An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

June 17, 2010 -

Realtime Worlds is doing a little media dancing today after a dustup over the review embargo date for its action MMO All Points Bulletin. It started with an email to journalists, as these kinds of things often do, saying that "all reviews would be under a July 6 embargo.

The game is set for launch on June 26 in America, and June 29 in the UK. It is common practice to hold reviews under embargo until the day of release but is fairly rare to set one after release day - in this case, a full week later. Anyway here's what Realtime said:

"Before finalising reviews, we want you to experience the full, rich experience of APB as it is meant to be seen," stated a message from Realtime Worlds. "We want you to see wild customer customisations, player progression and clans making an impact on the living breathing city of San Paro. This key code also therefore grants you, along with our pre-order customers, VIP early access before the official launch day. June 26th in North America and June 28th in Europe. The review embargo is Tuesday, 6th July at 8am UK time."

Naturally this did not sit well with many UK journalists, most notably Rock, Paper, Shotgun, who posted a manifesto sized response here. A slight taste of what RPS said:

This is extraordinary. They are attempting to tell press that they cannot write a review of the game for a full week after the game is available for the public to buy. It is, of course, impossible to enforce. The public will be able to write anything they wish about the game anywhere they wish from the very first second it’s available. Of course. Because to prevent this would, well, involve Realtime Worlds taking over the planet and beginning an international oppressive dictatorship. And while they’re certainly an ambitious developer, this is perhaps beyond their realm. So of course the gaming press can equally write about a released game whenever they choose, and a company attempting to prevent this is ludicrous and unenforceable

Later in the day, after seeing resistance to its new embargo date, Realtime backed off a few days to July 2. The company also issued a statement to GI.Biz explaining why it moved the date in the first place:

"The decision was purely based on wanting reviewers to experience and see the full live server with players having both progressed and expressed themselves. Our service will also be down for the period between the end of 'Key to the City' on June 19 and the start of our 'Early Access' event in North America on June 26. This too would have prevented reviewers from playing the game.

"The initial July 6 embargo date was based on the UK street date of July 2 and on press not having access to the game until said date. We are however moving the embargo date forward to July 2 and giving reviewers invitations to the 'Early Access' event in order to ensure that they are able to properly experience APB and its community in time for street date.

While it is understandable why an MMO developer would want reviewers to spend as much time as they can in the game world before rendering an official verdict (as an example I played Champions Online for a full month before I reviewed it), it is another thing to demand a date that is well after release. Source(s): RPS, GI.Biz and GI.Biz

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Comments

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

Given the state of the beta when I was playing, I'd also try and knock reviews back till a week later personally. No way this is worth a subscription imo, even if the issues are solved.

You never say, "I'm gonna fight you, Steve." You just smile and act natural, and then you sucker-punch him

You never say, "I'm gonna fight you, Steve." You just smile and act natural, and then you sucker-punch him

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

I'm planning to write a month long review with daily content as soon as I get the ga... oh wait, I'm Australian so RTW have decided that I can't play it...

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

I like the fact that Real Time Worlds basically called out the reviewers for never doing their jobs properly when it came to MMOs.

I think all MMOs should be embargoed until a month after launch.

Look at the high scores for Warhammer and Conan - and what huge piles of shit they were at launch!

And of course gamers can talk about it - RTW never said they couldn't, they juast asked reporters to do their jobs properly!

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

I think this brings up the issue of how MMO games are reviewed in general. I read quite a lot of reviews, and MMO reviews have the same structure as a single-player game review. Because of this, you pretty much have to take the MMO review with a grain of salt knowing it's based off a non-public version.

There is minor differences in the actual content of the reviews, however, where MMO reviews have "on the other hand" comments or "...this is my initial opinion of something that cannot be realistically opined until launch".

It might be a good idea to start discussing possible changes to how MMO games are reviewed overall. Such as a "Part 1" and "Part 2" (or opinions on something after the public gets their hands on it).

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

Darn, forgot to post my comment after the preview...

For me, if a publisher/developer has an embargo, it can show one of three things:

1. An early embargo means that they are confident in their game and early reviews will boost presales and help generate buzz to pump up the launch.

2. A launch day embargo means they aren't very confident in their game and don't want any negative reviews to effect the initial sales of the game.

3. Asking to hold the reviews until long after the game launches means they are confident that their game sucks, any reviews at all will only hurt sales, and if they could forbid you from ever reviewing the game at all, they would.

Based on nothing other then the embargo, I'm going to be giving the game a pass...

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

Yeah, 'cause life is always that simple.

It's no wonder this country is circling the drain with deep thinking like that.

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

so metaphorically, the author didn't want the book to be judged by the cover and the first chapter, and everybody goes batshit insane. then, the author says "at least read the forward"

am I in the ballpark?

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

What book reviewer needs to hear "at least read the forward" with their new book to review. Moreover it's not like they asked reviewers to reach the level cap or play through the game entirely, or even to make sure to check out some specific missions or asked reminded that the press release date game was not the final version shouldn't be reviewed. They were simply told to wait a week...

Re: An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

What book reviewer needs to hear "at least read the forward" with their new book to review. Moreover it's not like they asked reviewers to reach the level cap or play through the game entirely, or even to make sure to check out some specific missions or asked reminded that the press release date game was not the final version shouldn't be reviewed. They were simply told to wait a week...

 
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