Kojima Productions Responds to MGS4 Review Restrictions
One of the main news bits sweeping through gaming sites this week has been the controversial restrictions placed on reviews for the game by Konami. Namely, the publisher required reviewers to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that their review would not give details about the length of the game’s cut scenes and install time, which raised quite a bit of controversy (for good explanation of why, you should check out the Sessler’s Soapbox video on the matter). Well now Ryan Payton, Assistant Producer for Kojima Productions, has chimed in in hopes of setting the record straight. In a recent letter to Kotaku, Payton outlined exactly what restrictions were listed in the NDA and even flat out reveals the install time (8 minutes). He also went on to explain their reasoning behind the restrictions and stated that they were a little “outdated.” Their main concern, he says, was that revealing the length of cut scenes –or more specifically, which ones were the longest — would ruin the “experience” of the game for some players, as they would be expecting them. They didn’t mean for the subject of their length to be avoided entirely, but didn’t want them getting down to specifics about how long they are. Their argument for the install times follows the same logic of not wanting to ruin the game for people, as there are a couple of three-minute installs between acts. Finally, Payton added that reviewers are welcome to discuss the length of the cut scenes and install times, but to refrain from mentioning too many specifics.
He certainly makes a valid argument, but I’m still with Adam Sessler on this one. The length of the cut scenes really is something that a consumer might weigh into their decision on whether to buy the game or not, and using vague terms isn’t always going to get the message across. There’s a big difference between saying “the cut scenes are really long” and “there’s one 90-minute cut scene” (though that last point is still a rumor). I can understand Konami not wanting to spoil the game for people, but these restrictions kind of cross a fine line. Besides, just the mere act of reading a review is going to influence your expectations of a game anyway.
You can read Payton’s full letter after the break.
Believe it or not, I’ve been so busy working on a special surprise for MGS4 buyers (that not even those who have leaked copies of the game can spoil! Haha!), that I haven’t had time to catch up on most of the pre-launch excitement.
Scanning the net today, I came across that 90-minute cutscene rumor, and a red-faced Adam Sessler, who was obviously very upset about the restrictions placed on MGS4 reviews.
Adam asks at the end of his Soapbox clip if he was rambling. On the contrary, I think he voiced some really important concerns about the restrictions placed on MGS4 reviewers.
In light of this, I took a look at the list of restrictions and found that some items are outdated and require more explanation.
We asked reviewers to avoid the following topics:
-Length of cutscenes (the ending in particular)
-Number of environments
-(Plus a half dozen story-specific items)
The game requires an eight minute install, as well as a number of two to three-minute installs between acts.
As for the cutscenes, reviewers are more than happy to comment on whether they’re too long or short. We simply want reviewers to refrain from describing which scenes are long, thus spoiling some of the experience because players will know what to expect when a scene is unfolding.
I want to make it clear that, from today, reviewers are welcome to discuss the length of the cutscenes and install times, but we ask that they not get too specific about the cinematic times and what happens in later install sequences…
But as for the next three items, we are still asking reviewers to avoid these topics. We want the opening to be a huge surprise for gamers, and knowing how many environments there are in the game, obviously, is a spoiler. These restrictions will remain in place.
Finally, we’ve asked reviewers to not write about some of the product placement because of some contractual agreements we have with third parties.
I hope this helps clear up some of the controversy.
As a former writer, I’m proud of the discussion this topic has sparked. I hope Adam, Patrick Klepek, and everybody else who covered this issue continue to be diligent about restrictions placed on media outlets. (That’s honestly why I’m such a fan of Kotaku — it keeps publishers on their toes.)
I do, however, hope gamers can appreciate the efforts we go through to keep them protected from reviewers that could spoil some of the MGS4 experience.