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Controlled Information or Lack of Surprises: Which would you prefer?

Now that the PS4 and Xbox One are mere days away from launching, reviewers have been putting out all kinds of information regarding the consoles, the launch games, and anything else they can talk about given the limited amount of time they've been allowed to play on the consoles.

These are the days where the rumours are tested, and facts are released based on first hand experience with the devices in question. This is also the time where we get to see all of the secrecy, all of the NDAs, all of the rumours be exposed and put an end to one way or the other.

The lead up to these moments has been taxing on the gamers more than the journalists, no matter how much they may protest my saying that. We are the ones being fed information, and misinformation. Fact, and Rumour. We have to trust the journalists to be honest with us, and we have to sift through the PR double talk and find the true information. It's not an easy task to do either, and we've seen what even the most innocuous rumours can do to public image.

Publishers will explain that their secrecy, and the use of NDAs are necessary to maintain that surprise factor, as well as protect their work from duplication, however we've seen how many "no comment" remarks have backfired against one company or another in the months pre and post console reveal.

So the question has to be asked. What is more important to you as a gamer? Would you rather have access to all the information right away, knowing absolutely everything there is to know about a game or a console as though that information was laid bare before you for you to make your own judgements on? Or do you see the merit in publishers controlling information, releasing only what they want to release when they want to release it and in the context they want you to have?

Let's take a look at both sides. First, the "knowing everything" side.

I'd like you to watch this Jimquisition episode about Gaming Journalism...

In this video Jim talks about how the gaming press is hugely complicit in the state of gaming discussion these days, and that they have this smug sense of superiority in knowing something that the average gamer doesn't know because they have access to the publishers and the information that publishers want to give out, while the average gamer doesn't and just wants to have that information.

If we as gamers knew every piece of the information straight from the publishers/developers, this issue with the gaming press would be gone because half their job would already be done for them by the publishers/developers. Unfortunately, this might make discussion even worse as people may fly off half-cocked due to their lack of context for the information they are seeing. An example would be why a game is at a certain resolution at a certain development stage, and the fanboys just running with it as a way to put down the game or a console.

This would also mean a potential for massive losses of sales if people don't like what they are seeing even before the game is finished and released. So although this would put the journalists in their place, it could damage publishers and developers significantly, and I didn't even touch on how complete transparency could impact efforts to protect IPs.

Now let's discuss the current method where publishers hold all the information back, save what they want to let people know.

We've seen how this system works. A publisher's PR department decides what information is best shared with the public, information that makes the publishers/developers look good. A game or a console is announced, and the flow of information is normally slow and minimal, leaving far too many questions to answer at any one time.

Due to this method; rumours, leaks, and anonymous sources run rampant throughout the internet and flame wars are easily started from these. Misinformation, FUD, and outright lies are common, and journalists revert to their entitled smugness as they lord their positions of special privilege over all of us.

The plus side though is that we can be surprised and our expectations are never final until the release of the product. We can be wowed incrementally, or disappointed in the same way. Publishers/developers can also protect their ideas to ensure no one is copying them, trying to capitalize on a potentially winning idea before it even rushes out of the gate.

With the first method of complete transparency, the benefits favour the gamers far more than the journalists or the publishers/developers, while the second method is the exact opposite.

Based on your own sensibilities and what direction you want to see gaming discussion head in, which of the two do you think is best for the industry as a whole as well as gamers?

Personally, I think that a 3rd option needs to exist. A forum where publishers/developers can provide information directly to the consumer when they feel it is right to, but also allow the consumer to try out the product in various stages to form their own opinions without the need of the sensationalist, broken, unnecessary gaming media. That's probably idealism at its height, but I personally think that that would save everyone a lot of headaches.

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darthv721621d ago

Well, before the internet, gamers got their information via magazines like EGM, GamePro, NextGen, Diehard GameFan...etc and it was on a month to month basis.

So during the time between newsstand releases, we took what we read and let it brew, hoping our inside gut feeling was correct by the time the next issue hit the stands (if there was followup info).

today, there is no longer that sense of wonderment or secrecy. Too many insider leaks happen. i dont know if they are deliberate or accidental but when something hits the net, it spreads. in some odd way i really do think that there was a leaker of info on both sides (MS/Sony) because there are just too many similarities between the platforms.

Are we really to believe that last minute changes to the design, function and specifications just happen? Perhaps it does but there is a level of....coincidence here that just feels funny.

Now as to the development of the games, there is a pro and con to the information aspect. We are curious if the next game in question will have this or that and curiosity gets the best of us to the point where we poke and prod and ultimately get some info out of the developers. OR do they give it up just to shut us up for the time being???

sometimes, i have seen some rather interesting back and forths between devs and gamers. some to the point of if the gamer ISNT getting the info they are wanting they start to fabricate their own conclusion. then the dev has to step in to try and stall that rumor from spreading which leads to even more criticism from other gamers asking...why are you trying to cover it up if it isnt true?

i grew up with gaming and the magazine era of information and really miss those days of being surprised by a reveal that actually takes place on stage. instead, we get the thunder stolen on a daily basis. Many younger gamers are more used to the up to the minute release of information but i genuinely appreciated the monthly release as it seemed to be more regulated. It gave you something to look forward to when that next issue hit the stands. you took your time in reading and taking it all in.

We will never be able to go back to that golden age of gaming information ever again.

DragonKnight1621d ago

I hear ya there. I grew up with the Nintendo Power generation myself, though I wasn't lucky enough to have a subscription.

Having to wait a month to get your information not only allowed you to slowly absorb the previous information, but it also allowed you to experience surprise after surprise because a lot can happen in a month.

In this world of instant gratification and young gamers though, the mad fevered desire for up-to-the-second information causes more problems than it's worth in my opinion.

People can say what they want about graphics this, and multimedia features that, but I miss the simplicity of how the entire gaming industry was pre-Internet in terms of games and gaming news.

Bimkoblerutso1620d ago

A lot of it's nostalgia, I think, but I agree with you.

Plus, with the internet came a much more focused gaming community...which as we all know is not the most calm or level-headed of communities out there.

For a while last generation, I didn't understand why I was getting so burnt out all the time, but taking a step back from the terrible state of gaming journalism and the constant barrage of idiocy from a good portion of the online community, has kept me much more interested in gaming lately.

Kind of sad, if you think about it. It should be the opposite of that...

thereapersson1620d ago (Edited 1620d ago )


Yeah, that was going to be the point I wanted to make. Back when all we had to rely on were magazines and other publications, information came monthly and was digested in large chunks. You couldn't wait to see what next month's reveal was going to be. Now those "next month" reveals are available within hours of advent, so a lot of the mystery and suspense is taken out of the equation. The flip side is that companies now have to work even harder to impress consumers with announcements and product features.

Whitefox7891621d ago

The magazines really take me back, I remember how excited I would get if one of the issues would come with a demo disc for PS1 or Sega Dreamcast.

One of my memories that really stood out to me was an issue of Nintendo Power and seeing Donkey Kong 64 for the first time, it was then afterwards me and my brother lamented on not having the RAM expansion for the N64.

DragonKnight1621d ago

I miss the demo discs. I discovered some of my favourite games thanks to demo discs. In fact, the very first thing I played on my PS2 was a demo disc that introduced me to Dynasty Warriors 3 (best game in the series to this day) and although I was already an FF fan, a demo disc made me fall in love with FFX.

Those were the days.

thereapersson1620d ago (Edited 1620d ago )

The Official US Playstation Magazine was pretty much the driving force behind all my gaming during the PSone and PS2 days. I still have a stack of demo discs dating back to 1997, and even the disc that was packaged in the box when I first got my original PlayStation. Croc, RayStorm, Pa Rappa... and some secret demos if you hit the shoulder buttons and entered the right combination of face buttons.


Whitefox7891621d ago

I would rather be kept in the dark about a game this day in age rather then have what we have now which is just information overload.

Remember the days where you would just walk into a video game store or even blockbusters and just pick a game based off of its coverart?

For instance I hate video game trailers now in days, they show way too much information regarding the story.

How much more awesome would it have been if we played MGS4 for the first time and then finding out at the end of Act 3 we were going back to the decaying remains of Shadow Moses and pilot Metal Gear REX. Instead of it being a really nice surprise for the fans, its instead used as a tool to build up hype.

Lukejrl1621d ago

I use amazing self control. The only spoiler i saw was on a headline for IGN that had Sunny on it and the caption of "Olga's Daughter something something.... I immediately went into bathroom and slit my wrists.

Other than that I figured Meryl would be in it cause after MGS1 you never heard her name again in the main story.

Any game I want to play I only look at the first on or two reveal trailers to get an idea and anticipation then I walk away.

memots1620d ago

worst part is people watching lets play video. Dafuq ?? don't you want to discover the game yourself and make up your own strategy ?

DragonKnight1620d ago

There are people out there, like myself, for whom being told a story, or seeing it in the case of an LP, doesn't diminish their experience when they get to actually play the game.

Many use LPs to also see if a game they heard was bad is actually good or vice versa. LPs are valuable because they aren't edited to the wishes of a PR department.

Demster1616d ago

people who still say "dafuq" in 2013 are as bad as people who watch let's play videos

Roccetarius1620d ago

I'm actually pretty happy with the current state of information. It makes it easier to read between the lines, and point out what is and isn't a lie. This puts the pressure on companies to release a compelling product, instead of them sitting there counting money from uninformed gamers.

Games Journalism? Well, they're pressured from the industry itself. Many sites are being fed by them, so they don't want to bite that hand. I've known what to sort out for quite some time now, and i trust my own perception of news / video from a game.

If gamers (like myself) is kept in the dark, then i just won't buy the game on release. It's the same waiting game i already play, except for a few select developers, which i trust.

MacDonagh1620d ago

I want the truth. There is something very weird going on and game journalism has barely a shred of integrity there but I can no longer trust publishers or developers either. I look at the last-gen and all the things that happened in it and I think game journalists have a measure of responsibility for the way things have become. Publishers and developers also ought to cut the PR responses and actually engage with the unwashed proles.

LightofDarkness1620d ago (Edited 1620d ago )

"Gaming journalism" is an oxymoron.

It is not a field or subject which holds gravity enough to warrant serious journalistic virtue. It's the same as films and sports cars; at the end of the day, the best you can achieve is an enthusiast's fan-zine style of journalism. This means heavy product endorsement and advertising. It's also akin to morning/daytime talk-shows: its only purpose (99% of the time) is to sell you something and make you aware of other things that you can or will be able to buy. That is why they work hand-in-hand with publishers and developers, because it's in their mutual interest to help each other. Nobody's going to break a "Watergate" level scandal covering videogames.

In the grand scheme of things, videogames don't really matter that much, which is why we have the level of "journalism" that we have now. It's either product endorsement, an exercise in marketing or it's just someone with a blog bleating on a virtual soapbox. That may sound harsh, but if you're really honest with yourself, I think you'll find it's quite true.

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