Variety's Ben Fritz thinks so. Provoked by IGN's 10/10 rating of Grand Theft Auto IV, he draws a line that seems to connect "exclusive" first-crack reviews of games and superior, almost historic ratings (as is the case in GTA IV.)
For example, Game Informer gave Mass Effect a near-perfect 9.75 out of 10, while citing many problems that might otherwise lead to a lower score (and the fact Dan himself doesn't think it even comes close, but never mind that.) Without passing judgment on GTA IVs 10/10ness, he thinks that exclusive reviews are "ethically troubling" at minimum.
"But how can we trust a videogame review when the outlet running it has been given a major commercial favour — one that's worth money — from the publisher of the game? You never see a paper or TV station getting special access from a movie studio or TV network or book publisher to run an "exclusive review." Imagine the L.A. Times or Roger Ebert touting their "exclusive review of 'Iron Man.'" Absurd, right? So why do we tolerate it for a videogame?"
For the record, Dan says he never labels a review exclusive. Neither do we.
Exclusive Reviews are Ethically Troubling [The Cut Scene]