How honest are print magazines?

Here is a portion of an editorial from the latest EGM by Dan Hsu (Editor-in-chief).

Game magazines need to get their acts together. Right now, some of them are being run by a bunch of amateurs instead of journalists with a sense of responsibility and integrity. Example: Recently, I was negotiating for a cover story with a big game publisher whose name won't be mentioned here. The timing was right, but guess what? The company hit me with a clause: EGM could get the exclusive review only if we guaranteed the game would recieve a certain review score or higher. I couldn't believe my ears. I ended the discussion right there, saying that would never happen in a million years with EGM or any other Ziff Davis media publication. I gave up an incredible exclusive, but that was not happening under my watch. I later learned that another publisher's magazine wanted to take them up on the offer; I guess they were hungry for the exclusive.

Makes you think a little doesn't it? I would really like to know the name of the magazine who would agree to such a deal as I would never buy or read it again.

Guaranteed he''s talking about Driver 3. Amusingly ironic, as well, because Ziff Davis has some pretty slanted stuff, EGM being one of them. If the Evil Genius Demo hadn''t just finished installing, I''d go find some examples of some seriously fubar reviews by EGM.

They''ll get away with what they can. Print is dead to an extent too though. You can find 10 reviews of a game online whereas most magazine reviews are of a press-build of the game and they rush through it to get it done in time for release.

It seems like it is a system that could easily be manipulated, Games enjoy the publicity of their images on the cover of a magazine (EXCLUSIVE REVIEW!) and magazines get the ''exclusive''.

Ultimately thought the EGM editor has it right. If the people ever find out that magazine is screwed.

Isn''t one of the publishers going to start basing royalties or some sort of repayment to the devs for the game based on review stats as well? I''ll have to dig through PA, I know I saw it there but maybe one of you is quicker than I.

That''s why I rarely, if ever, trust game reviews from print magazines or even the big online gaming sites. I strictly either go by my own impressions from a demo or from regular guys just posting about what they think.

Print magazines are pretty useless IMHO... by the time they go to print the news is a month old. They''re only good for the demo CD''s or bathroom reading.

Eezy, yeah, we actually had a debate about that here a few months back. I don''t remember the particular thread, but it went on for a while (I think).

The fact that print magazines have to do their reviews on an earlier build of a game is both a detriment and a benefit. It''s a detriment because they''re not dealing with the ""real"" thing like the internet reviewers are, but it''s a benefit because it gives them deniability. ""Oh, the press build we got was awesome, it''s not our fault they scrapped those features and made the game suck for release."" The problem for us, of course, is that sometimes they''re telling the truth.

Do you actually believe she likes long walks on the beach and her favourite color is blue? I mean reall.... Oops wrong kinda magazine

I don''t really rely on either, print mag or online mag reviews. Not really because I think the reviews were bought, but simply because chances are the person to rate the game doesn''t share my perspective. For instance, if I was to solely trust Gamespy reviews I would have skipped a game like Gothic II. I also think many mags, especially online ones, are too quick with handing out scores like 9 and above.

What else makes these reviews less reliable to me than comments people like you guys here in the forum drop: the person to rate the game got a review copy. He/she did not play $50 for it. And title XYZ is only one of many games he/she has to get through this month. And that''s a true disadvantage for low-profile titles. (And by low-profile I''m not referring to the quality, but rather to the hype and popularity.) And I think it does make a difference if you just paid a nice amount of money or if it''s only one title on a pile of others you still have to take a look at. If I paid for it, chances are I''m willing to give it a second or third chance if I don''t like it on first sight.

Next reason: due to the nature of it the general paradigm for reviews seems to be: got to be out as fast as possible. You can consider yourself lucky if the person to play the game spent more than 4-5 days on it. And sometimes you need that much or more to find some true flaws or maybe interesting details. (And, I guess, this also happens to be one of the reasons why the initial reviews of Black&White were a lot more positive than those that came out later.) I''m guilty of this myself because if I were to review Mario Kart: Double Dash now the review would be slightly more positive. During the 4-5 days before the review I never really got to try out the coop mode a lot. But during the multiplayer sessions we had afterwards it turned out to be a lot more enjoyable and popular than I originally perceived it. People prefer 2 vs. 2 coop over the 4 independent players choice.

The only reviews I frequently read to get an opinion on a game are those featured at dedicated sites like WarGamer, AdventureGamers and the like. I do consume other reviews, but often only to get some information on game. Just to wait for feedback from friends or people here then.

I think Spunior said it all.
Trust your gaming friends, those who''s opinion you actually respect and take the temperature of community forums after a good couple of weeks.
That being said never trust initial fan reaction to a game and beware of opposing zealot camps on forums.

As for print mags, I only read them El Cheapo when Im standing around killing time in a magazine section for 5 minutes. They have nothing really exclusive or worth spending £5 over that I didn''t already know a week before or could download within an hour. The fact that I can hold it in my hand doesn''t do much for me.

Large online gaming sites likewise. I only use them to corroborate my primary source. You lot.

I usually trust what PC Gamer says with the notable exception of their Return of the King review. However, their reviews almost never come early enough to do any good. Game revolution I trust also. Other than that its just Game Rankings average or word of mouth for me.

The only reason I still read print mags is because of the periodic free subscription offers. Why should I pay for information that''s 99% accessible on the web at no cost?