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Bethesda game reviewers to receive advanced copies just one day ahead of launch

By Shawn Knight
Oct 26, 2016
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  1. It’s not uncommon for hardware and electronics manufacturers to send samples of upcoming products to publications like TechSpot for launch day reviews. The practice isn’t limited to physical items as game publishers do the same with advanced download codes.

    For the product supplier, a review serves as advertising for whatever it is they are trying to sell. For the publication doing the review, it’s yet another way to drive traffic and ultimately generate revenue to earn a living. Early reviews from the perspective of the consumer provide an idea of what to expect before dishing out their hard-earned money.

    For one major publisher, things are about to change.

    Bethesda Global Content Lead Gary Steinman noted in a recent blog post that when they launched Doom earlier this year, they sent review copies out just one day ahead of launch which led to speculation regarding the quality of the game. That ended up not being the case as Doom has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, Steinman said.

    With Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2 just around the bend, Steinman said they will continue their policy of sending review copies just one day before release.

    The only “reason” that Steinman gave for the decision is that they want everyone, including those in the media, to experience their games at the same time. Those that want to read reviews before making a decision about a game are encouraged to simply wait for reviewers to share their thoughts.

    That’s a pretty solid non-explanation which probably means there are some other motivating factors behind the decision (I just don’t know what they are). Your thoughts?

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 860   +272

    Gonna assume it's piracy-related... The vast majority of pirate releases come from these early review copies...

    Guess Bethesda is sick of seeing their hit games available on torrent sites a day or 2 (or more) before they're released.
     
    SantistaUSA and alabama man like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,536   +2,333

    The suits have determined they can insulate themselves against review negatives by giving review copies 24 hrs early. This saves them from the negative press of not releasing a review copy but at the same time prevents those reviews from hitting the web ahead of initial purchases.

    They know most people won't wait, so it's a bit like having your cake and eating it. Clever move.
     
  4. alabama man

    alabama man TS Maniac Posts: 214   +126

    They make only singleplayer games so as Squid Surprise said piracy might be main reason for this. But as their games drop in price so fast there's no reason to buy them at release anyways, wait half a year and you'll probably save 60% or more. They really should value their work more.
     
  5. Jon Tseng

    Jon Tseng TS Rookie

    To be fair, I don't think there's going to be many new negatives in the Skyrim SE review. Or anything new at all!
     
  6. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 332   +130

    This is Bethesda. When was the last time they ever dropped a bad game? Maybe one that didn't live up to the hype in the minds of some (Fallout 4), but I am struggling to think of a single example.

    It is probably just to curb piracy.
     
    SantistaUSA likes this.
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,536   +2,333

    Rage.
    TES: Online.
    The Evil Within.

    Bethesda publishes more than two franchises.
     
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,660   +767

    Hmmmmm ... so now reviews will be later OR just based upon one days play? In the long run I think that will hurt them more than help .....
     
  9. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 332   +130

    TS: Online was disappointing, not bad. What was the point of it, other than to jump on the MMO bandwagon? Either way, those that are still playing it seem to enjoy it.
    The Evil Within has 'I was disappointed, didn't live up to hype' reviews, but is in a similar space: those still playing seem to enjoy it.

    The only truly bad one I can think of is Brink. Maybe Wet and Echelon. Three IP that never saw sequels, out of how many Bethesda IP, with how many sequels? A good number of studios put out one good game, then tank the sequel or their next IP. In fact, Bethesda seems to be the exception to that rule, and it is probably because they make a point of maintaining a small team and retaining talent between releases. Most studios and publishers let all their developers go after a release, and then hire fresh for a new game -as a way to minimize operating costs.
     
  10. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,536   +2,333

    This is about sales, not whether games are "bad." (For the record, Evil Within was terrible. "Cinematic experience" my ***.)

    A game with glowing or no reviews sells better than one that skates by at room temperature. A lot of people like room temperature. But they like the beach more.

    Thus, day-prior review copies. Many people will by hoping for the beach, paying full price in the process.
     
  11. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,897   +940

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of skyrom remastered. It is quite literally just a graphics upgrade. If this is how they want to do it this is their right.

    And to those who think this is piracy related are full of it. They sent out copies of skyrim to bidders a few weeks ago so it can have day one mod support.
     
  12. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 860   +272

    Big companies tend to be fairly intelligent when making business decisions. I'm sure they took into account how much early reviews might add (or subtract) from their profit margins and figured that it was marginal compared to their losses due to piracy. Or at least, perceived losses due to piracy as I've yet to see any convincing evidence that people who pirate games detract from game sales.
     
  13. OortCloud

    OortCloud TS Booster Posts: 119   +31

    I've never understood pre-ordering - its almost always cheaper to wait to launch day and buy a game then, so why bother? If you can't wait a few days then you take a risk or if you must have it straight away order from somewhere that does refunds...
     
  14. smoken

    smoken TS Rookie

    you cant stop piracy and never will
     
  15. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 860   +272

    It's not about STOPPING it.... it's to try and make sure the pirated copies don't hit torrent sites until the actual game gets released... That's certainly possible....

    Remember ES4? Absolutely no copy protection on the game... still sold like hotcakes.... I'd like to see some evidence that piracy cost them money on that title...
     
  16. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 332   +130

    Curbing piracy is not the same as stopping it.
     

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