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Another Day in Games Journalism: OXM’s Magic Fingers, The PS4′s Totally Confirmed Contacts

December 6, 2012 Written by Sebastian Moss

Sigh, here we go again.

Contrary to what my recent spate of aggressive anti-crappy gaming website posts might suggest, I’m not a particular fan of airing dirty laundry. It’s embarrassing for the industry that it even needs to be mentioned, and it clutters up PSLS with articles like this when I’d rather be bringing you news. But it’s necessary if games journalism ever wants to improve.

If you read PSLS regularly, you might remember my article on the problems that arise from a systematic lack of sourcing in the games journalism industry. In short, crediting is absolutely, fundamentally vital to encourage investigative journalism.

Apparently some sites didn’t read that article, even if they did read some of our scoops. Take OXM, for example, The Official Xbox Magazine, part of the Future Publishing empire, huge resources, full time staff… copycats? Turns out online editor Edwin Evans-Thirlwell was a fan of our recent delve into Ubisoft’s next gen plans, an article that required us to read hundreds of job posts and LinkedIn accounts for around 8 hours. He was so much of a fan, in fact, that, 7 hours after we published, he wrote about part of the scoop – Massive’s AAA Online RPG, including one of the job listings we found and one of the LinkedIns. Awesome, let’s all share information! Except, of course, there was no credit given, it was an attempt to pass it off as an original piece of investigative journalism.

The horrible thing is that it worked, with a flurry of major sites subsequently crediting OXM for their ‘hardwork’. Journalism at its finest right there. A positive mention goes to VG247 and Eurogamer, who changed their credit after being contacted.

While we’re attacking the piece, it’s also important to note that they chose the title “Far Cry 3 developer has “AAA Next-Gen Online RPG” in the works”. See, Far Cry 3 is a hot topic and gets a ton of Googles and Twitter searches, so it would make sense to include them in the title. That is, of course, if it wasn’t highly misleading. Massive was not the primary developer for Far Cry 3, and had an unknown level of input on the game.

Speaking of misleading titles, here’s another terrible ‘news’ post that has sprung up – ‘PS4′ rumored to include patented eye-tracking lenses [Examiner], First images and details revealed for possible PS4 eye tracking contact lenses [Examiner], Next-Gen: Sony May Bring Eye-Tracking Contact Lenses To PS4 [NowGamer]. Now, I’m not even going to complain about the fact that we uncovered the patent nearly 2 months ago (ok, I just did), my problem is more to do with the highly misleading and flamebait titles. No, there is no rumor that the PS4 will include these lenses, suggesting that it could come to the PS4 in the title is just done to make people click. It leads to misinformation and treats the reader like an idiot.

Finally, there’s this news from NowGamer – “Sucker Punch Working On Unannounced Game”. Oh. My. God. Stop the presses, somebody. A developer who hasn’t got an announced game in their pipeline and is still in business is developing something? I’m shocked. Oh well, surely it covers stuff like the previously discovered news that it’s an action game? No? It just mentions that they’re making a game? Ok…

These are just a few of the examples of the damaging actions going on within games journalism, and it’s something that isn’t often reported on because journalists would rather not burn any bridges with potential employers in a small industry. I don’t care any more. It needs to stop.

If you’re a content creator, feel free to share your own horror stories in the comments below.