Gamekult co-founder responds to Sony Blacklist

Gamekult co-founder nanark responded today in the Gamekult forums about the Sony Blacklist. He no longer works for the site.
The ban is considered as a retaliation after GK review. Poischich (Gamekult Editor) gave Heavy Rain a 6.
Here is the translation of nanark comment :
"As a reminder because many do not necessarily know me, I am co-founder of the site and was president of Gamekult until it was sold to CNET in 2007. I am not working there anymore and I therefore consult GK as a simple reader.
Answer :
In fact, many publishers have blacklisted us more or less violently in the past.Canceling ads contracts regularly, stoping sending the games, stupid threats not always followed, etc..During my period, this happened with Ubi Soft, Microsoft, EA, Acclaim, Focus, Eidos, and of course Sony plus a bunch of smaller ones.
But the most ridiculous, it's been Sony who wanted to prevent us from testing an import game (GT4), a game thus commercially available...All the press has accepted the decision of Sony, being afraid of retaliation, which didn't take a long time to actually happen.
I pass the telephone conversation with their amazing PR who even threatened us with a court trial :) In short, we refused of course, we are not their puppy.
He then sent an email threatening quite clear to all amateur and pro sites indicating that they would cut us the ads (etc) and the little that was clever enough just doing his job might just be the second.
The PR guy then acted his threat: he claimed his debug PS2 back (which can run publisher games), no longer sent games, and for the ads, I think it did not have consequences, because the PR guy has no arms as long as that, he is only a PR guy after all :)
Later, he contacted us like "ok guys, let's bury the hatchet, you must come to the presentation of our Sony sponsored car for the 24h du Mans race" or something like that.
We did not go because we don't give a f*** about the car, he did not much appreciated. But from there, we received new games and other debug PS2.
Not from his initiative obviously, but I'm just guessing there ...At the time, we decided to not make the story public because it does not ultimately change much in our business: GameKult testing games for players, and we came to the conclusion to not relate in our columns threats and their applications (very, very regular) from game publishers, because with just this we could make another site ultimately not very interesting.
And we are used to buying the games, so short, nothing special. Anyway, almost 3 years since I'm retired and I see that the practices have not changed.That said, why would they change while there are some sites selling their a** for an exclusivity or ads (Note : Gameblog gave Heavy Rain a 5/5 and hosts the VIP blog of David Cage)"

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Bungie4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

wow i have to read this

still can't believe how sony could do this over a review

"But the most ridiculous, it's been Sony"

"I pass the telephone conversation with their amazing PR who even threatened us with a court trial :) "

"Gameblog gave Heavy Rain a 5/5 and hosts the VIP blog of David Cage"

wow , is this for real !!!

Karooo4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

During my period, this happened with Ubi Soft, Microsoft, EA, Acclaim, Focus, Eidos, and of course Sony plus a bunch of smaller ones.

also its a new IP. Sony is taking huge risk with it.

callahan094005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

All I know is that in exchange for getting free early release copies of games and debug consoles to play them on, you have to follow your end of the contract. If they tell you not to publish the review until a certain date, you're breaking the contract by publishing it early anyway. That's where the ball goes into the publisher's court. If they like your review and endorse what you've said about their product, then maybe they let your little slip-up slide. On the other hand, if they don't like what you had to say about it, then they have the right to take you to task for breaking your obligations. I see no problem with that.

As for this Gran Turismo 4 threat, I don't even understand what he's saying the issue was. Maybe it just got lost in translation. But he's saying Sony wouldn't let them publish a review of the foreign release? That doesn't sound right at all. Is he saying that they wouldn't SEND him a copy of the foreign version? That would make much more sense. If someone understands French and can provide a better translation, I'd appreciate reading about that situation he describes, because it sounds interesting. Much more interesting, potentially, than this silly Heavy Rain review feud, which is perfectly reasonable considering they broke the embargo.

Cold 20004005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

Lol, so this isnt Sony's first attempt. And people talk about MS sending checks...Sony don't waste any money: they simply drag you to court lol.

"(Note : Gameblog gave Heavy Rain a 5/5 and hosts the VIP blog of David Cage)". Hmmm...interesting...I guess there IS a conspiracy after all :)

@callahan09: I live in France, and the translation is exactly what he said. He explicitly says that Sony tried to keep them for reviewing the Japanese (I guess it must be the Japanese version since it was out before the EU version) version of GT 4 though it had already been released. Overall the translation is almost 100% accurate.

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Cold 20004005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

"but microsoft probably paid them off to not tell."

Yeah...that's why in this very article he says MS blacklisted them.

"they don't want any bad publicity ruining their "honest appearance" cus microsoft is teh shih./s "

You got to be one of those people who think MS are evil and that Sony is in the business out of charity. Well, sorry that you finally see the cold truth: business is business...even for Sony :)

edit: lool, ohhh looks like sombody's hurt :D

truegame4005d ago

Fungie you are the first to post on every article. When do you find time to play games? Paid to post on the site, it has to be.

nycredude4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

typical MS tool.

He reads all that and the only thing he sees is "Sony".

It's like Sony drinks his milkshake at lunch or something.

I am not entirely surprised by all the people who have blacklisted this site before. This guys has a piss poor combative attitude. And also after ME2 7 and this 6? I have to question what their taste in games is really.

I didn't read the entire review but from what others said there are major spoilers in the end of it. If true then Sony should sue them cause this game relies on story the most and spoilers would ruin it for many.

kwyjibo4005d ago

The comment the co-founder made, relates way back to the PS2 days, showing Sony PR in a negative light for unwarranted pressure - such as attempting to block an import review.

The current blacklisting is more likely due to contractual issues regarding NDA and embargo breaking.

Don't break contracts.

4005d ago
starvinbull4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

There's 2 sides to this from the journalists point of view.

1. magazines can be influenced to improve review scores (apparently) or to abide by rules they disagree with. If this is true then perhaps magazines friendly to one publisher can be unfriendly to another publisher.

2. Journalists have to suffer for their craft breaking embargos and not being afraid to tell the truth about a game. If this is true then why would the behaviour of publishers even matter? Wouldn't it just be considered part of the job?

gaffyh4005d ago

If you've been blacklisted by THAT many publishers, you're doing something wrong.

french_one4005d ago

Or you're not accepting to sell your reviews to any of them

4005d ago
french_one4005d ago

Even small companies don't like negative reviews.

Bathyj4005d ago

If all those publishers have had a beef with them, they must be a pretty dodgy site. They even seem proud of it.

4005d ago
french_one4005d ago

Because Gamekult is the 2nd french website in visitors. And not like most others websites, and evenmore the US ones, Gamekult really uses the rates from 1 to 10, and not only between 7 and 10 where 8 is an average game but still gives a good help on metacritics or on the official covers or websites to please the editors.

darthv724005d ago

You can either have a reviewer with vindictive behavior and purposely gives a good game a bad score. Thus causing ad revenue to be jeopardized. Or a reviewer who absolutely praises the company and gives bad games a good score (to keep relations and ad revenue active).

If a review site breaks their NDA regarding early reviews then they should be accountable for their actions regardless of the review score. Some would say that if the score is favorable, the parent company may just let it slide and some would say if the score is bad then the parent company gets all wigged out. This happens in pretty much everything (movies, car reviews, etc) not just video games.

Obviously the main company is looking to have released a product that is favorable amongst the reviewing audience as it then translates into higher sales to the consumer. Yet we all seem to recall the fiasco of Gamespot and Kane/Lynch and how the review was not favorable and someone got fired and yet it seemed to be that the review was sponsored by the main company and still didn't get the paid response they were looking for. (if I remember correctly).

Whether people want to believe this or not...all review sites are paid by the companies that provide ads as well as copies of their games for review (in some cases the review sites have to purchase their own copy because they got in trouble at some point). There is to much pressure on legit reviewers to try and please everybody.

To be fair, I would actually believe a review site that has NO sponsored ads from companies who their products get reviewed (like consumer reports). It would imply that they can't buy their way in and possibly the review itself.

After all, a review is merely an opinion that some may not share. It is best to use the reviews as a basis to formulate your own decision to try before you buy. Which is why I really appreciate demos games either released before or at the same time as the retail release. Making a demo weeks or months after launch just doesn't work for me.

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rockleex4005d ago

So they're about to test an import game, and Sony wanted them to wait for the non-imported version... yet Sony is at fault?

He does something shifty, then when others tell him to stop... THEY'RE the ones that are doing wrong and not him?

Seems like this douchebag just likes going out of his way to annoy everyone.

sikbeta4005d ago

Lets be clear, why the site don't tell the TRUTH, they Go for hits, I mean Come on, ME2: 7/10? The Game that give IGN the Perfect Excuse to make a Flamebait Article for More Hits and Heavy Rain, 6/10?, please, something Relative NEW, something that is breaking the habit, aka FPS Games everywhere and obviously an Unique Story and Gameplay, why? cuz they know xbox owners will attack HR for being different and cuz PS3 owner will respond in a BAD way when they know some site is Downplaying the Game

dragunrising4005d ago

Its hilarious how many people are coming to Sony's aide just because its Sony. It doesn't matter if other company's are guilty of the same. The article is about Heavy Rain and PS3. Lets not be sheep people. Sony isn't a person, or your best friend...only a company. Everyone should be outraged that they are demanding good reviews. Thats what the issue is. Lets not pretend otherwise.

goflyakite4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

It's because Sony is the one under attack.


The thing I find funny is all the 360 fanboys are just pretending like Sony is the only one.

Butt Shingles4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

First of all, you have to understand that every company trys to sway the opinion of game reviewers. Have you honestly ever seen an "exclusive" review for a "AAA" game get a bad score? No. And thats because they publishers says "We'll give you an exclusive, and you'll give us a high score."

With that said, something tells me with all the money they have into GT5, they're going to MAKE SURE that game succeeds. Im calling it now, 10/10 Official Playstation Magazine first review.

baum4005d ago

Microsoft are saints!! Sony is the devil!! It couldn't possibly be that Gameblog loved the game!

All 10s that Halo, Gears, GTA and Modern Warfare 2 got are REAL! All Sony games suck just because they're on the PS3 so they couldn't possibly get real 10s!! MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

PR0X14005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )


Hong Kong, October 24th of 2006 -, the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.


pixelsword4005d ago

Therein lies your answer:

a pattern of bad behavior by the site.

Consoldtobots4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

"As a reminder because many do not necessarily know me, I am co-founder of the site and was president of Gamekult until it was sold to CNET in 2007"


now where are all the yahoos here who like to portray gamers as conspiracy theorists?

baum4005d ago

"Hong Kong, October 24th of 2006 -, the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.


You do know that Microsoft and Nintendo also sued Lik-Sang, right? And that by your logic, you should also "F*CK M$" and "F*CK NINTENDO", right?

RememberThe3574005d ago

Sony is evil! Along with every other publisher on the planet...

They're reviewing imports and not retail games and they expect Sony or anyother publisher to be OK with it? These guys are morons...

N4Flamers4004d ago

I believe every site is welcome to their opinion, but sony has the right not to send them games and consoles too.

I mean if I made cheeseburgers and some jerk kept saying my cheese burgers were crap then I would stop giving him my delicious burgers. If that person then wants to buy my burgers from a friend, let them.

kws10654004d ago

Not all the sites are payed for reviews, and Gamekult review score is way off from the main stream just like being an outlier. In other word, being useless.

Eccentric is good as long as it makes sense.

Hanif-8764004d ago

I'd personally give the Heavy Rain demo a 5/5 because its pretty much the most amazing thing i've ever played in my life :-)

zeeshan4004d ago

Well if they broke the Embargo, they SHOULD be in deep sh**. Follow the contract or suffer dude!

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Shadow Flare4005d ago

Sony should blacklist EDGE. Edge's reviews are consistently way below metacritic reviews. Ie: they don't know how to review games properly, and its liabless to consistently say a game is alot worse then everyone else says it is

callahan094005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

I don't personally think Edge reviews are meaningful. They constantly give low scores to games I love, which, if I listened to them, would mean I miss out on a great game. But that doesn't mean they should be blacklisted, they just have some kind of standard and taste that differs from mine. Maybe they exercise double standards from time to time, but what critics don't for God's sakes. I think Sony should continue to let Edge have their say, but that doesn't mean I'm ever going to pay attention to their reviews.

Edit: What do you disagree with me about?

Edit 2: Really? I'm honestly curious, what have I said that is disagreeable? Do they give below the average scores to beloved games? Yes. See: Gears of War, Mass Effect, Killzone 2, and many, many more. Do they have the occasional double standard? Absolutely. They will sometimes rate a game down for "unoriginality" and then give a really high score to games that have no originality. I don't even need to give examples. You know what I'm talking about. Do other critics harbor double standards? Absolutely. You can't honestly think that critics are perfect. Look at GameTrailers. They said that a game like Uncharted 2 could never get above a 9.3 because it isn't innovative enough, then they give higher scores to Modern Warfare 2 and Mass Effect 2, which are exactly like Uncharted 2 in that they are fantastic games that take the best of their genre and do it better than it's been done before, but none of the 3 are innovative games, so why do the latter 2 not have to adhere to that standard? Answer: double standards. They're not the only ones. It's extremely common. Or do you just disagree that Sony shouldn't blacklist them? I dunno. I just don't understand why my comment gets multiple disagrees and no explanation, especially because I feel that it's a well-reasoned and truthful comment. But I guess reason and facts aren't respected on N4G.

Shadow Flare4005d ago

I didn't click disagree. I just think though that its out of order for edge to consistently score games lower then they actually are, as shown via metacritic. Because they can wrongfully mislead people. And sony should do something about it. But tbh, I suppose there's absolutely nobody who takes edge's reviews seriously. Everyone thinks their a joke

kwyjibo4005d ago

Maybe everyone *here* thinks they're a joke.

I'm sorry if you think reviewers should second guess the Metacritic average rather than offer their opinion. I'm sorry that you think that the Metacritic average is an objective qualifier for a game's quality.

starvinbull4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

The logic of your post would suggest that reviews ought to nearly always be above or below the MCA as opposed to being dead on it.
The reality with Edge is that they tend to be slightly below the MCA on one console and significantly below the MCA on another console, hence bias.

militant074005d ago

why dont you just say, SONY should black-list any website review sony game and give it lower than 10/10

ReBurn4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

Metacritic's scores are an average. If every score should be at or above the average then the score is no longer an average.

Since when did Metacritic become the defining word in quality? That's like calling this place the defining source of video game news.

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GUCommander4005d ago

All I can say is, This is why you need to rely on the smaller sites for accurate reviews. All the big sites are practically bought for most of their reviews. It is Lobbying of the gaming industry and it sucks. IGN and Gamespot are the biggest culprits yet their reviews of big games always hit the front page with 500+ degrees.

Karooo4005d ago

gamespot is the best site on the planet, IGN is the worst.

BeaArthur4005d ago

Small sites will some times give undeserving scores in an attempt to get hits on their website. There is no perfect system. The metascore is usually a good gauge. If everyone would release demos we could alleviate some of these issues.

Jammy22114005d ago

Arn't the smaller sites the most vulnerable to threats from the publishers? If Sony threaten to cut their Ad revenue that site could face going under - thus should we not look to the bigger - more financially stable sites - to have a neutral view point as they shouldn't be so easy to threaten.

It goes both ways really, in general I think you can see if a website is 'caught out' over inflating a score for money. While I'm sure it happens, if you actually read the review and not just the number in the corner you can normally tell whether you'll enjoy the game or not.

BeaArthur4005d ago

Jammy2211...excellent points. A site that lacks a ton of funding would be more afraid of backlash.

truegame4005d ago

GUCommander "This is why you need to rely on the smaller sites for accurate reviews". So you are trying to tell us that you agree with score of 7/10 for Mass Effect 2? since it was reviewed by them with a 7/10? explain?

Also when looking at reviews, you look for site that are consistent, no matter what platform, plus your judgment and a view from many sites(good and bad).

Tito084005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

weren't that great with reviews, but now they are more honest when it comes to their reviews, I was wondering why they chose Demon's Souls as game of the year, their reasons about it were very clear to me!!!!!

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LordMarius4005d ago

Good job Sony
Trash sites like Gamekult should go bankrupt

Butt Shingles4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

Droids are on spin control hardcore.

Sony couldn't fail with this new IP, so they had to use their clout to make sure they received good reviews.

Coincidence that every review site was French? And they were worried about Gamekult breaking the embargo, what about the other 10 French gaming sites that broke it? I guarantee they're NOT going to blacklist them because they gave the game 9's.

With this and the Kotaku blacklist before, Sony is looking a hell of a lot worse than Microsoft.

Pumbli4004d ago

"With this and the Kotaku blacklist before, Sony is looking a hell of a lot worse than Microsoft."

Yeah, because blacklisting reviewers has such a huuuuge effect on the gaming market./s Microsoft is still worse for bribing devs for exclusive content (seemingly with every big game release).

Besides, who cares if Kotaku is blacklisted by Sony or not? Sony's just trying to lock the special kid up in the basement. :P

el zorro4004d ago

See, you morons, Sony isn't any better than any other company. Sony isn't a saint or a charity.

Consoldtobots4004d ago

nobody ever said Sony is a godsend or a charity, what we do say is we appreciate a company that doesn't charge you just for using YOUR internet connection on YOUR console.Have a great lineup of games and don't put out a console that scratches disks or has a 33% failure rate.

that's what makes you a fanboy.

commodore644004d ago (Edited 4004d ago )


Sony cuts off reviewers that do not do as they are told.
Shame, Sony, Shame!

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happy_gilmore4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

every man and his dog can have a blog. but what i'm looking for is credibility. i think some sites give games high scores because of pressure from publishers. IGN's review of prince of persia is bogus. 91 for a 5-hour game?

other sites are giving controversial score for hits. and also, sites give hyped up games high score automatically to please the fanboys. see failo odst. no way that game is above 7.

finally, there is no objectivity and consistency in these reviews. how can you not say same old, same old to mw2 (cod6) but say that it's all been done for ratchet and clank acit(r&c6)?

it's really a matter of knowing which reviewer to trust. and, ultimately, following your instincts.

ZombieRollz4005d ago

If you're looking for straight-up honest reviews, I swear by

Anything they say that is a 4 or above I usually check out. They are right on the money with their score 99% of the time.

Michael-Jackson4005d ago (Edited 4005d ago )

They gave Mortal Combat vs DC heroes a 5/5...other than that I agree with their reviews, great site.

Gamekult can't review for S**t.

Conando4004d ago (Edited 4004d ago )

A matter of knowing which reviewers to trust? Ha! More like knowing which reviewers give PS3 exclusives high scores, and trusting them. Until they give another PS3 exclusive a low score or a 360 exclusive a high score, and then pretending you never trusted them. Those are classic PS3 fanboy tactics.

And I don't know about Giant Bomb... They're good for the most part, but they gave Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts a 5/5. Yeah...