Wii

What Role Should the Games Media Play in Getting Games Made?

by Carmine Red - January 23, 2009, 6:51 am PST
Total comments: 42

It's the recent unveiling and groundswell of support for n-Space's unfortunate Winter tech demo for the Wii that's dredging these questions up. Of course, there's no question that the saga behind Winter is newsworthy. A mature and ambitious project shopped around since GDC 2007, publishers loved Winter but refused to fund it. That already makes for a nice little tragedy, but it's become more than that. Winter has exploded onto the scene and won widespread fame and support from fans who want nothing less than for the developers to receive millions of dollars from a publisher in order to finish the game. Still, the fact that there's an online petition drive isn't too surprising. What is worth considering though is who's leading the charge: the enthusiast press. Almost as soon as the story broke, GoNintendo's Kevin Cassidy (a.k.a. RawMeatCowboy) shot an e-mail to IGN's Matt Cassamassina proposing to organize an effort to find n-Space a publisher after almost two years of nothing. The response? A promise to "use IGN's influence to back Winter," and the aforementioned online petition on IGN's frontpage, asking readers to "join the cause."

The gaming press is now directly involved in selling one company's multi-million dollar project to another company.

Actually, what's so bad about that? The media has always been an avenue to drum up some publicity and attention, that's no secret. And the readers, the gamers, demand a game like Winter. As players, they have a stake in what games get made too, and the press is just giving them a voice in the behind-the-scenes dealings of developers and publishers. And the situation surrounding Winter isn't new either. No one's complaining that The Conduit got a publisher, right?

Sega will be publishing The Conduit, which has benefited from a supportive press

But lets tackle the corollary here. If the press has a role in fighting to get certain games made, does it have a role in fighting so that other games don't get made? Surely when the enthusiast press put on their "critic" hats, they can argue that a game has flaws. However, the continued derision that Wii Music received at the hands of the press, much of it undeserved, goes to show the negatives of a press that supposedly "cares." Games journalists can wield their opinions like a club to batter and tear games down sometimes, and it can be an ugly thing. Eventually, even IGN's not-so-subtle disapproval of Wii Music elicited a backlash from some readers when they reported the game's 2008 sales numbers. It probably didn't help that the news article, written almost two months after IGN's tepid review, hinted that IGN had failed in their intention to prevent people from buying the game.

So if you're willing to accept that the gaming press has a role in raising some games up, you have to consider the potential the media has to smear another game's reputation. Ultimately, the power of the press is the power of the mob of readers behind it. That mob can be guided constructively or destructively, to build up or tear down.

Wii Music carries a negative stigma for many, the result of widespread criticism

But this is leading us further and further away from what I think the press, enthusiast or not, is really here for... You know, journalism. I know the gaming media is, well, a bit of a joke to some (just look at what our forums have to say about us), but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to ferret out the truth and report it.

That's where I think the real value lies in what's going on with Winter. This is an attempt to root out the actual reasons that game companies act the way they do. I mean, no one is all that impressed with the usual array of excuses that are trotted out to prevent mature titles from reaching the Wii. We've heard it all before, and we're just not that convinced. People want to hear a real and believable reason why a game like Winter wouldn't work... and if no such reason exists, well, why not do the logical thing? Why not just make the game already?

"Why not?" We ask. "Why not fund a game like Winter when Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles sold over a million units each? Why not fund Winter when the Wii has an install base of around 45 million users, soon to outnumber both the Xbox 360 and PS3 combined? Why not fund Winter when it will be so much cheaper to make on the Wii compared to a similar game on any of the other consoles? Why not give gamers, your fan base, and your consumers, what they claim to want so much? What possible reasons could you have left?"

That's what I think finding a publisher for games like Winter is all about. At first I worried I was turning into a salesperson, but no, I realize I'm not. I'm a reporter posing a question. I'm a member of the enthusiast press, waiting to see what answer I get.

Oh, but first, I have a petition I need to make sure I sign.

Talkback

LOL petitions

Spak-SpangJanuary 23, 2009

I think you bring up an excellent question, "What is the role of the gaming press...and even broader what is the role of journalism?"

Without getting political there is a fine line between journalism (reporting what you have seen, or what is going on) and Activism (reporting news in such a way to provoke an response, or push a position on an event.)  Basically, it is very hard not to be partisan in the media...but it is even harder when your job involves a passion of your, like the gaming press does. 

The gaming press is writing about games because they love games just like the entertainment media write about movies and television because they like that form of entertainment...it is very hard not get passionate when you write.  Each person has favorite genres, characters/franchises, developers, publishers, and have preconceived ideas of what gaming should be or should do. 

This mostly manifests itself in game reviews and even previews where certain games, genres, systems get more attention because the excitement from the editors is higher...but it can also means games do not get the press they deserve or the chance they deserve to be legitimized:  Look at The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and Wii music as perfect examples of what the gaming press can do to a game just from the previews....then the reviews tell a different story, Wind Waker was vindicated after the reviews for being brilliant and Wii Music was still largely ostracized.  But why were these games attacked to begin with?  Because they did not hit the mold or desires of what the Press wanted...not even what the gaming community wanted, because both games went on to sell fairly well numbers and won high acclaims by many who played and loved the game.

So what does that mean for the gaming press should they strive for gaming equality or just admit they have biases that effect their opinions of games and desires to see a game succeed whether it be with a higher than deserved review or more articles, or even a petition for a game to be made?

I would say there is an obligation to fairness at least when it comes to gaming reviews, that each game be reviewed fairly based on its own merits on which system it is on and not compared to any other game...and if that means needing to end the point system for reviews then do it.

As for the activism some activism for the betterment of the gaming community.  The gamers need to know why games they desire are not being made to create an energy to support the games when they are made...and publishers need to know that there is a desire for certain games when they may not perceive that there is.

StogiJanuary 23, 2009

Your suppose to ask those questions but your not suppose to have an agenda. That is journalism at it's core. For instance, what if you saw this as a journalist in another country?

http://lifewithhammy.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/starvation.jpg

As a journalist, you are to do nothing more but tell the story. As a journalist, you should ask how and why is this child starving? Where are his parents and what event caused this? However, if you help this child by getting him to a shelter or giving him food, then you have an agenda. The same goes for gaming. It may be hard, but keep yourself pure.

KDR_11kJanuary 23, 2009

I think it was just an appeal to emotion. They know that gamers will get hyped for anything that's described somewhat nicely so they could be sure to get some hype just from taking it to the media. They probably hoped that hype will get them that publisher they want. Anyone can make an idea that sounds good on paper, I guess to the publishers the chance of a successful implementation was low.

BeautifulShyJanuary 23, 2009

Interesting topic Kairon.
I think that publishers should grab these unique games.If publishers don't give these titles a chance than we are stuck with "safe" titles.That isn't a bad thing. It's just that unique titles need to stand side by side in stores. Another thing there needs to be a balance of unique and "safe" titles.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorJanuary 23, 2009

I think the biggest problem with the situation is that people keep trying to call them press at all.  I don't think there is any way the GoNintendo team/guy created that site because they had press aspirations.  They created that site because they are crazy about Nintendo.  Therefore, I don't see how you could call him wrong for doing a petition.

I think one of the hardest things enthusiast sites have is that different readers expect different things out of them.  One group of people want a very traditional press stance, one of just presenting the facts.  Another group desires off the cuff opinion-filled, comedic rants.  Another group would prefer it if the sites were just cheerleaders for the PR firms.

I think all sites need to decide if they do want to target all of those readers, as that's a really tough thing.

GoNintendo has achieved success because they are essentially a cheerleader for a PR firm.  I'm not going to hide the fact that I think that's totally lame, but their readership shows that it doesn't really matter what I think.  But, as a cheerleader, they should be expected to do this petition stuff.

Yeah, sorry if I was a bit off topic there. =P

StogiJanuary 23, 2009

So what is NWR?

*Dun, Dun, Duunnnnnnnnnnnnnn*

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorJanuary 23, 2009

I definitely can't speak for everyone, but I think we tend towards the side of press, in that we look to present only the facts (with the exception of critical reviews and impressions obviously).

I think our readers want more than that though, and that's why we started doing blogs and things like that.

So yeah, I personally think we want to be a little of both, but make sure that we have a clear division in our coverage, kind of like how the blogs are their own separate section now.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorJanuary 23, 2009

And by both, I mean the first two... not the cheerleader part.

Shift KeyJanuary 23, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

LOL online petitions

Internet. Serious Business.

Smash_BrotherJanuary 23, 2009

Gaming journalists aren't traditional journalists. They stopped being traditional the moment they started reviewing games. Journalists report the news. That's all they're supposed to do, and it's very often you'll find that most journalists aren't necessarily even enthusiastic about the subject matter, it's just what they're paid to do.

But the gaming media IS composed of gaming enthusiasts. Why would someone choose to become a gaming journalist unless they actually LIKED games in the first place?

You're not indifferent. You write reviews, you have opinions. This is the norm, but you are also LISTENED TO, and as such you have the power to push certain projects up into the limelight and get them noticed.

I say do it. Why not? Journalistic integrity stems from not taking bribes for good review scores, not letting potentially good games flounder and fail while crap succeeds.

If anything, trying to help good software succeed is basically the ultimate critique of the gaming industry as a whole. You're basically pointing out to publishers how full of shit they are and saying, "Here, we're going to do your job FOR you." If a publisher like Sega is humble enough to accept your advice, more power to them.

WuTangTurtleJanuary 23, 2009

Quote:

Games journalists can wield their opinions like a club to batter and tear games down sometimes, and it can be an ugly thing

Anyone else reminded of Too Human, lol.

whether that game was good or not, it got ugly.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 23, 2009

Regarding the press bashing Wii Music to the ground, in all fairness, Nintendo is partly responsible.

As much as I love Wii Music I DETESTED the first presentation at E3. There's a reason why people believe first impressions are crucial in ANY part of life.

The whole thing was poorly staged, and the fake enthusiasm didn't help at all. Wii Music is definitely a niche concept that NEEDS to be explained as calmly as possible so you have people interested in the product. The sad part was that Nintendo did do this with the JC Rodrigo presentation as well as the Wii Music lessons on the Nintendo channel. But by then it was too little too late. The gaming press still had the E3 show fresh in their mind and I believe THAT'S what was shown in those reviews.

The press was upset because Nintendo did NOT deliver in their conference. After weeks of rumors about a new Kid Icarus or Punch-Out being shown Nintendo murdered them and had a terrible Wii Music presentation.

I often wonder if Nintendo had toned down the cheesiness, focused on explaining the concept as well as show off other games would Wii Music be as hated today?

Its like if you had a very, very talented singer but on her first show her voice breaks due to anxiety. Even if she does MUCH better with the audience the media will keep fresh the fact that she ruined her first act.

I guess what I am trying to say is that companies can affect what the press says about them. In other words, you do crap you get crap. You do good and you get good in return. In N-space's case they did something very good and they now have support from fans and the media.

The real question is tihs: will gaming media's involvement in petitioning for a game affect their impressions and review of the final product? If the final product turns out to be lackluster, those pushing for it can:

- review it as such and lose face because they promoted something as great to readers and the publishers. Or
- review the game with a bias (subconciously), compromising their journalistic integrity.

Basically, they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Of course, this is hardly the first instance of gaming media promoting a game in a positive light early in its development. We're all part of the hype machine, in one way or another.

I'd hate to be the company that invests good money in a game just because the internet wants it.  They're typically the vocal minority instead of the game-buying majority.

Quote from: Lindy

I'd hate to be the company that invests good money in a game just because the internet wants it.  They're typically the vocal minority instead of the game-buying majority.

You're crushing fanboy dreams oh great Site Director! T_T

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 24, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

I'd hate to be the company that invests good money in a game just because the internet wants it.  They're typically the vocal minority instead of the game-buying majority.

I'd hate to be the company that invests tons of money in HD gaming and ends up going bankrupt like several have this year. It goes both ways, there is always risk, and you will NEVER get anywhere if you don't take sizable risks (Yes I'll throw HD games in there as well). At least with the Wii you can sustain a risk that ends up failing much easier then one for 360 or PS3. Thankfully we are starting to see these risks start to come out, I mean just next month we have HOTD: O, Deadly Creatures, and Madworld, all BIG games.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 24, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

I'd hate to be the company that invests good money in a game just because the internet wants it.  They're typically the vocal minority instead of the game-buying majority.

See, I've always believe that your fanbase can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, as much as some hate to admit it, understands better what the fans want and their passion leads them to make some interesting ideas. A curse because they are pretty fickle and sometimes don't know what they want.

In Winter's case people want companies to invest in the game because it has potential, its a new IP and a Wii exclusive. Yes, there's the chance that the game might not be so good. But considering that many terrible games are released each days across all platforms what's stopping Winter, then?

Oh and Kairon, another example of the media affecting a game's reception is Castlevania Judgment. It almost rivals Wii Music as the whipping boy of the media. The media pretty much set out to destroy and discredit the existence of the game and label it as a disgrace to the franchise. While to an extend they were right there's no denying that anger and hate were present. So much so that Konami said that people tried the game just to make fun of it.

Yet those that played it and had no deep love for the franchise or a bias saw the game was quite solid. Not the greatest thing every but agree that the hates was perhaps unwarranted.

KDR_11kJanuary 24, 2009

GP: My money is still on "Madworld will flop".

pap: Combine that with 10/10 for good but flawed massively hyped games... Maybe we need a poll, "who do you trust more: A game review or your fellow forum posters?"

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

The real question is tihs: will gaming media's involvement in petitioning for a game affect their impressions and review of the final product? If the final product turns out to be lackluster, those pushing for it can:

- review it as such and lose face because they promoted something as great to readers and the publishers. Or
- review the game with a bias (subconciously), compromising their journalistic integrity.

Basically, they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Of course, this is hardly the first instance of gaming media promoting a game in a positive light early in its development. We're all part of the hype machine, in one way or another.

I recall Destructoid having something positive to do with that Luc Bernard game (forgot its name) but when it came out they gave it a 1/10.

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 24, 2009

Quote:

GP: My money is still on "Madworld will flop".

We'll see it will all depend on the marketing behind it. Though I still think it will sell at least 300k worldwide. I know that is around what deBlob sold and they are happy with that game franchise.

Invincible Donkey KongJanuary 24, 2009

Can we get a little TMZ here?

"omg, I saw Miyamoto on the bullet train yesterday... and his kids were with him"
*writes some crap on a marker board*
*cue photo collage*

DjunknownJanuary 24, 2009

Quote:

I recall Destructoid having something positive to do with that Luc Bernard game (forgot its name) but when it came out they gave it a 1/10.

The name you're looking for is Eternity's Child. Their mascot, Mr.Destructoid was set to make an appearance in the game, but was removed because of the very unfavorable review.

All I have to say is that I'd like to make the choice whether or not I want to buy a game, not let publishers do that for me.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 24, 2009

KDR: I don't think Madworld will be a total flop. The game already has support from sites and the fans, and Sega has pushed it with trailers and screens almost non-stop. Like GP said I see it selling 300,000 K.

UrkelJanuary 24, 2009

I think Madworld will sell at least as well as No More Heroes did. It should appeal to the same crowd, and it appears to have a bigger budget and more polish and has already got more promotion from Sega than Ubisoft ever did with NMH.

The only possible issue I see is the black and white art style. It's always difficult to predict how people will react to games with a "unique" look.

trip1eXJanuary 24, 2009

That's why they call it the enthusiast press.  You're there to promote as much as review. 

The point of my comment about listening to the internet was that if Miyamoto had listened to the internet, Nintendo wouldn't be in the position it is today.  One of the things that Miyamoto said at one point was that (to paraphrase) his job was to give people something that they never even knew they wanted.

The internet isn't necessarily the voice of the people.  It's the voice of the most hardcore and passionate, which doesn't necessarily equate to sales.  Just because IGN is campaigning for somebody to publish Winter doesn't mean that it would sell any appreciable amount.  I mean, there has to be a reason why these companies aren't biting, right?  Maybe they don't feel the concept is original enough.

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 25, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

The point of my comment about listening to the internet was that if Miyamoto had listened to the internet, Nintendo wouldn't be in the position it is today.  One of the things that Miyamoto said at one point was that (to paraphrase) his job was to give people something that they never even knew they wanted.

The internet isn't necessarily the voice of the people.  It's the voice of the most hardcore and passionate, which doesn't necessarily equate to sales.  Just because IGN is campaigning for somebody to publish Winter doesn't mean that it would sell any appreciable amount.  I mean, there has to be a reason why these companies aren't biting, right?  Maybe they don't feel the concept is original enough.

I think it has to do with not wanting to take a risk on a system that wasn't quite proven at the time. Let's face it there has been no real "big" third party core title that has shown there is a large userbase for those kinds of games on Wii.

KDR_11kJanuary 25, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

I mean, there has to be a reason why these companies aren't biting, right?  Maybe they don't feel the concept is original enough.

I don't think "not original enough" is in their vocabulary.

Yeah, I think "too original" might be what keeps publishers away.

Quote from: Lindy

The point of my comment about listening to the internet was that if Miyamoto had listened to the internet, Nintendo wouldn't be in the position it is today.  One of the things that Miyamoto said at one point was that (to paraphrase) his job was to give people something that they never even knew they wanted.

As a Nintendo fan, I completely agree with this. As a Nintendo fan, I WANT Nintendo to follow their own star, even if it means they do stuff differently from what I feel they should.

StogiJanuary 25, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

The point of my comment about listening to the internet was that if Miyamoto had listened to the internet, Nintendo wouldn't be in the position it is today.  One of the things that Miyamoto said at one point was that (to paraphrase) his job was to give people something that they never even knew they wanted.

*Drools*

Has Miyamoto written a book? Everytime I stumble over a blurb or quote of his, I feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

Quote from: Kashogi

*Drools*

Has Miyamoto written a book? Everytime I stumble over a blurb or quote of his, I feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

If you ever find a book, Kashogi, let me know! I want it too!

I don't think Nintendo would ever let him write a book.  His game design philosophies are way too valuable, and are surely under NDA into eternity.

I'm actually quite taken with the point several posters have made, that we need to accept the fact that we're enthusiast press, and that we shouldn't be too surprised that we are here to promote and enthuse as much as anything else.

StogiJanuary 25, 2009

Ya, but then where does honesty come in? Where do bribes come in?

Quote from: Kairon

I'm actually quite taken with the point several posters have made, that we need to accept the fact that we're enthusiast press, and that we shouldn't be too surprised that we are here to promote and enthuse as much as anything else.

Please do not take that mentality when writing impressions or reviews, Cai.

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 25, 2009

Quote from: Kashogi

Quote from: Lindy

The point of my comment about listening to the internet was that if Miyamoto had listened to the internet, Nintendo wouldn't be in the position it is today.  One of the things that Miyamoto said at one point was that (to paraphrase) his job was to give people something that they never even knew they wanted.

*Drools*

Has Miyamoto written a book? Everytime I stumble over a blurb or quote of his, I feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

Upending Tea Tables 101

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Quote from: Kairon

I'm actually quite taken with the point several posters have made, that we need to accept the fact that we're enthusiast press, and that we shouldn't be too surprised that we are here to promote and enthuse as much as anything else.

Please do not take that mentality when writing impressions or reviews, Cai.

&P

StogiJanuary 25, 2009

What are you going to do when a subpar game comes out that is so fantastically creative that you would like a sequel to work through all the problems?

Quote from: Kashogi

What are you going to do when a subpar game comes out that is so fantastically creative that you would like a sequel to work through all the problems?

Say so? Those types of games aren't uncommon. I mean, Kororinpa was too short wasn't it? And Red Steel was... well... Red Steel.

KDR_11kJanuary 26, 2009

Quote from: Kashogi

What are you going to do when a subpar game comes out that is so fantastically creative that you would like a sequel to work through all the problems?

Everyone has ideas. Few know how to implement them right.

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