I’ve recently had a bee in my bonnet (for lack of better expression) over various websites posting news that’s not really news at all on their websites in an attempt to either look like they’re trying to crack something open, or just filling their front page with updates that didn’t really take anything produce. A great example of this I saw yesterday was on IGN, but before I go further on that a quick rant about why I still have issues with the site leading into this.
I’ve had a love-hate issue with the site since late 2000 or so, about the time Mark Jung took main control of it as the COO, brought up several billion websites – including decent ones like the excellent GameSages, filled the main site with crap content made by idiots, and almost killed the entire website off… three times in about a year under the company Snowball Inc (which split its stock options several times to keep afloat). One of their big ideas when the company almost went under was to make a section called Insider which charged people a monthly/annual fee for extra content, early content, and early web HD video. The section, which I had access to for a couple of years via a friend who’d gotten his account for free when he purchased a game early on, was very limited on updates. And while it still exists – generally providing specific clean HD records, podcasts and downloadable PDF’s of content, these days the company is owned via Fox Media and doesn’t have any worries about closing.
In 2002 I posted a copy of a press conference video IGN had posted via Insider when Resident Evil 4 was properly re-announced for release to the Nintendo Gamecube. I had Tal Blevins, who I believe still works for IGN currently, e-mail me with an attempted cease order by making threats of their “legal department” – which didn’t exist at the time. The first file I linked to was loaded on GameSpy’s server because my good friend Rammy had put it there to reduce load from my host – however I eventually mirrored it and then linked it on my own site. Ironic these days as GameSpy and IGN are both owned and connected by the same parent these days and Tal would have been able to just get the file removed.
Because I didn’t back down, this created an argument on the IGN forums where I defended myself clearly and actually won the argument against Tal and the forum users. I never had to take the video down, Tal’s legal threats never came through. My point that I proved was that the entire operation was a cash grab because IGN didn’t want people getting the video for free when they had the hopes that people would pony up $19.95USD or more just to see it.
Shoot forward to now and I respect IGN a bit more than I did back then. Their content is generally available to all without an attempted cash grab. The site is generally better set out (early layouts were cluttered and harder to navigate). The one thing that has kept it also good is that they have archived everything going back to the PSXOnline and N64.com days… so we’re talking 1997 and 1998. While I also have less beef with their reviews as much as I used to (I’d love to think I was one of the first to start using the term IGNorant in description of their content around decade ago, and I never disliked them as much as GameSpot’s – something for another time) the one thing I still have a big issue is their news content.
On a day-to-day basis I use Kotaku for my source for my gaming news. It’s less cluttered, more precise, more topical, more updated – and the two specific things I love about it which IGN really managed to piss me off about, is Kotaku always credits it’s sources and authors correctly and clearly, and their news is generally always news (and more specifically, when it’s not its always marked as such).
Of those two things firstly IGN hardly ever cites a source for it’s content, unless of course it really is their own exclusive which they splash everywhere all over it. Frequently, and this was an argument used in my video defense, IGN will take news and content (scans of screenshots specifically) from Famitsu and other Japanese magazines without citing a source. This happens less frequently these days than it used to, but I still occasionally will see them do it.
But the one thing above all which annoys me is this thing they frequently do, which is posting news which isn’t really news.
What I saw yesterday was a story for Rock Band: Green Day (or Green Day: Rock Band – depending who you talk to). This story which discussed the fact that the game, unlike the other releases – including The Beatles – would not be coming out with a band set. As obvious as this seems.
I don’t know IGN – had you neglected the fact that unlike all the other titles EA had released for Rock Band (specifically RB1, RB2, and Beatles), a band set was announced at the same time the game was. Or that most people own a comptable set or could pick one up separated if they didn’t because of the reported stacks of equipment that is still currently sitting in stores and warehouses.
Or the fact, which you have also reported on frequently, that the genre has lost a lot of money in the last year… from of all things, saturation – mostly due to Activision’s Guitar Hero glut, releasing six titles in as much as 14 months.
Kinda all adds up that releasing this as software only would make obvious and perfect sense, but then again there is the IGN story. Which in the end, after the story being entirely speculation and conjecture based on the fact nothing was announced – EA contacted them to say indeed no hardware will be released and the title will be software only.
Great work guys. Seeing as you just did a preview on the title, maybe tomorrow you can make a story on the parallels between EA making the new Medal of Honor like Activision’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare titles for another bit of news that isn’t really at all obvious.
Update – Thus proving that IGN is still not as well supported as I thought, there are discussions online today of a number of IGN staff being let go to keep profit margins up and to allow for future investments in other departments.