Game magazines as game shills

GameSetWatch has a post up about a back-and-forth among video game magazine folks about selling out, trading positive coverage for ads, etc. Apparently Electronic Gaming Monthly editor Dan Hsu tossed around some accusations in the new EGM (I haven’t gotten the issue yet and his piece isn’t online), without naming names or otherwise being specific. The GameSet Watch post links to a response on Games.net taking Hsu to task.

When I read video game magazines, I assume that they’re in cahoots with game companies’ PR people on some level (not necessarily in an explicit, quid pro quo kind of way). Cover stories are forever goshwow! super-positive, even if the games turn out to be stinkers; there is essentially no actual journalism to speak of, just spoon-fed “reports” on upcoming games, new screenshots, and previews of games that treat every single title as a possible masterpiece. Then you have the reviews section, which often contradicts the glowing cover stories and previews the magazine has been running for months.

This all seems a little shady, but it’s basically the same as any other entertainment magazine. The front of Entertainment Weekly is filled with fawning cover stories, often of movies or shows that shouldn’t be there (The Island? Elektra? Come on.); puffy previews and features on various actors/musicians/writers; and exclusive! photos of some upcoming movie (EW does have more actual reporting and commentary up front than game mags, though.) Then the reviews section tells you to avoid The Island. And you can be sure celebrity covers of fashion/lifestyle magazines aren’t charity on the celebrities’ part. So I don’t like that video game magazines are a part of this, perhaps even more than other entertainment mags by virtue of their lack of real stories, but it is what it is.

— December 15, 2006

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