Editorial: Bethesda Withholding Review Copies Hurts Gaming And You

You may have heard the news circulating the web about Bethesda making the decision to hold review copies from games media until the day prior to launch. For those not in the know, here's Bethesda's full statement...

At Bethesda, we value media reviews.

We read them. We watch them. We try to learn from them when they offer critique. And we understand their value to our players.

Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.

With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release. While we will continue to work with media, streamers, and YouTubers to support their coverage – both before and after release – we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time.

We also understand that 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.

Skyrim Special Edition releases globally on October 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Dishonored 2 releases globally on November 11 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

First off, let's talk about some facts. As one of the parties that received a copy of Doom a day before launch, there we definitely concerns about the game at launch. We had a writer write a glowing review about the game's campaign...but he decided not to highlight the other features because, as he told me, they were "not finished". That's not just his opinion, that's something Bethesda themselves copped to a couple months ago...so let's get down to the truth.

Bethesda withheld the release because they were concerned about the game's performance and reviews. Luckily, people don't play Doom for the multiplayer, so it was a forgivable offense in most reviewers eyes, but don't use critic reviews as a defense to why you launched a game you didn't feel was polished enough at launch.

You might be one of those people who say "I don't read reviews, I make my own opinion" but it's critics who catch the stuff like when Rocksteady tried to release a graphical downgrade to Batman: Return To Arkham...or that The Division was a broken to shit game

Bethesda is trying to spin the conversation to say "We're protecting our game from nitpicky journalists so you can enjoy your game" WHEN THAT'S THE FUCKING POINT. If you aren't confident enough in your product that you can't face even the most unfair of criticism, you shouldn't be releasing it. Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more common in the gaming industry to release now and ask for forgiveness later. There's literally no other industry in the WORLD that can get away with the poor quality in which they treat their consumers. 

Make no mistake, Bethesda is not protecting you when they delay reviews, they're protecting themselves. Considering the launch of Skyrim Remastered is days away, and Dishonored 2 not long after, they're protecting those games as well. Take that into consideration.

Taking away advanced reviews means more freedom of lazy development going unnoticed until after launch. It means you'll be a slave to the "patch" where you've already purchased the game and are waiting until whenever the developers feel like completing that patch to make your game fully playable to enjoy it. Advance reviews take that power and give it back to the consumer. You can bet your ass there's a difference between development teams "working hard" when they already have your money, and "working hard" when they don't. 

Giving away the right to let someone play the game before release is saying that you trust the gaming industry to release the best quality product they can to you because you paid them...

Hey you still trust the guys at No Man's Sky right? 

Some of you have undoubtedly already pre-ordered and you're getting the game regardless of what I say, but consider this. If Bethesda is worried enough about advanced reviews that they're stifling them until after you make your purchase, doesn't that raise a flag in your mind that maybe you should wait? The overall goal of the media is to work for you, not the games industry, and if Bethesda loves us so much...why are they shutting us out to better serve you?