Game Reviewer Simon Parkin: GTA IV PR Tricked Us

Game Reviewer Simon Parkin: GTA IV PR Tricked Us Game Reviewer Simon Parkin: GTA IV PR Tricked Us Game Reviewer Simon Parkin: GTA IV PR Tricked Us

"Judgments cast before they'd been adequately weighed; words sold before they'd been properly valued", British games journalist and producer Simon Parkin wrote as he described how Rockstar's PR tricks affected his review of GTA IV.

Parkin then went on to narrate how Rockstar ended up withholding review copies of GTA IV until just one day prior to the game's release and how that affected his and the other reviewers' opinions. "Time Magazine dubbed their piece Grand Theft Auto IV: The 6.24% Review while the Associated Press reviewer, Lou Kesten, admitted to having spent only spent eight hours with the game. Slate Magazine's excellent Chris Baker admitted he only had chance to 'scratch the surface of the game'".

Some reviewers didn't even get the review copy delivered to them; instead they had to play it at Rockstar's headquarters or in a booked hotel room under the company's supervision.

According to Simon Parkin, "By withholding code until a late stage then (be it through design or ineptitude), a PR can force a journalist to rely on marketing hype and information to fill the gaps in their knowledge of the game when writing copy. In this way, control of the critical reaction is shifted back to the PR in a subtle and (arguably) legitimate way."

"Add into this the journalist's natural inclination to want to say something, anything, that will distinguish his/ her copy and opinion from everybody else and you start to get bold proclamations being made and unlikely comparisons being drawn. The pressure to say something, anything serious and unique to distinguish your piece from ten thousand others that litter the Internet is heavy. There are too many games journalists tussling over too few opinions with too little time to make them and the PRs have learnt to turn that to their advantage."