Gamasutra have posted a fairly fascinating look into the relationship between publishers and the gaming press. It's a good read regardless, but the highlight has got to be a bunch of quotes from journo Todd Zuniga, who did a stint at Rockstar working in PR. Between Jeff's blog posts and now this, it doesn't seem like the nicest place to work. Here's a highlights package of Zuniga's experiences:
Rockstar was big on trying to get specific people to review specific games," says Zuniga. "But it's a fine line - you can't just come out and ask, because it seems like you're trying to take away editorial control." They went so far as to track seemingly pointless personal details of some writers. "Hilariously, we even had a list of journalist preferences: Likes cake, married, went to school at Indiana U. Shit like that," says Zuniga. "It was a weird f*cking place to work."
At Rockstar there was a fear factor," says Zuniga. "Our bosses tried to intimidate us into doing everything we could - it was total mental warfare. The big guys knew in their hearts that we couldn't change a journalist's mind, but they still pushed hard for us to try, just in case we could.
And my personal favourite:
Retaliation against the press was common practice at the house that Grand Theft Auto built. "That's all we ever did at Rockstar," says Zuniga. "Even the lamest line of text that didn't praise the game would be viewed as a sleight. If a preview read 99.9% positive, they'd labour over how to 'fix' that .1%. It was ridiculous and frustrating. 'Ban IGN, let's go with 1up! Wait, 1up said something .2% bad - ban 1up! GameSpot's already banned - what now?' It just felt like the blind leading the blind."
See? Loco. And while a book deal is a nice idea, I'm now thinking something more like a TV miniseries. It's the only way to really capture the drama. Hit the link for the full piece, it's good stuff. PR And The Game Media: How PR Shapes What You Think About Games [Gamasutra]
[pic by Josh Ellingson]