Print 23 comment(s) - last by xsilver.. on Sep 30 at 8:14 PM

Games review website GameCyte in middle of controversy

It can be hard to know what websites to trust online for technology and video game reviews. Much of the concern over the impartial reviews offered online tends to stem from readers or other publications having different options about the item reviewed.

However, sometimes the problem with determining if a website gives honest, impartial reviews, or if the website or publication is willing to take money for a positive review or squash reviews by staff that harms advertisers can be more difficult. DailyTech discovered this last year with our Pay to Play story.

There is currently a scandal brewing around Richard Kain, general manager of game industry PR firm TriplePoint, which boasts clients like EA, Telltale Games, and Empire Interactive. The problem for Kain is that he didn’t do all he could to point out that he owns a games review website called GameCyte as well.

GameCyte didn’t give readers notice that Kain also ran the PR firm, giving the impression of impropriety on the part of the website. GameCyte was started in April and reportedly uses other editors for the reviews. For his part, Kain says that he started GameCyte as a way to improve the quality of game journalism.

Kain says that his Facebook page noted that he managed the PR firm and owned the review site, but he admits to not offering adequate notifications of the link between the two websites. Some will see this as nothing more than a guy who made a mistake and forgot to give full disclosure. Others will see this as a PR firm attempting to provide positive spin on reviews for customers.

VentureBeat says that is has found no evidence that reviews of game published by clients of TriplePoint are not out of line with other game reviews on the site, lending a bit of weight to Kain's side of the story. The real question is after the smoke clears, will TriplePoint lose clients over Kain's mistake.

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By invidious on 9/29/2008 2:27:44 PM , Rating: 5
If he was actually posting biased reviews this would be news.

RE: yawn
By amanojaku on 9/29/2008 2:55:43 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe, maybe not. In the business world, as in life, who you know is important. People could see his ties to the PR firm as an enabler for the games companies to get good reviews. I think it doesn't matter either way since many, if not most, of the review sites survive off of funding from (guess who?) the games companies. Which means biased reviews in favor of funding.

How about using your own judgment? Compare your experience to that of the reviews. If the reviews match your opinions more often than not then you know the reviewers are probably unbiased. Or, at least suffering from the same bias as you. :-)

RE: yawn
By someguy123 on 9/29/2008 5:02:52 PM , Rating: 5
problem is, in this article, the main story is that this guy owns the website....but according to the article there's no obvious evidence of this occurring. So basically, the story is that there is no story.

people can speculate all they want about company A giving reviewer B payola for a good review, but at the end of the day, unless its blatant (i.e. the whole PC Gamer DRM fiasco), it's all just speculation.

RE: yawn
By artemicion on 9/29/2008 8:13:19 PM , Rating: 3
Agree - scratching my head on the significance of this article. Isn't Nintendo Power run by Nintendo? I'm not aware of any law that says you can't publish a magazine to tout your own products. I mean, it's like publishing a giant advertisement, right? It's like those annoying ads in magazines that are made up to look exactly like an article in the magazine.

Annoying? Yes. News? No.

RE: yawn
By the goat on 9/30/2008 8:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't Nintendo Power run by Nintendo?

The differences is Nintendo corp openly admits that they own Nintendo Power magazine. Same with Official Playstation Magazine, etc.

In these cases the customer is given the relationship information upfront. So the customer can read the articles in the magazine with an informed view.

In the case presented by DailyTech, at best the link between the PR firm and GameCyte was simply not volunteered openly. At worst they actively tried to hide the link.

RE: yawn
By xsilver on 9/30/2008 8:44:53 AM , Rating: 2
You see though now that there is a story - he has gotten much more publicity than if people just ignored the non story.


RE: yawn
By the goat on 9/30/2008 9:20:20 AM , Rating: 3
You see though now that there is a story - he has gotten much more publicity than if people just ignored the non story.

By your logic I should invest all my money in Chinese baby formula. After all the free publicity they got the last few weeks, sales must be through the roof.

RE: yawn
By xsilver on 9/30/2008 8:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
Actually by my logic, people not sick or sick but not due to the formula will blame the formula -- which has happened.

Sales are through the roof - not of chinese formula but of all other formula's (conspiracy =corporate espionage?)
(heard that there is now a quota in HK on formula - no more than 2 cans per person)

RE: yawn
By Regs on 9/30/2008 8:16:06 AM , Rating: 3
I agree fully that there is no story. What I see is a guy who had other interests in the industry and we are giving him free publicity.

RE: yawn
By TheFace on 9/29/2008 9:59:38 PM , Rating: 3
My issue with that is, I don't have time to go play every game that I want to try. So I want to be able to rely on these review sites to see how a game is rated so I can make informed decisions on what to play. It's like movies. You don't really go see lots of terribly rated movies because you want to form your own opinion on them. You may see a few because they are of a particular genre or have certain things about them that you can appreciate. Overall though, you wouldn't want to spend your time seeing tons of movies just to have your own opinion about them. This is my case with gaming. I want a reference to see how games are rated. (I also have to rely on word of mouth since game sites vary wildly on what is good or not, just look at Too Human reviews)

RE: yawn
By MozeeToby on 9/29/2008 4:13:35 PM , Rating: 5
The place I work takes their ethics very seriously and for good reason. The motto is, 'We must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest'. In the real world, you are only as good as the relationship you have with your customers and suppliers. Without their trust, you'll soon find yourself out of business.

RE: yawn
By ebakke on 9/29/2008 8:30:22 PM , Rating: 3
In the real world, you are only as good as the relationship you have with your customers and suppliers. Without their trust, you'll soon find yourself out of business.

Or you'll find yourself completely dominating the PC operating system and productivity suite markets.

Or you'll find yourself as the world's largest video game producer.


A question?
By Cunthor666 on 9/29/2008 6:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
Why doesn't Daily Tech do game reviews? Unless you do, and I missed it somehow... :)

RE: A question?
By Clauzii on 9/29/2008 6:11:18 PM , Rating: 1
They do - newest review on Anandtech:

RE: A question?
By amanojaku on 9/29/2008 6:21:05 PM , Rating: 2
DailyTech is a news site, not a review site. When have you ever seen a hardware or software review at DailyTech? AnandTech is where you want to go.

RE: A question?
By tallcool1 on 9/30/2008 9:54:09 AM , Rating: 3
I am not so sure about Anandtech anymore though, at least when it comes to hardware. Thier review of the "AMD/ATI 4870 X2" was definately biased (towards nvidia) and pointed out so by many people. See readers comments posted:

Just reading the last line on the first page of the review pretty much gives that away:
Enough with being distracted by AMD's product lineup, let's talk about the competition.

By Beenthere on 9/29/2008 3:22:39 PM , Rating: 1
Didn't the internet spawn the next crop of P.T. Barnum's under the ruse of being PC hardware/software review sites? I mean come on folks get real. With every review site shilling for ad dollars, accepting insider information and hand-picked hardware for review, consumers would be damn fools to believe what they read at review sites or what they hear on the six o'clock news.

Next thing you know people will believe the glowing product reviews at e-tailer websites - that are posted by the e-tailers or product manufacturers employees. Sheesh, get a grip folks.

By mmntech on 9/29/2008 3:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
The internet has one advantage though over the past. That being the user review. I can check out independent sites and see what real gamers think of a title. That's usually a better indication of how good a game is. Unlike magazines, which I believe are heavily biased, the internet opens the door to people outside the industry to comment. Sites that compile review scores, such as Gamestats, are also handy.

By Schrag4 on 9/30/2008 9:39:02 AM , Rating: 2
Amen to that! You should always look for end users' experiences before buying any software or hardware.

Same goes for movies. I don't think the well known movie reviewers are in bed with any of the studios (actually I have no idea) but I don't really listen to what they have to say about a movie. I wait until some regular folks like me see the movie and hear what THEY have to say about it. If I had listened to the critics, I wouldn't have seen The Matrix.

What's a "GameCyte"?
By therealnickdanger on 9/29/2008 2:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like someone is just trying to get some notoriety to boost hits...

RE: What's a "GameCyte"?
By marsbound2024 on 9/29/2008 7:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, I'm going to go visit that site right now, find his email and give him a piece of my mind--and maybe read a few reviews and later become an almost daily reader who goes nowhere else when it comes to whats hot in games these days... (just kidding of course... on all accounts)

They all are in bed together
By mattclary on 9/29/2008 3:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
PC Gamer has printed editorials on several occasions on how they are so independent and the sales and writing staff are separate, yet you can tell they they are loathe to step on the feet of Electronic Arts. When the Mass Effect debacle happened, they would barely speak of the DRM and they were (IMO) overly complacent. At that time, they took what they deemed a hardcore stance and started issuing "DRM Warnings" when they reviewed games. It was a very softball approach, IMO. BUT, this months issue has Spore on the cover, a big review, and no mention of DRM at all . Coincidentally (?) they also had some exclusive material on Dragon Age, another EA game.

TELL me there isn't some back-scratching going on!

By SpaceRanger on 9/29/2008 4:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
There is no back scratching going on...

There.. I told you....

Now, may there be something ELSE other than back scratching going on... Probably.. :)

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