Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 29, 2009
For the record: Champions Online press account

Just for the record, and in line with my usual policy, I'd like to let you know that Cryptic Studios sent me a 90-day press account key for Champions Online. Which I accepted, and verified that it works. So if I find the time, I could play some more of that game, and see if it grows on me.
Well, let's hope this time blogger doesn't get the same error and I can post this comment! lol

Anyway, why tell your readers what is commonly known among us bloggers? A lot of us get free access to things..and it matters why?

The audience isn't stupid, and I think you will actually just taint the opinion of your writing MORE by talking about this. You write something positive, people will think you are just being nice. Post something negative, and people will get a glimpse into a wasted free account.

Just seems that you have been worrying way way too much about what your audience thinks and how many readers you get than about games?

I could be wrong. I'll still read it, when you post about games! :)

wow, you count as press tobold?
Thanks for he disclosure. Hope you have fun with it.
A lot of us get free access to things..and it matters why?

It matters because obviously not everyone with a blog gets a free account. And just like people question the reliability of reviews on print magazines or web sites who live of the advertising from the companies they review, they might question how influenced bloggers are by such freebies. Which is a totally valid question, and I'm certainly not saying bloggers shouldn't accept anything. But I do think that full disclosure is usually the best policy in nearly all cases that aren't simply black or white.
Ok, so what happens if he posts a glowing review of the game? What do you think the first person will say?

Here's the deal: he is still worrying about what people think. What would it matter if he told the absolute truth? If he loves the game, so be it. If he hates it, so be it. Having the game, no matter in what form, should not matter to a blogger that will post the truth.

The point here is that claiming to get free things (again, not uncommon) is a given, and anyone knows that developers can be very, very nice to us.

But talking about it is like talking about the stuff I leave off the air from a developer. I leave some of the behind-the-scenes off the air because isn't ready to be public yet, or because the dev asked me to. That's called a favor.

I wonder how he might feel if they not only stopped giving him free stuff, but stopped it with the rest of us, too. How is it cool to tell the audience: "While you pay hard earned cash for the game, I got it for free. AND I might not play it.." How would that reflect on the developer in a good way? How would it reflect on him very well?

This is just such a NON-issue. Who cares what the audience thinks? You have to be honest, first and above-all. You can hope that they are happy with your writing, and consider their opinions, but this is just going to taint those opinions more than if he kept it quiet.

But hey, whatever. If he feels this will clear his mind, then so be it. I, personally, would rather get into an argument with someone because I spoke the truth than worry about their feelings to the point that I might consider avoiding how I feel.

anyone knows that developers can be very, very nice to us

Yes, and why do you think that is so? It is marketing, not a personal favor. I don't think influencing opinions is something best left to backroom deals and then hushed up.
Backroom deals? C'mon man. It's a free account for a video game. Don't be so dramatic.

Anyone who is worried only at the very slightest that Tobold could be influenced by give-aways from the gaming industry should stop reading gaming magazines the very instant.
Backroom deals? C'mon man. It's a free account for a video game. Don't be so dramatic.

Well, it was you who talked about you doing favors for devs, and devs doing you favors. So these marketing guys and devs are all your buddies, and that doesn't affect your opinion about them or their games at all?
Well, I hope you find the time to play it some more and tell us what you think!
@ Spouse Aggro

If Tobold didn't diclose this and then put out a positive review on Champions Online you can place money down on the fact that if people later found out he got free play pass they would go batshit as internet folk tend to do. He'd be accused of taking bribes, being dishonest, etc.

THATS why full disclosure is the best thing to do. If you don't understand that then you must not visit gaming forums or blogs very often.
This is just such a NON-issue. Who cares what the audience thinks? You have to be honest, first and above-all.

Beau - if this is a non-issue, why do you argue against it? Let it just drop then.

It might be as you say that some bloggers do get a bunch of freebies and I take your word for it, but it is quite a different area from magazines where this is generally expected.

Unless there is a non-disclosure attached to whatever is given I do not see anything wrong with explicitly writing this.
Thank you Tobold for the full disclosure. I will try to still trust your opinions even though you are honest with your audience.

I am definitely unsubscribing to Spouse Aggro.
Such a confusing set of responses on this topic..... personally I think that someone who gets a free copy of a game might be more "forgiving" of somethings since they're not paying for it.

On the other hand, someone who does pay, may blow one little thing out of proportion.

Or viceversa to the whole thing.

So why is it important that we know he's reviewing a free copy as opposed to a paid one? Because WE can than view his review through the glasses of, "He got it for free". Which will help us understand his opinions more. Besides, the part of a review that matters is just for fun.

Also, not every blogger gets a free pass, so more than "professional" reviewers, they would need to state if they bought the game or not.
Oh man give me a break.I mean a favor as in (off the air) Dev:"Yeh Beau, you might see that patch go like this...but we're not sure, so let's just leave that off til we can get a definite, ok?" Beau:"Cool, man. Next question..."

This isn't some drug deal or sleazy backroom hand-shaking. Quit stating it as though there is something devious or something that can change a mans very opinion going on. Do you mean for me to believe that all it takes to sway you is a free month access to a game? Then why do you think the same of some blogger?

The fact Cryptic game him a free account after he publicly dismissed their game doesn't lend the impression to me that their trying to influence his opinion of the game. He said he didn't enjoy it, so giving someone a free copy of something they don't enjoy isn't likely to endear you to much.

What their obviously trying to do, is provide him with the opportunity to play the game at his leisure, with loose time constraints, in the hopes that he gets past level 7 this time.

Maybe he'll like it, maybe he'll still think it sucks. But maybe he'll get out of the tutorial this time.

Accounts given to people who had no intention of buying the game to begin with doesn't cost Cryptic anything, so they may as well give him one. They've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Before I comment again, I wanna make sure that last one came out. He needs to approve faster! :)
why make a point of this, bloggers get free stuff all the time. If they don't tell us readers and then write a thrilling review we might or might not try a game.

If they do tell us in advance and THEN write a good review, i'm actually more inclined to try something new. I know the guy got it for free so in my book since he disclosed that part of it. His review might be more in line with fact then all of the bloggers that don't bother to disclose and just write the review.

I'm not blaming any of you guys who don't disclose, but the fact is that when surfing any kind of game related websites you get hundreds of positve reviews and 50% of them are crap games. Wich makes me wonder about the intentions of those reviewers. Here at least its clear.

Tobold gets a freebie, he tells us, might try it and write a sensible review. In all those site's without the disclosure i forgo on trying it usually. Most of the time it's a dissapointent in time spent anyway. At least the bloggers that bother to disclose tend to write serious reviews. Wich can't be said for all of those that don't disclose.
This was pretty short. You could have tweeted it. :D

/sarcasm off
This sparring match between bloggers is fascinating.

"This is just such a NON-issue."

I couldn't agree more, it is such a non issue that tobold told people that the devs gave him a press account... who cares. The fact that you have taken so much time out of your day to argue that doing this taints tobolds opinions of it just shows that it clearly isn't a non issue to you.

sites that get significantly more readership than tobold (massively, IGN, Massively) also get freebies, and guess what, they say so, because eventually, they are going to anyway when they post their opinions on the game so that consumers can make informed decisions.

There is no doubt in my mind that at some point down the line tobold will play champions and make a fairly balanced review stating the good and the bad, as is his custom.

to sum up... I just wasted a bunch of my time agreeing with you on something that you said which you didn't really mean... WHAT A NON ISSUE.
Before I comment again, I wanna make sure that last one came out. He needs to approve faster! :)

My apologies, but I can't approve comments while I sleep at night. And due to the earth being round, the time zones, and me living in Europe, I tend to sleep during US prime time. Which means I have to approve of a bunch of comments in one big block every morning.
@spouse aggro: while I've been reading this blog, Tobold has always been in the habit of noting when he gets press accounts. Why shouldn't he?
Why shouldn't he?

I think the argument is that I shouldn't announce it, because it makes the other bloggers look bad. Both the ones that got the freebie and never said anything, and the ones that didn't get the freebie.
No, I never said that you shouldn't announce it because it makes the rest of us look bad. Let's keep this argument from turning into getting so dramatic.

This is about you writing "I got a free press account" after you essentially posted asking (earlier posts)permission to write how you want to write. (Can I write about theory?) I simply stated that, as of late, it SEEMS as though you are more worried about what readers THINK then how you want to WRITE.

See, this isn't a bash or an insult. This is me guessing what some stranger thinks because I do not know you in the least, save for reading some of your text a few times a week. So don't take this as a personal attack.

Anyway, I got a free press account into a major event in a few months. The price it would normally cost is pretty high, especially for a blogger that does not do this professionally. So am I supposed to assume that this will somehow taint my views of the event? This simple, common practice of receiving a press pass is going to make me suddenly write absolute LIES?

You don't understand what I am saying...if you didn't tell people and they found out later they might say something. If you tell them now like you did, they might say something. What does it matter what the audience thinks? Just do your review and move on. Of course, it's your blog and your standards.

It doesn't matter because if they don't believe that you are honest because you can do nothing about it. It doesn't matter because, I would hope, that you wouldn't LET a simple press account sway your opinion. If anything, posting this disclosure makes it seem like YOU (Tobold) might be worried about your own intentions, or might be worried that your opinion CAN be swayed? (I am asking, not stating, for the record.)

And just because I say it is a "non-issue" does not mean we cannot discuss how it IS a non-issue. This is, I thought, the time of the show that the host discusses his issue with the audience, right?

This is about you writing "I got a free press account" after you essentially posted asking (earlier posts)permission to write how you want to write.

There is no connection between those events. You can search my archives and you'll find that I always announced every free press pass I got. The timing depends on the company handing them out, not on the post subjects of the week.
I know very well about how you announce the freebies. And look, I am NOT knocking you for doing so, or knocking YOU. Again, just for the record. (I have learned to cover my butt in these discussions.)

See, all I can do is read and guess at your intentions. I am trying to do this because I find people generally interesting, and you seem like an interesting fellow. I am guessing at this, but when you have several blogs discussing readership and several blogs discussing what bores your readers, then maybe you can see where I would get the idea that you are worrying more about your readers than about being yourself.

Think about it for a second:

1) "Would you guys find it boring if I posted about _____" ?

2) "I get free stuff, but want you to know so you don't think I am being dishonest."

Both of those depend UPON the audience to have value. I am just saying that I think that, ironically, posting these kinds of things actually shines light more on the possibility of DISHONESTY than HONESTY.

I don't give a flying crap if someone finds my posts boring. I can HOPE that they don't, and really WANT them to find themselves entertained by my posts, but that doesn't mean I worry about it. If it doesn't work, it doesn't.

And I don't give a crap about whether or not someone might think I am being dis-honest because I got some free press stuff. Why?

Because I'm HONEST, and that doesn't need validation from a stranger on the internet.

Thank you for allowing me to fire off some has spurred a little thinking for some writing on my own blog.

it has spurred a little thinking for some writing on my own blog

I've read that. And, minus some of the profanity, I've said exactly the same thing on this blog. But the reason I had to say stuff like "no facts, only opinions" is that I constantly got comments from readers complaining about my "journalistic standards".

I completely agree that we are bloggers, not journalists, and that we shouldn't be balanced. But that is not something that goes without saying. Sometimes, as you just did, you need to draw people a simple diagram to explain where you stand, and what you do. Otherwise they'll start thinking all sorts of crazy stuff.
Three words: deceptive trade practices. In the USA it's illegal.
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