Many thanks to Ubisoft for reminding us that swag-bribery is alive and flourishing in the video game events industry. At a recent Watch Dogs preview event in Paris, it transpires that freebie Nexus 7 tablets (retailing at around $150-250 USD depending on what model it was) were given out to the entirely impartial and professional games writers in attendance.
Naturally, as professionals, they declined these obvious attempts to buy influence and immediately reported this transparent breach of ethi … ha ha, no. Instead it took writer Steve Hogarty (who wasn’t even at the event) asking other people whether rumours of the Nexus 7 gifts were true in order to get some disclosure. Gamesindustry.biz’s European editor Dan Pearson stepped forward to confirm that yes, it did happen, and pulled the classic “ours is going to charity though” maneuver.
Ubisoft’s UK twitter account has put up a vague apology, saying that the publisher is sorry for any for “confusion” rather than, say, for “trying to soften coverage with relatively expensive gifts.”
At a recent Watch_Dogs event some media were given tablets as gifts. This was not in line with our PR policies. Apologies for any confusion.
— Ubisoft UK (@UbisoftUK) April 15, 2014
I’m sure they were always planning to make this apology, and definitely weren’t pressured into it by this damaging story getting out into the public (thanks to, it must be noted, a games journalist asking questions.)
It’ll be interesting to read the European-based Watch Dogs previews coming out in the near future, to see how many writers mention getting a $150-250 gift as part of the bargain.
IncGamers was not at this press event, which is a shame because I’ve been itching to break a “games publisher tried to give me expensive baubles in exchange for good coverage” story.