What level of journalistic integrity should we expect from a preview?
Apparently Silicon Knight's doesn't like EGM's take on the Too Human demo at E3 '06.
I guess we went in with the hope that people could overlook some of the technical issues and see the potential for Too Human. It is, after all, only a demo. We certainly thought that EGM would look on us favorably after seeing the game in a better state previously when they gave us a cover. Ultimately, we were incorrect.
I guess this refers to something in EGM magazine, because 1up's post-E3 article on Too Human was very favorable. EGM's 1/29/07 podcast talks a little bit about the controversy. They naturally feel an obligation to their readers to "evaluate" what they see (I like that term because it describes reviews more accurately than "review" does).
I can see this from 2 points of view:
#1 Game journalists are not publishers' marketing slaves. I have no doubt in my mind that EA would buy, cheat, and steal their way into glowing reviews if they could get away with it. Left to their own devices, that particular company would probably create a "Mother Russia" style propaganda branch that tells us how beautiful things are on their side of the wall. I don't want this. That style of journalism has driven my away from Next Gen magazine, IGN, TeamXbox, OXM, Gamespy, and other sources. Currently game previews online are full on marketing love children; rarely do I read anything disparaging about a game in development.
#2 Games are developed in fits and starts. Demos are not good indications of what to expect. Bad press can kill a good game (Chromehounds?) What other choice do journalists have but to paint a rosy picture? They often see pre-alpha builds, missing artwork, unoptimized code, bugs abound, entire sections missing. You might run into a hunter-orange wall and get the response "that's not finished yet." It's the nature of the beast. We don't get to see rough cuts of movies, or read rough drafts of novels. Whatever burning interest you might have to know more, human nature will naturally deflate your enthusiasm if you see the process behind the end product.
I am reminded of a quote from Orson Welles:
I don't want any description of me to be accurate; I want it to be flattering. I don't think people who have to sing for their food ever like to be described truthfully - not in print anyway. We need to sell tickets, so we need good reviews.
I don't want the people who create my hobby to starve, but I don't want to distrust my journalists either. They are an integral part of enriching the entire process. They provide feedback that companies like EA would otherwise ignore. So where is the line here? What say you, goodjers?