October 26th, 2016

Bethesda announce withholding review copies as official policy

Bethesda announce withholding review copies as official policy

Both Dishonored 2 and the Skyrim: Special Edition will only be made available to reviewers one day before their respective launches, Bethesda has announced today. In the announcement, this is now referred to as company “policy”.

In a remarkably two-faced opening, the company claims that “we value media reviews” before outlining actions that clearly indicate that they do not. Citing DOOM as a critical and commercial hit, and tacitly implying that there’s no need to worry about late reviews since one game turned out to be great, Bethesda are at pains to explain how not having any independent critical views on a game prior to launch is actually a great thing for customers.

If the statement were spinning any harder, it may have been a viable source of alternative energy.

It’s about fairness, you see. They just want “everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time”. It helps that if everybody experiences a bad game at the same time then Bethesda and parent company Zenimax get to keep a lot more money. But that’s probably just a coincidence.

Dishonored 2 might turn out to be outstanding. Skyrim: Special Edition may run like a dream. But make no mistake, this is a long-term effort to squeeze out legitimate, customer-focused criticism of Bethesda’s titles. Their aim is for prospective buyers to see nothing except marketing material prior to launch, and rely on customer impatience (“some of you want to read reviews before you make your decision, and if that’s the case we encourage you to wait for your favorite reviewers to share their thoughts”) to get away with it.

Hiding this behind language which implies the decision is beneficial to players, and somehow exhibits a respect for critical reviews, is utterly wretched.

For further thoughts on this, see Early Reviews Are Vital For Healthy Criticism, and Bethesda Know It.

Related to this article
  • Fallout 76 To Use A “Nuke Loop” As Endgame Content
  • Related to this article
  • Quake Champions Introduces Slipgate Mode And Festival
  • Related to this article
  • Fallout 76 Won’t Allow You To Respec Your Character

    • Ss Sss

      fuck off bethesda

    • Paul Younger

      This is seriously bad news for consumers. It is becoming harder for publications to get hold of code, especially PC code, in advance. As PC Invasion only posts reviews on completing a game, it does mean readers would get the opinions quite some time after release. I’ll sayit again, consumers need to vote with their wallets and stop pre-ordering.

      If this becomes the norm in the future, the only people being shafted are the consumers. This doesn’t happen with movies, books, or other media and it should not be happening in gaming.

      • Marcelo Abans

        Then you realize this isn’t bad. You mean you have to wait to make a decision? The gall of these companies. You know why it doesn’t happen as often with Movies, Books, other media? Because those other mediums rely very different on pre-order sales than video games do. The entire culture that HAS become the norm has been the baiting of consumers into pre-ordering games without even knowing if the game will be good or not. Mainly in ways that actually involves for you HAVING to buy the game, to minimize cancellation of said pre-order. You don’t wanna give back that “THING” they gave you do you? You pay to be bribed, o.O. What was the last pre-order bonus on ANY of the Harry Potter books have had, oh right. The only people this upsets, are people who pre-order and/or day 1 buyers. I haven’t bought a game the 1st day of release in years, this doesn’t affect me in the least. I get how it’s annoying to have to wait but to think that this is anti-consumer when all THE CONSUMER is wait a few days for a review, is perhaps the one of the childish positions to have in this situation. This only really affects people who can’t wait and HAVE to have it when it comes out. If you can’t do that, then not sure what I can tell you..

        • Paul Younger

          I agree, pre-ordering is the problem. Gamers need to stop doing it.

        • Lazerbeak @Grumpyboyold

          a major problem is the tying beta/early access to preorder scam (I hate marketers even more than lawyers), its hard for many to resist pre orders in those circumstances

        • DrearierSpider

          Publishers have been tying meaningful content into preorders for years, and it’s not always insignificant content like skins. Mankind Divided had an entire mission as a pre-order bonus for example.

          • Anderson

            I disagree. I think pretty much as a rule preorder contents are not worth it; side missions tend to be short and forgetful (Mankind Divided) and weapons and gear are quite useless (Dark Souls II, Lords of the Fallen). The only meaningful preorder content I remember was the Ranger mode in Metro LL, which was made available for all players later on

        • SpermPellets

          Absolutely right, spoken like a mature rational adult who can actually use his brain. Sometimes i’m honestly ashamed of being a gamer because there’s so many whiny kids that post on gaming sites.

        • Elly Davis

          You’re right, it won’t affect consumers who are happy to wait to buy a game.

          It’ll affect consumers who use reviewers/community feedback to determine whether a game is worth buying (release version) on release day or at least within the first week of its release.

      • Lazerbeak @Grumpyboyold

        could this have anything to do with the huge rise in pre orders? I mean reviews don’t matter as a much, if a large chunk of customers, have already paid (suckers)

      • Lazerbeak @Grumpyboyold

        I was about to rant about pre orders then I read your whole comment, sadly it will never change many people are stupid and childishly impatient, it makes them feel good to preorder even though its a ridiculously stupid thing to do your giving away a free long term interest free loan..(moronic)

    • Elly Davis

      Bad move on Bethesda’s part.

      I think this is to protect potentially subpar games from being exposed the days before release. They don’t want pre-orders cancelled or new customers deciding against buying the game at all or before whatever is wrong with it is fixed.

      I can’t think of another legitimate reason for withholding review code from the press.

      • Paul Younger

        Agree, pre-order cancellations will be a concern for publishers. This way it won’t happen with Bethesda releases.

      • KarmikCykle

        I know I’m never going to cancel a Bethesda preorder again… because I’m never buying a Bethesda title at launch again.

    • Rob27shred

      Just another reason to add to the growing list of why I DO NOT pre-order games at all anymore. The only tool us consumers have to change the current landscape of video games is our money. Fortunately for us our money is basically the equivalent of The Master Sword against these anti consumer tactics. Unfortunately for us we have yet to learn how to properly wield it.

      I’ve been a video gamer my whole life & I am 35 now so I basically grew up right along side the industry. The way I see it something bad is coming down the chute sooner or later because of how anti-consumer devs & publishers have become. There has already been one crash of the complete video game market due to devs & publishers getting greedy & having total disregard for the consumers, & you know what they say, those who don’t learn from the past are destined to repeat it.

      • Paul Younger

        This will largely affect console reviews who get discs sent out in advance. PC code is rarely sent over well in advance for AAA games. EA hardly ever get PC code out well in advance either and we just expect that with every release.

        It’s one of the reasons we stopped even worrying about getting code early. We’re not interested in becoming first with a review, if people value our opinions that’s what matters. For some sites though it’s a huge competition to see who gets it up first, and I’m pretty sure most don’t play the game right through. This policy will hurt those outlets if it catches on.

        You are right though, gamers have to wise up and stop the sill pre-ordering just to get an extra gun or car. Things need to change.

      • Logan Hollis

        the only company I consistently pre-order from is Nintendo.

    • Paul Younger

      I have seen some comments this evening from a few devs stating that press copies for review purposes have no bearing on sales which I think is utter bollocks. We recently did a survey on PC Invasion and were surprised to discover that 70% of the readers based a buying decision on our reviews. It’s good to see there are some readers prepared to wait for an opinion before jumping in,

    • https://youtube.com/c/DavidGXtube DavidGX

      Meh. I don’t listen to “game journalists” anymore anyway. I’m quite done being accused of being a rapist for liking video games. I’d rather get news from other gamers and social media at this point.

      • https://www.google.it/ KingArthas

        I was banned from PCGamer because i posted a #gamergate asd

        • Em_ptySkin

          I was banned from PC Gamer for mentioning piracy.

    • Brian

      The solution for gamers is to not pre-order to avoid disappointment, unless you’re a big fan and aren’t bothered if the game isn’t all that was promised or broken.

      I’ve never seen the sense in pre-ordering, especially if you haven’t got money to throw around. I wish there were more reviews done here that’s all.

    • Farreg

      Gamers announce withholding pre-orders as official policy.

    • Jimmy Rustles


      DON’T pre-order Bethesda games if you disagree with this decision and DON’T buy on day 1. Wait for the reviews, and make your decision based on that.

      The only way this shit will stop is if pre-order and day 1 sales numbers go down. There is no other way Bethesda or any other company doing this sort of thing will re-evaluate their policies.

      Look at the initial success of No Man’s Sky vs. the actual quality/reception of the game. These companies basically have nothing to lose because they know you will buy on day 1 or pre-order regardless. Until that stops, this kind of behavior will keep happening.

      • https://www.google.it/ KingArthas


    • https://www.google.it/ KingArthas

      Just don’t preorder, wait for opinions and reviews, then buy.
      That’s the way you punish them.

    • Teddy

      Bethesda will soon be offering reviews, you will just have to pay for them! LOL

    • DrearierSpider

      They don’t give a shit about “everyone experiencing it at the same time.” There are several YouTubers who have begun playthroughs of Skyrim SE. I.e. they’re okay with what essentially boils down to pre release advertising, but not reviews. This is a plainly an anti consumer move.

    • btao

      If you look at many other issues about games around the world, there are many cases where the quantity of negative reviews are exceeding the deployed copies. On many review sites for customer reviews, there are tons and tons of BS ones, before and after launch. All this does is make things fair. If you don’t think it’s fair, stop fuching preordering.

    • btao

      Frankly, unless you’re a fanboy for a particular series, and the previous was already awesome, there’s no reason to preorder. The next Elder Scrolls and Fallout? Of course. Brand new? Nope.

    • AML

      So now what? No more pre-orders or day one purchases?
      We have to wait a week or more after release for a review?

    • hank scorpio

      You know a movie will be bad when they don’t prescreen it for critics…

    • Mikell Czermendy

      People don’t have self control and patience. That’s not Bethesda’s fault.

    • KarmikCykle

      What’s that, Bethesda? “Never buy our games on launch again”? Okay, if you insist!

    • Em_ptySkin

      Pirate everything and force decentralization of production capital! F*** these publishers.

    • Redglyph

      Silly argument from their part, really. And apparently Denuvo is to be used for Dishonored 2, which is a shame, I was really looking forward to the new instalment but under those conditions I’ll pass. Again. Seems to happen with a few good games, recently, it’s really sad.

    • terile

      As long as everyone is getting their review copies at the same time, I’m okay with this. I’m very sceptical of any policy that issues review copies to different people at different times.

      I understand that from pcinvasion’s perspective it’s bothersome, since you take longer reviewing games, so you will miss the “hype window” where the game releases and we go looking for reviews. So you miss out on clicks, and visitors.

      But then again, I tend to wait for your review or a friend’s opinion anyway, so you’re not losing out, as long as there are enough like me out there.

      • Paul Younger

        We don’t worry about being first with reviews and haven’t for a long time. What’s the point if the review ends up being crap and useless for you guys. I wouldn’t help you make a decision on whether a game is garbage or not before parting with real cash.

    • Paweł Welsberg

      Among the reviewers there are some pirates and it is upsetting to see those playing game before the real customers. That is why I fully support their policy. BTW I will probably buy their game in the future as I am a happy owner of Oblivion IV

      • Paul Younger

        Chances are they are not what could be considers real critics who are doing it for a legitimate company. I am assuming you are talking about some bloke on Youtube.

    • Maldy

      This is so odd