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.

Phil Hornshaw is deputy editor at Game Front. Read more of his work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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4 Comments on Broken Age Embargo Decree Disrespects Press, Backers


On January 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Here’s the problem. What you got for your money now (and should be playing instead of lamenting how the evil Double Fine ever so wronged you), before official release is a backer-exclusive beta. BETA. Not the final product. Open up the game (which you should be playing instead of see above) and look at the version number. Now please tell me how many beta reviews are out there.

Phil Hornshaw

On January 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm


The game is paid for and released, just staggered. Double Fine’s not saying “Please don’t review early code!” They were embargoing until Jan. 27, when the game goes on sale. Press gets their codes today too. Is press getting a different build to review than backers are receiving? I doubt it.


On January 15, 2014 at 12:21 am

Phil, sorry to be blunt but you sound like an idiot in ways I can’t even begin to explain. This is DOUBLE FINE you’re talking about. I really don’t know where to start… So I won’t…


On January 15, 2014 at 5:29 am

Troubling that games companies are even trying to dictate what paying customers say about their games. Especially in context of Big Brother spying through always-online DRM. One wanders where this will go.

@Jack- As you’ve only hurled insults and invoked the formerly good name of a company now fallen from grace, it’s not the article author that looks idiotic. Remember that Double Fine took it’s millions and *failed* to finish it’s game. Remember that it has gone on to presume it has authority and control it does not- actually trying to simply order about people who just want to talk about the game they have purchased. Remember, these are paying customers. There have been no signed agreements. Double Fine is being offensive to the people who support it. That’s what the article’s saying. It’s author shows sensible and reasoned arguments, and the points in the article are (to my inexpert knowledge) also quite correct. Perhaps you don’t know where to start because you do not have a valid argument to make…