A couple years ago, out of a combination of controlling leaks and their own media, Bethesda changed up their review policy for games. I’ve talked about it before, so have my colleagues, so has about every games journalist in the industry as the company withheld codes and review copies of multiple games until the day of release. It got to the point where we got tired of writing about it. You know who else got tired of it? Bethesda.
In an interview with VG 24/7, Bethesda’s senior vice president of global marketing, Pete Hines, admitted that the company has slowly been changing its policy and refining the guidelines for it, simply because they were getting tired of reading game reviews where the opening paragraph was a tirade about how that outlet didn’t get the code until it was too late to review it before release.
“We did it the first time because there was the whole thing about transparency and companies needing to be transparent,” Hines explains of the initial decision. “We were like, ‘Well, you want us to be transparent, this is what we’re doing’.
“Then it ended up being the focal point and, honestly, we were tired of reading reviews where the first paragraph spent more time talking about our review policy than the game. So we decided we’re not going to keep drawing attention to it – we’ll send out copies and maybe people will start talking about the game instead of talking about policies. So we did.”
It’s nice to know that when we and other outlets are set to get copies of Fallout 76, DOOM Eternal, and Rage 2, we’ll be getting them with a greater lead time. But it is interesting to learn the behind-the-scenes motivation, and that the change came more from a place of frustration rather than a request.