A Price Of Games Journalism

A Price Of Games Journalism

For the past two years, Kotaku has been blacklisted by Bethesda, the publisher of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. For the past year, we have also been, to a lesser degree, ostracized by Ubisoft, publisher of Assassin's Creed, Far Cry and more.

In those periods of time, the PR and marketing wings of those two gaming giants have chosen to act as if Kotaku doesn't exist. They have cut off our access to their games and creators, omitted us from their widespread mailings of early review copies and, most galling, ignored all of our requests for comment on any news stories.

Neither company has officially told us that we've been cut off. For a time, it was possible to make a good-faith assumption that this was just a short-term disagreement. Maybe their spam filters were misplacing our emails. Maybe they'd get over it. Or perhaps they feared a repeat of 2007, when then-Kotaku editor-in-chief Brian Crecente embarrassed Sony out of blacklisting this outlet for reporting the existence of then-unannounced PlayStation projects.

The truth is that we've been cut off from Bethesda since our December 2013 report detailing the existence of the then-secret Fallout 4. Ubisoft has been nearly radio silent since our December 2014 report detailing the existence of the then-unannounced Assassin's Creed Victory (renamed Syndicate). When we ask representatives from either company for comment or clarification regarding breaking news, we hear nothing in response. When we ask them about their plans for upcoming games or seek to speak with one of their developers about one of their projects, it's the same story. Total silence.

This has happened at a PR and marketing level, leaving any developers at those companies who do want to talk to us or who do want to facilitate Kotaku coverage of their games to do so on the sly. It is, after all, PR and marketing who try to control how big-budget video games are covered. If they or their bosses don't value an outlet, that outlet is left out.

We're far from the only gaming media outlet that has been blacklisted. It happens to smaller outlets. It happens to ones like Kotaku with millions of readers, too. It's not an uncommon occurrence in gaming media, though it's seldom discussed publicly.

The Bethesda blackout came after a year of reporting that was not always flattering to the Maryland-based publisher. In April of 2013 we reported insiders' accounts of the troubled development of the still unreleased fourth major Doom game. In May of that year, we reported that Arkane Austin, the Bethesda-owned studio behind Dishonored, would be working on a new version of the long missing-in-action Prey 2 and that some at the studio were not pleased about that. When top people at Bethesda started making statements casting doubt on our reporting, we published a leaked internal email confirming that those statements had misled gamers and that Arkane had indeed been working on a version of Prey 2.

The current Ubisoft blackout is actually the second in as many years. The company tried a similar approach in the spring of 2014 after we published early images of the then-unannounced Assassin's Creed Unity — images that had been leaked to us by an independent source. That article confirmed news about the company's extraordinary plans to release two entirely different AC games in the fall of that year, one for new consoles and one for old. Ubisoft had warmed back to Kotaku by the summer of 2014, several months after the Unity report, but has cold-shouldered us since the Victory story one year ago. It's possible other articles angered them, too. But that Victory piece is a safe bet.

I'm sure some people will sympathize with Bethesda and Ubisoft. Some will cheer these companies and hope others follow suit. They will see this kind of reporting as upsetting, as ruining surprises and frustrating creative people. They will claim we are "hurting video games," and, as so many do, mistake the job of entertainment reporting for the mandate to hype entertainment products.

We serve our readers, not game companies, and will always do so to the best of our ability, no matter who in the gaming world is or isn't angry with us at the moment. In some ways, the blacklist has even been instructive — cut off from press access and pre-release review copies, we have doubled down on our post-release "embedding" approach to games coverage. We've experienced some of the year's biggest games from street level, at the same time and in the same way as our readers.

Some will think about all of this only in terms of numbers, focusing on the hundreds of thousands of pageviews we've gotten for our stories about leaked game announcements. Those stories have indeed done well. They are nevertheless a small part of what we do, and not something to which we devote much journalistic energy. I prefer to marshal our reporting to tell readers things they will otherwise never know or that they need to know sooner — the underpowered nature of upcoming hardware, the plight of fired game developers, the reason a high-profile game was released in rough shape.

At times, though, we'll stumble on information about a new, unannounced game or, more often, will find some unsolicited information in our inbox. The news value to such leaks is often exceedingly obvious in what it says about the state of a game, a franchise, a console or a company. In such moments, it is nearly unfathomable to me that a reporter would sit on true information about what's really happening in gaming, that we would refrain from telling our readers something because it would mess with a company's marketing plan.

Too many big game publishers cling to an irrational expectation of secrecy and are rankled when the press shows them how unrealistic they're being. There will always be a clash between independent reporters and those seek to control information, but many of these companies appear to believe that it is actually possible in 2015 for hundreds of people to work dozens of months on a video game and for no information about the project to seep out. They appear to believe that the general public will not find out about these games until their marketing plans say it's time. They operate with the assumption that the press will not upend these plans, and should the press defy their assumption, they bring down the hammer. We make our own judgments about what information best serves the news value of a story, and what our readers would prefer not to know — which is why, for example, we omitted key plot details from the Fallout 4 scripts that were leaked to us. We keep covering these companies' games, of course. Readers expect that. Millions of people still read our stories about them. The companies just leave themselves a little more out of the equation.

I've held my tongue in talking about Bethesda and Ubisoft publicly for a long time. I did so, initially, while trying to achieve mutual understanding with both companies behind the scenes. That failed. I prioritised covering these companies and their games as we would any other, reporting and critiquing them neither with rancor nor attempts to curry favour. I trusted that in time it would be appropriate to loop readers in.

In recent weeks, readers have asked questions. They have wondered why I, someone who has enthusiastically covered Assassin's Creed games for years, didn't review the most recent one. They have wondered why we didn't seem to be subject to Fallout 4 embargoes of embargoes and why we didn't have a review of that game on the day it came out. In both cases, we managed some timely coverage because Ubisoft and Bethesda did send review copies of their games to one of our remote freelancers, presumably with the hope he'd cover them for the other main outlet he writes for, The New York Times. Make no mistake, though, their efforts to shut out Kotaku have been unambiguous. Our colleagues across the US, Australia and the UK have been met with the same stony silence. Representatives from both publishers did not reply to requests to share their perspective for this story. Points for consistency.

For the better part of two years, two of the biggest video game publishers in the world have done their damnedest to make it as difficult as possible for Kotaku to cover their games. They have done so in apparent retaliation for the fact that we did our jobs as reporters and as critics. We told the truth about their games, sometimes in ways that disrupted a marketing plan, other times in ways that shone an unflattering light on their products and company practices. Both publishers' actions demonstrate contempt for us and, by extension, the whole of the gaming press. They would hamper independent reporting in pursuit of a status quo in which video game journalists are little more than malleable, servile arms of a corporate sales apparatus. It is a state of affairs that we reject.

Kotaku readers always deserve the truth. You deserve our best work. It doesn't matter which company is mad at us today, or which companies get mad at us in the future. You'll continue to get it.

Image by Jim Cooke

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Comments

    Excellent piece. Rather disturbing to hear Ubi and Bethesda are acting like petulant children this long after the fact... the simple fact of the matter is if they worked hand in hand with the sites to some degree they'd see a development of working relationships rather than, well, articles like this condemning them and exposing them. Ah well.

      Excellent piece, except where he drops his 'remote freelancer' right in it :-P

        Yeah that did sound like he could be easily identifiable. I hope he was consulted on being thrown under the bus like that.

        Otherwise, very interesting read. I wish the games industry would stop acting like entitled children and start acting like proper businesses who care about their customers and their image.

        Problem is... that responsibility stop at our wallets. Vote with your money people.

        Presumably the review had been published under the freelancer's real name, so Bethesda was already in a position to retaliate if they were angry that a review appeared on Kotaku.

        If Bethesda made the frelancer's job at the NY Times difficult, then at least this article gives a public account of what is happening behind the scenes.

          Yeah, Bethesda might already suspect or even know for sure how Kotaku was getting advance access, so hopefully Kotaku dropping identifying information is not going to affect anyone adversely.

      "this long after the fact..." Exactly. Surely they could have grown up, forgiven and gotten over it by now.

      It's a very interesting article.

      I can see both sides. It's like telling a friend a secret, then they run around and tell everyone. You would feel undermined and uncooperative.

      On the other hand, journalists should be impartial, and present news people want to hear ASAP. The developers should be angry at the leak in their own company, not at the website that publishes it.

      Who knows, that leak of info about Fallout 4 two years ago might be part of the hype that surrounded it on launch day and made it a huge success.

        Who knows, that leak of info about Fallout 4 two years ago might be part of the hype that surrounded it on launch day and made it a huge success.

        There is a lot to hint that might very well be the case. Just look at other games in the past; they created a stir just to drive up hype and even purchases years before said games were released.

        I think the a article covered nicely that they should not have had an expectation the information would have been withheld as it clearly for the definition of news worthy. I see this more about control and manipulation than trust.

        Great article, thanks for looping us readers in.

        This is precisely the point. It's not like telling a friend. It's telling someone whose job is to tell other people. PR folks want to paint the PR/journalist relationship as something emotional, between friends, with the same unwritten rules that apply, but that is absolutely not it.

        They have two different, often opposed, conflicting, jobs to perform. Journalists are meant to tell us the news - good AND bad. PR only wants the good news to be told.

        Given that bad news exists, there is inevitable conflict of those two goals.

        I've seen it said that journalists reporting on bad news is 'biting the hand that feeds', but when journalists are the ones who have the ears/eyes of thousands to millions of readers that the publishers want to reach, whose hand exactly is doing the feeding?

      I'd assume they'll just ignore Kotaku.... because why not?

    I'm kind of speechless that this is an actual practice.... But then again I'm not surprised. I think I'll be sending an e-mail to Ubisoft and Bethesda today.

    Last edited 20/11/15 9:25 am

      I think it's good to be blacklisted, because that just forces blacklisted sites to get creative and engage in some actual investigative journalism and critical assessment instead of relying on unceasing flows of PR material spewed out by publishers. It also does wonders for one's journalistic integrity. You can't be accused of being a paid shill if you are blacklisted :-P

        I'd like to think Kotaku do their digging even if they weren't blacklisted. That said I'm not a supporter of selective censorship. Let's even the playing field so websites like gamespot who are probably chummy chummy with both companies don't get special access and get to pat each other on the back repeatedly.

          well mark and co do, it bloody rare to hear or see complaint leveled at the australian side, its always the yank side that the complaints get thrown at

          "I'd like to think Kotaku do their digging"

          They really don't. They admit it in this very article: "our stories about leaked game announcements. Those stories have indeed done well. They are nevertheless a small part of what we do"

          They admit that the actual 'digging' is a small part of what they do. And that's understandable. Their business model is smashing out a ton of stories for mass clicks and mass advertiser credits. That's cool, that's just how they operate. If you want actual in-depth analysis of various areas, you need to go to other news sources - they are out there.

          ***

          On another note, I'd love to know which companies are 'whitelisted' by Kotaku. As an opposite of blacklist, these are companies that Kotaku publishes articles for using sources direct from company PR. Maybe Kotaku also gets paid a bonus for this.

          One great example is how to this day, there is no clear article calling out MS on their blatant false advertising of 'backwards compatibility'. Where's the digging on that?

            Genuine query not for arguments sake but I'd love to know any other news sources with in-depth analysis with regards to games?

              Kotaku is aimed at casual market, it can't be denied. It's a good market and appeals to those that was hardcore info too (kotaku used as base aggregator etc). I'm not bagging Kotaku, it's a valid site for sure, I like it for the most part.

              Some other places off top of my head:

              Eurogamer - covers more areas and is more in-depth overall.

              Rock Paper Shotgun - Pretty much PC only. Massive indie/unknown coverage and pretty damn in-depth. Large amounts of opinion pieces.

              Then there's other PC/tech focused sites like Anandtech and Tom's Hardware, which aren't exactly in Kotaku's category.

        I 100% agree with this sentiment. The problem isn't kotaku being blacklisted its others having cherry picked selection of information being given to them. News sites shouldn't be publishers mouth pieces.

    great read. thanks for sharing.
    some more pieces like this would be welcome too.

    So...did any other large sites cover the same stories about Bethesda/Ubisoft? Did they get the same response?

    To be honest I don't care about leaked info of games that are in development. If it's leaked before they announce it then it'll be years until you can play it anyway so who cares if you know about it a bit early.

      Might not be a good look though if people get excited and then the studio has to cancel the project for some reason.

        Yep, that's another reason for dev's to be pissed about leaks. Many projects get cancelled well before announcement.

    This whole article makes me think of the Game Theorist's video "Gamers, You're Getting Played" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWlrJq8yi2w).

    It has repeatedly been shown that publishers and/or developers have created controversy for their own gain.

    And I think this exemption of Kotaku is not only a sign of Ubi and Bethesda having brittle glass jaws but they are inflating interest in their games by maintaining a vacuum of details.

    But personally, I think they only want the vacuum so that nobody finds out until after buying the game on day one that it's a pile of unpostables. But at the same time, the unknown often draws the most interest from people and they (the publishers) have found a way to make it marketable without actually selling anything.

      I'm pretty sure most of these game publishers purposely leak images and info to try and garner some of that early interest in a product. I don't know why they are upset with Kotaku or anyone else in that respect.

      I agree, they know their game is trash and want to cash-in before people find out, especially since demos are no longer released before the game.

        I don't know why they are upset with Kotaku or anyone else in that respect.

        I think they are upset not because details were leaked. I think they are upset that they have been caught red handed playing the public.

        I mentioned this in a post further down but I'll reiterate for convenience.

        Bethesda et. al. when they leak details already have a reaction in mind (hype and hysteria for an up coming game).

        But then Kotaku spoils it by trying to do research and find as much verifiable truth to the matter. That's not the reaction they want because the casual (on the road) observer can look at what has been done and say, "Oi! They're [the publisher and/or developer] playing us for idiots!"

        So naturally word gets about and those who may have preordered don't and (assuming a portion does go to the publisher before release) there is less initial cashflow.

        I've said this before in previous threads but basically the industry is suffering from a gross sense of entitlement from publishers and even marketing PR companies (hence why I referenced MattPat's video) yet rather than correct themselves they try to nickel and dime their target demographic even before the product is released.

        Not to go too far off topic but I seriously think that the game industry as a whole needs another 1983 style market crash to being it down to Earth. But I'm myself brought back down when others (IRL) point out that if such a crash happened a lot of people would be out of the job.

    For some outlets, editors, and writers, the relationship between PR and the site/mag/blog you write for can be a bit like walking on eggshells. The role of a critic is, at the very least, to provide an honest analysis of the product that is being produced, and sold to consumers, so that consumers have enough information on hand to make their own informed decisions, and essentially protecting the consumer.

    Thanks Stephen, more editorials like this would be appreciated, I think a lot of your readers like the solid journalistic articles a lot more than what you expect. I also think its time for me to write a missive to both Bethesda and Ubisofts PR/Marketing departments so they know that their stance isnt appreciated by the consumers they want to target.

    Solid article. Makes you wonder; why didn't the people supposedly concerned with ethical games journalism ever go after the publishers who try to control or restrict journalists?

      Are you talking about gamergate? Kotaku is gamergate's most despised website. They probably see this as a good thing.

        Any pro-gamergate person who thinks this is a black mark against Kotaku's name is an idiot and truly demonstrates that they don't even understand the issue/integrity they claim to be fighting for. By being blacklisted by these sites, Kotaku clearly have no vested interest in providing favourable reviews because there's no relationship with the publisher to maintain.

          Any pro-gamergate person who thinks...

          Yeah, good luck with finding one who has this capacity. Closest you'll find is herd/mob mentality and glass jaws. LOTS of glass jaws.

          That's because ganersgate is about nothing in particular except a veneer for some to use to attack and harass people with a different opinion. Not what they claim it to be about.

      why didn't the people supposedly concerned with ethical games journalism ever go after the publishers who try to control or restrict journalists?

      You know the old expression, "Play into their hands"? That's what is going on.

      What the publishers are doing, clearly is wrong. We should be reacting and that is what the publisher's want.

      By not reacting (ie: Kotaku calmly talking about the blackout rather than slander or cry foal) we are going against the game plan Bethesda et. al. have laid out.

      As long as nobody reacts, the publishers involved in this unfair practice will be showing themselves as childish and won't be able to play the victim card to play up that reviewers are being mean.

        If they think professional reviewers are mean, I'd hate to think how they feel about the Steam reviews...

          Or Yahtzee for that matter!

          I do point out every bad thing about a game but I'm a critic; it would be weird if I didn't.

      mostly because the way i saw it as someone who doesnt like either side was because gamergate was about indie games where sites like kotaku and polygon have been quick to call out the bullshit that big publishers do (dorito-gate,gertsman-gate etc)

    I came here to consume content and chew bubblegum and I’m all out of gum.

    Keep it up Kotaku, we are always hungry!

    Excellent piece.
    It's funny as it means that these companies are missing out, in a way, through their own stubbornness.
    Personally about 98% of everything i hear gaming related in through Kotaku for a number reasons:
    1. The great community
    2. The layout
    3. The lack of invasiveness in advertising
    4. Mark Serrells
    5. They seem to be one of the few outlets with integrity

    Sure, they aren't companies that NEED extra publicity, but by the same token when companies like UbiSoft already stuggle with consumer relations it's not exactly the best idea.

      Kotaku AU is the only games website I read. I used to come here for the great articles, of which the AU staff are a large part, but stayed for the community. Now it's the only real gaming media I consume (along with Giz / LH) - the AU specific articles being the real highlight. Who needs other websites?

        This. I also third the Mark Serrels bit, mostly because I can easily pretend he's Simon Pegg.

          Well, that and the oats / Chobani stuff - solid gold, they are.

            Chobani is inferior to Nestle's Soleil. That extra protein can bugger right off.

              You're all wrong. Gippsland is king!

                Oh. I used to live on that stuff. But I had too many instances where the seal wasn't put on properly and the yoghurt would be off when I ate it (and christ, you never forget that sickly sour taste).

                  I've never had the misfortune and hopefully never will.

              Weren't you already walking a fine line with Facebook-Stickergate?

      I love you loops!

        I love you too buddy...

        ...for as long as you don't hit the exterminatus button

      What a good summary. I also get most of my gaming news from Kotaku, for all those reasons. Serrels makes the place seem human - that is my only way of describing it. Kotaku is like chatting with mates about games, not an endless data stream and adjective party.
      Keep up the good work peoples....

        I like this Alex fella, too. He engages pretty damn frequently.

      I'll just assume porridge was incorporated under point (4) @markserrels as well ?

        They are one and the same.
        I can happily say that I too am enjoying oats now every day. Although, i eat mine with sultanas for some flavour.
        Oats is a given.

    Hang on, is Kotaku really bitching about being cutoff? this is akin to hearing your mate is going to propose to his GF and then telling everyone. Do you really expect your friend to be cool about something like that.

    Bethesda is a business, they have particular goals, they may start a few projects that they just want to see where it takes them and if somebody like Kotaku leaks that and they decide that "hey this project isn't actually something we want to pursue," then they are left with an embarrassing mess they need to explain. Equally if you leek there next big project early then the hype train starts earlier then expected and expectations can't be managed. You might argue that they shouldn't be managing expectations but again they are in the business of making money, of course they should be controlling it. Do you leave your income up to chance? No. Now you might say that you are in charge of making sure people know the quality of a product and I would agree but leaking information early isn't doing that it is simply you doing something to earn your money. So you don't get to bitch about it, you should probably figure out ways of leaking information early while at the same time not annoying developers, that's a win win.

    Either way you are causing them issues that they have to clean up and has an affect on their bottom line. Most people prefer to be in charge of their own affairs.

      The pre-release hype train for games is an unstoppable juggernaut. It's not healthy for consumers that publishers have complete control over it.

      For a publisher to act this way when things do not go as planned looks petulant. At best, it shows an unhealthy relationship between most games media, who won't report things for fear of results like this, and games publishers, who would love for games media to simply post trailers and press releases.

      Yep it looks like Bethesda/Ubisoft taking control of their business.

        Not exactly.... that would be the case if their distributor did something bad.

        A news site is there to report facts and keep companies honest not to regurgitate controlled PR. Shutting that down is basically a form of censorship.

          So leaking their business to the world including a businesses competition is keeping them honest? There's a difference between leaking bad news (ie Konami work environment) and stuffing up a business releasing its projects when it wants.

          It's selfishly fucking them over for clicks.

          You are not entitled to know if a developer is making a game from its very time of inception.

          Guess what Totilo.... Bethesda and Ubi still won't be talking to you guys.

            On the other hand, can you blame a news site for reporting some info it's received? How come internal information is being leaked at all?
            Other companies are able to keep their work secret. Why not these guys?

            Do Kotaku just have better sources than other news sites? Do they do better investigation?
            They aren't printing lies (most of the time).

            "When top people at Bethesda started making statements casting doubt on our reporting, we published a leaked internal email confirming that those statements had misled gamers and that Arkane had indeed been working on a version of Prey 2."

            They only released leaked emails after Bethesda tried to discredit them by lying. Not sure why your supporting the developer here.

            And in any case, it's pretty unprofessional to just issue a blackout without any official reason or communication. It may well be for an unfavorable review, which is even worse. But without any official word, it's all guesswork. Maybe it has nothing to do with leaking fallout 4 early.

            I don't support Kotaku on 100% of their work, there's quite a lot of clickbait garbage on here, but the proper editorials and detailed articles are top notch. Especially from the AU team.

              Hey I agree with some of what you're saying. It's Kotaku's job to report all they like, that is how they earn their money, but if they post something potentially damaging to a company they can't expect that company to be happy about it especially when it doesn't affect anyone. E.g. no one needed to know about the fallout 4 script that was leaked. It was nice to know and Kotaku can pat themselves on the back for getting it and making some money of their journalism skills but they can't expect Bethesda to just let it slide.

              I agree that consumers need to know the quality of games and movies before they buy them and that's why I disagree with pre-orders but if consumers are stupid enough to pre-order and then complain about a product well that's on them. Wait for the product to be released, check what Kotaku say about the final release, then decide whether to purchase or not. It's not a publishers fault if they make a ton of cash on a shit product when half the money they earned was because people decided to pre-order.

              I float between many sites... I don't bother with Kotaku US articles. Occasionally read Serrels but enjoy immensely what Alex has brought, not a dud article yet.

              As for official reason/communication it's pretty clear Totilo knows why and has petulantly made it public by having a tanty.

                I read this article as more of a factual FYI than a tanty. Maybe we're just looking at it differently. I didn't feel to me like he was complaining about it, just answering a common question as to why they don't review certain games before release etc...

            Fucking them over?

            There's a bit of a power differential there. Ubisoft and Bethesda are both much, much larger than kotaku, and any journalist would have published pieces on those leaks. They're in areas of interest, they're not libellous or vindictive.

            I agree, by the way, with the statement "You are not entitled to know if a developer is making a game from its very time of inception." Journalists, however, should be free to publish information they receive, and Ubisoft and Bethesda withdrawing access over such matters is petty. Just because you're publishing a creative work doesn't give you absolute control over the discussion.

              So the leaked email would have been between 2 people in private (or possibly more, could have been department wide) and one person "leaks" it, that's still a breach of trust of the others. The sensible ethical thing to do would call the company and say "hey is this true?"

              Not "FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4!!!!!!!!"

              As far as announcing a game I am sure, leak or not, that the developer has first rights at that. "I'm a journalist DAMMIT" doesn't mean you get to decide when a game is announced. Ever.

                Being a game company doesn't allow you to control the discussion. Ever.

                You read that December 2013 Fallout 4 article. it says "Bethesda declined to comment for this story." Kotaku have done their due diligence, they've contacted Bethesda for comment. A developer doesn't have any "rights" once information is leaked unless it's defamatory or stolen, neither of which is the case here.

                Bethesda are, of course, also within their rights to not give press from any outlet access for any reason they care to name, but it seems petty and punitive.

                (and FWIW, a direct quote from the AC Unity article: "When reached by Kotaku this morning, Ubisoft declined to comment on this story.")

                  "Bethesda are, of course, also within their rights to not give press from any outlet access for any reason they care to name, but it seems petty and punitive."

                  Actually it seems like its just disciplinary and preventative for the future. Any parent who finds their kid has just stolen a 50 out of their wallet will not just get the 50 back but will then not give that kid any more money until they show some remorse and promise not to do it again.

                  Kotaku knew they were getting leaked information, even if they approached either company regarding it, as soon as they used that information in an article there is an obvious reaction Beth or Ubi was going to have regarding it. Kotaku can post what ever they like within the law, but a company saying "Well you used secret information without our consent, you are now blacklisted" has just as much right to their approach also. If i posted an article about a local government project that hadnt been made public yet due to its delicate nature (lets say income revenue) i would likely have a very hard time getting permits for building my house in the future, its the same in this case. You reap what you sow.

                  I find it hilarious and sad at the same time that people think just because "journalism" everything has a free pass. Everything else in the world has cause an affect, Kotaku posted leaked information about a companies game, Kotaku gets blacklisted, seems very efficient of the company saying "dont post about or shit unless we give you leave".

                  EDIT: As i cant reply to your next post for some reason ill add here, my main point is about your "petty and punitive" comment. To me this article reeks of entitlement and has the whole petulant kid thing going. "I got told off for opening my mouth so im going to pout and passively complain about being ignored", again it reads very familiar to the child getting in trouble and being a shit about it lol.

                  Also, im assuming you havent had to deal with local government after a disagreement with them or maybe you just have a good one, they can do everything with in the law to make it extremely difficult if you make them look bad or disrupt something they want to do simply by making you jump through hoops.

                  Last edited 20/11/15 6:06 pm

                  @gryms as I said, Bethesda are within their rights to not grant Kotaku access. I was disagreeing, more, with the notion by the poster before me that Kotaku hadn't contacted anyone before publishing (they stated in every article linked that they had).

                  I don't agree with your local government analogy, because a local government is bound by law to treat planning approvals objectively. If you were blocked from planning approval (or many, many other things) by government due to your role in the press, you'd be well within your rights to bring suit). It's different here- we're talking about private organisations.

                  As I said, Bethesda can tell press from any outlet to fuck off for any reason, but I- personally- think it's a dick move on their part, and I certainly don't think (as the poster above me seems to think) that Bethesda or Ubisoft or anyone else have the right to green or redlight anything published here just because it doesn't fit with their announcement schedule.

      this is akin to hearing your mate is going to propose to his GF and then telling everyone. Do you really expect your friend to be cool about something like that.

      I said exactly the same thing while you were typing this :P

      Do you leave your income up to chance? No

      The problem is that Kotaku's income is based completely on how many visitors they get on their websites and for that to be maximised they need (in their eyes anyway) to have the early scoop and for that they feel the need to make an article about the smallest scrap of news they can find. 'A Price of Games Journalism'. Indeed

        The first analogy alludes to the underlying problem though. News websites and publishers shouldn't necessarily be friends. Business partners, maybe but not friends.

        If the developer/publisher is behaving in a way that is disingenuous or actively against the best interests of their customers, I would hope that news websites would feel free to investigate and highlight those issues.

        Of the early leak articles I've seen on Kotaku, generally they've not been flippant or superficial. They've more often raised particular questions and issues between what has been leaked and what the dev/publisher has said. Basically, trying to keep them honest. Yes it spoils the planned marketing strategy, but if that strategy involves misleading the consumer (which it may), then I think it's worth investigating.

          The first analogy alludes to the underlying problem though. News websites and publishers shouldn't necessarily be friends. Business partners, maybe but not friends.

          Precisely! If they are - like the wedding analogy - there is a conflict of interest.

      How Bethesda chooses to manage their relationships is up to them, but at the same time Kotaku have every right to throw them under the bus by publically outing them if they cut them off.

      At the same time, surely there’s a common understanding that journalists will report stories. That’s their job first and foremost.

      If you’re going to run a business where you’re fuelling the hype machine to the extent that you expect customers to put money down for a title before it’s even hit the shelves, it’s a bit f*cking rich of you to then punish the same machine for trying to go beyond the standard press-releases in order to sate the interests of their mutual customers.

        And Bethesda have every right when Kotaku threw them under the bus first for no reason but clicks and revenue.

        Kotaku threw the first punch and is now crying to that Bethesda started it.

          “No reason but clicks and revenue”.

          Just a theory, but you might be an emotional Bethesda fan (I am too) who’s letting that cloud his perception of reality.

          As if the games media is ever going ignore solid evidence of Fallout 4 and not report that to their actual customers (the readers) if it’s of interest to them. Seriously, is that what you expect?
          Bethesda needs the media to shill their games and the media has a duel interest in keeping both publishers and their customers happy.

          Bethesda don’t control the media though, the reality is that if you make a product that relies on hype and media attention to get sales then you have to deal with the reality that if news of the sequel leaks, that same media is going to publish it.

          You can be mad that it happens, but you still need that same media to hype your next title so you need to keep working with them. If you cut them off, then you’ve f*cked up plain and simple. The media is AWLAYS going to be a two-headed beast, they don’t exist just to serve publishers.

          This article may or may not be a failing of Kotaku, depending on your views they may be morally wrong or they may just be solid journalists.
          It IS a failing of Bethesda though, even if you think they’re right to be aggrieved, they’ve still failed. That’s the way the relationship works.

            Emails are still private and confidential.

              Leaked. Not stolen, not hacked. Leaked though a member of staff or similar person who had access to them.

              It’s not a life or death issue, it’s not someone’s medical records.
              What do you expect the media to do if someone leaks that kind of information directly to them?

              The two should have a symbiotic relationship and frankly the games industry is one of the softest and most cooperative media environments imaginable. If Bethesda can’t find a better way to manage their relationship with Kotaku then they need to find a new PR rep.

              Once the emails leaked, they were ALWAYS going to be reported on. A simple: “Bethesda is constantly considering opportunities to innovate and expand on both new and existing franchises. This would include (list Fallout among a bunch of other franchises, ramble on about how may GOTY awards Skyrim won). While we share our customers enthusiasm for the Fallout franchise, but have nothing to announce at this point”.

              Then you go and try to work out where the leak came from so it doesn’t happen again.

              Alternatively you can go “fuck you, those are leaked emails. If you publish them we won’t talk to you anymore” and then you don’t get a positive review from Kotaku on launch day and you get this article announcing that the relationship has broken down.

              It’s not an argument that you can ever win as a publisher. Best case scenario is you fight reality (it still got reported) and damage both parties.

              Last edited 20/11/15 11:33 am

                And how hard would it have been for Kotaku to contact Bethesda or Ubisoft prior? Since when has it been a "greenlight" to announce someone else's game because one recipient (possibly 1 of a whole department or company) of an email let it out? This wasn't life or death you are right, but it wasn't for Kotaku to make the first announcement.

                It's their IP. Not Kotaku's.

                  As I noted upthread: In ALL the major articles linked in the article upthread, the company HAS been approached for comment. In the Doom article, they provided extensive comment.

                  It's not Kotaku's responsibility to wait for any sort of "Green Light" to publish.

                  When we ask representatives from either company for comment or clarification regarding breaking news, we hear nothing in response.

                  I’m not certain that you understand what the media do or why they exist in the first place.

                  To make it very clear, there’s a market for information which may not be clearly apparent or which may not be openly offered.
                  People collect this information and monetise it. Shocking I know!

                  If you wait until a project is “green-lit” then the information is worth less.
                  If you just regurgitate the press-releases provided by the people with a vested interest in the product (the publisher), then you do a disservice to your own customers.

                  I don’t know what planet you live on where a journalist should sit on something as non-contentious as a sequel to a massively popular game because they don’t want to damage the extremely-hopeful marketing plan of the publisher. As mentioned above, the chances of a few hundred developers, marketing staff and all their associated loved ones, office cleaners ect knowing about a game for all but 6 months of a development cycle without someone saying “Psst. We’re working on Fallout 4” are almost zero. This is why a company like CD Projekt Red (who have a great PR department) are happy to say they’re working on something and then sit on it for years.

                  It’s an unrealistic approach to secrecy compounded by a childish, self-damaging response once the news was leaked by someone within their own ranks. If they’d leaked the games story or something then fine…. But just a game announcement….. Only in the games industry!

                  Last edited 20/11/15 2:11 pm

                  So its for journalists to dictate to developers now..... "tell us or else"

                  I have a feeling there will be more blacklisted.

            Okay there may be some confusion here so I'll try to explain myself. I'm not saying Kotaku shouldn't have posted what they did, that is their job after all. What I am saying is that Bethesda have ever right to cut Kotaku off for potentially damaging their bottom line and Kotaku doesn't have a right to complain about it. This particular media outlet isn't serving Bethesda's plan, their are plenty more out there for Bethesda to work with and Bethesda are big enough to be able to do this effectively.

    I can totally understand a company wanting to protect its products from poor coverage; but I can't understand a business trying to pull the wool over our eyes as to the quality of their product. That does more harm than good. I have more respect for a company that gets poor coverage and it turns into an "it is what it is" sitcho than for the one who tries to hide faulty products (Arkham Knight I'ma lookin atchu) and sell them anyway.

    F*ck ‘em.

    You can be a better outlet for readers if you just rage against them, at the end of the day the journalists serve the customers that the publishers need to buy their sh*t. It’ll be a lot harder to continue the existing model of hyping products to the point that customers fork out $70-100 BEFORE the game even hits shelves without the games media.

    I’d love to see you put a higher focus on exploitative practices (like offensively packaged DLC and F2P mechanics) in your reviews as well as putting in place a policy that you won’t respect embargos that extend beyond 24 hours prior to the point of release if you wish.

    Last edited 20/11/15 9:58 am

      Embargoes are a tough one.
      Disregard embargo? Face the potential legal consequences, not a very good idea.
      Point out that the embargo exists? Should be fine, indicates to consumers that the product might be underwhelming, but in the case of Fallout 4 we saw an embargo on the review embargo. This brings us back to the first point and potential legal consequences. What's to stop a publisher enforcing a review embargo for release day and a embargo on the review embargo for an hour before the review embargo is lifted?

        My understanding (based on a tiny bit of research just then) is that the vast majority of review embargos are not legally binding.

        I think they’re normally gentlemen’s agreements on the understanding that if you break embargo you’ll be blacklisted from early access (or even a free copy) next time out. Maybe a sticker and a veiled threat on the box when the game is sent out.

        I’d be interested to know for sure though if anyone at Kotaku can enlighten us.

        It really goes to show how f*cking entitled some of these publishers are. Think of any other industry where not only is it common practice to sell a much-hyped (but consistently inconsistent in quality) product before it hits shelves, but to then also demand that the media not inform the public of the quality of the product until AFTER it’s publically available.…. It’s hard to imagine working anywhere else and is probably a good insight into why Bethesda throws a childish tantrum at the media for doing their jobs.

          Thanks for putting in the effort to clarify the point.

          It's a very strange situation where publishers and PR are so reliant on news aggregators and journalists to unofficially do their jobs for them.

          I speak a lot about how much I dislike the pre-order culture this kind of relationship fosters, and that I believe consumers play a critical role in disassembling the structure; essentially that pre-order and day zero consumers are at fault when a furore comes about from a poorly released game.
          Seems there is a larger role available for news media to disclose poor quality in advance of release. Might promote on other establishments the type of coverage Kotaku has been extolling through practice.

          Either way, the complex of publisher, media, and consumer has been buggered for decades. Appalling that the industry has been so uniformly quiet for so long. It'd be great to see more mid-large news sites talking about this issue, building on the kinds of discussions that sites like RPS, and now Kotaku, are having.

    "we published a leaked internal email"

    and they no longer like you? How about having some ethics? Some of the stories about how they say their games are on track but your 'sources' say otherwise are pure tabloid level sensationalism. The same quality of journalism I'd expect when reading about a celebrity marriage 'on the rocks'.

      Maybe it's me but I'm not sure that's the angle they are portraying.

      I think Kotaku are saying in one instance there legitimately are problems/issues with a game, their PR pump out bullshit saying all is good, stop making shit up and Kotaku simply called them out.

      I don't know if it is similar to tabloid sensationalism when all they are doing is stating the truth contrary to what the PR spin masters want us to hear.

      Bollocks. A leaked email is not the same as "Oh, my mother's brother has a cousin who works at the store next to the place where Celebrity so-and-so gets their hair cut and she said..."

      They are doing journalism - and more to the point, they're actually doing ethically, and the fact you don't understand that is a little concerning. First, this isn't a life or death matter and isn't going to cause harm to come to an individual or a group. As such, revealing a leak is not unethical.

      Secondly, they are reporting about games or issues that people are INTERESTED in and want to know about. The only thing potentially being harmed is the hype train or the corporate line of communication and advertising that the publisher wants to showcase to the public at large for their product. By publishing information outside of that carefully managed drip-feed, that is entirely uncontrolled and independent - which is pretty much the textbook definition of good journalism.

      A few sensationalist stories doesn't outweigh the positive of Kotaku providing honest reporting not covered in publisher PR sugar-coating.

    It looks like I'm in the minority here, but maybe continually leaking news about unannounced games from these guys actually pissed them off? How would you feel if someone blurted out the news you're engaged or expecting a baby before you officially announced it? Yes I know the two shouldn't really be compared, but it's the same basic principle. I don't understand the surprise at being unofficially blacklisted by these companies by using 'guerrilla journalism' rather than employing professional journalism methods. When you work for Kotaku US though I can imagine that the first thing you're told is to find a story by any means necessary (Kotaku Aus being very different as Mark constantly shows himself to be a high quality journalist with his sources and and writing).

    In the rush to be the first with the news so you can get all the visitors for your advertisers you scramble for any news whether it's been announced or not. People in this day and age (i.e. the internet age) think it's their right to know everything before it's even been considered by the developers and that just isn't right. Bethesda didn't announced Fallout 4 to the World until 5 months ago. That's their right as the developers of their own intellectual property. Who the hell are Kotaku to take it upon themselves to go against their wishes? I can imagine there's always people with an 'inside scoop' happy to give over information for a quick buck (it's always been like that), but how about you guys have some integrity and don't always follow that route? It's why Kotaku is perceived by many (and not just 'Gamergaters' before that gets jumped upon) as being no better than bloggers pretending to be journalists and why you've found yourself blacklisted by 2 of the biggest publishers around. I'd like to think it would cause you to consider your methods and maybe change how you do things, but instead you've just cried out about how you've been mistreated by the 'big man' as people love to hear that these days.

      Agreed 100% - this is one of the major complaints that's being taken up on the Facebook comments for this article on Kotaku U.S as well.

      Sure, but isn’t it a bit rich for an industry that thrives off media-generated hype to the point that it’s normal practice to pay for a title before it even hits the shelves to then turn on the media for reporting the development of a sequel that their mutual customers care about? Journalists are the middle-men between the distributer and the customer, when that relationship breaks down that’s a failure on the distributers part. Even if it’s not entirely their fault, it’s still a failure.

      This isn’t Wikileaks releasing thousands of potentially disastrous security documents nobody has even read, it’s a games journalist announcing a product that a company has failed to keep under wraps. On the scale of journalistic integrity it’s a pretty clear-cut decision.

      I want to know Fallout 4 is in development, and if Kotaku finds reliable information that it is then I expect them to publish it. If they don’t then someone else will and again, both sides lose out anyway.

        It depends on the company. Bethesda Games Studios are clearly a developer that likes to have everything kept close to their chest until they're comfortable with what they have to show off. Games change over the span of a year or two, hell look at the changes from the E3 presentation of Fallout 4 to the final release, why would they announce something two years ago that they feel won't be representative at all of the final product? Any games journalist should respect that.

        I'm not sure how this relationship between distributor and customer is entirely one way when something goes wrong, especially when there's a middle man (journalists) involved. So you're saying that the instant a game developer has an idea they should go to the press to tell everyone about it? No. They refine their ideas and products until they're happy with what they have to show off to journalists. Like I said above, some developers are happy to do that right at the beginning of a game's life cycle, others like Bethesda prefer to do that close to release. Neither option is wrong but again, journalists should respect that.

        No it's not Wikileaks, but gaming is still a multi-billion dollar global industry. There's a reason so many countries respect intellectual property laws. Just because this is in regards to a video game compared to national secrets, the same principle applies.

        The old 'well if we don't do it someone else will' mentality. As far as I'm concerned there's issues with gaming journalism across the board. You have sites like Kotaku who will do anything for an article, then you have something like IGN who you can work out take money for reviews (and reviews are on a scale of 8 (company didn't give them any money) to 10 (look at my new car)). Define reliable information though. Leaked information isn't reliable. As far as I'm concerned information is only reliable if it comes from a developer/publisher. Anyone leaking information is either a) looking to make quick money by spilling the beans, or b) pissed off at their current/previous employer and wanting to damage them a little.

          I’m not saying that they need to announce publically as soon as they have an idea, or even that the public have a right to know. I am saying that once the emails leaked (and remember, they were by all accounts leaked and not stolen) that they were ALWAYS going to be reported on by any credible media organisation.

          That’s life. The customers want to know about the next Bethesda product and media is going to quench that thirst at the expense of their relationship with Bethesda. After all, what’s the point of having good relationships if you aren’t giving your customers (the reader) the product that they want?

          It’s up to Bethesda to manage their relationships better. I said above, a simple “Bethesda is constantly considering opportunities to innovate and expand on both new and existing franchises. This would include (list Fallout among a bunch of other franchises, ramble on about how may GOTY awards Skyrim won). While we share our customers enthusiasm for the Fallout franchise, but have nothing to announce at this point” would have been much better.

          It’s a one way street in that you can’t win by cutting the media off. Best case scenario you hurt them too, but what’s happened here?
          1/ Kotaku still published the leak as expected (and probably got hits for it).
          2/ Kotaku didn’t get hits for a day-1 review of Fallout 4, but at the same time Bethesda didn’t get a glowing day-1 review which is probably much worse for them than it is for Kotaku.
          3/ Kotaku publishes this article, it gets hits, comments and possible external attention. Bethesda has people like me laughing at them for managing their relationship so badly.

          In a perfect world where things don’t go wrong, emails don’t leak and if they do the media doesn’t act then PR departments wouldn’t be required.
          They do exist though, and when needed they’re supposed to respond in a realistic, mature and level-headed fashion. The way they did respond just made the whole situation much worse.

      Here's the question that needs asking. If the leaking is an internal problem why is an external company being punished for it? If bethesda and ubisoft have staff that can't keep their mouth shut why does a gaming website have to get punished for publishing it?

      With regards to the blogging comment having frequented many other gaming websites I can safely say they're mostly bloggers as well pretending to be journalists as you put it. I just find the best brand of the pretending here at Kotaku. Unless of course you're a big fan of Kevin Van Ord but then there's no helping you =P

      I'm also curious if you believe that actual news journalists don't publish anything that is leaked from a company/organization? Snowden ring a bell? Antoine Deltour perhaps? Leaks are an integral source of information; if companies don't want that information getting out the weight is on them to shut the leaks down.

      That argument might ring true, If game developers didn't continue to ask customers to "Pre-Order" products. While the game might not be due out for potentially years if games developers are taking consumers money on the promise of future work.

      Many of the people who go looking for news on sites like Kotaku have made purchases and handed over their hard earned money. As customers they should have the right to see into the process of how the product is made.

      Essentially Bethseda and Ubisoft are mad because they were publicly found out for being at fault, and rather then accepting personal responsibility for their actions they are trying to bully the industry into accepting the idea that they are never at fault.

      A better analogy would be an Ex-Husband being mad that one of his wives friends told her that he had cheated on her. Kotaku like the friend are certainly not blameless in this situation, and professional journalism does require both ethics and discretion. However the publisher is clearly being petty and manipulative and deserves to be called out on it.

        That argument might ring true, If game developers didn't continue to ask customers to "Pre-Order" products.

        Your argument doesnt ring true. The leaked info was about a game in pre-production not a game that had already been announced. There was no pre-order for Fallout 4 until after Beth announced it. None of the leaked information pertained to production blowouts or release delays etc, it was purely click bait regarding an unannounced game that would definitely draw peoples attentions.

        Many of the people who go looking for news on sites like Kotaku have made purchases and handed over their hard earned money. As customers they should have the right to see into the process of how the product is made

        Err no. That isnt my opinion, its fact and law. Next time you walk into a McDonalds, ask to be shown the kitchen and how your food is made. Not only will they look at you oddly they will say no, and unlike normal gaming, food preparation can actually cause illness up to and including death if the process isnt done right. Also you are talking about games that are released, not information on un-released games.

        Essentially Bethseda and Ubisoft are mad because they were publicly found out for being at fault"

        What exactly were they at fault for? For not advising the gaming community they had started working on new games for franchises the public wanted? For shame!

      I don't think you're in the minority... I personally find it friggin' hilarious how Bethesda and Ubisoft are being called unprofessional for this blacklist.

      Especially when this whole article could have an identical accusation leveled against it, because it can easily be taken as nothing more than the equivalent of a teenager's tantrum, "OMG my friends wont talk to me anymore! I didn't do anything wrong apart from telling everyone their personal business! I'm the victim! give me attention!"

      While I'm doubtful that was Totilo's intention with the article going in, it's absolutely how it comes across at times.

    Good read, though i suspected as much after the rather unique Fallout 4 covergae in recent weeks.

    Kotaku is unique, and I appreciate their honesty. Also, Mark Serrels. The community. Young Mr Walker, who may not actually be young. And the rest.

    Cookie cutter journalism can eat a bag of dicks.

    Dammit Bethesda! You used to be cool. I expect this from Ubisoft, but I honestly thought better of you.

      bethesda hasnt been cool since they screwed over obsidian with the Fallout New Vegas Metacritic bonus bullshit

        I don't mind the use of metacritic to set bonuses, in theory... damn near every other business in the world has some form of performance incentives, and how else exactly are you going to measure a developer's performance if not an average of critical reception?

        Only problems I have with it is that metacritic isn't an in-house tool; it's independent, which makes it susceptible to unforeseen variation and inconsistent, unreliable approaches, dependent on how many publications they look at, or who even bother to do a review, resulting in uneven sample sizes.

        Additionally, Obsidian knew they had a buggy pile on their hands that needed more fixing, but it was the publisher's decision to launch it buggy instead of granting an extension. That directly cost Obsidian the points they needed to get their bonus.

        This one I'm more iffy about, because if your boss sets you a deadline and rates your performance, it's probably not unfair to expect to lose your bonus if you had to break deadline to actually make your work any good. They set the terms, Obsidian didn't meet them.

        The incentive might not necessarily have been just, "Make an 85 game," it was more likely, "Make an 85 game within our limitations, one of which is this release date."

          the thing though was that bethesda was in charge of the bug testing and Q&A which is what caused obsidian to lose out on the bonus and iirc around that time as well bethesda's higher ups were trying to buy obsidian as well in the same way they tried to by the devs of prey 2

            ...Right. That, too. I personally think that starts getting a little tinfoil hatty, and may really have been more about trying to pool the talent for ease of control rather than deliberately sabotaging their own game to get out of paying bonuses, but after over a decade in government and corporate enterprise, I'm more inclined to believe in attributing to incompetence what others might attribute to malice.

              oh i agree, im not trying to wear a tinfoil hat on purpose, though i do understand it if looks tinfoil hat worthy, its one of those thing were both are at fault but only one side got the punishment

    This is why I check Kotaku a few times day, excellent piece Stephen!

    This makes me think of the blacklist that Konami has on Jim Sterling. Blacklists on games journalism are bad for gaming and bad for consumers. Plus it just makes you look like a dick.

      I disagree, Journalism on games prerelease is inconsequential to consumers in that it neither gives us anything meaningful or takes anything meaningful away. However from a publisher perspective it's hugely consequential because people are easily manipulated and a bad bit of press can spell doom for a product even if that product on release is actually decent.

      That's why it's up to consumers to stop pre-ordering stuff and actually wait for media outlets to do a proper job on a final product before buying it. That way everyone wins, publishers sell their product for the true value, media outlets can review products frankly and consumers get to make an informed decision.

      I have a blacklist on Jim Sterling because he's an idiot.

    How much has traffic been dropping to Kotaku lately?

    Leaking us information early and having fast coverage of all games clearly benefits you guys the most. It's not like we lose out on much. All the reviews and news you guys don't have we happily find through social media or other sites, so we're not at a big loss here.

    I think if developers are so pissed off you need to first look at taking some blame and improving, point the finger if they're still being unreasonable. Are you being unreasonable for them? Is it really wrong for developers not to want their games dragged through the media and scrutinised so far in advance? Are we happier actually knowing so much about games so early and building up expectations or are we better off enjoying games with a little more mystery and surprise? I think it's reasonable for developers to want these things. If you don't do right be them they are allowed to be upset and cut you off. You're not entitled to access to their products in advance, that's a privilege with which comes responsibility.

    I'm sorry but if this article is right I don't feel sorry for Kotaku, it seems both companies (I hate ubisoft) had no problem letting you review games, even giving bad reviews of games allowing freedom of speech.

    You serve the reader, yes. But you also should have morals and getting a leaked email about a business that was (by the sound of it) open with you and transparent allowing you to review games how you like giving them the thumbs up or down is wrong imo.

    They are emails... I mean how do you know they are even legit? and not some disgruntled worker looking to do damage, to me that sounds like you think its the workers fault for leaking and you should be able to post it without any black lash. These companies are worth millions, you're not playing dress ups, articles like that could potentially cause millions worth of damages from a PR perspective and you seem fine posting it even though you clearly have no way of knowing how authentic they were.

    Personally I think you need to have some moral fiber and not post shit that was leaked in a email that might be real or not... Hell in 3 seconds I can photoshop your twitter account and make it look like Kotaku said they think the late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was a piece of shit and then spread it everywhere claiming it was from a inside source.

    Last edited 20/11/15 10:31 am

      Presumably there is some confirmation done on the content of the leaked emails to ensure that it's not completely bogus - and I'm pretty sure Kotaku has previously gone on record to talk about this to some degree when previously people have kicked up a stink about some of their articles. Just because they're not saying "oh, by the way, we confirmed this to make sure it was real and legitimate and here is how we did it..." doesn't mean that's not happening - not to mention that would screw over their source...

      Personally I think you need to have some moral fiber and not accuse Kotaku of actions that might be real or not...

        I stand by what I said. My point is not that Kotaku are bogus and just post willy nilly, my point is even if they can confirm it from a source who says the source is even reliable... one source vs releasing an article that could have massive implications.

        And even if it is right and they can confirm it 100% without a shadow of a doubt half the shit that is posted doesn't need to be leaked... internal struggles, fights over the next tittle or the direction of the company that helps the consumer literally ZERO... If it was a piece about a new price structure for DLC that is made purely to hid costs etc then that is real journalism at the moment they are tossing around these articles that are nothing more than gossip columns then expect the companies to say, "no that's fine, please sir can we have more". Its a little rich to then turn around and write an article like this.

        I personally support writers not kotaku as a site (like Mark), not to say I have anything against kotaku however I do find it funny that they are complaining about the right to post news and freedom of speak etc when there own site stops users posting automatically after only 5 down votes... Even though its been raised multiple times they have not got around to adding something a lot more suitable that actually works i.e. not getting moderated simply for having an unpopular opinion rather then posting something derogatory.

        Last edited 20/11/15 6:26 pm

          "And even if it is right and they can confirm it 100% without a shadow of a doubt half the shit that is posted doesn't need to be leaked... internal struggles, fights over the next tittle or the direction of the company that helps the consumer literally ZERO..."

          I disagree. Casting an honest and exposing light on some of the nastier and usually unseen aspects of the industry that produces the content the we enjoy is not a pointless exercise, and in some cases can help shed light on why certain titles are a complete mess - because there was a lot of infighting and lack of direction or leadership.

          It can also highlight why certain titles never see the light of day and others do. It doesn't necessarily help consumers purchase anything, but it does potentially provide them with more insight into companies, their practices, treatment of staff, etc, etc. Gamers are often interested in these aspects as well.

          You specifically cast aspersions on Kotaku and suggested that these kinds of articles were immoral. I'm calling you on that being complete and utter bollocks. Publishing something that hasn't gone through the company PR mill and comes direct from a source at the company highlighting the internal problems and bickering is completely different from just making up slander against an individual. Do you remember when all the dirty laundry came out about Brendan McNamara during the development of LA Noire? Was the reporting on that immoral? You seem to be arguing that it would be, and I could not disagree more.

          As I've written in another comment below, there is nothing that is wrong with Kotaku's actions and they are not and should never be beholden to the developers/publishers. Kotaku are well within their rights to publish non-officially confirmed information, just as the devs/pubs are entitled to not provide them with pre-release info as "punishment" for that, but as far as I'm concerned they're only shooting themselves in the foot and making themselves look petty.

            I made the same point lol, you are calling it news that people need too know and saying what if it was about DLC that rip people off or bad treatment of staff, I literally said that would be worthy of leaking but leaking a game that a company had yet to annouce is wrong and serves no one.

            Kotaku have written multiple times about the raw deal gamers get, things like watch dogs not looking like it should and the company lying, The witcher 3 another example of a game announced well before it should of been and saw downgraded graphics at release.

            Yet here is Bethesda planning to keep tight lipped right until the end and Kotaku said fuck you when they found this leak, we are going to post it for views. What if Bethesda had to cancel for unforeseen problems. The PR shitstorm that would of come from that and why? because they where doing the right thing but not announcing it early and over hyping a tittle? Do you fail to see the mammoth amount of damage they could of potentially caused from posting it.

            They literally could of caused millions of damage in PR to Bethesda and your opinion is they still should of posted it even though it was not uncovering anything sinister. They would of read through the email, saw it was only a spoiler for an upcoming game... And they still posted it why because it generates them money. That is an asshole move sorry bud.

            These examples of Kotaku leaking, and the cause of getting them blacklisted were deserved. They sort to do damage for no reason, nothing was gained except money on their part. This didn't tell of a bad DLC policy or microtransactions that would screw over the user, nor did it uncover mistreated staff... Kotaku in both cases just saw the change to make money. Just because they are a company worth millions doesn't mean they should be treated like shit for no reason whatsoever. They don't owe us anything.

            For me and many others as you can read the comments and even other sites agree (others agree with you like forbes) They where extremely wrong and next time they go to point the finger at a company that is screwing over the industry they should look at themselves because all they did in these cases was screw over a company and the fans to make a quick buck. It was their choice to click the post button.

            Last edited 23/11/15 10:27 pm

      You appear to be under the misconception that publishers 'let' people review games, as if they were in some kind of position to give permission.

      They are not. The only thing publishers can do is 'let' people review games EARLY by giving them an EARLY copy.

      Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE is allowed to review a game. In the US, at least, it is protected by copyright law and free speech (in fact, for the purposes of a review, reviewers can even outright display relevant portions of copyright-protected IP against the wishes of the IP holder and be protected under copyright law's review provisions), and if any game company tries to prevent someone from reviewing a game instead of 'letting' them, they will find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

        O yea I understand that and what I wrote was worded poorly, what I meant was they hardly go around blacklisting people who gave an honest review and didn't like it... They cop it on the chin in almost all cases... Unlike some companies who blacklist for giving bad reviews, refuse to give early releases to sites that have given bad reviews or do shady things like delete negative posts with merit from their site or delete things like steam reviews.

        Last edited 23/11/15 10:06 pm

    It's a very foreign concept for Kotaku....

    How about apologising?

    But I'm sure Stephen is sitting and watching the click count.

    Kotaku remains blacklisted, and Bethesda and Ubisoft will still sell truckloads of product.

      https://40.media.tumblr.com/60a5c0b0c354614c22892164e4a200a3/tumblr_inline_nmq3ngQw3a1s10l1j_540.jpg

        http://cdn.meme.am/instances/500x/55189799.jpg

          You probably shouldn't engage the troll, lest he take you down to his level and beat you.

      For what? That's kinda the point of the story.

      For what? Kotaku didn't incite anyone to leak information? What exactly have they done wrong here?

        There's more than one person in an email. Therefore its still private and they should have the decency to contact the company.

        It's not in a "journalists" job description to announce a companies game. It is to report on the companies game after the company has announced it.

          Whoa, whoa, whoa there. That is categorically wrong and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what journalism is. What you've described is the Fox News definition of journalism.

          A journalist's job IS to find diverse information sources (some of them preferably independent) on topics and items of interest to their reader base. That means getting information OUTSIDE of the company PR feed and from sources who provide them with unfiltered information, and collating those into a complete, comprehensive, and unbiased picture of a situation.

            What you propose means that a company has no rights to its own IP.

            It's never a journalists job to announce a product (without prior approval of the IP owner).

              I think your definition of a journalist is the same as an internal marketing department or a public relations employee.

              No, the company still has full and incontestable rights to its IP. To suggest otherwise, again, I'm sorry, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of the phrase.

              However, it does not mean that should someone in the company deign to supply details of a forthcoming product to a company such as Kotaku, whose readers who would be interested in such information, that Kotaku cannot report that information provided it does its due diligence to confirm the veracity of such leaks.

              Someone like Kotaku may also wish to approach the company to confirm "is this happening", but if they get stonewalled by the company, then they are under absolutely no obligation to the publishing/developing company to withhold that information from their readers. After all, this is a scoop of information and has been provided to them independently.

              The person who has provided the leaks has not behaved according to the company's rules, but Kotaku are not and should never be beholden to the developer/publisher *as that is what ensures the independence and neutrality that is utterly essential to journalism*.

              Kotaku do not need to apologise, nor should they. They are doing their job. They are well within their right to announce a product before the company's PR train chooses to do so if they are provided with verifiable information that it is being developed.

              In the same vein, Bethesda and Ubisoft are also well within their right to not send them information - but in all honesty they are just shooting themselves in the foot because they are ensuring Kotaku does not necessarily relay the carefully crafted messages of the PR department. Personally, I think it also makes them look a little childish because they're getting mad at Kotaku for simply doing their job.

              Last edited 20/11/15 1:57 pm

              Yes, journalists should only ever regurgitate press releases and should never gather their own information. Those damn Watergate journalists, why couldn't they just go along with what Nixon was doing?! Highly unethical.

                Yes they should announce the game, the story, the location, the partial script.... Before the developer. /slow clap

                Kotaku whinging about PR but wanting to be the PR of every developer it seems.

                Has nothing to do with Watergate. Bethesda and Ubisoft were not breaking any law.

                  So if someone at Valve suddenly passed off a bunch of screenshots or information about Half Life 3, then Kotaku shouldn't release it because it would be wrong/bad/immoral/something?

                  That's essentially what you're saying here.

                  Even though thousands if not millions of gamers would be insanely eagerly to find out about it, Kotaku should just go "oh, we'll just not say anything"... because... reasons?

                  Last edited 21/11/15 11:54 am

          That's an advertisers job, not a journalists. I understand that historically 'games journalism' has revolved around selling ad space and it's never been subtle about it, but that doesn't mean they're not allowed to branch out and write actual articles about events relevant to the industry.

    I'm not sure how this is a surprise. Developers and Publishers (especially the huge ones) want to be in control of the information they release. A leak of a game they weren't even planning to announce for 18 more months is huge.

    If you want information, and communication- then surely you need to prove to them you can be trusted with sensitive information. To me this article sounds incredibly entitled.

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