EA’s Been Putting The Squeeze On Press Over Battlefield 3 Reviews
It’s not uncommon for publishers to strike deals with gaming publications to the tune of getting a game before anyone else and thus getting more publicity but this comes with the condition that the game must receive a good review, irrespective of whether it actually is any good.
It’s an ugly manifestation of aggressive marketing but one that we’re all too familiar with. What is slightly more elusive and shocking is when publishers start exerting too much pressure on the press regarding game reviews. eGamer has occasionally been pressurised by publishers for not getting reviews out fast enough and there’s also been the odd backlash for a scathing review, even if the game deserved it. What we’ve never experienced is when a publisher actually starts employing methods designed to weed out members of the press who might give their game a bad or less than excellent review.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of pressure being applied to ensure that games are getting a fair review and to try and get the game to be received positively. After all, isn’t that the ultimate goal of marketing and PR people? To ensure that a game is well-received and successful? But there’s a very clear line in the sand and EA has crossed it big time with their Nazi tactics towards European press regarding Battlefield 3 reviews.
Scandinavian outlets requesting a review copy of Battlefield 3 were asked to forward their mailing addresses (because if you dare give this a bad score, we know where you live). It gets worse though. They were also asked a range of very leading, very deliberate questions:
Did the reviewer personally review BFBC2 or Black Ops?
What score did he give it?
What is his past experience with Battlefield?
Is he a fan of Battlefield?
Is he a fan of Call of Duty?
Has he been playing BF Franchise? BFBC2? 1943? BF2?
Has he expressed enthusiasm or concern for BF3? What are they?
Did he play the beta? Did he enjoy it / get frustrated with it?
What is his present view on the game?
What we have here is a questionnaire designed to weed out anyone who might potentially give Battlefield 3 a less than great score. It’s basically ensuring that the game is only handled by people who are pre-determined to give it a good score. It’s the last question that really gets me though. Why not just ask, “Is the reviewer going to give Battlefield 3 a good score?”, “No?”, “Cheers.”
It’s really better suited to an Orwell novel than reality. That EA would have the gall to do this is astounding.
EA was in fact so blatant in its tactics here that EA Norway marketing manager Oliver Sveen came out and said, “It is a human error that was sent out. We have made a mistake and we apologize. It is not something that should have happened earlier or [that] we intend to continue.”
It’s all good and well to apologise but how could they even consider doing something like this and think they’d get away with it? Also calling it “human error” is absolute bullshit. Human error is a press release with a few typos here and there and what EA did here is more akin to moral error.
What EA has inadvertently and stupidly done is cast doubt on whether Battlefield 3 is even good enough to get a glowing review. From what I’ve seen it probably does and makes it even more senseless that EA would do such a thing.
I’m just relieved I won’t be reviewing Battlefield 3.