Broken Age Embargo Decree Disrespects Press, Backers
This feels like another case of a Kickstarter project wanting to have things both ways. Double Fine wants players to pay into a game in order for it to be created, but it also wants to control the messaging of that game. It wants to release the game to the public, but it doesn’t want the public to control what it does with the game it paid in to own early.
And I have to admit, as a member of the press and as a paying customer, I find the language of the email insulting, to some degree. Double Fine doesn’t humbly request that people hold back coverage so that everyone gets a fair shake, it “requires” we do, as if we owe Double Fine something. But we already gave them money; that’s what we owed them.
For the average customer who happens to have a blog, it’s strange and frustrating that Double Fine first assumes those people know what an embargo is, and second assumes that it can dictate they follow one. Again, these people are paying customers. Double Fine isn’t doing them some kind of favor or gifting them some kind of access: These people paid for the game to be made, on faith, with a very real chance hanging over them that they’d receive nothing. They waited through delays, and dealt with changes to what the game they were promised fundamentally is. Now Double Fine doesn’t ask, but in a way demands, they not use their property the way they see fit? If anything, Double Fine should be thanking them for spending their money and then their time to talk and write about the game at all, especially following the delays and changes that have come with the game thus far.
Further, the email’s supposition in its language that it constitutes some kind of binding rule with the press suggests just how little respect for the press Double Fine must have. The developer acts as though it owns the press; as if we work for the company and its game, and we’re responsible for its messaging. Embargoes are not rules to be thrown up arbitrarily by developers without the press’s consent to them. I am not an extension of Double Fine marketing, nor do I serve its interests: I serve my readership.
As a member of the press, my responsibility is not to helping Double Fine sell copies of its game, or to making sure that Double Fine’s marketing is intact. My responsibility is to serving the Game Front readership to the best of my ability. Having paid for Broken Age through Kickstarter, I don’t think I owe the developer anything else. And since I didn’t agree to an embargo, I feel no obligation to follow one.
With the age of Kickstarter wearing on, developers are going to have to realize that if they ask for players’ money and make promises, they have to live with what those promises entail.