME minority here.... Is subscribing to reality THAT hard nowadays?...

It's indeed a recurring problem. Didn't knew the NDA had a 27k fine attached to it damn....

NDA's usually have a lot worse than that attached, depending on the scope of the NDA.
 
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CamHostage

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Sep 30, 2004
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The important thing is, by agreeing to these conditions, reviewers who signed the NDA abandoned any claim to adversarial journalism, as well as any utility they might have had to their readers, and are clowns...

All reviewers got in exchange for their signature on that NDA, their willing participation in a sales campaign, was the opportunity to publish a few days earlier. Any of them in possession of spines could have simply purchased the game on the day of its release—write it off as a work expense, clowns!—and published their review the following Monday without restrictions, but with a somewhat greater danger that their authentic service to their readers would alienate the scumbag executives of a company willing to ship an incomplete, unusable product in place of an abject apology....

...Wait, that's the crux of the attack: that journalists signed papers to get copies early for the purpose of producing reviews? Because Burneko is missing a pretty big detail in his attack here:

The NDA ended on Dec 10, the same day the game released to the public.

So when the release date hit (or actually before that, because things apparently started to shift when the game got out in the public,) those sites went ahead and replaced or supplemented their review/coverage with internally-produced footage (and tons of it) from all across the game on day one. And even before day one, the reviewers were not restricted in commenting about bugs or issues or anything like that in their review (pretty much all the ones I saw mentioned issues in the PC version they played,) , they just could not cut in footage from their story playthrough until it was a launched, consumable product. Most reviewers also disclosed in their videos that A) it wasn't footage under their control, B) it was the PC version of the product, and C) they didn't have other versions of the game.

GAMESPOT (POSTED DEC 9)

IGN (POSTED DEC 7, UPDATED DEC 10)

DIGITAL FOUNDARY (POSTED DEC 9, UPDATED DEC 10)

I'm not sure, then, how that makes reviewers "sellouts"? If they had waited until the 10th to even start on the game, there would be zero footage and zero analysis out there by the time people were cashing in their pre-order and cracking open their copies of the game. That's literally abandoning "adversarial journalism" because you're putting out zero journalism by not figuring out how to work within the restrictions. (That's the writer's term, not mine; adversarial journalism isn't really the purpose of criticism.) Even independent Youtubers and individual consumers that used the Steam locale trick to unlock early, they had nothing to show until everybody had free access to go up. GameSpot's 7.0 review posted on Dec 7, at least that told you 3 days before launch that maybe you shouldn't crack the plastic if you have concerns, even if it didn't have footage to visualize the complaints. (And oh shit, did that reviewer get lit-the-fuck-up until some people realized that those who had played the game might have more insight into how it plays than those who just really, really, really want it to be awesome from watching a trailer...)

If you're going to write a fuck-you to journalists, I feel like you should have your fucks straight. This whole piece is about that journalists agreed to a reasonable timeline instead of being manly-men of perceived principle (because embargoes are inherently evil, I guess?) and committing to a much worse timeline. He's saying that journalists should have died on a hill and taken consumers with them, because if there were no reviews and no footage on day one without the NDA, that would have been shitty (and it's not like anybody would have actually waited to open their game without a review to read first...) but at least reviewers could hold their hands up and say, "Hey, this situation is much shittier without us than it would have been with us, but look at my hands, they're pretty much clean of all the shit you are are stuck in." There may be something to a researched, informed breakdown of the way media is consumed and steered in a mass-impact event such as this one, (I'm not saying there's not manipulation of the press in this instance, just that this NDA didn't control what the writer implies) and/or how a buyer could protect themselves from hyped-up interests leading them to ignore critical signposts on the road to a potential purchase. That, I'd like to read, and there's a LOT to analyze in the Cyberpunk fiasco. But just a quick opinion piece going, "Pffft, these guys signed this thing you've heard of called an 'N.D.A.', what assholes!", I don't think that really gets at the problem or points to any solution when the proposed alternate timeline rejecting this particular NDA's terms would have been worse.
 
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Panajev2001a

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Jun 7, 2004
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Threads like this (where we have people making the point that the only victim here is CDPR) seem to sit quite well between the response of an entitled drug addict and what you’d expect from a Stockholm Syndrome case study.

The company gamed the usually complicit hands-on/early preview/review system to drive pre-orders and even forcefully limited the footage reviewers could show (they knew how digital console refunds work too so that was doubly irresponsible... “not my problem” philosophy).
 
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