Before starting this article, let me tell you that I’m not taking anyone sides on this story. Okay? We got this out of our way? So, let’s begin. Freelance writer Rich Stanton has accused a lot of Future Publishing portals, as well as a number of publishers for ‘paying’ in order to get better scores. We all remember the Gamespot Kane & Lynch fiasco, so this is not surprising to hear. But do publishers and big gaming portals alter their review scores, even to this date? According to Rich, they do.
First things first though – some of Rich’s tweets have been deleted (for obvious reasons). Thankfully though, NeoGAF has managed to snatch most of them. But who is Rich Stanton, right? Rich is a freelancer writer who admits that he has learned everything he knows at Future, surrounded by people smarter and funnier than him. According to Rich, the company sucks but the people are grade A. And – obviously – Rich does not expect to work with Future ever again.
Rich said that one of his worst stories with Future was the alteration of GTA IV’s score. GTA IV has originally scored a 9/10 from its reviewer, however EDGE and Rockstar decided to bypass the reviewer and make it a 10/10. When a fan asked whether publishers/platform holders ‘pay’ for covers, Rich answered that they do as “they control everything“, that Future will do anything to accommodate advertisers, and that review scores (in Future Publications) sometimes magically change before it hits the self.
Rich has also said that the dodgiest PRs for doing deals (review scores, etc) was Rockstar, and that the game that got most obviously dodgy reviews was Homefront.
What’s also interesting is what Rich said about PCGamer. According to Rich, PCGamer lied to Valve about asking Rich to take photos of a wall of concept art:
“PC Gamer asked me to take some photos of something very specific. A wall of concept art. I asked permission, and did so. Valve went nuts. This wasn’t approved! Do you know what PC Gamer’s editor, Tim Edwards, did? He denied I had ever been asked to do it. Said PCG were merely the innocent recipient. Lied, in other words.”
Rich has also said that CVG was/is the worst gaming portal as they deliberately misquote devs, and claim it’s a mistake after the hits. Rich might be referring to the Dead Space 3 incident, but as we stated and in our starting paragraph, we won’t be taking a side on this whole topic. That’s up to you to decide.
Rich added later on that COD has always earned the reviews. In other words, Activision did not ever pay for a high score. To his credit, Rich admitted that Eurogamer is one of the best gaming sites, Nintendo is the best from the three console manufacturers as they give early access and have no interest in the score of its games, and that Capcom was doing its best to offer reviewers the best possible impressions by sending reviewers the game early, with meganotes to ensure they ‘got it’.
As said and before, we’re not taking sides and Rich might be wrong about all of this. Still, this is something really interesting for everyone interested – and working – in the gaming industry.
John is the founder and Editor in Chief at DSOGaming. He is a PC gaming fan and highly supports the modding and indie communities. Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a die-hard PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved - and still does - the 16-bit consoles, and considers SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won him over consoles. That was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a higher degree thesis on the "The Evolution of PC graphics cards."