Could Bethesda’s Review Policy Start A Trend?

Bethesda’s surprising review stance announcement that they have made the decision to delay supplying review code of their games to media outlets until one day before release (see official statement here), has certainly caused a stir in the gaming world and rightly so. A change in gaming tradition that has been a standard practice within gaming culture since practically the start of the past-time we all know and love is sure to spark discussion across the community.

This week, the Sparks get involved in the debate and (among other topics) discuss the pro’s and cons of the game review landscape, the need for reviews within gaming circles and ponder over not only whether Bethesda would have made a decision like this 5 – 10 years ago but also if they, by making their announcement of only giving reviewers copies of their games one day before release, shines a light on the increasing perception of the main stream games media becoming less and less relevant and certainly less powerful in the brave new world of Internet enabled Let’s Plays, Streamers and the new breed of Influencers in general.

rockstar-games-logo_fotorHistorically, apart from a minority of exceptions, review copies being sent out late or a review embargo that does not allow reviews to drop until game release has set alarm bells ringing that a publisher could be trying to withhold a true picture of the game in question and somehow glean sales that may have been affected by reviews highlighting perceived shortcomings. Rockstar are an obvious exception, it has become their style to hold back on review code for years now and this is accepted as normal from them – but you know – it’s Rockstar. With such a high pedigree comes a degree of faith in their fans and freedom in how they market their wares.

The same could absolutely be argued in Bethesda’s favour – a publisher with a reputation of quality products for many years. They have the faith and the fans already in abundance. Could this new stance shake the faith of their fans or, having proved themselves over time, does this make little difference? They cite Doom in their official statement regarding this issue as an example of their new policy and it was a great game by all accounts. No delay to disguise quality there and all signs point to Dishonored 2 gallantly carrying that torch of quality forward.

So what about the big gaming media sites around the web? Has Bethesda’s hammer struck the biggest nail into the casket of mainstream media reviews we have yet seen? Or is the service provided by these outlets sought by enough people that demand would stay the hand of other publishers following suit?

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The exposure that the big gaming sites can give smaller teams is surely invaluable and it would be a great shame if withdrawal en masse by the big business publishers caused a cessation on all game reviews, though hopefully that would be incredibly unlikely.

If it did kick off a chain reaction though, would it make a big difference? Are the gamers that depend on reviews of a game to give them the faith to make the purchase actually that large a group to make a noticeable difference to sales?

Listen in to hear the guys chat it out.

Also in the news this week we have details on November’s PS Plus titles.  This month we have the fantastic Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Brighton based developer The Chinese Room bring us the spiritual successor to Dear Esther. Set in a small, deserted English town, it’s your job to find out what happened to its missing inhabitants – this is a must play and a Spark favourite when it was released earlier in the year.

Also in the PS Plus line-up this month we have:

In the ‘What We’ve Been Playing’ section Antony goes hands on with Mantis Burn Racing, a great top-down racing gaming for PS4, Xbox One and PC.  Mantis Burn Racing (MBR) was an instant hit with the Sparks at this year’s EGX, listen to our EGX show for full details.  And now hands-on the game does not disappoint.

Listen to Antony’s full impressions on this week’s Lost Spark Podcast.

Darren was delighted to come across a rebooted Golden Axe Soundtrack beautifully realised as a orchestrated cinematic composition by video game and film composer Rich Douglas. This officially licensed gem brings back that nostalgia of playing Sega’s classic back in the day with a wonderful audiotastic HD gloss to your ears!

Almost every track from the first game in the series has been updated to sound more like something you would hear in an epic fantasy film or game, the album breathes fiery new life into the iconic music from this classic game originally composed by Tohru Nakabayashi.

Golden Axe was also released on the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System in 1989, the same music was adapted across all systems. Check out the page and samples of the album here. Dazza liked it so much he made up his own Golden Axe trailer featured in the pod (oh dear!) and we even changed the outro this week to a Golden Axe tribute!

If you want more information on some of the items in this weeks Podcast here are some handy links:

If you would like to give us a rating or a review on iTunes then we have this handy link for you, click here to jump to iTunes review for the Lost Spark Podcast!

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