Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
12 June 2007
More Curmudgeonly Comments About Mac Game Journalism
I like Inside Mac Games a lot. That quick apology aside, ethically they're still giving me fits. I remain extremely concerned with the extreme integration between Inside Mac Games and macgamestore.com, and the site's large, advert/header banner continues to be "sponsored" by the store that shares an owner, no, IS owned by the "news" site. That IMG hocks the same stuff it purports to "review," a word which implies a degree of fairness and impartiality to me, isn't news to most IMG readers, I wouldn't believe. Still, it's unethical for a site doing gaming news and reviews to sell those same games.[1]

I wonder if some of this proverbial incestuous dilemma accounts for the recent disconnect between the content of IMG's RSS feed and the content of one of the features it advertises, IMG's editor's latest blog entry. You'd expect the RSS feed and the article to match up. I don't think they do.

From the feed:
IMG's founder Tuncer Deniz weighs in on today's surprise announcement made by Electronic Arts. Although he's estatic [sic] with the six titles announced, he questions whether EA will be happy. Will EA be in it for the long haul or is this just another "experiment". [sic]
(emphasis mine; comments about Bolivia nearly resisted)

From Tuncer's Blog:
A few weeks ago I learned of EA's intention to bring some of their game titles to the Mac and since then I've been wrestling with the consequences and impact of EA's 'renewed' commitment to the Mac.
(emphasis again mine)

If you've known about it for weeks, it's not a surprise. If you've known about it for weeks, where is our news? Dang it, folk, if you're simply pandering to sources, withholding information until they believe it's time for it to be made public, they're not your sources, you're their shills.

I believe we've had some discussion about NDAs and their effect on journalism -- um, killing it -- before.

Why didn't Tuncer tell us about the announcement weeks ago? If Inside Mac Games is that the best Mac game news outlets have to offer, which I believe it is, we've got another classic case of IMG's predilection for "journaltisement".

So just for fun, let's end with our standard mantra: Buy used books, get your games at Ambrosia, and when you're riding your bike at night, always, always wear white.

[1] At times, I've seen advertisements for games on this site. I don't see a dime of that ad revenue. I think Matt might fairly literally see a dime, but will let him deal with any ethics violations there himself after saying that I'm 99.44% confident he doesn't pick what runs, and I know (hope?!) he doesn't get a percentage of each sale from those stores.

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--ruffin at 17:25
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

The banner ad at the top gets cg free hosting. The host's only interest in cg content extends only as far as wanting fair warning if it looks like we're going to get slashdotted, since that has caused a server meltdown in the past.

I don't know that I've done much other than encourage others to write as much as possible for cg, on whatever they want. Heck, they've got admin rights. What more of a free hand could they want? :^)

By Blogger jvm, at 12 June, 2007 20:59  

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?!!?!
*ahem*

Well, "gets cg free hosting [so good]" might be a slight under-interrogation. There are games advertised there, among some other not so appropriate ad content, which might be worth giving a closer look. Heck, I don't even know who is selecting the pool from which those ads are semi-randomly selected. That's sad. Would be good to know.

Glad you're not seeing any of the money. Complete journalistic integrity, we've got.

"Heck, they've got admin rights."

I'll assume that doesn't mean I can whack the ad, however.

Still, good to know there are no links to The D~ H~ or some other product we sell ourselves on the site.

By Blogger rufbo, at 13 June, 2007 12:27  

I used to write reviews for IMG and was never told to soften the blows. On occasion I had to report a nasty bug or a issue with game, and I did so. No comments or edits from the powers-that-be, ever.

It's also silly to get mad at Tuncer for adhering to NDA agreements. First of all you are singling him out for an industry-wide practice. Secondly, the first time he broke such an agreement would be the last time he got any kind of scoop from anybody. Instead of putting out information for the readers on the day of an announcement, IMG would be scrambling just to get something out that same week. They wouldn't be early with anything, they'd always be late. How would that serve IMG's readers?

Sure, it's fun to dream of a gamer site that accepts no ads from anyone game-related, sells no gamer goods that might be reviewed, and yet somehow pays full-time writers to dig up juicy stories without them ever signing an NDA, but how would anyone. let alone IMG, fund such a thing? By selling t-shirts?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 June, 2007 22:38  

Um, who said IMG pays their writers?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18 June, 2007 20:51  

The principle you raise is an important one: editorial staff should very definitely be separated from the money-making side of a publication. The good news is that IMG follows this rule quite closely. My experience as a review writer for IMG over the years has been entirely at arms length. The editorial staff has never once asked me to change anything substantive in my review. Other than the review copy of the game, I receive no remuneration from IMG. And reviews are generally assigned quite transparently: a list of games is posted on the internal mailing list and the citizen reviewers request those that interest them. It is all in the open and while not impossible to rig, favoritism would be fairly obvious.

My interest in posting a review is my integrity as a writer and reviewer.

Your second point about the EA news is a bit less "ethical." Just because someone has information doesn't mean its best use is for everyone to have it. For Mac games to thrive there has to be a profit margin. In our dicey market, public relations and advertising money has to be spent with maximum impact. In the case of the Ea announcement, that means doing the big reveal at the WWDC standing next to Steve Jobs. It doesn't mean Tuncer leaking rumors.

Besides, maybe he is better thought of as a "publisher" than a editor, which puts him in more of a community / industry liaison role than as merely -- dare I say it? -- just another curmudgeonly reviewer?

By Blogger Ryan, at 19 June, 2007 00:00  

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