Welcome to VideoGamer.com's Monday Morning Rant, our regular feature where one of the team gets to vent their spleen on anything that annoys them about the wonderful world of gaming. No subject, no matter how taboo, will be free from our cutting comment and vicious vitriol. Got that Monday morning feeling? Read on, and brace yourself for a wake-up call.
By now you've probably heard that US video game website GameSpot's reviews editor has been sacked following his less than favourable review of Eidos' action shooter Kane & Lynch.
The story has generated thousands of forum posts on the Internet already, so I'm not going to launch into a rant over Eidos' apparent unhappiness at the review, nor GameSpot's parent company, Cnet, which appears to have buckled from advertiser pressure. What I will rant over is the common misconception that review scores and review tone is often bought by publishers in a "moneyhats" fashion.
For the record, we here at VideoGamer.com have never been offered favours, financial or otherwise, in exchange for positive opinions about games. Publishers have certainly complained at some of our review scores, and coverage of events, but the "moneyhats" myth has not graced us, so far, with its presence.
When we give a game a good score, or a poor one for that matter, it is because, in our opinion, it deserves it. This is something that the vast majority of game journalists do, whether it's online, TV, radio or print.
Sometimes, when gamers are very excited about an upcoming release - gamers who have perhaps closely followed a game's development, got excited over screens, trailers and previews - they get very upset when that game disappoints. And they get upset at reviews which reflect this.
This is human nature of course. It's like with the England football team. The team's chance of success is massively over hyped, so when England fail to qualify for a tournament, our disappointment turns into anger, which is then directed at the players who we in turn accuse of not trying hard enough. It feels like they have cheated us.
On the whole, this isn't the case. What tends to happen is that the players just do not perform well on the day or they are simply not good enough. This is the same with video games.
Some game fans get very upset when reviewers give a game, one they probably haven't even played, a score that is less than they were hoping it would get, or higher than the average score across a number of publications. Their anger is directed at the reviewer, or the publication. They cry foul - that the reviewer is a "fanboy" of a rival console manufacturer in the case that the score is poor - or they cry "moneyhats" when the game gets a better score than its average.
A review is the opinion of the reviewer and it's no more complex than that. If you don't agree with it then it is simply a difference of opinion. The reviewer is not deliberately trying to mislead you, on the whole.
Of course there are exceptions, and some puzzling examples where a game will get a review score it probably didn't deserve. And when you see a publication appear in a game's in-game advertising, it does indeed raise a few eyebrows, especially when that publication gets the exclusive review. It's the age-old conflict of interest argument. How can you trust the opinion of anyone who is indirectly in the employ of the makers of the very products they are casting judgement on?
I'm not saying game reviews have never been bought before. I'm sure it's happened at some point down the years. What I'm saying is that 99% of the time it doesn't. If anything, the sorry saga over now ex GameSpot employee Jeff Gerstmann backs this up. It highlights an example of journalistic integrity - one we would never have noticed had Eidos not complained about the review.
So here's my Monday Morning Rant: Game journalists are not being paid to act as whores for the advertising industry. They are putting their necks, and, in some cases, their jobs, on the line to bring you their genuine opinion on a video game. Disagree with us all you want - but don't accuse us of lying.