Extreme review embargoes: the new normal?
There was a time when a review embargo that lifted close to launch meant one thing and one thing only: a dud of a game was forthcoming.
These days late review embargoes seems to have become the norm for all big releases. GTA V, surely a dead cert for positive reviews, had its embargo lifted just a day before it launched. Battlefield 4 launches in 6 hours from now and yet there is not a single review out there. In fact embargoes lifting on launch day are now incredibly common and some publishers are even using different embargo timetables for different SKUs of exactly the same game (see the fiasco surrounding the review embargoes for COD: Ghost for XB1 and PS4).
This trend appears, at first glance, to be at odds with the growing use of pre-order incentives that encourage early purchasing commitment. But is it actually at odds with this? Are publishers instead delberately trying to ween us off making buying decisions based on critical reception (a factor largely out of their control) and onto buying decisions based on marketing and sales tactics (over which they have complete control)? If so, where do these trends take us?