Kotaku Japan Confronted By Famitsu And Konami

Kotaku Japan Confronted By Famitsu And Konami

On April 20th, I wrote a post titled /”Do Not Trust This Magazine’s Review Scores” that showed the conflict of interest Japanese magazine Famitsu has. And what a conflict of interest it is.

Famitsu appears in upcoming stealth PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. What’s more, former Famitsu Editor-in-Chief Hirokazu Hamamura appears in print ads (pictured above), actively promoting the game. In fact, an entire ad campaign was built around a pun on his last name. He also appeared on an official Konami website promoting the game. He is currently president of Enterbrain, the company that owns and publishes Famitsu.

Unlike normal advertisements, Famitsu and Enterbrain are being used to promote the game. They are active participants.

This is a clear conflict of interest. It is undeniable, inescapable. This conflict of interest did not stop Famitsu from reviewing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Famitsu did not mention this conflict of interest in the body of its review.

Peace Walker was awarded a perfect review score from Famitsu. Whether or not Peace Walker deserved this score is besides the point — the score is not the issue here. The issue here is how Famitsu and Enterbrain operate.

From my original post:

From what Kotaku has played of the game, Peace Walker does look like an exceptional PSP title. We’re not saying that it didn’t deserve the 40 out of 40 that Famitsu gave it. The game’s designer, Hideo Kojima, has continually stressed how much effort and energy has gone into developing the title. All that effort and energy seems wasted on raised eyebrows over poor promotional and collaborative choices. Even if the game does appear to be fantastic, the review appears bought. It needlessly dirties up what could very well be a great game – a game that should stand alone on its own merit.

Peace Walker is better than this. Hideo Kojima is better than this. Famitsu, it seems, is not.

Today, Kotaku Japan (which is owned by a different company than Kotaku.com) received a letter from Famitsu over this post, taking issue with the post. Kotaku Japan published a translated version of my original post.

Today, Kotaku Japan was also contacted by Konami, the game’s publisher. Konami has uninvited Kotaku Japan from a launch event for Peace Walker — an event that the site had previously been invited to. Apparently, the issue here is also this post over Famitsu conflict of interest. However, Famitsu’s review is a conflict of interest. The publication should not be trusted.

So, Kotaku Japan was contacted by both Famitsu and Konami. Both taking issue with the post. In the same day. What a kwinky dink.

It doesn’t matter if Kotaku Japan cannot go to some Peace Walker PR event. What does matter is that this seems coordinated, insidious, even. It is as if both Famitsu and Konami are attempting to bully Kotaku Japan. But Kotaku Japan didn’t write the post, it translated it. So shoot the messenger when you don’t like the message.


  • I saw the original article written by you guys and I agree wholeheartedly. Any one should be able to notice the issues arising from such a thing. I don’t see how anyone can possible disagree without just being ignorant.

  • Their response is ridiculous, but it doesn’t change the fact that your article was as ridiculous.

    Calling out a major reviewer and judging a game based on “what you’ve played of the game” is probably one of the most ludicrous things you’ve ever done. It’s like taking a lick of hard-candy coated bubblegum and saying “From what I tasted, it was ok”.

    Your article wreaked of sensationalism, and their reply wreaks of PR execs having a sad. Although you publicizing it and acting like you’ve outed some big secret is extremely patronizing. What, it’s not possible for someone to just have seen the article and shot the people in charge an email about it? No. It has to be some big conspiracy against Kotaku.


    This whole thing is a needlessly ugly result of your preemptive judgement of a game that isn’t released yet.

    • This has nothing to do with how good the game is, fool. it clearly says that, all they’re saying is ‘this magazine has conflicting interests in regards to the success of the game, therefore their opinion is worth nothing because it’s been compromised’ end of story. It may turn out that kotaku will love the game, ign and gamespot will give it perfect 10’s and everyone will enjoy it but irregardless you cannot trust a journalistic source if it has invested interest in a product is supposedly subjectively reviewing.

      • Totally agree. In the original post the quality of the game was barely even mentioned, and when it was it was spoken of positively. The post was about the conflict of interest not the quality of the game, something BrendanJB seems to have missed.

        As to the original post, well what can I say. To be honest I’m not surprised, sorry Brian, it’s still not a world where you can point out these kinds of things without someone copping some flak. I kind of feel bad for Kotaku Japan, though hopefully they agree with you as much as I do and don’t mind their un-invites being the price of putting up a good piece of journalism.

    • Gosh who feels like an idiot…Brendan…

      anyways, so who does own Kotaku Japan, i thought it would be under the same company as kotaku usa?

      Is Kotaku a franchise now?

    • BrendanJB did get a few things wrong, in fact, he got it kinda stupidly wrong having read the original article myself, but I believe his last comments rings somewhat true.

      There’s no denying there obviously is a conflict of interest here, let’s just get that out of the way. But was it really necessary to use that title for the original article or to write as if you have all the facts? Why not have it be written as some sort of curious contention? Instead, it read like a smart-ass xbot with with deep repressed anger over Metal Gear exclusivity who couldn’t keep himself together. You might read this and think it’s nit-picky but this is partly, if even to a lesser degree, Ashcraft’s fault.

      To look at this metaphorically, Ashcraft is the guy who happened to come across a wounded kid lying in a pool of blood and a man crouched over him with blood on his hands. So, instead of questioning the guy, or reporting him to the police, he begins to savagely beat the man to near death; and then you wonder why when his family/friends suddenly beat a man who looks like you.

      And now, what? You’re sad for Kotaku Japan?

      Konami/Famitsu aren’t the only ones who need to apologise to Kotaku Japan, that’s all I’m saying.

      • This is an open and shut case of a unethical journalistic behavior on the behalf of Famitsu.

        You said yourself there is no question about it.

        So your metaphor fails because in essence Ashcraft saw the man kill the child.

        Ashcraft has every right to attack Famitsu. It’s a fucking disgrace they think it’s fine to behave in such a manner.

        Every single person in that organisation should be stood down immediately, and a full investigation into their accounts and procedures should be done.

        • “This is an open and shut case of a unethical journalistic behavior on the behalf of Famitsu.

          You said yourself there is no question about it.

          So your metaphor fails because in essence Ashcraft saw the man kill the child.”

          So you’re saying it’s totally impossible in this world for there to be two wrongs in the same situation? How naive.

          and, “They have every right to attack Famitsu?” Really? What are we, cavemen? Y’know, there’s a reason why parents send they’re kids to a ‘naughty corner’ instead allowing them to treat their kids like punching bags everytime they do something wrong.

          I’m not saying Kotaku and its editors aren’t able to call something out if it looks suspect, just that they should exercise a little restraint. They certainly didn’t NEED to attack anyone in order to get their point across.

          But hey, I don’t expect you to comprehend these concepts as you’ve so clearly failed to divine the purpose of that metaphor.

          • You seem to be suggesting that Kotaku’s treatment of Famitsu is excessive. Perhaps you mean that instead of saying the magazines reviews cannot be trusted you think Kotaku should have mentioned that only this particular review is suspect.

            I believe that this sort of thing is the tip of the iceberg. If they’re willing to be so blatant in this case it’s likely that there is plenty more going on that I can’t see. Of course I can’t prove that and the original article stressed that it had only heard rumours. Still I am glad that Kotaku told me about it.

            It’s similar to claiming that Fox doesn’t have an editorial bias. Maybe you might not be able to prove it for a given report but the ones that do make it obvious tarnish every other.

      • There is nothing in that article that reads “like a smart-ass xbot with with deep repressed anger over Metal Gear exclusivity who couldn’t keep himself together” I think you are projecting your own thoughts and opinions onto his article.

  • I don’t see what they are scared of.

    Out of the people that will check out the game or buy it – how many of those will actually read such article to be like “OH! Their perfect score is all some scam! I’m not gonna get this, its probably crap then!”

    Like THIS article suggests, whether or not Peace Walker deserves a perfect score is beside the point.

    But my point is, they are scared over something like that and like Kotaku says, bullying Kotaku Japan over something they didn’t really write. It’s not really gonna hurt sales by people, a small percentage, will know. It all comes down to person judgement of the same and word of mouth on how great (or crap) the game really is.

    They are just making themselves look like fools now!

    • I agree, spread some Kotaku PR by saying we were uninvited for saying that a magazine with people being paid by a game developer, might have suspect reviews of games made by said developer. Lol.

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