An open letter to AAA game publishers: Let the indies review first!

I’m about 12 hours into Dying Light 2 so I, as an indie publisher of game industry coverage, can put together a review. I’ve sacrificed most of my weekend absorbing as much as I can of the game; I need to get the review out within a week and a half, ideally. Of course, the big publishing companies got to play the game weeks before me, and even got to publish their reviews before the release date even hit.

Here’s the thing AAA game publishers don’t seem to understand: Big gaming news publishers don’t matter as much as they used to, and their relevance is determined solely by the game publisher.

The modern internet has changed how people consume content such as reviews. We don’t just visit IGN, or GameSpot, or EuroGamer. We hit a search engine and let it collect the reviews for us. We watch social media and online communities dedicated to the game we’re interested in. We look to our favorite YouTube content creators, or even just search on YouTube for relevant stuff.

This means that, essentially, whomever is first tends to get eyeballs.

Here’s why that isn’t necessarily good for you, the game publisher.

Larger game industry reviewers are paid to review games. That sounds like a sweet gig, right? Wrong.. Because these same reviewers may not have solid interest in the game itself. They may not understand the niche. This comes out all the time in reviews from countless industry commentators, and is especially true with Dying Light 2. Reviews are all. Over. The. Place.

What is a fan to do? They ended up saying “Fuck it, I’m going to wait for other gamers to review it”.

We’ve got people like ACG who do give us solid coverage, but more could be done to ensure that you, as a AAA game publisher, get solid, accurate reviews of your product.

You could actually let the small indie publishers like myself (I run Ghost Gamer News) get early review copies.

When we reach out wanting to review your game, we’re reaching out because we are interested in the game itself and will give it a fair shake. We’re not getting paid to do a job; we’re pursuing a passion.

I myself have been able to generate considerate ongoing buzz for various games just with my guide content alone. I keep people playing the games.

Wouldn’t you like for people like me to also get people to play the game, too?